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Identifying my Lee Enfield


Cliff S
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After many years of thinking about it I purchased an SMLE last year but have no idea of its history.

Since joining this Forum I realize that there are many people out there who wish to share the information they posess and probably can help me identify my particular rifle.

Assuming that is the case can anyone please tell me which of the varied markings on the rifle are the ones which I need to photograph and display on here that will help to identify its origins and history.

Thanks in anticipation.

Cliff

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The most important markings are those on the right hand side of the butt socket underneath the bolt handle.

It should typically say something like;

(Crown)

G.R.

ENFIELD

1916

SHT.L.E.

III

or similar.

Tell us what yours is stamped and we can tell you the details.

Regards

TonyE

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The key to identifying it is to be found on the "wrist" of the rifle (between the wooden buttstock and the fore-end) - it is part of the receiver.

This will likley contain the rifle's mark Sht L E MkIII or Sht L E MkIII* etc and the manufacturer. (Enfield, BSA, LSA, Lithgow etc)

On the rear of the bolt handle, the receiver, the barrel knox form, the underside of the rear sight, the bayonet boss (on the front sight protector) and perhaps if you are lucky impressed into the foreend just behind where the front sight protector fits, you will find serial numbers. Originally these would all have matched - often when rifles have been repaired or FTR'd (Factory thorough refinished) these do not match or have been renumbered to match.

The other thing you might like to do is take off the upper rear handguard (the small one - lift the rear sight up to the vertical posiiton to get it out of the way then pry the handguard up carefully it is held in place by two springclips) and look under it at the barrel this is often covered with marks - proof marks (certifying the quality. strength of the metal etc), armourer's inspection marks (a large asterix here indicates "rust found in bore" and there are numerous others) and sometimes possession marks australian=Broad arrow in a D etc)

These will give you some information about the life of your rifle who produced it, when it was produced, if and when it was modified etc so I would photograph the wrist band (under the bolt handle) and this area (the barrel knox form) - or simply report what is stamped there.

If by "history" you mean which units had the rifle, which battles it was used in etc - you are very unlikely to be able to tell without clear provenance etc. However there may be a small brass disc in the buttsock which was there for the purpose of stamping in unit / rack number identifiers - these were removed mid war and so do not appear on many rifles - also as a guide to ownership they are fairly unreliable without supporting provenance as there is a market for these discs themselves - both new and reproduction and as they are fixed in place with a small brass screw they are easily moved, removed etc...however they do give an indication.

Chris

(pipped by Mr E.!)

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:rolleyes: Wow - so fast folks, 3 replies already.

I will take some pics of those areas and post them on here.

When I took off the handguard held by the two clips sure enough it is covered in marks which I will try to decipher.

Cliff

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Post WWI probably Indian produced - is my first impression

Is there no stamping on the OTHER side of the wrist?

Chris

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By your description I assume you mean the "wrist" is the part where the safety catch is at the top then no there are no marks on the other side.

On the front right end of the bolt is a marking which could be crossed swords (sabres), visible on second pic.

Cliff

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Just a quick follow up to explain :

The numbering / nomenclature of British rifles was changed in the 20s (1926?) this was when the Short Lee Enfield MkIII became the Rifle No1 MkIII. / MkIII* etc

The use of Arabic numerals rather than Roman Numerals also indicates later, Indian production - actually if I recall correctly post 1949 production. I do not believe any other producers used arabic numbering for this designation.

FR is the Indian stamp for "Factory Refinished"

It is therefore possible that what you have is an earlier produced rifle which has been refinished in the Indian Ishapore arsenal but there should be evidence of the original production stampings onthe other side under the bolt-handle.

Ishapore made No 1s in various forms up until the early 1970s. Some known as 2As or 2A1s in 7.62mm, but they also went back to producing No1s in .303 for a brief period.

Chris

absence of any other markings pretty much confirms all the above - post 1949 produced Indian rifle

The mark on the bolthead you refer to is a proof mark.

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Usually the FR, stands for Factory Refurbished. As others have said there should be more markings under the bolt cocking lever, which is the opposite side of the rifle to your photo.

Hwyl

Kevin

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From World Guns

'When the World War One was over, there were no questions of quality of basic SMLE design, but some improvements were suggested and introduced in later patterns, such as peep-hole, receiver mounted sights. These "interwar" patterns were not issued in any significant quantities until the 1941. In 1926, Britains, quite confused with numerous 'Marks' and 'Marks with stars' of their weaponry, decided to adopt a new numbering system, so the SMLE Mark III became the "Rifle, No. 1 Mark 3".'

This I think ties up with you'r rifles numbering, it should have SMLE Mark III on the otherside.

Hwyl

Kevin

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From World Guns

This I think ties up with you'r rifles numbering, it should have SMLE Mark III on the otherside.

Hwyl

Kevin

Kevin,

It won't have anything on the other side if it is, as I believe a post WWII Indian produced rifle.

And I just checked my refs - Only India used the arabic numbers stamped on No1 rifles starting in 1949.

Chris

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Chris, are we agreed it is a factory repaired re-numbered mkIII.

Hwyl

Kevin

Hi Kevin,

Not entirely. It has been Factory Throrough Refinished/Refurbished/Repaired in India. (FR stamp)

But given the apparent lack of stamping on the other side and the No1Mk3 (arabic numbers) I am fairly certain it it is a post 1949 Indian PRODUCED rifle. I am not sure if it has been renumbered as we have not yet seen the numbering on the bolt, barrel, underside of the rear sight etc.

Chris

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The numbering on the bolt, the barrel and undersight is the same as on the second pic, 57906.

All the marks under the handguard are too small to be photographed but if I can make them out then I will enter them on here.

Thanks for the replies so far.

Cliff

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Hi Chris, thanks for the update, would like to add that about three years ago whilst visiting our daughter in upstate NY we visited the American Precision Museum in Windsor, VT. An eye opener in rifle manufacturing of the 1850s

Hwyl

Kevin

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For comparison....

A bit messy as later in Indian Service the metal on SMLEs was often pained with a heavy black enamel but:

Buttsocket Markings on an equivalent rifle

The full rifle (this one a wire wrapped grenade lauching rifle)

A selection of Ishapore Enfields:

1) a converted to a .410 shotgun (from a 1917 Enfield produced No1MkIII*)

2) a 1944 No1 MkIII*

3) a 1955 No1 Mk3

4) a 1968 2a (7.62mm - note square magazine and squared off foresight protector))

One other thing that often indicates Indian service is a transverse "strengthening" screw through the middle of the fore-end.

Chris

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  • 13 years later...

It has been heavily modified - it is not a standard military version. actually very little original beyond the bolt, receiver and barrel remains.

Is there anything stamped on the wrist of the rifle (under where the bolt lies) - this is where the original rifle designation would have been and would look something like this

 

1916Enfield.jpg.3b866aacff1bb66e1432c6b9c9d771e9.jpg

 

It is very hard to tell but it looks like it was originally a ShtLE (Rifle No1) MkIII*  although it has had the charger bridge removed, has a completely replaced butt and fore-end and a replacement rear sight and fore-sight ramp/blade. It has also appears to have had the Magazine blocked off and the rifle reduced to single shot.

 

Several companies did commercial conversions like this, and hundreds of rifles were converted by home gunsmiths in the 50s-90s when donor rifles were cheap.

In the US "Golden State Arms" / "Santa Fe" converted lots of rifles like this.

 

Chris

 

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Can't quite see if it's a single-shot or a 5-round mag conversion, which at least some of the commercial sporterisers fitted as standard. Parker Hale did a 'No. 1 Custom' conversion, but that had pistol grip and fore-end chequering and a slanted fore-end cap and white spacer. I always thought the 'No. 1 Standard' best, as a fuss-free and businesslike hunting rifle, but that's just personal preference.

Edited by MikB
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This is a No4 MkI Enfield barrel and receiver. From the pictures I can't tell you if it is a MkI or MkI* (to remover the bolt if you depress a small button it's a MkI if you remove it by lining the bolt head up with a slot in the receiver rail then rotating it it's a MkI*) Given the serial number I expect it is probably a MkI.

 

This rifle was a development of the WWI SHtLE (by that point called the Rifle, No1) and was adopted in Nov 1939 and was the standard British service rifle from @1942 on, although large numbers of Rifles No1 stayed in service.

Unmodified the rifle would look like this (the parts to restore it to original appearance are readily available although it may not be an economical proposition)

 

A56177.jpg.95c43ce4d92004b6359414177fc91db4.jpg

 

Because it is WWII vintage it is not really appropriate to discuss it further here.

Hope this helps,

Chris

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  • 1 month later...

Hello, I have acquired a cool piece of history I think. However, there are so many markings that I can’t figure out what’s what. Was wondering if anyone here could help? I’ve attached as many photos of the markings as I could. I’m rather confused by it to be honest. Thanks for any info you could provide. 

E57FB255-FBEC-40EE-9350-37F9C4DAD86B.jpeg

F3D14A39-7EB9-45AE-827E-5E502E63BD88.jpeg

8F85FFD6-56B3-44E1-AA9C-0360C7CB1976.jpeg

7E9E806F-EEE2-4852-8834-576C15369797.jpeg

AF8E4BEE-40F1-451A-BF22-D4A738D5B676.jpeg

9307B628-6CAF-4C31-9C13-00FBE5B343AD.jpeg

56BDACC9-E915-4428-ADC8-CF01549A9EDB.jpeg

BF578642-C4DF-424F-9CAC-93D8A1E1EC3D.jpeg

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On 24/12/2020 at 19:02, Skipper said:

Please looking for help identifying my lee enfield. 

IMG_20201224_194034209.jpg

IMG_20201224_194038988.jpg

Can anyone tell me what lee enfield I have here ?

That’s a Lee enfield on what appears to be a weatherby bdl stock.

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