Over the holidays, I managed to take a trip across the border to Niagara Falls USA, and pick up some (much) earlier purchases that were mailed to our PO box. One such parcel was a complete P14 stock from a decommissioned rifle.
The rifle stock was complete, with the 1/2” diameter hole cut horizontally through the centre (which presumably would correspond with a hole drilled through the receiver, rendering the rifle de-commissioned). The stock had a broad white stripe with a narrower red stripe in the middle around the magazine area, and a stencilled F (I think) on the butt-stock.
The overall condition was fair to poor - the rear handguard was badly affected by the drilling - most of the lip was gone at the rear. The whole thing was blackened and felt very greasy. I took a cotton scrubby cloth (for kitchen use) and rubbed the greasy coating away with lukewarm water, until the wood felt clean to the touch (trying not to remove any markings etc or over-soak the wood). There were a couple of the spring clips still attached. Luckily I had separately ordered the rear clip that secures the rear handguard at the receiver end. I prized out the front clip for the rear handguard from the damaged one. I had earlier received a handguard kit, which was missing that spring.
Then I took apart my P14 sporter pictured here:
I painstakingly gently scraped away the centre stripes and the stencilled letters trying not not scrape off any wood or other marks (paint under the stencilled letters). I settled for 95% rather than risk scraping off any wood. Then I removed the front sight (prior to slipping on the front nosecap). I banged away at that with a rubber mallet before I realized that a tiny pin was holding it in place - I drifted that out and the nosecap came off with a couple of taps.
I slipped the barrel and action into the replacement stock - it fit easily, perhaps a little loosely. I slipped on the rear handguard ring, the centre handguard securing ring, and the nosecap. I then fitted the spring clips to the rear and front handguards and slotted them into place. I then squeezed the centre ring closed with pliers and tightened its screw, taking care to have the handguards correctly located. After that I was able to locate and secure the nosecap with its screw. Then I could re-install the front sight. Here I had my first mishap - I snapped the pin while attempting to drift it back into place. However, it was holding on one side. I could then tap the remaining fragment in to secure the other side and leave it as a problem for another day (I know, probably a bad idea). I took a chance now and centered the front sight post (it had been off to the right since I bought the gun - and was shooting straight already).
All that remained was to check all my screws and bands for correct positioning and tightness, and then to liberally oil the gun with raw linseed oil and polish it up. Several applications later, the newer parts were beginning to blend in.
After this (and a few days of oiling and polishing) I took both my previously refurbished SMLE and the P14 to the range and tested them.
The picture above shows the result for the P14. A 5-shot group with 2.5 inches at 100 yards. And before you ask, this was not the “best group of a day spent shooting”, this was the first and only group with the P14 - well actually the second - the first group was above the paper and so I couldn’t record it properly. I was using the 300 yard battle sight, and I suspect that at 100 yards it would and should shoot significantly high. Thus I taped another target sheet just above the one I was using, and shot another 5 shots holding on the lower target as before. The image is on the upper target - so high by about 9.5”. I need to check the ballistics of the specific round I was firing, but it doesn’t surprise me that it was that high.
== Edit == Just discovered I was using a 125 gr hunting round instead of the 175 gr ball that the sights were made for. I have since reloaded a few 180 gr ball (Speer Hot-core FMJ) which should be much closer to the sights design, and I will post when I have some results.
I love it. A 2.5” group with iron sights at 100 yards is probably as good as my marksmanship allows. In other words, at 105 years this rifle is still better than I am! Notice that most of the stringing is vertical - this is a good sign. It means I can perhaps get even better accuracy by hand loading. Altogether I am very impressed. Ecstatic almost.
What about the SMLE?
Oh, right. I was hoping you had forgotten about that. Well, I fired 5 shots at a paper with that rifle too. I got one hole within an inch of the bullseye. And that was it. The rest all missed the paper. It would seem I have some “tuning” still to do regarding the stocking of that baby. You can’t win them all - at least not on first try. I will post when I have chance to investigate further.