Original British WWI / WWII Lee-Enfield MkI Dated 1898 Converted to S.M.L.E. in 1905 and then to .22 Trainer
Original Item: Only One Available. This is definitely an interesting rifle, with a long service history. It started life as a .303 caliber Long Lee Enfield, but was refitted in 1904 and designated a Short Lee Enfield Rifle. At a later time it was then converted again to a .22 rimfire training rifle. It has all the characteristics the VERY EARLIEST P-1903 Short Magazine Lee-Enfield rifles, but in .22 caliber for training purposes.
It was originally fitted with long range volley sights, and unlike most examples we have seen, this still has them intact! It also has the EARLIEST version of the lower hand guard, incorporating steel wings screwed directly into the wood. Really a great piece of history here! We have had several of these in the past, but unfortunately those days are gone, and this is possibly the last one we will ever have!
As time passed it saw extensive service, and there are numerous proofs and markings on the stock and metal, some of which are no longer completely legible. There are still regimental markings on the buttstock marking disc: R. F. / 1. 16, though this could also be a date. There are also several faint rondels stamped into the wood, which are unfortunately no longer visible. The receiver is marked with serial number 1578 / K, which matches the number on the end of the nose cap.
It is in fine condition and comes with the correct empty magazine marked 22 on the side, which could catch spent brass. The bore is in good condition, though it is a bit greasy, and we unfortunately do not have a cleaning rod small enough to clean it. It does appear to have some wear, but we can still see rifling in areas. The stock is solid, with the expected wear of age and long service. We however do not see any repairs such as dowels, pins, etc, which is a real rarity.
The markings on this rifle help trace the history of the refits it has gone through. 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 1898 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.
The conversion information is stamped onto the lower left of the buttstock cup:
This indicates that the rifle was converted to a .303 caliber Rifle, short, Magazine Lee-Enfield Converted Mark II at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock in 1905. It was then presumably in service in this configuration through WWI and was then stored at arsenal. Conversion to a .22 Trainer most likely happened in the years leading up to WWII, as indicated by the markings on the receiver above the chamber:
This rifle was converted to a .22 Mk III rifle by the Birmingham Small Arms Co., for use in training exercises. The original barrel was replaced with a new .22 barrel. It would have been used by soldiers learning marksmanship in the early days of WWI or WWII. As there is no conversion date, we cannot be sure when it became a .22 rifle.
This is a great chance to own an interesting .22 SMLE trainer, with loads of history! Ready to display!
Year of Manufacture: 1898 - converted 1905 and again later
Caliber: .22 cal
Cartridge Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Overall Length: 25 Inches
Overall Length: 44 Inches
Action type: Bolt-Action
Feed System: Single Shot
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