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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a #4 MK 1/3 that has a live round in the chamber and I can't extract it. I was sighting in the rifle and ran 6 rounds through it with no problems. The last round chambered like all of the rest (very easily). When I pulled the trigger I heard a snap and the round did not fire. It wasn't the primer firing either, just a soft snap as if the firing pin released but didn't set the primer off. After a few seconds I tried to remove the round and the bolt handle wouldn't budge. I finally forced it to the up position but it wouldn't pull back. I can see the brass base in the chamber but can't tell if it is still in battery or connected to the bolt. The bolt head is still in it's track (sorry, I don't know the proper term for that part). I am concerned the round may go off if I force it out. I tried a plastic hammer at the range and the bolt won't come back at all. The safety lever will not budget either and the bolt looks as if it is cocked.

Is there a safe way to resolve this issue? Thanks in advance.
 

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Is the safety lever in the off, or on position, or somewhere in between?

If the safety is off, and the bolt is fully up; with the rifle aimed in a safe direction, I'd tap the bolt handle backward with a rubber or leather hammer.

Sounds like a round left too long in total or at the shoulder.

New rounds or reloads?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
With muzzle pointed in safe direction, try pulling cocking piece fully to rear, then see if safety wll go into fire position and bolt should release.
Thanks for your replies guys. I spent 30 minutes at the range trying to pull back the bolt, even with a good blow or two with a plastic mallet. The safety and bolt won't budget even a little.

The ammo ios new brass reloads and they have all been sized. The round chambered perfectly. It just sounded like something snapped when I pulled the trigger. I know there was a primer as I always box my ammo base up.

Sounds like I head a kevlar helmet and blast shield and a bigger hammer :)
 

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If the bolt looks cocked and the safety catch won't move then it sounds to me as though the rifle is at 'half-cock'. As was said earlier, try pulling the cocking piece to the rear.

BTW, if you have been hitting the bolt with the rifle at half-cock there is good chance that you have caused some damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks. I hadn't heard of the SMLE "Half Cocked" issue until I searched on this site and found someone else who had the same issue. It has never happened to me before. I lowered the bolt, pulled the cocking piece back and the bolt came up and back and all is well. No damage either from my shots with a mallet. I'll buy a book on the SMLE now. Thanks to everyone for your help. I am sure the proper book will explain why someone came up with the half-cocked design :)
 

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I am sure the proper book will explain why someone came up with the half-cocked design :)
It is a form of safety device. It is extremely rare for a rifle to half-cock on firing.

BTW when I was in the CCF at school (some years back) it was a favourite wheeze to leave a rifle half-cocked for unsuspecting recruits. However such treatment meant that one never forgot it.
 

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Hence the term, "going off half cocked", I particularly like the Australian version :)

Go off at half-cock

Meaning
Speak or act prematurely.
Origin
Flintlock firearms have a 'cock' or striker mechanism, which is held in a raised, sprung position ready to discharge and make a spark to 'fire' the gun. These can be set at half-cock, when the gun is in a safe state, or at full-cock, when it is ready to be fired. A gun would only 'go off at half-cock' by mistake.
The term half-cock is as old as flintlock guns and appears in print from the mid 18th century. For example, in John Desaguliers' A course of experimental philosophy 1734–44:
"The gun being at Half-Cock, the Spring acts upon the Tumbler with more Advantage."
The earliest known citation of the phrase 'going off at half-cock' comes from London and Its Environs Described, 1761:
"Some arms taken at Bath in the year 1715, distinguished from all others in the Tower, by having what is called dog locks; that is, a kind of lock with a catch to prevent their going off at half-cock."
We now commonly use 'go off at half-cock' or, in America, 'go off half-cocked', to mean 'speak or act impulsively and without proper preparation'. This clearly alludes to the sudden discharge of a firearm. Despite that, the first figurative use of the phrase had a completely different meaning. When the 'half-cocked' imagery was first appropriated it was to mean tipsy, or half-drunk. This was the meaning intended in John Shebbeare's novel Lydia, 1786:
"Who should enter unto the company, but young Captain Firebrace, half-cocked... come hither to finish his evening's potation."
There doesn't appear to be any particular link between the mechanics of firearms and drunkenness. Several other 'half' phrases were also used in the 18th century to mean 'half-drunk'. 'Half-seas-over' was a nautical term that is listed in the first slang dictionary BE's Dictionary of the Canting Crew, circa 1700, with the meaning 'almost drunk'. Another example is 'half-and-half', which, in addition to being the name of a mixture of equal parts ale and porter, was also listed as a term meaning 'tipsy'.
This meaning of 'half-cocked' was taken up with particular enthusiasm in Australia. Clearly, they felt they hadn't enough terms for drunkenness and wanted to expand their repertoire. Fergus Hume's Madame Midas: a story of Australian mining life, 1888, explained the term:
"This last drink reduced Mr. Villiers to that mixed state which is known in colonial phrase as half-cocked."
By 1888, the rest of the English-speaking world had opted for the current meaning of 'half-cock' and 'half-cocked'. For example, in To-day in Ireland, 1825:
"Master Dillon - never let an insult go off half-cock."
Across the Atlantic, The Register of Debates in Congress, 1833, recorded the opinions of Dutee Pearce of Rhode Island:
"I regret that the gentleman from Maryland has gone off half cocked."
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I love my #4 and the "Half-Cocked" issue has forced me to learn my rifle. If I can get it to shoot as well as my M96! Thanks again to all of you. I was worried I has going to have to use it as a tomato stake!
 
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