Saturday, May 4, 2013

SMLE rebuild attempt 1

Well, the smle arrived and I'm not impressed. I ordered a new stock, forestock and handguards from Numrich and stock bands and screws from Sarco. Here's what I started with:

 Yeah, pretty awful, but that's just wood. What's worse is what I find next. The charger bridge (the piece that goes across the top of the receiver to hold the stripper clips) has obviously been broken off and welded.

Here are the original photographs.

If you have trouble seeing
the break, I've highlighted it here.

And to add insult to injury, here's the last straw:

 That's right, Bubba the gun mangler shortened the barrel by a good 3 inches, so it no longer fits in the forestock. Well, that means another order to Numrich and wait another couple of weeks while I figure out how to fake up a barrel wrench and an action wrench, cause I'm already $300 into this project, which is as much even a good SMLE is worth, let alone this one.

On the other hand, took it out to run a few rounds through it today. I was worried about the welded charger bridge, but that piece is just pinned in normally, and by all reports the rifle operates just fine without it. Still, it was worrisome, so I threw a sandbag over the action when I fired it the first time. Just in case. Also, I checked the headspace. I used a dime for the low space (a US dime is approx .060 inches) and a nickel (approximately .075 inches) for the no-go gauge.I had to cut them down with bolt cutters to get them in, but they checked out just fine. This is not exact, but could be improved with a bit of sandpaper.

Anyway, the gun fires beautifully. The trigger is a bout 3 lbs, with a nice clean break. I wasn't really aiming, just trying to get a feel for the gun, but bullets went downrange very accurately. The recoil on the  other hand, well, the phrase "kicks like a mule" isn't enough. More like "kicks like a rage-fueled mule on steroids." The first round I braced on my bicep, with the action under a sandbag. I didn't want to put my face that close to a 70 year-old gun that had been abused. The kick was very painful, no bruises yet though. After that, I fired from the shoulder, one shot kneeling and one laying down, both braced on the shoulder. The recoil was serious, but not painful.