Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

SMLE No1 Mk1***


Stevie
 Share

Recommended Posts

I couldn't think of any other way to introduce myself to the forum members other than show my latest addition to my small collection of WW1 memorabilia.

I was fortunate enough to pick up a considerably rare SMLE No1 Mk1*** which seems to have remained untouched since its last upgrade in 1911. In its original guise as a Mk1* rifle it would of course have been without the charger bridge. Evidence of its original charger loading system is evident when the picture of the right side of the receiver shows the 'stop' for the charger guide which was affixed to the bolt head. This feature was usually ground off during the upgrade.

Another oddity is the volley sight which is numbered from 1500 yds to 2500 yds. This doesn't conform to the usual plate fixed to the SMLE. Close examination shows that the original numbers were ground out and replaced with what is now seen. Usually I would be tempted to remove the plate and replace it with a known example. But the problem is that this plate looks as though it has always been part of the gun, and as such, it must have these numbers for a good reason. The rear sling swivel is of the early single post type which has been modified by welding to a flat plate similar to the type used on the Mk111.

All woodwork is totally original to the rifle. The fore stock, nose cap and receiver are matching numbers. The bolt is a close (ish) match. I think that the rework of the top hand guard is more likely to be a modification rather than a repair. The rifle was re-barrelled in 1908, and then upgraded in 1909, 1910, and finally in 1911. At some point in its career it was downgraded to 'emergency use only' (EY), and then further downgraded to DP. I have owned several SMLE's in my time, but this has to be the most original and complete pre WW1 that I have ever had.

Apologies if images have turned out small, I have to work out the best size to use.

Cheers,

Steve.

post-120361-0-57311800-1424119292_thumb.

post-120361-0-92552400-1424119301_thumb.

post-120361-0-17291400-1424119567.jpg

post-120361-0-67465900-1424119666.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Close up of the volley sight.

post-120361-0-12300500-1424120058_thumb.


Close up of the charger 'stop' to the right of the receiver.

post-120361-0-99371400-1424120208_thumb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

very nice find, welcome to the forum, I'm sure the firearms experts will have some comments

regards

Bob R.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The conversions are always nice to have. The volley sight was probably recalibrated when your rifle was converted to fire Mk.VII ammunition.

"Charger stop", never heard that one before. Do you mean the the magazine cut-off? Or the charger guide?

You may want to check that the magazine is fully home.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Charger stop", never heard that one before. Do you mean the the magazine cut-off? Or the charger guide?

I think Steve is referring to the shaped right side of the receiver which stopped the bolt head mounted charger guide (which is of course superfluous once a charger bridge is fitted and bolt head guide removed)

Excellent rifle. Like Beerhunter I think the conversion are fascinating. Is the wrist of the rifle stamped MkI*** or does it retain its MkI* mark? or...maybe MkI**? what year is stamped there I think you said 1906 in the previous post?

When you mentioned it on the other thread I asked if the rifle had a CR prefixed serial number? The reason I asked this was quite a few of these conversions that appear on the market do and they are a from a batch of converted rifles supplied to Ireland.

Is there any evidence of naval stamping on the rifle (N by the boltway or on the receiver under the safety) Skennerton suggests that quite a few of the conversions were done in the naval workshops and there were several marks that were specifically naval approvals

Is the rifle stamped HV on the barrel by the rear sight? (indicating it had been resighted for the MkVII round) The graduation of the volley sight is interesting the standard being 1600-2800 yards....although there were variations on the MLE etc that differed I am struggling to think of one for the SMLE graduated to this range. 1500-2600yds is I think the standard marking for PATTERN 1914 rifles so it is possible your rifle has picked up a P14 volley sight base along the way!

Is it stamped with anything under the pointer? typically SMLE volley sight bases are marked LES, LES 2 or LES III - the LES 2 dial plate is the usual one for MkVII round converted rifles.

Your rifle appears to have had its original foresight protector either modified or replaced as it is of the later straighter shape rather than the inward curving early type

Is the fore end the original pattern with the inner barrel band directly under the outer? or is it the later type with it moved an inch back?

A great example of all the sorts of things to look out for!

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your reply - and you too Bob.

I think I had best clarify a little bit more on this particular rifle. It is actually a history lesson in its own right when it comes to the 'smelly.' The rifle I briefly touched upon in my post on serial numbers is a 1906 dated LSA & Co SMLE No1 Mk1* which was at some time in its life converted to .22cal by Alf J Parker - not to be confused with his father; Alf. G. Parker of later Parker-Hale fame.

This particular rifle is an Enfield manufactured, 1906 dated, SMLE No1 Mk1* upgraded to Mk1***. The serial number is 'T', so it isn't one of the converted rifles destined for Ireland. The word 'conversion' is probably the wrong choice for this particular rifle, as all the converted rifles (COND) rifles were converted Lee Metford's or Long Lee Enfield's. The rifle was originally built as an SMLE and was only 'upgraded' to later marks. There are no COND stamps on the butt socket, only the dates of the upgrades.

The barrel was replaced in 1908 and carries the normal proof stamp (crossed flags P). And then on the receiver it carries the crossed flags N which show that it was upgraded to Mk1*** at the Royal Naval Ordnance Depot. The cocking piece is also stamped with an 'N', but not the butt socket. This suggests to me that it was upgraded for Army use rather than Navy. I know that Skennerton uses the word 'conversion' in the text for this rifle, but in my opinion this leads to confusion with the rifles which were Lee Metford's and Long Lee Enfield's converted to short rifles.

The volley sight... There are no markings on the plate, but the pointer carries the WD stamp. I did wonder if the sight was off a P14, but as I previously stated the numbers have at some point been ground off and replaced. I'm not sure if the line spacing's are closer together on this plate than is the case on the P14. At the end closest to the number the divisions are just a fraction over 1mm in width. I have no intention of removing the plate to inspect further, as this may result in damaging the edges of the wood around the plate - and this would also make it look as though the plate was a later addition. I did go as far as removing the retaining screw to inspect that, and it was quite evident that it had been in the wood for many years.

The fore stock is original and numbered to the rifle, it bears evidence of being re-worked from its earlier guise as Mk1* and as noted before - I am of the opinion that the top hand guard has been modified to take the later pattern sight used on the Mk111. The muzzle cap is numbered to the rifle - but is of the type used on the Mk111. The barrel is stamped 'HV' and the band is positioned as on the Mk111. The back sight is of the windage adjustable type used on the early Mk111, but the ramp shows evidence of being modified. I have included a shot of the respective receivers of both my rifles to clarify with Bob R what I mean by the charger guide stop.

According to Skennerton only a few of the Mk1*** rifles were fitted with the charger bridge during the upgrade. The production figures make interesting reading too. There were 60,000+ Mk1* rifles manufactured, and 16,200+ were upgraded to Mk1***: This makes my rifle the third rarest type of rifle produced pre and during WW1. Happy days!

Cheers,

Steve.

post-120361-0-08326400-1424169827_thumb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are correct - converted does confuse the issue.

So is the rifle currently in .22cal? (that WOULD be a conversion) or am I misunderstanding? - if so it is presumably with a lined barrel rather than a replacement? This was presumably done AFTER it was marked EY and then DP (which you mentioned in your first post) - I have seen examples of DP rifles converted to .22 before although they have all borne official conversion stamps (sometimes around the muzzle).

When you say the fore-end has been reworked does that mean for the MkIII style rear sight protector or for the inner barrel band too? Modification of the rear sight ramp would be consistent with the HV modification.

I see the safety has also been replaced with a MkIII version. Does the rifle retain its early style magazine body or it is a later replacement.

I shall have to dig mine out and do a detailed comparison.

Thanks for posting the pictures very nice example.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not a rifle buff, but I can appreciate a good specimen when I see one - and I have found reading the comments and details here really interesting! So, thanks one and all! I look forward to the next installment. :thumbsup:

Trajan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Chris,

I seem to be creating a little confusion here! First I should state that I don't own any rifles in working order. I have no interest in shooting, that left me many years ago - and I am more than happy just to own deactivated examples. My interest lies in the mechanics and history of weapons!

The rifle shown in the above posting is an SMLE No1 Mk1*** in .303 calibre. Date of manufacture is 1906. The fore stock was modified to take the later Mk111 rear sight protector. The magazine housing is also the modified type with provision for sling swivel to be attached. The magazine is of the early type 3 with the catch on the right side.

My second rifle is a 1906 dated LSA & Co SMLE No1 Mk1*: The butt is original to the rifle. The fore stock is of the post - volley sight type, but retaining the 'bulge' to the left side by the stock band. The barrel is for a Mk111 - as are the sights. At some time in its career it has been bored out and re-sleeved to .22 cal. The sliding charger guide was removed during this process - as was the magazine cut-off. The magazine floor plate was usually removed in the modifications and the magazine shell used as a handy means of catching the spent cases. I reinstated the magazine cut-off purely for cosmetic reasons. I am currently on the look-out for the early bolt head so that I can reinstate the floating charger guide and bring it back to something like original spec.

Around 1914, Alfred G Parker started converting SMLE rifles to .22 cal for use as a training rifle. The barrel crown was usually stamped PARKERIFLED. His son, Alf J Parker, who served as an infantryman throughout WW1, set up his own firearms business on leaving the Army. He too did the same conversion as his father, but he stamped his barrels as.. RIFLED BY ALF J PARKER. My Mk1* is one of the rifles converted by Alf - probably done in the 1920's. The Mk111 windage adjustable rear sight was retained and re-calibrated for .22 by re-stamping the 400 yd mark to 25 yds. Obviously the foresight would have been modified too!

The receiver carries military proofs, although the barrel - which has two serial numbers and none match the receiver, is completely free of military proofs. There is no date stamp on the barrel either. The bolt and the receiver have matching numbers though, and I am pretty sure that all the woodwork is a mixture of pre and early wartime origin. In later years the rifle was used on the training ship TS Dolphin. The metalwork and woodwork is in truly astonishing condition - although much of the bluing has faded. it makes an interesting comparison to the No1 Mk1***. Two rifles made in the same year, but both different!

In the past I have had the pleasure of firing such rifles, and also the unnerving experience of being sniped at with them too!

Cheers,

Steve.

post-120361-0-01216400-1424185502_thumb.post-120361-0-77986000-1424185575_thumb.post-120361-0-68575000-1424185595_thumb.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhhha... TWO RIFLES....suddenly all is clear! I was trying to resolve the various elements (unsuccessfully obviously).

If you will permit - I too have a couple of MkI*** variants which exhibit some of the same characteristics but also some differences I don't want to hijack your thread but I think some of the comparisons are interesting.

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pile them on Chris - you are ADDING to the thread! This is how others can learn valuable information on things to look out for on the smelly.

Cheers,

Steve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Steve,

OK for starters a similar rifle - a 1904 BSA produced MkI*** exhibiting some similarities

post-14525-0-40539500-1424202288_thumb.j

Overall view

post-14525-0-50602500-1424202018_thumb.j

Wrist cypher and markings

post-14525-0-79155200-1424202018_thumb.j

Unit disk - blank but with N(aval) stamp

post-14525-0-07642200-1424202019_thumb.j

Modified upper handguard showing where it was modified from original format with integral sight guards

post-14525-0-38644100-1424202019_thumb.j

Standard ShtLE volley sight

post-14525-0-67504700-1424202019_thumb.j

Bolt mounted charger guide, also showing the charger guide stop mentioned above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Next up 1906 BSA MkI*** in a more worn condition but with some interesting variation (no charger bridge) incomplete upper handguard

post-14525-0-96962800-1424202784_thumb.j

post-14525-0-81804500-1424202798_thumb.j

Wrist markings

post-14525-0-09093600-1424202799_thumb.j

Original bolt head but missing the sliding charger guide (quite common to see this)

post-14525-0-38310300-1424202799_thumb.j

Volley sight peep and safety showing similar pattern of marking dates to yours, also original safety (note shape and absence of III)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1905 BSA MkI*** with yet another set of variations

post-14525-0-60587100-1424203325_thumb.j

Overall view

post-14525-0-43776800-1424203130_thumb.j

Wrist marking

post-14525-0-74483100-1424203130_thumb.j

Early style rear sight with bone inserts

post-14525-0-79714700-1424203129_thumb.j

Early style rear sight protector with integral "wings" (shaping of the fingers here indicates this may have been taken off a .22 version)

post-14525-0-08109500-1424203130_thumb.j

Cutout for charger bridge (not present) indicating this is a MkIII forend (but it is an early one)

Should note that all three of the above rifles have the early, inwardly curving foresight protectors, compare with the rifle below and Steve's rifle above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And finally -- variations on a theme...

A very battered ShtLE MkI** IP (India pattern) virtually indistinguishable from a standard MkIII

post-14525-0-92412300-1424204386_thumb.j

Overall view

post-14525-0-21014500-1424204387_thumb.j

Markings on wrist:

And as we have mentioned Naval modifications and .22 conversions here is a alteration of a 1901 LSA MLE MkI* to a .22 trainer - a model specific to naval service (see several N stamps here) called the ".22 Short Rifle MkII" (approved 1912) this example is missing the handguard which had integral protectors and the forward projecting fingers rounded off as shown on the MkI*** above. The intention was to produce a trainer that resembled the new short rifle using the older types as a base.

post-14525-0-47358700-1424204387_thumb.j

Overall view

post-14525-0-00491200-1424204388_thumb.j

Wrist markings (original)

post-14525-0-73276800-1424204387_thumb.j

General view of the action with the .22 bolthead

post-14525-0-32536900-1424204388_thumb.j

(conversion markings and absent safety)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the pictures of a lovely collection of SMLE's. I wouldn't class the Mk1**IP as battered either! if that is battered, then my Mk1*** is trashed! The missing charger guide from the bolt head of your 1906 Mk1***, you may be interested to know - or you may already know that EFD Rifles sell replacements, I think they are around £60. I assume your collection is all section 1?

I originally was on the look-out for a good quality deactivated Mk1, but the one I came across was far too expensive (£1600). The same website had my Mk1*** on offer at £680. Curiously enough, the seller was also offering a 1914 dated rifle with 1914 dated bayonet for around £1200. Now to me, the Mk1*** which I purchased was the more valuable of the two. I had to sell a couple of items from my collection to raise funds, but I think it was worth it.

Why is it that something you really want always crops up when you have no spare cash???

Cheers,

Steve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This one is a 1916 EFD MkIII SMLE built on a BSA Mk1 SMLE body.

1916EFD2.jpg

morefun1.jpg

morefun5.jpg

You can see the BSA inspection stamps at the rear of the receiver.

morefun4.jpg

Note the charger guide stop nib

morefunanwser.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rifle has full matching numbers but i cant find the other photos, will have to do some more.

morefun7.jpg

Has been used as a target rifle so has had some wood removed on the left

16EFDlhs-1.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hoped you would add yours!

That last one is a cracking variation - I always check the "run of the mill" SMLEs looking for one of those old body later ones!

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again, a lovely collection of rifles. Strangely enough, the last section 1 rifle I had was a NZ-stamped SMLE Mk111, but that went in 1980 when I lost interest in shooting. You both must have very understanding wives to have so many rifles! I have just four in my collection these days. But around 2003, I broke up a largish collection of WW1 Vickers, Lewis and German Mg08's I had in my spare room. Back then, I had a very understanding wife too! All I have now are photographs of the collection. :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...