Gun Review – Enfield .303 British Review

Marty from is starting to look more and more familiar around Haus of Guns. But who can blame us for using him? He’s got great experience, no shortage of words, and a great collection of gear for us to introduce and review!

A couple months ago we expressed our appreciation and love for historical firearms especially rifles that have seen extensive duty in major world conflicts. In that expression, we introduced the newest addition to Marty’s collection in the Lee Enfield 303 British Number 1 Mark 4. It wasn’t an original condition piece, rearsonaled in 1944 at the Long Branch Armory in England, but we got a great deal on it and we like to shoot our battle rifles to see what the fuss was about to begin with.

One of the credits to the Enfield is that it boasts a 10 round removable magazine, one of the first and most functional ever in a bolt action battle rifle. This may not seem like a lot by today’s standards, but considering the American Springfield 03 A1-A1 only held 5 rounds in an internal magazine, this advantage gave the Enfield ultimate staying power allowing it to be the British’s issue rifle of choice for the better part of 50 years.

The 303 British cartridge isn’t smaller than the 7.62 Nato (308 Winchester) by much, but from my personal experience, the recoil feels much less in comparison. Part of that could be how front heavy the Enfield is thanks to an EXTREMELY short Length of Pull (LOP) which is the distance from the trigger to the rear buttstock on the rifle. I’ve found 14+ inches to be ideal for someone my height and though I didn’t measure it I’d venture to guess that it measures at 12 inches or under, which really makes the rifle front heavy, greatly reducing the felt recoil as so much is absorbed in the weight out front.

The sights are a very accurate aperture/peep system which can be flipped up for distance and the trigger and safety are interesting ones. The trigger feel is similar to what you might find on a Mauser K98 with some takeup then a light and clean break on the rear wall. The safety (pictured right) lies on the LEFT side of the bolt action near the rear tang and operates from 10 o’clock (fire) to 12 o’clock (standby) and 3 o’clock (safe) which is contrary to what most Americans will know from their sporting and military bolt rifles. The shorter Length of Pull will affect taller shooters as your cheek weld is further up putting your face near the knuckle on your thumb which can jump at your face in recoil.

Overall it’s a fun shooter with a fast operating bolt, lower recoil and accurate open sights. This rifle has been around so long and is popular enough that ammo is plentiful and sporterizations are many and upgrades available as well.

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16 Responses to Enfield .303 British Review

  1. Wade says:

    In reference to the front heavy and also mild recoil of this weapon. A sporterized version of this model makes a great first hunting rifle for our younger shooters who have trouble with full 14″ LOP guns while maintaining and sizable caliber for medium to large game in North America. Keep in mind the caliber size is slightly larger than our .308 with typical bullet diameters being .311 to .312 and the rimmed cartridge gives us reliable feeding and extraction no matter the hunting situation.

  2. norman stiegler says:

    great review, love the historical aspects of weapons

  3. BJ says:

    Another great article! Thanks guys.

  4. bones44 says:

    Nice job guys. I have a couple of old battlefield guns. I’ll be watching for more on these in the future too.

  5. David says:

    Just a minor correction. The Long Branch Armory is located in Canada. My No4Mk1 was manufactured there.

    • Ebbs says:

      Thanks for the fix, David!

    • David, thanks for the correction. From my research I knew that and quite clearly misspoke. Funny sometimes how things just slip out while the camera is “rolling”. Am having a blast getting to participate with “Ebbs” from time to time. Marty

      • David says:

        Anytime. I have been collecting milsurp firearms since before I was legally allowed to(thanks Dad!). There is a series of books that provide a lot of really useful information about many different types of old milsurps. I believe that they are published as the “For Collectors Only” series. If you are looking to identify all of the marks that you find on an Enfield, Mosin-Nagant or any number of other types of old military firearms, check out this series. It helped me to learn that my No.4Mk.1 was issued to someone from New Zealand during WW2. Too bad the rifle was sporterized by K-Mart back in the 60’s.

  6. […] What do you get when you take a 70 year old battle rifle, add Lyman target front and rear peep sights, glass bed the stock and accurize the action? A TACK DRIVER!!! Dad started a collection of World War battle rifles just a little over 2 years ago and has had a blast shooting them ever since. You can check out our previous video with the British Enfield No. 4 Mk 1. […]

  7. EthanP says:

    Having had 8 Lee Enfields over the years, I believe I may have some usefull observations on this old workhorse. First, accuracy. Remember that some of these rifles were imported in very rough shape. Accuracy ran from superb to terrible. The ladder peep on the No4+5 is very good. The L peep not so much. A late manufacture BSA No1/3* was a tackdriver. A worn Australian No1/3 (1921) was not.
    Reliability: The mag springs can weaken making feeding problimatic. Usually a new mag will correct the problem. Unfortunately they’ve gotten hard to come by new and are quite expensive. Also, a 1/2 full mag can “bounce” allowing the rims to over-ride, causing a jam. This did not seem to be a problem with the Indian .308s. If I sound at all critical, I’m not. I love the the old .303 rifles and keep one still. In goog condition with good sites they are great rifles at a still reasonable price.

  8. Dad says:

    First, sorry I never came across this site before but loved the demonstrations. My son turned 16 and I am taking him white tail hunting this year. We have 2 .303 Enfield rifles my brother got me in original wrapping (#1 is a 1943, No.4-Mk 1 Long Branch (which we have shot), #2 is a 1945, No.4-Mk 2 (that we just unwrapped & cleaned {along with the bayonet). On the 1943, the peep sights are marked 300 & 800 (I assume meters). Would it be worth mounting a scope on this gun. I want to keep the 1945 original since the flip sites have one peep hole & one with variable elevation. Thanks & sorry if I over-stepped my bounds. Ric

    • EthanP says:

      If you use a .303 Lee for hunting, check your local hunting regs. Many (most) have a 5 round magazine limit. These can be had for about what I paid for my 1st #1/3.

    • Ebbs says:

      Thanks for the comments, Ric. Glad you were able to find the site and enjoy the content. In my opinion I hate seeing a modern optic mounted to anything of historical value. If it’s the type of setup where you could find an old period-specific optic that would match the rifle then it would be super cool. That’s just my 2 cents. And questions are awesome, never overstepping bounds in any way!

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