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Remembered Today:

My 1916 BSA SMLE mk3*


Marty03321

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I saw this rifle in my local gun shop, I just had to own it. I used to fire a No 4 in the army cadets and loved it. 

The butt is not period and the wood has been varnished, so a little restoration is needed.

does anyone have a good source for parts for Enfields? Ebay tends to get expensive.

99CF2706-BB0F-44B1-ACC6-DF99C80C6FD5.thumb.jpeg.9b3df33221374bc4241567141aa5cc5b.jpeg

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Edited by Marty03321
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Even as a non-rifle man, that looks nice! What year is it? Any regimental markings?

 

Edit - dum dum here, so 1916....!!!!

Edited by trajan
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It depends what parts you are after -- and where in the world you are located. From your post (local gun shop) I expect the US or Canada?- most parts can be found at Gunparts Corp (Numrich) although for any individual part eBay is probably as good a bet as any if you can wait and look. There are other dealers who have small irregular sales of parts. Some parts are getting difficult to find these days. In particular furniture sets.

 

Why do you say the butt is not period? Is it because of the colour mis-match or something else? This sort of mismatch is actually common and in my experience it is likely that it is the butt that is original and the rest the replacement.

 

To look at the finish on the metal it looks like it has been reblued/reblacked at some point -in general appearance it looks like the rifles that went through the very last FTR program for ShtLEs in the UK in 1953/4, have a look on the left side receiver rail, these rifles have FTR 1953/4 electro pencilled there (they have the even dark blacking and often  lighter coloured (beech?) furniture.

 

So - do all the numbers match (bolt, receiver, underside of rear sight, bayonet boss (on nosecap) - I suspect any numbers on the wood may have been refinished away.

 

Be careful, 25 years ago I told a story similar to yours when I bought my first ShtLE MkIII* (a 1917 Lithgow)....I now have several more than is sensible!

One little observation, the official way of affixing the sling is to pass through the rifle loop from the outside > in so the wire "claws" face away from the wood (to avoid scratching up the wood) 

 

Chris

 

 

Edited by 4thGordons
glaring typo!
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Haha, you found the year. 

 

I reckon the regiment stamps were lost when the stock was replaced. They would of been on the brass disc. 

I don’t thank they were stamped anywhere else. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

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Chris, 

Thanks for that. I’ll check the stamps tomorrow.

 

I’m located in the UK. 

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44 minutes ago, Marty03321 said:

Chris, 

Thanks for that. I’ll check the stamps tomorrow.

 

I’m located in the UK. 

OK then - is the rifle deactivated or a live firer?

 

By 1916 the practice of using /marking stock marking discs had been discontinued so a blank disc, absence of a disc, absence of inletting for a disc (to simplify manufacture) are all "correct" for a rifle of that date of manufacture.

You should also find a serial number on the barrel under the upper handguard (as well as - probably- a date on the left side in the form apostrophe year - so if it is the original barrel it will be '16)

 

As you are in the UK Numrich won't be much good for you as they are restricted on what parts they can send overseas by both US and UK legislation.

There are several UK based sellers on eBay that have large stashes of small parts (springs, screws etc) and they are probably your best bet. There is one seller based in the Cambridge area I think who seems to have boxes and boxes of parts as though he purchased an old MoD storehouse.

 

If you are looking for a butt (I don't think you need one as noted above) they are obtainable more easily than the other wood components.

 

Cheers

Chris

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I have just noticed something

The foresight protector/nosecap is unusual - and not a standard variation as it does not have the boss for the piling swivel which would usually be behind the bayonet mounting block.

late manufactured Australian nosecaps had the boss but it was not drilled and tapped to mount the swivel (also often later had holes milled in the sight protector ears, and even later Indian ones had the boss omitted but these usually had squared off sight protector ears. Your combination - rounded ears without a boss is unusual - are there any markings on it at all? if I had to guess I would say it is probably Indian in origin.  I'm off to check mine to see if I have an example....

 

Chris

Edited by 4thGordons
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Chris, 

Brace yourself, this is gonna get picture heavy. I’ll prob have to do a few posts. 

Yes, it is a live firer. I bought it from a registered firearms dealer and it was inspected before going up for sale. However, I haven’t put any rounds through it yet... 

I am mainly after a dif stock as it is a Long one and I’m not quite 6 foot. I think you are right about the furniture as the wood has date stamps on 1953 or 55?

the numbers don’t match unfortunately, but I haven’t exposed the barrel stamps yet. 

I really appreciate your help with this Chris, thank you. 

P.S The sling is now on in the correct way. 

24B444C2-F70E-4045-A346-CB4E8C656FCE.jpeg.d2f8da6f004322387b012008ac72c0e9.jpegC9DD9D33-6F2F-4E92-9CE2-3E705DADD13F.jpeg.bebd4c0b109db3829f667b1678d62cd9.jpeg7AFE1AA2-63E0-4D07-AD77-77E32F35F780.jpeg.5b54fc6d6147ef47e2a4ec7281d078e1.jpegE233C269-9034-44A1-8821-F086098D9C3E.jpeg.4fce7b7b93f40e7dd96d7ac9d248418f.jpeg2C848A7E-ABF0-49C7-9385-0633E55D4A1A.jpeg.3467ee5ae12b977a184b0dfb08a7f056.jpeg96172D11-3CE1-4363-92EC-DC8FA307B1F9.thumb.jpeg.3bb160b5051537b3fa7cd8950d51d223.jpeg

 

 

Edited by Marty03321
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That's quite a mixture!

The stamp on he band (last pic) looks to be a Lithgow (star with an A in it) mark - so Australian.

The wood is indeed all replacement as you have identified

N 36 is Jones Sewing Machine Co. Manchester (a component subcontractor - this is a WWII code)

BNP is Birmingham Nitro Proof (a proof mark)

M47 C (on the wood) is the WWII code for the BSA (Shirley) plant

most of the other marks are standard proofs or inspection stamps - the one on the cocking piece may be Indian (RFI - number) but it is unclear.

 

SAF (on the front sight protector) needs investigating - Small Arms Factory (possibly) but which one.

 

EDIT - could you check if it is SAF or SAR , if the latter I may have the answer!

 

I believe what you have here is a WWI rifle that was refinished for part of a (commercial) contract by BSA in the mid 1950s, possibly for a Middle Eastern state - I have been checking into the non standard foresight protector (missing the piling sling mount) and apparently these do show up on these contract rifles. It is not clear if the rifles were actually delivered or sold on the civilian market after the contract fell through. When they do show up they are often in excellent condition like this.

 

The L is indeed for Long on the butt, "normal" stocks are unmarked, there are also S(hort) and B(antam) butts available.

One word of warning - always remove the fore-end before removing or tightening the butt as it is possible for the stock bolt to protrude and split the foreend. On early rifles the end of the stock bolt was squared off and sat in a recess in the fore-end almost guaranteeing it would split, later this was done away with but it is still good practice especially on a rifle like this because you don't know what is in there and don't want to find out the wrong way!

 

Chris

Edited by 4thGordons
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WOW, Chris - you know your onions... Thank you very much, that certainly explains all.

 

I will check out the stamp on the front sight protector tomorrow, I'm working a night shift at the moment.

 

Once again, your a star...

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You are very welcome!

It is a very nice looking rifle and will probably shoot well. The late 50s FTR rifles are about as close as we are likely to get (IMO) to an "as issued" SMLE.

 

I have been asking around (on another site) and it seems likely that the nosecap on your rifle (the odd pattern without the piling swivel boss, is of South African (also WWII) origin as fitted to South African conversions of older MLEs to SMLE format. This information comes from Terrylee who also posts on this board occasionally.  Another collector noted he has seen this pattern before on the post war contract rifles but no one (as yet) has an explanation for why this would be!) I have one of these converted rifles and when I can get to it I will post a picture.

Best,

Chris

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I have taken a closer look at the stamp on the nose cap, it is definitely SAF. 

With ref to your warning in an earlier post- It is far to late to save me... I am a lost cause, I rescue all manner of firearms and bayonets. If only my wife knew what was in my gun cabinets. ;-) 

 

Looking forward to seeing your SMLE. 

 

All the best

 

Marty

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For SMLE parts you need to try Terry Abrams, Dunmow in Essex. Google Terry Abrams Gunsmith and you'll get the full address.

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Finally had a moment to dig these out. Poor weather today so forgive the bad lighting.

 

3 for comparison

- a South African conversion of a 1901 Sparkbrook MLE MkI* to SMLE format

- a standard 1918 BSA MkIII*

- a BSA MkIII* that has been FTR'd by BSA in 1953

 

303x3a.jpg.9698bf00fb3757b9bbfaeff83e529a0d.jpg

303x3.jpg.072e48e5e535075cfd539128db242c95.jpg

01-303.jpg.3a0191b5074f125da95574c942fe844b.jpg01-303b.jpg.a0e2a884dcd92cd00e1d71ee8e400279.jpg53-303.jpg.31f7b1d2b5b230eb9728620a18534c06.jpg

 

 

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Thank you for sharing Chris, they are absolutely stunning... Do they all shoot?

 

Marty

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11 hours ago, Marty03321 said:

Thank you for sharing Chris, they are absolutely stunning... Do they all shoot?

 

Marty

Thank you.

I have shot the 1918 and 1953FTR, the 1901 is serviceable and passes all inspections however I have not actually shot that one yet (it is a reasonably recent acquisition).

 

The 1901 was converted from a 1901 MLE MkI* that was originally like this:

MLEwebL.jpg.c715d734c06c8589f6e307492e71e674.jpgMLEwebR.jpg.2805f24402c5b98e958dd3a91013e57d.jpg

This one I have shot and it shoots very well.

 

 

I was sorting some older pics looking for the above and ran across a sequence of earlier SMLE rifles and conversions that might be of interest:1903.jpg.30722437da5b91baab5626d7351d0044.jpg

a 1903 MkI converted in India to a MkI**(IP)

1906.jpg.8a47eda27dbe3d56379765f2d00c3237.jpg

Modified and reserialed as supplied to the Irish Free State in the 1920s (missing sliding bolt charger guide)

1907.jpg.cae9045cd4f43238ca2cfedd5a83c89d.jpg

First year of MkIII production (restocked in Australia)

 

1908.jpg.b1f5a3fc8e47fd6ebd4e0e53cb44ce7f.jpg

Early production which saw service in India (you can make out the butt roundel and the shiny tip of the transverse screw through the fore end.)

 

1909.jpg.925a8f80fdda221aca3e4951ba9236d8.jpg

another early MkIII (restocked in MkIII* furniture blocking cut-off and without volley sight)

 

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  • 1 month later...

Nice one Chris. 

 

I fired mine for the first time the other week. I was a bit disappointed with the grouping, however it was only a 30 meter range and I was having trouble focusing on the sights with my old eyes... 

 

I will try again at a 100 yards when I get the chance. But I fear there is something off with it. 

 

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  • 1 year later...
Marty03321

@4thGordons

 

Hello Chris, been a while but I have an update for you...

 

I managed to steel some time at the range with a few mates. I used the modern equivalent of the military round, PPU 74gr and the same in Remington. Windage wasn’t an issue but found the POI was 18” high at 100yds. I hit the gongs by aiming low! Lol...

 

I stripped off the forward upper and lower woodwork today, to check that the screws and springs were all in place to aid bedding. All good there. 
The rear sight was set to 200yds and I noticed the front sight blade fitted is the lowest available at -.06
 

I’m sure I read in another thread on here that without the bayonet fitted the rifle will do exactly this, shoot 18” high at 100yds. Then after 300yds would be accurate. Is this correct?

 

just don’t want to swap out the front sight blade if not required.

 

Martin

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On 10/02/2019 at 17:08, 4thGordons said:

 

By 1916 the practice of using /marking stock marking discs had been discontinued so a blank disc, absence of a disc, absence of inletting for a disc (to simplify manufacture) are all "correct" for a rifle of that date of manufacture.

 

Chris, while not disputing for a moment that the omission of the butt marker disc was one of the permitted manufacturing economies introduced with the Mk III *, I have yet to see a single Great War period photograph of an SMLE without one, not even a blanked off one - and after forty odd years of studying photos of uniforms, accoutrements and weapons. Similarly, one of the other economies, the omission of the piling swivel, is never seen.
Cut-off, volley sights - yes, gone. Rear sight windage / lightened protectors, trigger guard swivel, round cocking piece - sometimes omitted. But marker disc and piling swivel, I’ve yet to see (the absence of) in a contemporary photo. All that said, happy to be proven wrong if anyone has photo evidence showing otherwise.
 

Pete

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4thGordons
9 hours ago, Pete_C said:

Chris, while not disputing for a moment that the omission of the butt marker disc was one of the permitted manufacturing economies introduced with the Mk III *, I have yet to see a single Great War period photograph of an SMLE without one, not even a blanked off one - and after forty odd years of studying photos of uniforms, accoutrements and weapons. Similarly, one of the other economies, the omission of the piling swivel, is never seen.
Cut-off, volley sights - yes, gone. Rear sight windage / lightened protectors, trigger guard swivel, round cocking piece - sometimes omitted. But marker disc and piling swivel, I’ve yet to see (the absence of) in a contemporary photo. All that said, happy to be proven wrong if anyone has photo evidence showing otherwise.
 

Pete

 

This is a fair point and my immediate reaction was --- I can't think of any pictures in my collection without a disc.

 

By blank I meant - without marking as opposed to filled with a wooden blank (which clearly happened later) so more correctly an UNMARKED disc.

I am intrigued by your challenge though and will start looking through my pics - although just based on recollection you may very well be correct.

 

I have seen pictures of rifles without piling swivels - in instances where they have been replaced by normal sling swivels for use by cavalry/yeomanry when the sling is strung between the muzzle and the middle swivel for use with a "butt bucket" (where the rifle is held standing vertically standing in a leather bucket and the sling is looped high over the mounted soldier's shoulder.... but that is cheating a bit I suppose (but there is no piling swivel!)

swivel.jpg.90871fe34e20b3f7c53bc3821b8e9570.jpg

 

 

I'll add another one to you list (and this I HAVE looked for) I have never seen "trimmed fingers" on handguards on a ShtLE on a Great War era picture....but it is often remarked that such was "common practice" (It certainly became common practice - but not until WWII or after) I have not seen evidence of that - would be interested in seeing pictures of that if you know of any!

 

Cheers,

Chris

(I believe I am correct in saying that officially the only modification for the MkIII* was deletion of the cutoff, the other elements fall under the manufacturing simplifications)

 

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Marty03321

@4thGordons

 

Hello Chris, been a while but I have an update for you...

 

I managed to steel some time at the range with a few mates. I used the modern equivalent of the military round, PPU 74gr and the same in Remington. Windage wasn’t an issue but found the POI was 18” high at 100yds. I hit the gongs by aiming low! Lol...

 

I stripped off the forward upper and lower woodwork today, to check that the screws and springs were all in place to aid bedding. All good there. 
The rear sight was set to 200yds and I noticed the front sight blade fitted is the lowest available at -.06
 

I’m sure I read in another thread on here that without the bayonet fitted the rifle will do exactly this, shoot 18” high at 100yds. Then after 300yds would be accurate. Is this correct?

 

just don’t want to swap out the front sight blade if not required.

 

Martin

Reposting just in case it got missed Chris

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4thGordons

Hi Martin,

 

THIS MIGHT BE HELPFUL or the official word HERE

 

HERE is the table for MkVII ammunition with the bayonet fixed

 

When rifles were produced they were test fired from a rest at 100ft and 4/5 shots at 100ft had to hit a rectangle 1" wide by 1.5" tall

Then a percentage of rifles were fired at 600yds and 6/7 shots had to hit within a 2ft circle.

 

One other thing that you might consider is the sight picture you were holding. The intended site picture on an SMLE is demonstrated below (this is actually from a WWII publication intended for LDV / Home Guard  members but refers to the ShtLE.)  The top of the foresight blade is intended to be at "6 o'clock" the very bottom, center of the target. If you were holding centrally then this would add a bit of height.

 

 

sight.jpg.fb9d252d89ded4c93db0332af299e91e.jpg

 

Chris

 

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