Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SMLE project

The other day I won an online auction at and bought this:
The folks at NW Armory in Portland were very helpful, and as efficient as the US Govt would let them be. I completed the transaction in 30 minutes (pretty good considering the paperwork, etc), and waited 2 hours for my "instant" background check to complete.

The gun itself is a Lee Enfield No4 Mk1* (No, that's not a footnote, it's part of the model designation). This was the standard British battle rifle of WWII, an improved version of the Lee Enfield Mk1 used by British troops in WWI. It is considered by collectors to be one of the best rifles of it's era, sturdy, reliable, accurate and powerful.

This particular rifle is one of 1.2 million produced by Savage Arms at Lake Chicopee NH.The British government found that they needed more rifles than England could produce, so they contracted production out to firms in Canada, Australia and Savage in the US. In the beginning, neither Savage nor the British Army were happy with the arrangement. The Army quality control inspectors rejected many of the rifles produced by Savage, who were watching their profit in the deal being eaten by what they felt were cosmetic flaws.

The US government stepped in and resolved the situation. Through the Lend Lease program, the US government purchased the rifles and loaned them to Great Britain for the duration of the war. So this gun, and all but the very first few thousand produced were stamped U.S. PROPERTY. At the end of the war, in lieu of return of millions of guns, thousands of airplanes and dozens of ships, the British government was charged by the US government for 10% of the cost of the goods delivered, and given 50 years to pay, so this gun was not fully paid for until December 29, 2006.

If you look carefully, you can see that the stock and furniture of the rifle were at some time carved by an amateur of surprisingly little skill. This is the good side. The other looks like it was attacked by a demented, machete-wielding monkey with a spastic muscle disorder. I will be replacing the wood and hopefully getting a good rifle out of the deal.

More pictures when I get a chance to work on it.


You will notice a new page here, Projects (L proiecti), a place to post photos and discussion of some of my various projects.