Original British .22 Short Rifle Mk III Dated 1897

Item Description

Original Item: Among the rarest of the rare, the rifle whose official nomenclature is .22 Short Rifle Mk III is the first .22 caliber trainer based on the Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield, or SMLE for short. Before this there were a Mk I, Mk I*, and Mk II, but all were long rifles with the official nomenclature .22 Long Rifle Mk I and so on. The Mk III designation for this rifle is not related to the .303 caliber SMLE Mk III; it refers only to this rifle’s place in the sequence of .22 training rifles.

This model was approved on 9 August 1912, and was built on Converted Mk II and II* SMLE rifles. All Mk II and II* SMLEs had been converted from long Lee-Metfords or long Lee Enfields.

This example has the following rifle history stamped into the receiver:

1. It was originally manufactured as a Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle Mk I in 1897 by Birmingham Small Arms and Metals Company, or B.S.A. & M. Co. This marking, along with the Victoria cypher, is found on the upper right side of the butt socket.

2. In 1905 it was converted to SMLE configuration, and renamed Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield Converted Mk II. This information is located on the lower left area of the butt socket. The conversion was carried out at RSAF Enfield, also indicated here.

3. Lastly, it was converted to a .22 Short Rifle Mk III in 1913 by the London Small Arms Company (L.S.A.Co.) This is marked on the lower right side of the butt socket.

The .22 Mk III rifles have some unique features. The nose cap, for instance, in side view resembles the SMLE Mk I, but on viewing it from the front it is seen that the protective sight ears do not curve in as they do on a the SMLE Mk I. The lower hand guard is of the SMLE Mk I design, but the rear sight leaf is the SMLE Mk III leaf, with windage adjustment. The butt swivel is the SMLE Mk I pattern. The front and rear volley sights are present. An empty magazine shell is installed, and in this case a large opening is cut in the bottom to allow the fired cartridge cases to drop free. The bolt head is marked 22 No 2. The nose cap retains its correct stacking swivel. The serial number of this piece is 615.

The .22 Short Rifle Mk III had a short production life, from 1912 through 1914. A new .22 trainer was introduced in 1915, the .22 RF Pattern 1914 Short Rifle No. 1

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