Month: August 2006

SMLE Conversion

Posted by on August 18, 2006

A kind member sent me some pics of an Ishapore made SMLE No2A which is virtually an exact copy of the No1 except for two things. First, it is chambered for the 7.62 NATO cartridge, and second it uses modern metallurgy to handle the pressure. As we all know the No1 is not strong enough to handle 7.62 pressure safely.I was not so much interested in the 7.62 as conversion to other calibres and what alterations to the bolt head in particular might be needed. The 303 Rim is almost as big as the bolt head. The SMLE extracts and ejects by forcing the rim against the left receiver wall and holding it there until it strikes the ejector stud. I figured that it wouldn’t work too well with smaller case heads. The Ishapore No2A does it with nothing more than a longer extractor hook which surprised me as I was expecting more radical modifications. That means a No1 or No4 can be rebarrelled for any of the many calibres that share the 12mm case head diameter, or the belted magnums, as long as pressures are kept within SMLE limits.Conversion to smaller heads like the 223 are more complicated but still not difficult. The favoured method is to silver solder a ring to the bolt face to create a recess. It is a popular conversion in thre UK and Australia. As a matter of interest back thrust not chamber pressure is the limiting factor. The 7.62 NATO is not practical because both chamber pressure and back thrust are greater than the 303 British. But the 223, although having a higher chamber pressure, is safe because the back thrust on the bolt is much less than the 303.This means that the SMLE action can easily be converted to other calibres. Also that it is easier in some than the 98 Mauser. At the very least, don’t be too quick to write the SMLE off, and if you have one, or an action or two, they might be more useful than you had thought.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

357 Mag in Rifles

Posted by on August 11, 2006

Thanks to Rolly G and others who answered my question about 357 Mag performance in rifles. As I expected it all related to LA rifles but that’s not important as the data will be the same for other action types. Indeed, with fast powders like MP and S265 there is no benefit in barrels longer than 18 inches. Besides, the velocities quoted are more than enough for what I’m looking at.Just for general interest I’m looking at converting an SMLE to a pistol calibre for short range use. Why not 22LR? Don’t like it, too boring, I like handloading. I don’t mind travelling occasionally to a range suitable for centre fire rifle, but I want something that looks and feels man sized that will be fired on my local 50m range. I argue that 50m is hardly satisfying for rifle but some shooting can still be enjoyed at that range. But there’s not much point in the cost of centrefire rifle ammo, even handloads. Yeah, I can shoot cast 303 loads as I do in my 308, but I fancy something different, something unusual.The other issue is SABS. We have no guarantee that our range will be OK’d for rifle, especially as we have had a running battle about it with the council, and residential development is getting closer. It will be more difficult to refuse handgun calibres in rifles.My idea is to fit a medium heavy barrel, one piece laminated stock, and a decent override trigger that I will have to make. The SMLE bolt will extract a 357 case easily. It won’t eject reliably without extractor and possibly bolt head mods but that won’t be necessary for single shot.Before somebody mentions it, I know there are other suitable cartridges, some of which will work with the existing barrel, like the 32 S&W Long and the 32-20. But they are a bit light if one wants the flexibility to reach a bit further occasionally. The smaller cases also need bolts head mods.Several years ago Lithgow made a batch of 22 Hornet sporters for Slazenger. They told me that they had considered also making them in 310 Cadet which was popular in Australia. So the idea of converting the SMLE to small calibre is not new. In fact No1 and No4 rifles are presently being converted to 223 in Australia and the UK. I might post something about that later.Am I crazy? Yeah, a little. I’ll probably never get it done either. It’s a lot of work for an amateur with too many other more pressing things to do. So don’t ask, it will only embarrass me. There’s no harm in dreaming provided that’s not all one does.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]

Paper Patching

Posted by on August 10, 2006

For those who might be interested in paper patching, I have just completed my first reading of Paul Matthews’ “The Paper Jacket.” My first impression is that it is pretty good and worth buying. Lacks detail in places, but that’s probably true of most technical books. I know from my own experience how completion can be delayed by small details that resist sorting out, and in the end one publishes without them on the basis that the rest is sufficient. Nonetheless it contains a lot of detail that probably is not available anywhere else. I doubt if Matthews is still with us, as he was not young when he wrote it in 1990. He played with paper patching for forty years and hunted a lot with them, so his book is authoritative. Soft covers, 152 x 228mm ( 6 x 9 inches ) 140 pages.Regrettably this and his other books are out of print. They were published by Wolfe Publishing. But some are still available from one UK supplier and a few in the US. Mine cost 15 pounds from the UK all inclusive.Although interest in paper patching is more likely to be for inexpensive practice bullets particularly for big bore rifles, Matthews declares paper patch bullets to be the ultimate expanding bullet. He reckons they hugely outperform jacketed bullets for hunting especially at moderate velocities. He argues that jacketed bullets are velocity dependent for expansion, while the soft lead bullets expand reliably at practically all velocities. Reckons that was the secret of clean kills at long range by buffalo hunters in the old west.His book is well worth reading for anyone interested in these old techniques. I offer it for what it might be worth. He wrote half a dozen books all about black powder guns and ammo. Probably all good if this one is any guide.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]