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I remember hearing that the short magazine Lee Enfield rifle was, almost by accident, quite accurate at 600 yds. The cordite loads varied greatly as did the velocity and a 200 or 300 yard group was vertical. However, the hotter rounds, while giving a flatter trajectory, generated more recoil, which due to the stock design, pulled the muzzle down a bit. The result: a good 600yd group. Any truth to this?
Not quite, barrel vibration was the cause.
Short range groups showed vertical stringing, but beyond 600 yards Smelly's with irregular MV's could be as accurate as ones with closer tolerance ammunition.
Compensation was greatest - or should that be best - at around 900 to 1000 yards.
With the Lee Enfield No4 compensation was most accurate at around 1500 yards.
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Much heavier barrel on the No. 4
Indeed, no human being has yet lived under conditions which, considering the prevailing climates of the past, can be regarded as normal. John E Pfeiffer, The Emergence of Man
Those who can't skin, can hold a leg. Abraham Lincoln
Only one war at a time. Abe Again.
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Yes. It is true.
There was, by accident, a happy coincidence that a low velocity round would leave the barrel as it was being flexed "up" by the vibration and a high velocity round would leave the barrel as it was being flexed "down" by the vibration. So that the effect was that the angle of departure meant that the rounds seemed as if they had been shot as if the firer had knowingly compensated for this difference in velocity by adjusting his holdover.
I've shot the SMLE, with iron sights, at 900 and 1000 yards. I had no problem with keeping it on a man sized target at that distance. Couldn't do it now...too old...my eyes won't adjust for the sight radius. Best modern factory ammunition was South African PMP. Greek HXP is poor...in fact well stored old military GB, RL or K is better ammunition. Sellier and Bellot is about equal. My best work was always done with the PMP.
As an aside British military ammunition with the date in full as in 1933, 1934 etc., as against two digit 33, 34, etc., was the most accurate. As it was made for synchronised machine gun use. But all true military .303 was always closely controlled as it had to be safe for overhead machine gun fire over one's own soldiers heads onto an enemy position they were assaulting.
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When it was required that military ammunition be used for fullbore, Palma-type, shooting, the No.4 was very capable for this shooting and a good rifle would hold within 1 moa at 800m. I remember going out and testing rifles with a friend. Shooting the IVI ammunition which they had to use, his No4 would should a 200 yard group about 13 inches tall. Over the chronograph, it was shown that high velocity shots went low, low velocity shots went high. In competition, he used this rifle only at 700,800, and 900m. For a close range rifle, he had a heck of a time and struggled to find a rifle which would reliably shoot to 2 1/2 MOA. I recall he had one 40x with a Hart barrel which would put 168 Sierras into less than 1/2 moa. The issue ammunition would go into about nine inches at 200 yd and maintain this level of "precision" all the way out. The Lee Enfield sucked at200 but got better the further you shot.
A real wealth of information on the Lee Enfield can be found in: "The 2012 Complete Book on Lee Enfield Accurizing" by Roger Wadham of Aukland, New Zealand. I have been gunsmithing for over forty years and got my first Lee Enfield rifle fifty-five years ago and I am fascinated by the info in this book. Regards, Bill.
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