Managing the Enfield

Introduction > Rifle > Equipment > Ammunition > Shooting > Cleaning > Bedding


Opinions vary on the subject of the choice of gunpowder. It is the writer’s opinion that the best results are obtained with fine grain or fast powders in the Enfield. There are many who would dispute this but on one point all are agreed. The powder should be clean burning. TPPH is regarded as a good powder by most although in the writer’s opinion the best that has been available in modern times was TS20 which was produced by ICI over twenty years ago and is now, sadly, no more. This was in essence a pre-war quality Diamond Grain No.2. and may well have been just that, long lost in some vault and resuscitated in response to urgent demands for something better than the “Nutty Slack” we were cursed with in the 1970’s. Today the powder question has become very confused with a variety of new brands appearing although the Swiss is said to be by far the best. The amount to use will be covered in the section on loading. The Rules of the Muzzle Loaders Association of Great Britain and of the International Governing Body forbid the use of anything other than factory made black powder. This rules out Pyrodex and like compositions. The writer does not intend to discuss the merits or demerits of these other compositions and will content himself with saying he will use nothing but black powder.

There is only one sort of lead for the Enfield bullet. It has to be purest that can be found. The real refined 99.9% pure can now be bought in ingot form and is recommended although the writer has found that, in general, old lead water pipe is sufficiently pure and, if you have been re-plumbing your house, cheap as well. Remember to ensure that any soldered joints are removed before melting it down. The techniques of casting will not be gone into in any depth. It is sufficient to remember that the mould must be clean and hot and the lead hot. The cast bullet should be clean and without wrinkles but not presenting a frosty appearance which comes from excessive heat. The complete casting tyro is recommended to one of the works on this subject such as the R.C.B.S. CAST BULLET MANUAL.

The lubrication for the Enfield cannelured bullet can be performed with proprietary mixtures such as Mini Lube or Bore Butter but these are very soft and messy to apply because their soft nature requires them to be applied on the spot with the fingers. This is also time wasting. The traditional mixture is a combination of plumber’s tallow and beeswax, usually in the proportions of about 80% tallow to 20% beeswax, although for hot weather the beeswax proportion can be increased. An old saucepan containing this mixture can be heated up, used and allowed to cool down indefinitely, merely topping up the supply as necessary. It is recommended to carry out this operation in a well ventilated place as the smell can cause the average wife to ban the perpetrator from the kitchen for ever. To lubricate the bullets, it is sufficient to hold them near the point with a pair of long nosed pliers or adjustable grips and dip them up to the top groove into the hot mixture for two or three seconds. Lift them out, pausing for a few moments to allow any surplus grease to drip back into the pan and place them base down on a piece of kitchen paper towel. Enough grease will remain in the grooves to lubricate them perfectly. When the grease has set, the lubricated bullets should be packed carefully into a suitable container. It is advisable not to grease more than you will need for immediate use as prolonged storage causes the grease to harden and crack as well as encouraging oxidation on the surface of the lead. Clean new bullets without grease can be made in bulk and kept ready for greasing when required.