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Anyone got any pictures of SMLE / No.4 kabooms?

#1
I'm struggling to find any pictures of blown-up Lee-Enfields. No problems finding blown up Mauser pics though....

Anyone got any? I'd like to look at the mode of failure.
 
#2
Found this one of a 2A1 - looks like it started as a chamber failure, blew part of the bolthead off and cracked the bolt.
 
#3
Are you lining up for another salt mining video?

You're a bad man :)
 
#4
Are you lining up for another salt mining video?

You're a bad man :)
If we can get on the kit, we're going to put one of each Swiss straight-pull, a German-made 98 Mauser and an SMLE receiver on a rig and apply force to the bolt face. Thus testing the pure action strength independent of any funny business with gas escape or whatever.

And thereby come up with a quantifiable value of bolt thrust that will cause an action to fail, and look at the mode of failure.

I reckon it's 50:50 as to whether the SMLE outperforms the Mauser 98.
 
#5
Found this one of a 2A1 - looks like it started as a chamber failure, blew part of the bolthead off and cracked the bolt.

Thats not a 2A1 - its a normal No1 MkIII. It even has a volley sight.

It might be worth asking Peter Laidler what the story is behind that particular rifle. Its from the Warminster collection, and is a very old specimen, not a recent failure. The fact that its in a military reference collection is an indication of how rare the failure event was! I seem to recall that one involved a deliberate bore obstruction.

Ten years or so ago, when the "Enfield Forums" were infested with trolls, we had an open challenge for anyone to post details of an Enfield catastrophic failure that did not involve handloads. Nothing was forthcoming. We did get a few broken extractors (itself an indication of a faulty load), but were unable to find a documented example of a rifle that had failed in a big way under normal use, or that had not been tampered with in some way.

I've only had one SMLE "die" on me. That rifle had been converted to .410 and then back to .303 again, so was already extremely worn. It died in the classic SMLE non-catastrophic manner: over the course of a shoot, the bolt started to grate, and then began to bind. A small crack developed from the ejector screw hole downwards. The receiver had just distorted enough to impede the bolt, but that was all.

That failure was less than 50 rounds after new proof, so that tells you all you need to know about the proof system!

I should have kept that rifle as a specimen but, being a good dealer, I polished it up, gave it a WW1 provenance story, and sold it on...... (Just kidding! Its now a de-act somewhere....)
 
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#6
If we can get on the kit, we're going to put one of each Swiss straight-pull, a German-made 98 Mauser and an SMLE receiver on a rig and apply force to the bolt face. Thus testing the pure action strength independent of any funny business with gas escape or whatever.

And thereby come up with a quantifiable value of bolt thrust that will cause an action to fail, and look at the mode of failure.

I reckon it's 50:50 as to whether the SMLE outperforms the Mauser 98.

Would applying mechanical force to the boltface (via a hydraulic press or similar) give a fair simulation of the cartridge firing sequence that the weapon was designed for? For example, I imagine that the Enfield action utilises elastic distortion of the receiver to absorb firing stress, but that this occurs over a very short time period.

The Textbook of Small Arms reprint has a very interesting section under "the strength of actions". Thats where it details the ability of the No1 receiver & cartridge to withstand 30T proof loads, cf the failure of several of the contemporary Mauser actions. Not sure how much of that was due to the strength of a rimmed case vs rimless at the case periphery, or if it was to do with overall bolt thrust.
 
#7
Bad case of the Somme got to this one:

IMG_4465.JPG
 
#8
Would applying mechanical force to the boltface (via a hydraulic press or similar) give a fair simulation of the cartridge firing sequence that the weapon was designed for? For example, I imagine that the Enfield action utilises elastic distortion of the receiver to absorb firing stress, but that this occurs over a very short time period.

The Textbook of Small Arms reprint has a very interesting section under "the strength of actions". Thats where it details the ability of the No1 receiver & cartridge to withstand 30T proof loads, cf the failure of several of the contemporary Mauser actions. Not sure how much of that was due to the strength of a rimmed case vs rimless at the case periphery, or if it was to do with overall bolt thrust.
Found it. No raw data though.

strength of actions.jpg


What we're going to test only looks at the pure locking strength, and doesn't look at anything like massive destruction by escaping gas from a failed casehead (à la 1903 Springfield), the chamber giving way, and so on. What we're looking at is the pure strength of the action independent of any barrel or ammunition-related issues.
 
#9

Incidentally, that extract also underlines the complete nonsense people talk about the "dangers" of wet or oiled ammunition, or the detrimental effects it can have on a weapon.

Quite apart from the apparent inability of some people to wonder why any nation would issue a military firearm that was damaged by rain, its always been documented that British service ammunition was intended to be stored, prepared and used in a lightly-oiled condition. As indicated the normal Service pressure specified for the round was the oiled pressure, not the dry pressure.

South Africa, India and Yugoslavia were still manufacturing .303" ball with waxed coatings right up until the end of their military production runs in the 1980s.
 

overopensights

ADC
Book Reviewer
#10
A little off topic, but the Indian manufactured ammo you mention, it gave a few misfires in Malaya, we were using Enfield No 5 Carbines on rangework, the failure was the percussion caps in the rounds. It was something that I never saw happen again in the army.

Regarding weapons of WW1:
I read recently that the British took a Battle Rifle.
The Americans took a Target Rifle
The Germans took a Hunting Rifle
And the Russian just took a Rifle.
 
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#12
2A1's had Volley sights and mag cutoffs?
yeah, sorry - the thread I robbed that from was about a 2a1 kaboom. I didn't look further than that...
 
#13
Perhaps the question to ask is, has anyone ever seen a Lee-Enfield action wrecked with the barrel still intact?
 
#14
Here's a nice example of a modern gun that does not seem to have any form of gas venting built into it at all giving out as a result of a case head failure, probably caused by a bore obstruction:

 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#15
That's from the firearm blog and is allegedly a .243 which maybe had a cleaning patch still in the bore, the action parted opposite the gas relief hole,which didn't relieve anything. Theory is that the barrel was removed for the photograph.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#16
Looks like a Tikka T3, which I don't recall having vent holes, the receivers are all lost wax investment castings and all one size.
 
#19
If we can get on the kit, we're going to put one of each Swiss straight-pull, a German-made 98 Mauser and an SMLE receiver on a rig and apply force to the bolt face. Thus testing the pure action strength independent of any funny business with gas escape or whatever.

And thereby come up with a quantifiable value of bolt thrust that will cause an action to fail, and look at the mode of failure.

I reckon it's 50:50 as to whether the SMLE outperforms the Mauser 98.
If you measure and record (or dig up suitable drawings of) the geometry of each mechanism, you might be able to find someone who could run some analysis for you. It sounds like an interesting test case.
 

WALT

War Hero
#20
I'm a bit dim on the mechanics, but are your tests going to be destructive? I can't see a way of quantifying the forces until the bolts give way. I can't see you getting many volunteers for that. And these rifles aren't as abundant as they used to be.
 

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