#Milsurp: Shooting My Enfields – Midway Pakistan Ammo FAIL!

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Midway POF Surplus .303 – (Cheap but hang fires)
Hornady Vintage Match – ($25.49 Sale at Midway)

These are my three Lee Enfield rifles. They are also known as the SMLE, and this specific configuration is called the Mk III, or No. 1 Mk III.

These are my three Lee Enfield rifles. They are also known as the SMLE, and this specific configuration is called the Mk III, or No. 1 Mk III.


There are a few guns that I think everyone should own at least once. Of them, the British Enfield, or more proper, the “Lee-Enfield,” is one of the most distinctive. I thought that maybe this week dragging out my Enfields would be a great way to start a new regular series on military surplus firearms.

The Enfield is one of only a few bolt rifles I’ve ever owned that cocks on close, not when you open the bolt. It also has a weird wrist hardware contraption that nobody ever copied for anything. Likewise the muzzle hardware. It is just downright different. And compared to most military bolt guns, the Enfield has a good deal of firepower with a 10 round detachable box mag.

Even though on the gun it actually says the number 3, usually I see people use the Roman numeral III, which is strange.  This is my copper wrapped Enfield, which is a story all its own. Just what that story is has been a matter of conflicting memories, or speculation.

Even though on the gun it actually says the number 3, usually I see people use the Roman numeral III, which is strange. This is my copper wrapped Enfield, which is a story all its own. Just what that story is has been a matter of conflicting memories, or speculation.


The .303 British round is a rimmed case, about the size of the 30 cal Russian Nagant round from the same era. Both push a 150ish grain bullet at just over 2,700 fps, similar to a .308/7.62 NATO. Like the Nagant, the Enfield soldiered right into the 21st Century in a limited capacity. They are still used in India, and a few other nations to this day.

The Wikipedia page for the Enfield mostly references books by an Australian guy named Skennerton, most of which are available on Amazon today. The Aussies made a version of the Enfield, otherwise known as S.M.L.E (Short Magazine Lee Enfield) at their factory in Lithgow, and if you watch my video, I have one of those rifles. Australian firearms law is about as screwy as California, and at first the Enfield was banned as a “military rifle,” then was unbanned, and became prolific because everything else was banned. Skennerton seems to know and share just about everything there is to know about these unique rifles.

You will mostly see Enfields these days that have been sporterized, which means that the wood has been chopped back, and often replaced with an aftermarket stock. The original configuration guns are becoming more and more scarce, and more expensive, so if you happen upon one at a gun show, or here on GunsAmerica, you might want to grab it. If you are a red blooded American firarm enthusiast, there will not be a lot of buyers remorse. I’m a huge fan of the Nagant, and I love my Swiss rifles, but there is just something about an Enfield that smells like a WWI battle trench, and no other rifle has that, for me.

This Enfield is for sale on GunsAmerica near me in the Miami area (it came up on free local) and it is heavily sporterized, still listed at $400. The days of $200 Enfields seem to be over.

This Enfield is for sale on GunsAmerica near me in the Miami area (it came up on free local) and it is heavily sporterized, still listed at $400. The days of $200 Enfields seem to be over.


I’ve included pictures of the import marks on my rifles. Very very few Enfields in the US will be absent some kind of import mark, and they usually say CAI, for Century Arms International. Century imported most of the rifles you’ll see in the 80s and 90s, and many of them came from India. For that reason, you’ll see all kinds of stories about them being parts guns, that they don’t work, that the guns were so far out of spec that they couldn’t issue them, etc. I don’t know what of the stories are true, but the three guns I have, two of which have very clear CAI import marks, work fine and always have.
I bought this rifle at Kittery Trading Post in Maine back in the aughts I think, for under $200. It's really rough, and there is no provinence with the gun at all, but you know what, it works.   The Century Arms import marks are on top, when they were located in Vermont.

I bought this rifle at Kittery Trading Post in Maine back in the aughts I think, for under $200. It’s really rough, and there is no provinence with the gun at all, but you know what, it works. The Century Arms import marks are on top, when they were located in Vermont.


There is no provinence on any of these guns, meaning that there is no back story or ownership record. Besides the date on the wrist, there is no telling which of these guns saw combat in either of the World Wars, or if they sat in arsenals, or if they were issued to other countries at the time. Enfields have turned up by the hundreds of thousands all over the globe for a century. All of these guns are parts guns, re-arsenaled guns, refinished guns, and I would consider all of them, unless you know the specific serial numbered provinence, just shooters. Many of the guns have “matching serial numbers even,” but I still wouldn’t consider them collectible.

To me, that doesn’t detract from the cool factor on an Enfield. All of my guns are a No. 1 MkIII models, usually referred to as just MKIII. I’m not as big a fan of the other models that don’t have the nearly flush muzzle, but they are popular on some collector boards. Check out the linked Wikipedia page to see the different models, and of course you’ll find most examples in the GunsAmerica listings. They come and go on a regular basis, and I’ve seen quite a few in decent condition in the $400 range lately.

I traded a couple Nagants for this Australian Enfield maybe a year ago. It is pretty clean, but the wood is pulled away from the metal, which generally means refinished, and it even looks reparkerized to me.

I traded a couple Nagants for this Australian Enfield maybe a year ago. It is pretty clean, but the wood is pulled away from the metal, which generally means refinished, and it even looks reparkerized to me.


As I said in the video, I bought my Enfields years ago, and paid just over $200. I’m sure that you can still find deals like that at gun shows, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. The only guns I’ve seen that cheap since the 2008 gun boom were heavily sporterized.

One of my guns I bought just because it had copper windings around the belly and forend. At the time they were sold as “grenadier” guns, and the copper bands were supposedly added to keep the rifle from flying apart from the torque of the grenade launcher. Over the years I’ve heard that this was a true story and a fake story, and nobody seemed to back it up either way. It’s a nifty example, and as you can see, it works fine.

I am pretty sure that any printing in this area at all means import marks. The caliber designation is for import reasons, and I don't think it was on the original rifles. This was apparently not brought in by Century, and I don't recognize the stamp as a familiar importer.

I am pretty sure that any printing in this area at all means import marks. The caliber designation is for import reasons, and I don’t think it was on the original rifles. This was apparently not brought in by Century, and I don’t recognize the stamp as a familiar importer.


I’ve never seen anything like great accuracy out of any of my Enfields. My 50 year old eyes are not what they once were shooting with iron sights, but if you check out my first article on the K31 Swiss rifle(and if you missed that btw, Samco is now gone with the rest of those rifles), I can shoot close to MOA when the rifle is within that range. For the video I couldn’t get even the shiny bore Lithgow rifle to shoot better than into about 4 inches at 100 yards, and that was with Hornady Custom ammo. I am not sure if I am going to scope that gun yet. There are better choices, but I’d like to check out the “no gunsmith” mounts.

Midway Sale on Pakistan Surplus

This load of surplus POF ammo at Midway was what kicked me in the but to start looking at all of my Milsurp rifles for you guys here at GA Digest. But the ammo hangfires horribly as you'll see in the video.

This load of surplus POF ammo at Midway was what kicked me in the but to start looking at all of my Milsurp rifles for you guys here at GA Digest. But the ammo hangfires horribly as you’ll see in the video.


Above I linked to a Midway sale on 250 round cans of surplus Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) .303 British. That sale is actually what kicked me in the but to get this Milsurp column started, because as you can see in the video, I’ve paid as much as $40 a box for factory, boxer primed reloadable brass ammo. At as low as 68 cents per round, this ammo should be an inspiration to go out and buy an Enfield, but it is not. As you can see in the video, nearly every shot hang fires, and I got some duds as well. Considering that reloadable boxer primed Prvi Partizan is only 87 cents a round, and you can even get Hornady Custom Match for just over a buck, I don’t think the POF ammo is worth your trouble. It is difficult to fire accurately when ammo hang fires, and I consider it actually fairly dangerous.

(St)Deals on Fugly/Problematic Enfields

Don’t let the discussion board “elite” get you down about buying an Enfield. I’ve seen all manner of parroted nonsense regarding guns from India, and even fakes from the famous “Kyber Pass” region of Pakistan. Almost all of the Enfields in the US market came in through one large import by Century Arms, and the rifles are almost all stamped UK, which means they were not made in Pakistan, India, or anywhere else. Tons of rifles were shipped to India after the UK adopted the L1A1 (FN-FAL) in the late 1950s, and it is kind of a famous story of repression that England armed the Indian military with the old Enfield bolt guns instead of the L1A1 becuase they feared an uprising had they given the Indian soldiers the firepower of a semi-auto battle rifle.

Parts for the Enfield/SMLE are available from Numrich (Gun Parts Corp), and AGI has a great Armorers Course on how to take apart and service these classic rifles. If you like to tinker, there are some great buys on sporterized guns with shiny bores. It doesn’t take a lot of parts to get an Enfield back to original, and
if you find a really rough gun that you can make into a beautiful gun, Boyds has sporter stocks.

There are some steals out there on undesirable examples of the Lee Enfield, and I wouldn’t be too scared to grab one. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (especially when the gun may have dried blood from a WWI trench), and guns are always a great non-depreciating asset as compared to cash in the bank, and even gold and silver. There is now boxer primed reloadable brass ammo out there for the same 68 cents a round that I paid Midway for the POF crap, so if you get a rifle, get some ammo. I hope to be back with some kind of optics coverage for these guns, and also some reloading of the .303 British, which is not .303 of course. Stay tuned for more Milsurp, and hopefully more nifty Enfields.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Julio Galletti August 3, 2016, 12:20 am

    I happen to own a Mark III, that I bought very cheap ages ago, in order to qualify for my DCM Garand. I still have it and happen to love it. The only draw back is the surplus ammo I could afford back then was turn of the century cordite, so you really had to have a steady eye and a snipers patience between the ages that passed between click and……..boom. It was a great way to cure flinch. Still Love it and even recently got the bayonet for it. One point, if you own one, look at the buttplate; if it is brass it was British Navy, all others are British Army.

  • jeff August 3, 2016, 12:12 am

    Paul, I enjoy all your prepping articles and really appreciate all you do in your research of them.

  • OFBG August 2, 2016, 4:21 am

    That “weird wrist hardware” is a feature of all the British Lee-designed rifles and permitted easier, cheaper stockwork than fullstock rifles, as well as allowing fitment of different lengths of buttstocks for individual shooters. This goes along with the removable bolt heads that allow easy correction of headspace. Not weird, just different, and sensible for a battle rifle.

  • Winston August 1, 2016, 9:03 pm

    The Mosin-Nagant rifle cartridge is not a Nagant round. A Nagant round 7.62x38r is a pistol cartridge.

    • Julio Galletti August 3, 2016, 12:30 am

      Wow!! You are absolutely right. I had even forgotten that the Mosin-Nagant revolvers even existed. If my memory serves me, they were great big beautiful top break monsters, even prettier than the Webley .455. Maybe they were not top breaks, i just can’t be sure, but i remember them being massive and beautiful. I had the pleasure of seeing one or two, as trade ins, when i worked in the gun biz back in the 80’s.

  • J. D. Smith August 1, 2016, 2:46 pm

    15 dollar Enfields. Wish I had bought guns back in the 60’s when I was a kid instead of buying minibikes and dirt bikes and whatever it was I spent my money on. Had a lot of it, mowed lawns and had a paper route AND allowance. You know I can remember ads for Argentine Mausers in the back pages of Sgt. Rock and other military comic books, seems like they wanted 17 bucks or something like that and I thought at the time who would want such a thing? I imagined guys who used them wore big white sombreros and short white pants and ammo belts draped around their torsos. Man if it wasn’t a Garand or M1 Carbine or Thompson or M16 it couldn’t be worth even 17 bucks. Now they want 350-450 and up for one with an intact crest on the receiver. And I did wind up buying one, fortunately it was several years ago and was only about 75 bucks. And I do own an Enfield too, a No. 4 Mk 1/2, one that was rebuilt after the war. Good rifles. Of course all my old military guns are good guns.

  • Thunder 2-1 August 1, 2016, 12:24 pm

    I collect all kinds of old military weapons and finally found the Enfield to fit my group. a couple of my Garands are rare and very nice, others just really neat old guns. my Enfield is an American made, made by Savage Arms in 1944 for the Lend Lease program for Britain. nothing fancy about it, just a neat old gun that I haven’t had time to fire yet.

  • CWO John Miller (RET) August 1, 2016, 11:29 am

    Back in the ’50s, Interarms (Ye Old Hunter) brought thousands of #1 MKIIIs in for $9.95. Some gems in that batch for sure.
    The best surplus ammo (if you can find it) is Greek head stamped “HXP” made for “DAD’S ARMY” reserves in the UK.
    This is non-corrosive, non cordite loaded, 174 grain ball & shoots very accurately !!! It is not as hot as MK 8z but much
    kinder to barrels than the highly erosive cordite powder loads. Our Aussie friend Brian Labudda has a monograph out
    showing the accurization of the Lee Enfields as done “DOWN UNDER”!! It is well worth the modest price and can be
    found on the “net”. Sierra Bullets has a 0.311″ “MATCH KING 174 grain bullet available that shoots ragged holes thru
    the match conditioned #4 rifles & quite well thru the #1 MKIIIs (they are a temperamental beast)
    Good luck shooting these rifles and I know you will enjoy the experience Miller (Ye Ole CRAB)

    • Julio Galletti August 3, 2016, 12:42 am

      Are these the same people that bought surplus Mannlicher Carcano rifles and sold them for $9.95? Just busting your chops. πŸ™‚ Anybody that knows anything knows that a surplus 6.5 mm Carcano could have never made the shots in question.

  • Al Caplan August 1, 2016, 11:16 am

    $200 Enfields? I bought my first Enfield for $15! Of course, that was in 1966. It was my deer rifle for many years. Today I have a No 5 Mark 1 and a No 4 Mark I (T). Of all rifles, the Enfield still ranks high with me.

  • Darren August 1, 2016, 10:57 am

    The grenade launcher attachment was a throwback to WW1 where an attachment similar to a coffee can and would fire an infantryman’s Mills bomb hand grenade. The SMLE was used as a standard issue rifle in WW1 commonwealth wide with the earlier versions having a magazine cutoff device which would allow individual loading of speciality rounds when needed…This was later discontinued to save time and materials from later rifles as mass production of WW1 kicked in. As WW2 started the SMLE was still the standard rifle for all British and commonwealth troops with the later adoption of the No4 mk1 by British troops but the SMLE was still in general service with commonwealth units right up until 1945. Jump forward nearly 50 years and the British army was using the L42 sniper rifle during Desert storm which was a rechambered No4 mk1 in 7.62N and minus some woodwork, To this day as far as I know the SMLE is still used by Canadian artic rangers as the Enfield just keeps going even in the harshest enviroment.. An excellant rifle in any version.( ok except maybe the Mk5) but I bought a 7.62N chambered Indian Ishapore Mk2a for $250 and considered myself damn lucky most now days seem to run around $350 and up

    • OFBG August 2, 2016, 4:05 am

      Actually, the magazine cutoff was not intended for loading “specialty rounds” but for general use. The SMLE, as well as the later No.4 Enfield (and the American Krag and Springfield) were designed as single-shot rifles, with the magazine held “in reserve” as the Ordnance (and supply) folks feared that otherwise, soldiers would “waste” ammunition. The cutoff was discontinued not only to save production time and materials, but in recognition of the realities of the modern battlefield. While the SMLE and later No. 4 Enfields used a removable 10-round magazine, they were issued with only one; the rifle was intended to be reloaded by stripper clips.

  • UncleNat August 1, 2016, 10:56 am

    Wow, pair one of those with a 1907 bayonet and you have a truly badass sword (60-inch)–I’d take it over the kantana or broadsword any day, even with the hangfire ammo (referencing the post a couple weeks ago). Good job Paul.

  • George McMurtry August 1, 2016, 6:45 am

    I have 2 No. 1 Mk III, 1 No. 4 Mk I (with grenade launcher) and 1 No.5 Mk I. One of the No. 1’s has import marks the others do not. I use Sellier & Bellot ammo which is good stuff and have never bought mil surp ammo for the .303. They are a “kick” to use (literally) I wear a shoulder pad when I shoot them or the Nagants, Mausers, Schmidt Rubins, etc. A lot of fun can be had ringing steel plates at 100 and 200 yards. I believe they run out of effectiveness shortly after that. The Mauser and Schmidt Rubin are effective well beyond that range. Part of this issue is iron sights and 73 year old eyes. My Nagant Snipers can plink away at 400 yds as the scope helps tremendously. If you want to collect the WWI and WWII rifles, the Enfield needs to be part of that collection. Just think, you can still shoot up to a century old rifle and hit what you aim at and they never go down in value.

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