Yes, I had already done found myself jonesin' for another rifle to work my magic on...the Mauser nicely polished and clean, all I can do with it is shoot it and maybe scrub the bore some more, until it starts to need a serious cleaning again. The call of the Enfield No4MkI was strong (fortunately not as strong as the lack of expendable income), but then it struck me...up on my wall, my first gun, the gun that stood at the ready to defend my household in the early years of my marriage (I suppose I'm still in the early years, as we enter our fifth year!), my beloved 1918 Lee Enfield SMLE No1MkIII*. A beautiful piece, with a unique bulldog-like snubby nose. It may lack a bit of the aesthetic elegance of the Mauser, but its bolt is smooth and fast, and it is built like a freaking tank. And aside from needing special tools for disassembly (I borrowed an extra long screwdriver, and I've got the special bolt/firing pin disassembly tool on order) it is fairly simple to dismantle...particularly the stock/barrel band that just swings open, instead of the Mauser ones you have to bang on and off with a mallet. I know .303 British isn't the best caliber in the world, but I'm not a hunter, and I've never had a problem with some sort of rim-based magazine jam, so I don't care.
So yes, I've got it partially disassembled. I'm thinking of baking (yes, baking) the stock in the oven to leach out any more cosmolene. The trigger assembly will be fun. There's a certain joy in cleaning these old machines. Not only the sort of therapeutic pleasure from stripping away the grime, grease, dirt, and (of course) cosmolene from the old rifles, but also in dismantling and rebuilding them from each and every pin, screw, and component...it gives an understanding I used to lack. I know now exactly how a Mauser trigger works (it's a terribly simple sort of thing). I don't do the same with my pistols because especially the small ones (like the Bersa) are so fine-tuned only a master gunsmith should muck about with them. Military rifles have a bit of leeway, and besides, I'm not depending on them as a matter of life and death.
How about, just for grins, I list out some military rifles I'd be interested in owning. Not even own, I guess...if you have one of these that hasn't been properly cleaned and degunked, I'll volunteer!
- Lee Enfield No4MkI. The classic WWII era Enfield, and main armament of the British infantry. I'm keen to snag one of these as a foil to my WWI SMLE Enfield, and to have as a shooter to use up .303, with its nicer aperture sight.
- Mosin Nagant M91/30 and M44. These were the rifles that drove the Nazis back on the Eastern front, a crude bolt-action that is a bit homely, yet still not without a bit of aesthetic charm. Chambered for the potent 7.62x54R, a rimmed round similar in ballistics to the 30-06, 8mm Mauser, and .303 British used by contemporary armies. These are cheap with a capital CHEA.
- M1 Garand. The first prominent semi-automatic battle rifle. Note I said prominent, as I'm sure there were a number of other semi-autos, but the Garand was basically the first big one. A beautiful, well balanced rifle, with an internal mag of 8 rounds of 30-06. These are NOT cheap, I assure you.
- M1 Carbine. An interesting "in between" weapon. Firing an almost absurdly unique cartridge (the .30 Carbine) that lands somewhere between pistol and rifle round, this is a fun gun to shoot; my father-in-law has one. It is a definite cobbling of compromises, with a moderate blend of power and light weight. Oh, and its got aperture sights! Also not cheap though.
- Lee Enfield Jungle Carbine. Nice little .303 gun that costs far too much, I used to really want to snag one, but collectors' prices have really driven the cost up on these. Short barrel, large flash hider, basically a miniaturized shoulder cannon. Requisite accessory, Aussie bush hat. On second thought, maybe its best I not own one of these.