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

Lee Enfield Rifle


big jar of wasps
 Share

Recommended Posts

I know very little about rifles. Less in fact.

But I've fired a Lee Enfield, dunno which model but used it a lot on a rifle range 40 or more years ago.

Also fired on an indoor 25 yard range Martini Henry rifles which had been modified for 0.22 rounds.

Both were excellent rifles to use.

I understand that rifling was developed to increase accuracy but I've always wondered about the gyroscopic effect of rifling.

Does that effect the trajectory at all? Or is it that which actually stabilises the trajectory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First the SMLE:

No, it means that the rifle was built in 1918 and then refurbished in 1953 by the Indian army. This could have involved a new bolt, barrel, woodwork or whatever, sometimes only the receiver being original. This process was called FTR or Factory Thorough Repair.

The rifle would have been made by whoever's name or monogram appears on the right hand side of the receiver below the bolt handle. It could be BSA, LSA, Enfield, Lithgow, SSA or others.

Re the rifling. It is the very gyroscopic effect that produces the accuracy for a rifled round. The subject of external ballistics is far too complex to discuss in detail, but the "spin" that the rifling imparts to the bullet ensures that the projectile maintains a stable trajectory. The pitch of the rifling will depend on such things as the bullet length and range and trajectory are governed by muzzle velocity, sectional density and ballistic coefficient of the individual bullet.

As an example, a .303 bullet fired in a 1 in 10" twist barrel at 2450 fps will be doing 176,400 rpm when it leaves the muzzle.

An extremely good explanation of both interior and exterior ballistics can be found in the "Textbook of Small Arms 1929", available in reprint.

Finally, the comment re: Martini Henry converted .22 rifles. These were almost certainly Martini target rifles built by BSA or WW Greener as .22 rifles originally. The Martini-Henry was originally built in .45 calibre (.577/450) and even the later Martini Enfields in .303" were seldom converted to target rifles.

Regards

TonyE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Chums,

Just a word on this marvellous thread.

I bought a de-act SMLE earlier this year and the work done to de-activate made it impossible to load and eject dummy rounds. The work done involves milling a 6/7 mm slot down the length of the barrel stopping around 40mm from the foresight end, a length of 6mm diameter rod is then welded into the barrel, front to rear. Unfortunately the back rod end occupies the space in the barrel where a loaded round goes so it's impossible to put a round down into the firing position. The end of the bolt is also ground off at an angle so even if the rod were not there there is always a tendency for the round to lift when reloading into the chambering area.

I bought my SMLE unseen, with hindsight it would have been safer to have bought one from an arms fair where at least you can see if the round does go into the chamber, this may cost a few pounds more but at least you can then 'play' with your toy. I'm assuming that different de-activation engineers use different lengths of rod for the barrel.

Ray 7155

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ray,

UK firearms law deems it illegal to be able to chamber a round at all in a de-ac weapon which is why the breech is pinned as well as having a length of steel rod welded down the barrel. Even if you could chamber a round the de-ac spec also demands that the extractor be cut so that a fired round could not be ejected.

I have seen a de-ac SMLE at a fair which will chamber rounds but, on closer inspection, it had had the pin drilled out of the breech. This, of course, is illegal and makes the de-ac work invalid. Sadly it is irresponsible people who do this kind of thing who will eventually get de-acs made illegal.

Occasionally you may find an early de-ac which is not de-activated to current spec but, having asked the local police firearms officer about them, it seems the law is unsure whether they are legal or not and are probably best avoided!

Cheers,

Taff

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello again,

Thanks Chief Chum for that input! Shame about that, not being able to chamber a dummy round, that is the fun of a bolt rifle.

When you think you have some knowlege of a subject it always turns out 'tha knows nowt abaht it really'

Tell me, are the laws on firearms in say France and Germany similar to ours or are we as usual 'the only ones in step'?

Regards,

Ray 7155

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ray,

De-ac laws vary considerably across Europe. Holland, I believe, insists that rifles are welded solidly and all machine guns are subject to a total ban - even replicas are outlawed. France on the other hand have less stringent de-ac specs; the gunsmith in Birmingham who de-activated the firearms for the Suffolk Regiment Museum recently showed me his MP40 which was a French de-ac he confiscated at the Beltring Show. As a French de-ac it is not classed as a de-ac under UK firearms law and was, therefore, illegal. He had only had to carry out a small amount of work to make the weapon re-activated and regularly shoots it!

I don't know about other countries but I bet others on this forum do!

Cheers,

Taff

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to all for replies on visual difference lee-Metford to Long Lee.

What, if at all, is the chance of any British regular infantry in India still using Lee-Metford in 1903-1904, please?

Looks like 2 RWF still had Lee-Metford in India 1902 but had replaced it by 1904.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

QUOTE(big jar of wasps @ Aug 27 2005, 12:41 PM)

The Lee-Enfield No. 4 Series Rifles

In need of a sniper rifle chambered for the 7.62mm NATO cartridge, the British government approved the L42A1 Rifle in August 1970. The L42A1 rifles are essentially 7.62mm conversions of No. 4 “T-Model” rifles with shorter and wider fore-ends and shorter handguards. The L42A1 rifles use magazines which are similar to those of the L8 rifles. The L42A1 rifle remained in service until 1992.

I used to use one of these.

Is my memory right? The L42 had a 'floating' barrel that was specially made for accuracy. I seem to recall someone saying that it was 'cold rolled' or something similar.

I also got to use the Enforcer, police version in later life.

The barrel for the L39/L42 was made at RSAF Enfield by a process called "hammer forging", the bored blank has a mandrel inserted which features the rifling and other barrel contours 'in reverse'. The blank is then hammered throughout its length by a mechanized process that forms the barrel around the mandrel, rather than the rifling being cut in the usual manner. This hammering produces a very durable barrel and rifling and the tell-tale 'snake-skin' finish on the barrel exterior. I have been told that if that surface is ground or machined off, the barrel becomes flexible to the point of being useless. This would indicate the relief of stresses which apparently give the barrel much of its rigidity. They are excellent barrels by the way. Highly accurate and very long-lived.

They are free floating on the L39/L42 except for one bearing point under the reinforce.

Just the thing for putting round holes in square heads, as the saying used to go...;-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

I`ve been told, that the No.1 Mk111, have the regiment they were first issued to, stamped on them somewhere? Is this true? and if so were would I find it? I have EY & DP stamped on mine, but I`ve been told that these mean Drill Purpose & Emergancy only. It is covered with other markings, but none of them seem to resemble a regimental name, unless they do so in code numbers or other such menthod? Any adive would be of great help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi,

I`ve been told, that the No.1 Mk111, have the regiment they were first issued to, stamped on them somewhere? Is this true? and if so were would I find it? I have EY & DP stamped on mine, but I`ve been told that these mean Drill Purpose & Emergancy only. It is covered with other markings, but none of them seem to resemble a regimental name, unless they do so in code numbers or other such menthod? Any adive would be of great help.

If you have the brass butt marking disc on the buttstock there may be some markings stamped into it. Otherwise it is very, very unlikely there will be anything related to units elsewhere on the rifle. The woodwork on a rifle of that age has probably been changed several times. Sorry!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Gordon,

Below is an example of a butt marker disc: Rifle 99 belonging to 7th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment and issued in June, 1915. The bayonet issued with the rifle (and checked by the armourer to ensure a good fit) would have had the same markings.

During the Second World War (1941 I think) all brass marker discs and piling swivels were removed from SMLEs and, sadly, most of the identification markings were lost. Virtually all SMLEs on the market nowadays have repro brass discs screwed into the butts.

The surviving marked rifles tend to be those still in service in other parts of the Empire when the scrap order was issued.

Sometimes you find regimental markings stamped into the woodwork; I have a 1912 rifle marked to the Indian 9th Jat Infantry but I have never come across a British unit with markings on the woodwork although some may have done.

I hope this is helpful.

Cheers,

Taff

post-1565-1135788735.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cheers Chief Chum, thats very interesting, thank you. I`ve never even seen one before, so its nice to see what one looks like.

Gordon.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since I'm viewing this thread, I might as well ask a question that's been bugging me for a while.

Many years ago, I acquired my first deactivated weapon, a Savage made No. 4 Mk. 1 Lee Enfield dated 1942 in excellent condition. Since I'm now focussing on WW1 I've been strongly considering selling it on now, and have got it out to have a look at it.

However, one thing has always struck me as unusual. In front of the magazine, there's the standard very small u-shaped metal loop, but in front of that there's another larger swivel, rather like a normal sling holder, that goes through 360 degrees and is approximately triangular in shape, but wide enough to fit the normal sling.

I've always assumed this is so the sling can be fitted so that it is out of the way of the hands when firing the rifle - is this correct? Would the rifle have had it in 1942 or is it a later addition?

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Andrew Upton
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes you find regimental markings stamped into the woodwork; I have a 1912 rifle marked to the Indian 9th Jat Infantry but I have never come across a British unit with markings on the woodwork although some may have done.

Not a Regimental mark, or a British one, but I have a SMLE which has "NZ" stamped into the butt, with a small broad arrow between the two letters.

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always assumed this is so the sling can be fitted so that it is out of the way of the hands when firing the rifle - is this correct? Would the rifle have had it in 1942 or is it a later addition?

Actually it is a loop for the securing of a breech cover. The covers are often seen in WWI photos, but appear to have been used less in WWII, for obvious reasons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually it is a loop for the securing of a breech cover. The covers are often seen in WWI photos, but appear to have been used less in WWII, for obvious reasons.

I'm fairly certain that's what the much smaller u-shaped loop is for, not the much larger swivelling loop I'm referring to - otherwise, why make it so large, and why add it if there's something already there which would do the job just as well?

Edited by Andrew Upton
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andrew,

I know exactly what you mean; I believe it's a variant of sling swivel. I have seen several on rifles belonging to rifle club members and, I think, we have even had a couple of ex-shooters rifles at Khaki Devil which came with the triangular swivels on. I don't think they were a standard military fixing although something at the back of my mind says that the No.4 T sniper rifles may have had them. I'm sure someone out there will tell us!

Cheers,

Taff

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Gordon,

Below is an example of a butt marker disc: Rifle 99 belonging to 7th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment and issued in June, 1915. The bayonet issued with the rifle (and checked by the armourer to ensure a good fit) would have had the same markings.

During the Second World War (1941 I think) all brass marker discs and piling swivels were removed from SMLEs and, sadly, most of the identification markings were lost. Virtually all SMLEs on the market nowadays have repro brass discs screwed into the butts.

The surviving marked rifles tend to be those still in service in other parts of the Empire when the scrap order was issued.

Sometimes you find regimental markings stamped into the woodwork; I have a 1912 rifle marked to the Indian 9th Jat Infantry but I have never come across a British unit with markings on the woodwork although some may have done.

I hope this is helpful.

Cheers,

Taff

It was standard in the first two years of the Great War for SMLEs to have stock discs and for earlier rifles to be marked on the tang of the butt plate.

After this practice was discontinued, about the only markings stamped in the metal were country ownership (Canada, India, South Africa or Australia) markings and FTR dates, although on Australian rifles you sometimes encounter the state-based military district the rifle was issued to, and sometimes you saw this along with the rifle's serial stamped on the butt.

Fore ends were routinely serial numbered during the Great War, and in Australia as late as 1943, but any rifle which had been through the mill of battle would have have the fore end replaced as the bedding becomes a bit slappy on the inside, and the appearance tatty on the outside.

In Australia it is not uncommon to encounter Great War British made actions re-built as late as 1945 with a complete set of new unnumbered Australian coachwood furniture, Lithgow barrel and often even the bolt has been replaced with an Australian made item and re-numbered ... only the faintest ghost of the original remains.

Intact Great War rifles as they were issued are all but impossible to encounter because had they stayed in the system they would have been routinely upgraded as they wore out, meaning the stock disc would be rendered useless as it was no longer issued to that unit or obsolete, and they would have been replaced with a blank item just to fill the hole, or the hole was plugged with timber, or just left empty.

I have referred to my "Gallipoli rifle" in other posts on this forum, and it has been effectively kept in a time capsule because it was most certainly captured and stored ... according to the stock disc, it was issued in April 1914, and given that it was probably "taken out of the system" by the end of 1915, would have at least required re-barrelling due to wear (believe me, this rifle's seen some work, although some of this may have been in Turkish service), and a new fore end would have been fitted while they were at it due to the long range volley sights being declared obsolescent and slappy bedding.

Meanwhile, by the time of this first required re-build, the stock disc would have been removed as a matter of policy, and the round cocking piece, which is numbered to the rifle, would have also been worn and replaced with a later square one.

And that's just in the first few years of the rifle's life ... had it seen any more heavy service it would have needed another re-build by war's end, and had it soldiered on in Britain it may have been converted to a .22 trainer, in Australia it may have become a HT sniper rifle in 1944 (the pre-war BSA actions were eagerly sought for the conversions) or in India it could have ended up as a single shot .410 shotgun in the hands on a police officer today.

Intriguingly, if the Turks had not have been the ones to pick up this rifles from the battlefield, the rifle may have ended up in Korea with Australian troops in the 1950s (fighting alongside the Turks), on the Western Front with a British battalion or carried by a civilian goat herder (I have seen one example of a 1914 Australian-built rifle where this was almost certainly the case).

As it turned out, it somehow survived intact and was tossed in with a consignment of more modern rifles (nearly all of which had undergone the routine upgrades I descrbed) and ended up in Sydney, Australia ... oh, if these things could talk!

So to sum up, in 30 years of collecting I have only ever encountered one "intact" (meaning in the configuration it left the factory in) Great War rifle, and I'm lucky enough to own it!

20059153427_bsa2.JPG

Here's the "goat herder's" rifle butt, which had a stock disc for a British unit, but had been very roughly fitted to a 1914 Lithgow:

200510973422_DSC_5699s.JPG

I had it translated, and was provided with this information:

You have to turn the picture to read, because Arabic alphabet is written from right to left.

1. Date of 1340 which means 1922 according to modern calender.

2. The name of owner which is Ismail.

3. Karýndas which means brother (s spelt like sh for example cash)

4. The name of brother's name which is Murat. (They think it's brother's name because of the word "karýndas"). (Murat means wish. So if there wasn't "karýndas" word, it would make sense in a very different way)

5. They are not clear about five. But they think it's "Drama" which is one of the city name which is his birth place (I don't know where it is, somewhere in Rumeli. Because old names had been changed).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andrew,

I know exactly what you mean; I believe it's a variant of sling swivel. I have seen several on rifles belonging to rifle club members and, I think, we have even had a couple of ex-shooters rifles at Khaki Devil which came with the triangular swivels on. I don't think they were a standard military fixing although something at the back of my mind says that the No.4 T sniper rifles may have had them. I'm sure someone out there will tell us!

Cheers,

Taff

The thread on the SMLE king screw target swivels was different to the No4, so they are essentially completely different parts.

The bulk of the king screw swivels for SMLE's were made by the civilian trade and are too narrow to accept the service webbing sling, although Australian did manufacture some, which are marked with Broad Arrows in 1944 for the HT sniper rifle.

Yes, there were also king screw swivels made specially for a No4 T sniper rifles, but also many civilian examples for club target rifles.

Some earlier SMLEs have provision for mounting a sling swivel just forward of the magazine and behind the king screw (the one that goes in to the action), but this feature was deleted during the Great War to simplify production, although it was sometimes replaced with a simple wire loop to allow an action cover to be tied in place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andrew,

I know exactly what you mean; I believe it's a variant of sling swivel. I have seen several on rifles belonging to rifle club members and, I think, we have even had a couple of ex-shooters rifles at Khaki Devil which came with the triangular swivels on. I don't think they were a standard military fixing although something at the back of my mind says that the No.4 T sniper rifles may have had them. I'm sure someone out there will tell us!

Cheers,

Taff

The thread on the SMLE king screw target swivels was different to the No4, so they are essentially completely different parts.

The bulk of the king screw swivels for SMLE's were made by the civilian trade and are too narrow to accept the service webbing sling, although Australian did manufacture some, which are marked with Broad Arrows in 1944 for the HT sniper rifle.

Yes, there were also king screw swivels made specially for a No4 T sniper rifles, but also many civilian examples for club target rifles.

Some earlier SMLEs have provision for mounting a sling swivel just forward of the magazine and behind the king screw (the one that goes in to the action), but this feature was deleted during the Great War to simplify production, although it was sometimes replaced with a simple wire loop to allow an action cover to be tied in place.

Just to clarify what I'm talking about, here's a picture. It seems to be a military done modification if it is a modification, as the sling is stamped either 215 U or 215 D over 4. By the way, I'm still thinking about selling this in the next few days, so if anyones interested, send me an email or PM now, and if I dont get a reply back from the person I'm currently speaking too, I'll put up a few pictures and more details in the Sales, Wants and Swaps section of the GWF.

Edit: Oh, Lieutenant Colonel now, must have my Batman take my tunic to have the cuff ranking upgraded! :D

post-2039-1136048679.jpg

Edited by Andrew Upton
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to clarify what I'm talking about, here's a picture. It seems to be a military done modification if it is a modification, as the sling is stamped either 215 U or 215 D over 4. By the way, I'm still thinking about selling this in the next few days, so if anyones interested, send me an email or PM now, and if I dont get a reply back from the person I'm currently speaking too, I'll put up a few pictures and more details in the Sales, Wants and Swaps section of the GWF.

Edit: Oh, Lieutenant Colonel now, must have my Batman take my tunic to have the cuff ranking upgraded! :D

The Sling swivel pictured was only fitted to the No4 (T) Sniper Rifle and L42A1 Sniper Rifle the 7.62 derivitive of the 4(T). Civilian Target Rifles had the Sling loop there so they could use a target sling, your rifle is probably a service rifle that was subsequently used by a Civillian in the 50's to 70's and when passed its useful life de-activated. Around the beveled edge of the swivel will be marked Parker-Hale the military ones had no markings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[

So to sum up, in 30 years of collecting I have only ever encountered one "intact" (meaning in the configuration it left the factory in) Great War rifle, and I'm lucky enough to own it! }

Heatseeker ; I feel your pain on finding unmolested SMLE's - for all the obvious reasons !. I got supremely lucky some 7 years ago in finding a 1911 dated SMLE in museum quality original trim ( to include kit, wire gauze in the butt trap ! ). I subsequently found a just as mint 1911 dated web sling for it ...imagine those odds !. Anyhow here is a picture of it's unit disc. I'll have to do some pics of the rifle for you - it's just gorgeous !.

PS - just to make it clear - the butt to the left is that of an SMLE ( I thought the pic was self explanatory ), and as far as I can ascertain it is marked to the KINGS ROYAL RIFLE Corps ( aka Royal Greenjackets ). What the numbers mean I have no clue.

The butt to the left is that of a gew98 , 1900 Danzig marked tot he 120th Wurttemberg Infantry Regiment ( matching down to the rod ).

post-7211-1136054743.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Sling swivel pictured was only fitted to the No4 (T) Sniper Rifle and L42A1 Sniper Rifle the 7.62 derivitive of the 4(T). Civilian Target Rifles had the Sling loop there so they could use a target sling, your rifle is probably a service rifle that was subsequently used by a Civillian in the 50's to 70's and when passed its useful life de-activated. Around the beveled edge of the swivel will be marked Parker-Hale the military ones had no markings.

Interesting - mine appears to have no markings other than the numbers - and from the overall condition of the rifle, I'd say that if it was sold out of service, the new owner can hardly have touched it, let alone used it, wonder what the story is...? :blink:

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...