Original British Victorian Long Lee-Enfield MkI dated 1897 Converted to S.M.L.E. with N.S.W. Australian Markings
Original Item: Only One Available. This is definitely an interesting rifle, with a long service history. It started life in 1897 as a .303 caliber "Magazine Lee-Enfield", often referred to as a "Long" Lee-Enfield, which was basically a Lee-Metford rifle with a different "Enfield" rifled barrel. The new .303 British Cartridge with the improved propellant was unfortunately too much for the Metford rifling, and was replaced.
This rifle was then later shortened and refitted to "Short Magazine Lee-Enfield" (S.M.L.E.) dimensions, and saw further service. The right side of the butt stock has the original R M / ENFIELD Rondel stamp, but also N S W for New South Wales in Australia. It was originally fitted with long range volley sights, however those have been removed, though the base for the front sight is still on the sight, so the rifle was not restocked during conversion. The handguard however definitely was replaced, along with the rear sight. The top of the barrel nocks form is marked MOTTY, and it also has the 303 / NITRO PROOF on the left side of the barrel under the handguard, indicating it was good for use with the new Nitrocellulose propelled .303 British Cartridges. There also looks to be the "Three Rifle" B.S.A. trademark logo in front of the rear sight, so the entire barrel may have been replaced at some point.
This rifle has definitely seen extensive service, and there are numerous proofs and markings on the stock and metal, some of which are no longer completely legible. It has several "opposed broad arrow" markings, for rifles sold out of military service. The receiver is marked with serial number 1548 / E, while the other numbers on the rifle are not matching.
On the top right of the stock cup it is marked with the original production information:
The royal cypher Crown over V.R. stands for for Victoria Regina. Well, this Queen, who reigned for almost 64 years, had an influence far beyond the British Isles and the British Empire during the Nineteenth Century. Victorian morals dominated the cultured classes of Great Britain and the new United States, and even now, in the Twenty-First Century, nostalgic organizations such as the Victorian Riflemen thrive in the former Colonies.
ENFIELD indicates that the first incarnation of this piece was produced by the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock and 1897 was the year of original manufacture. L.E. is the abbreviation for the .303 calibre, Rifle, Magazine, Lee–Enfield, with the I indicating the first version. There are no stars indicating that it was produced as a modified first version. It saw service, and then was deemed worn or obsolete, so it was converted to the new Short MLE configuration.
There is however no conversion information stamped onto the other side of the butt stock, so this may have been done in Australia at armory, and not at one of the factories in England.
It is in fine condition and comes complete with the correct magazine and a functional magazine cutoff still installed. The bore still shows clear rifling, though there is some fouling in the grooves and overall wear from service. The stock is in good condition, but definitely shows long service, with numerous dents, dings, and other wear. There is some cracking, near the receiver area on both parts of the stock. The rifle cycles correctly, however it is definitely a bit finicky, and sometimes it takes several tries to get the bolt handle to turn. Slow firm pressure and movement seems to work best, and trying to cycle it quickly seems to cause it to hang up somewhere. The firing pin holder also sometimes sticks half way when the trigger is pulled.
Definitely an interesting rifle with lots of history and research potential! Ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: 1897 - Converted Later
Caliber: .303 British
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Overall Length: 25 1/4 Inches
Overall Length: 44 1/2 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: 10 Round Magazine
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