Enfield Pattern 1914 in .303in

Enfield Pattern 1914 in .303in

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Enfield Pattern 1914 in .303in

A Pattern 1914 Enfield in .303in, with the distinctive circular regimental brass plate on the butt stock

Lee-Enfield Rifles .22RF Mk.III, Mk.IV & No.2 Mks.I & IV*

although some late mark No.2 rifles were built from scratch, particularly in Australia and commercially.

The barrels of these later marks of No.2 rifle were usually newly made solid components of Birmingham Small Arms Co., manufacture.

The earliest conversions were also newly made "small-bore" barrels, but the need to not interfere with vital production of .303" barrels,

at the commencement of the First World War, required alternative means for the provision of such barrels.

From 1915 these converted rifles' barrels were bored out .303"CF units, mainly parented by obsolete rifles

or those condemned for Service full-bore use, and sleeved with a .22RF rifled tube in the manner of Parkerifling.

This sleeving work was largely contracted to the Parker company,

themselves the pioneers of successful major production of such barrelling.


The Pattern '14 No.3 Rifle, the SMLE No.1 Rifle and No.2 Rifle, the No.4 Rifle and the FN-SLR Rifle and the EM2 Bulldog precursor to the current SA-80 Rifle,

including Service Rifle Target shooting at BISLEY CAMP RANGES Post WWII

The approval for service of the first conversion of the S.M.L.E. to .22RF calibre was in August 1912.

These conversions were effected using the Marks II and II* rifles (which .303"CF rifles, from 1926,

became known as the No.1 Mks. II and II* with the introduction of a new sytem of nomenclature by rifle number).

The converted rifles were fitted with the previously mentioned solid .22RF barrel

similar to that especially made for the Rifle, RF Short Mk.I in 1907, and approved as the " .22-in. R.F. Short Rifle, Mark III ".

For purposes of latter-day identification, it should perhaps be borne in mind that such rifles could subsequently have been sleeved,

by the Parker or Parker-Hale companies, to lengthen their military service, or when sold out of service into the commercial world.

A wartime need for yet more training rifles led to the approval, in April 1916,

for conversions of S.M.L.E. rifles (No.1) Marks II and IV,

and of the earlier "Long Lee-Enfields" in their charger-loading Mark I* guise -

These conversions each rather confusingly became "Pattern 1914" rifles,

in common with the .303 British designed, but American manufactured, rifle that in 1926 acquired the nomenclature Rifle No.3.

However, confusion was limited by the full designations for these rifles, which,

for those converted from Mk.III and Mk.IV S.M.L.E. rifles was the " .22-in R.F. Pattern 1914 Short Rifle No.2 ",

and for those converted from the C.L.M.L.E. Mk.I* , was the " .22-in. Pattern 1914 Long Rifle ".

The latter rifle is obviously not a conversion of the S.M.L.E.,

but is mentioned here because of the significance of its concurrency with those conversions.

Below: the "Enfield" Pattern Room collection, at the Royal Leeds Armouries,

carries a converted "Long Lee" which bears a manilla pattern-room label,

( which label is marked with the Crown and " E.R . ", and is therefore post 1952 and not original pattern labelling )

on which is typed the designation " .22 LEE ENFIELD Rifle No.2 "

This rifle is not to be found in the Pattern Room Catalogue, and carries one of the more recently attached clear plastic holders protecting the printed label describing the rifle as being " EXPERIMENTAL " and of " UNKNOWN PATTERN ". However, at some point, it was apparently suspected that the rifle represented an example of a Rifle No.2. The mid and front barrel bands appear especially made, with the fore-end wood protruding through the front band and being rounded off. There is therefore no bayonet mounting lug.

The magazine is the traditional shell used in most training rifles, emptied of its spring and follower, but with the lower tapered section of the body entirely removed, leaving of the order of an inch protruding from, and parallel to, the underside of the fore-end wood. This is an exceedingly rare modification. The only Lee-Enfield training rifle otherwise without means of collecting the empty, fired rimfire cartridge-cases is the Rifle, Short, .22"RF, Mk.I, converted from the Magazine Lee-Metford Mk.I*. That rifle was issued without any magazine at all, the empty magazine-well permitting extracted cases to fall to the ground. It should be noted that the magazine-well in that rifle was radiused for the early rounded nose magazine used in the M.L.M., unlike the square-fronted magazines of all subsequent Lee-Enfield offerings, and as shown in the rifle here illustrated.

Note the unusual sling-swivel in front of the trigger-guard, with a double pivot and D-ring.

A screw behind the magazine seems to provide prevention of the magazine's release.

The lug affixed inside the rear of the magazine is of indeterminate use,

and shows no evidence of ever having provided any support for a magazine base, although that is not impossible.

The fore-sight and front band: left,

and right, a highly unusual folding rear-sight with both windage and elevation adjustment. This sight mounts in place of the rear volley-sight, in much the same way that the B.S.A. No.9 target sight would be have been fitted to an "Long Lee" at that time

Returning to the later and perhaps more common conversions of the S.M.L.E.,

the following offers proof, if ever it were needed, of the longevity of service of such training rifles through two World Wars.

Below: Rifle .22RF Mk.III with Cooey rear aperture sight

The Canadian Cooey 10a model rear-sight, patented in 1925 and illustrated above, used the sight-leaf from the Ross rifle.

This was the Canadian answer to providing a training rear sight for the .22 SMLE to simulate the later aperture-sighted full-bore Service rifles used during the Second World War. At the time of its design, the sight would have offered equivalency to the sighting of the .303 Pattern'14 (Rifle No.3), but later afforded very practical representation of the No.4 rifle in particular. Rifles configured as the example above have also provided quite satisfactory small-bore target rifles over the ensuing years.

As well this folding rear-sight, utilising the leaf from the Ross straight-pull service rifle, the Cooey Machine and Arms Co. also manufactured their own designs of Cooey .22 training rifles and, in addition, made conveyors, along the lines of those used in the ".303 cum .22 " Pattern '18 S.M.L.E., for use with the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle. Such a conversion was also manufactured by Parker-Hale and marketed commercially late in WWII. It was unsurprisingly named the "Adapter .55 cum .22", and was used without an Aiming Tube (or .22 barrel sleeve) to train those charged with the task of tank-killing with that famous and unpopularly heavy and heavy-recoiling anti-tank rifle. The use of the word unpopular needs to be qualified here, because many Allied combatants had good reason to be grateful for the presence of a Boys rifle during engagements, in any number of situations, in which they found themselves.

Incidental to the above connection between the .22 rimfire cartridge and the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle for training purposes, was the arrangement for mounting the .22RF No.2 Mk.IV* Lee-Enfield Rifle alongside the Boys ATR for weapon training. This system also permitted use of the ATR on miniature or indoor ranges, mainly to teach 'lead' (the aiming and firing at a point some distance ahead of a moving target to ensure a hit. Details of this equipment can be found, via the link above, on the page for the Boys Anti-Tank Rifle.

The earlier British equivalent was the "Auxiliary" rear sight introduced in 1917, and originally intended for use with any of the .22RF Short rifle models, but which is most commonly found on the .22 SMLE training rifles. Its purpose was to simulate the rear aperture sight of the .303 CF Enfield No.3 rifle - formerly, and most commonly known as, the P'14. This unit, designated the"Sight, Auxiliary, Aperture, Mk.I" was manufactured by modifiying the volley sight of the Lee-Metford rifle.

The auxiliary rear-sight was

designed for fitment in place

of the rear volley aperture

Below is an image of the

sight fitted to a

.22RF Mk.IV* S.M.L.E., which example is the pattern of that rifle approved in November of 1921

Image courtesy of the Enfield Pattern Room

The Enfield Rifle No.3 , which the above configuration was designed to emulate, was originally designed at Enfield and manufactured in the U.S.A. by Winchester, Remington and Eddystone for the British Government as an emergency contingency to supplement the insufficient production of the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield in the U.K. The rifle proved very accurate and was manufactured by the U.S.A, as their Pattern '17 rifle in 30-06 calibre. The British rifles were originally issued in the First World War as sniper rifles, being the first Service rifle to carry an aperture rear-sight. When subsequently fitted with a variety of telescope sights, these rifles restored the balance of sniper warfare, the initiative for which had, up to that point, been firmly in the hands of the German units with their telescopic sighted Mauser rifles. Some of these 'scoped rifles saw service early in the Second World War (1939-1945) until the No.4T 'sniper' rifle was brought into service. Standard No.3 (Pattern 1914) rifles were also re-issued to the Home Guard during the Second World War, and many of them, due to their inherent accuracy, were used, with special target rear-sights fitted, as target rifles both between the Wars and for many years post WWII.

Here follows that last-of-the-line S.M.L.E. conversion, the No.2 Mk.IV* shown below, simply a change in nomenclature (from No.2 Mk.IV) made in 1926 related to the stamping of ".22 " on the left hand side of the magazine casing.

Above: the Rifle No.2 Mk.IV* - The rifle is marked as "ENFIELD SHT .22 IV* " but dated 1931 - possibly either built or refurbished at that date.

These rifles were still manufactured into the 1950s - particularly in Australia, which rifles often used coachwood furniture .

Fitted with the Parker-Hale or other equivalent aperture target sights, such configured rifles have been used for small-bore target shooting over many years - and are still in use in Classic rifle competition.

The example below has been fitted with a Parker-Hale Model 5A S.M.L.E. target typerear-sight .

rear aperture target sight

fitted with their six-hole eyepiece

Subsequent to an enquiry made of us regarding the method of adjusting the foresight on these rifles, entailed in obtaining the best "zero", we have added a few images to show what is required. The same principle applies to Lee-Enfield rifles Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. The 'official' method of adjusting fore-sight windage is to use the issued tool for the purpose. The original tool for the S.M.L.E. ( Nos. 1 & 2) rifles is shown first below left and, to the right it is shown fitted to the rifle..

Each graduation on the adjuster represents one inch of windage displacement on the target of the point of impact.

For this tool to be used, it is necessary to remove the rifle's nose-cap by removing two screws. Early rifles had solid fore-sight protector wings on the nose-cap, and removal of same was obligatory. Later nose-caps had perforated protector wings, which both saved weight and allowed more light onto the fore-sight.

It conveniently so happens that the later adjuster for the Rifle No.4 can be employed to adjust the fore-sight of an SMLE with perforated protector wings, without removal of the nose-cap, as shown in the image to the right.

Elevation zero adjustment of the fore-sight is achieved by replacement of the fore-sight blade with another of different height. There is a selection of blade heights available from specialist surplus dealers, and the dimension for each is stamped onto the top of the unit's dovetailed base. They start from zero, which represents one inch above the bore's centre-line, and increase in multiples of "15 thou" ( i.e. 0.015") as +15, +30, +45 and +60. Should an increase in sighting elevation be required, and no replacement fore-sight be available, then judicious filing of the blade would suffice. A decrease in elevation would be more problematic. Remember, with rear-sight windage you wind left to go left but move the fore-sight left and the P.O.I. ( Point of Impact) moves right.

An image of the adjusting tools for other Rifle Numbers, along with greater detail of the adjustment of the Lee-Enfield rear and fore-sights for zeroing, is to be found on the page for Service Sights

Below: the .22"RF chamber cross-section drawing giving dimensions

Below: the rifling dimensions of the 8 groove No.2 rifle barrel, 1 turn in 16" - Right Hand

To view the complete Small Arms drawings (S.A.I.D.)

for the No.2 and No.1 rifles and components

click on either adjacent image

In 1927, a training rifle was considered specifically for the Officers' Training Corps ( O.T.C.). An experimental model was constructed along the lines of the No.2 Mk.IV* rifle, but with shortened fore-end, no forward upper handguard, and fore-sight protectors as used on the "Long Lee" and .22RF Short rifles, but with the wings straightened upright to better represent those of the S.M.L.E. rifle. This one-off experimental rifle was converted from a B.S.A. manufactured .303 No.1 Mk.III* service rifle. It carries no markings other than those of the parent arm. The idea was not further advanced, probably because yet another conversion of the S.M.L.E.was likely to prove superfluous, and the model was never put into production, although there is a suggestion that a very small number may have been converted.

Above: the O.T.C. .22RF experimental rifle - Ref: RB388 - image by courtesy of the Enfield Pattern Room

Rifles of similar appearance have been noted, particularly from the Antipodes, but such rifles have themselves usually been converted from No.2 Mk.IV* rifles and are therefore retrograde modifications or "sporterisations". Additionally, fore-sight protecting wings, upright as above, but of the pressed-steel clamp type, using a cross-bolt to lock the wings onto the barrel, have been recently seen offered on auction sites. These units sometimes carry the stamping "22" on one wing, and were presumably intended for equivalent modifications.

We illustrate another fine example of a .22RF Lee-Enfield No.2 Mk.IV rifle (SMLE) training rifle

The rifle is in very good condition, with wood furniture better than many of this era.

It is an unusual A.J. Parker conversion

The bore is in fine shooting condition, with particularly little chamber erosion, and spent cases still extract perfectly.

This rifle is fitted with a contemporary and rare A.J.Parker early Model "Twin Zero" folding rear target aperture sight,

an equivalent of the A.G. Parker "Bisley Works" folding Model 9.

The butt disc is typically stamped "O.T.C. NOTTS"

for the Nottingham Officers Training Corps unit.


An earlier method of providing a .22 Rimfire training rifle at minimum expense was the "Aiming Tube".

This was a logical evolution from the .297/230in. CF calibre "Morris Tube" previously utilised,

originally with the Martini Henry and Martini Enfield rifles, and latterly with the first Lee-Enfield - the "Long" Lee.

The aiming-tube provided .22 rimfire practise for both civilians and the military.

Adaptation sets were available from A.G. Parker & Co. complete in wooden boxes partitioned for the tube, bolt and accessories.

Ideally, the set would be properly partnered to the parent rifle by means of

the .22RF bolt-head being selected for correct head-spacing with the rifle and tube.

As with the .303 centre-fire bolts, heads were available with different dimensions between the head face and the shoulder

from which the threaded section started for screwing into the bolt body.

Many civilian shooters or non-regular servicemen with their own .303CF S.M.L.E. rifles

(and indeed Volunteer or Territorial Long Lee rifles still very much in use years after the adoption of the S.M.L.E.

Below is a No.1 Mk.III* .303in. Centre fire calibre rifle fitted both with an aiming tube

and the Lattey Galilean 'sniper' sights adaptation (of which more below).

To fit the Aiming Tube, the bolt is removed, the tube slid in from the breech, and a leather washer ,

brass/bronze washer and knurled nut tighten onto the threaded section of the tube protruding from the muzzle.

The tube must be rotated into the correct position for the sliding chamber extraction sleeve

- just visible in the images below in both rearward and forward positions

- in order that the extractor on the bolt head will withdraw the sleeve,

which is at the same time rotated by virtue of a helical slot cut in it

which engages on a pin fixed to the outside of the chamber section of the aiming tube.

When fully withdrawn, the semi-circumferential flange on the rear of the sliding sleeve, and with which the extractor engages, rotates clear of the extractor, allowing the bolt to be fully drawn to the rear of the action. To reload, the extraction sleeve must be pushed fully forward over the chamber before the next round can be fingered into the breech. The system is fiddly but effective. Correct functioning, accuracy and grouping are considerably dependent upon careful fitting of the tube. The parent arm must not be too worn in the bore, otherwise the tube can flex within the excessive tolerance. The MPI and grouping will then significantly change as the barrel temperature varies. Do not let anyone tell you that the design was a hopeless non-starter. In good condition and carefully assembled, this system is quite capable of grouping to one inch at fifty yards! See also the equivalent conversion unit for the German K98 service rifle.

Left: the Lattey fore-sight objective lens and mount, which clamps into the aperture in the nosecap casting. The muzzle of the .22RF Aiming tube can clearly be seen with its knurled bronze fastening nut and washer with the underlying leather washer to prevent overtightening, which could separate the Aiming tube barrel from its chamber section to which it is affixed.

For the inquisitive amongst our readers, no, the foresight lens arrangement has nothing to do with the aiming tube. It just so happens that the rifle which best accommodates this particular tube also carries a set of Lattey "Galilean" First World War sniper sights. Sights of this type were designed early in WWI to improve the sight picture for the British and Commonwealth Armies' sharpshooters. Initially, "sharpshooters" or unit marksmen were only issued with rifles carrying the standard open service sights, and many took it upon themselves to fit target aperture rear sights to their rifles to improve accuracy. Such sights are poor in low light levels, and further improvements were sought and devised, often by those whose task it was to employ such equipment. The Lattey sight set consisted of the objective lens fitted to the nose-cap in front of the fore-sight, and the correcting lens fitted immediately to the rear of the "V" or "U" notch on the tangent rearsight leaf. The magnification afforded is little more than 2X .

The Lattey rear correcting lens

This system had other equivalents such as the "Neill" and "Martin" and "Gibbs" sights,

not to mention an optical arrangement manufactured by BSA.

Some early set-ups utilised a foresight lens and merely a rear aperture sight

usually a proprietary target sight (such as the BSA No.9 folding rear-sight) as previously mentioned.

Almost any option was tried until the first purpose-made sighting telescopes were eventually fitted to sharpshooters' rifles.


Thank you for taking the time to view this page. We hope it has been of interest

Enfield Pattern 1914 in .303in - History

The Rifle, .303 Pattern 1914 (or P14) was a British service rifle of the First World War period that was principally contract manufactured by companies in the United States.

During the Boer War the British were faced with accurate long-range fire from the famous Mauser rifles, model 1895, in 7x57mm caliber. This smaller, high-velocity round prompted the War Department to develop their own "magnum" round in 1910, using a .276 calibre round patterned from that of the Canadian Ross rifle. A modified Mauser-pattern rifle was built to fire it, the Pattern 1913 Enfield (P13) effective mass production was still a ways off when World War I started, to say nothing of the logistical nightmare of introducing a new rifle cartridge in wartime, so nothing came of this.

Adapting the same mechanism to fire the standard .303 round led to the Rifle, .303 Pattern 1914 (P14), a competent design fed from a five-round internal magazine. The action was a hybrid of the Lee and Mauser actions, with the rifle half-cocking on opening and full cocking on close (this was due to rapid-fire related heating making the standard Mauser action difficult to operate quickly). The primary contractor (Vickers) was unable to produce more than a handful of rifles, so the P14 became a de facto afterthought. The SMLE therefore remained the standard British rifle during World War I and beyond.

The need for additional small arms combined with a complete lack of spare industrial capacity led the British government to contract with two U.S. commercial arms manufacturers, Winchester, Remington and Eddystone (a subsidiary of Remington set up principally to manufacture the P14) to produce the P14 for the British before the US entered the war in 1917. However, each factory produced parts from their own designs, leading to interchangeability issues Winchester was particularly troublesome in this regard, going so far as to refuse for months to change to the new Mk I* standard. Therefore, the official designation of the rifle was dependent upon its manufacturer: e.g., the Pattern 1914 Mk I W is a Mk I of Winchester manufacture, R would be Remington, or E for Eddystone. The P14's principal combat use during WWI was as a sniper rifle, since it was deemed to be more accurate than the SMLE at longer ranges, either in standard issue form or with modified or telescopic sights (modified and telescopic sights were used only on Winchester-manufactured rifles).

When the U.S. entered the war, the P14 was modified and standardized by the U.S. Ordnance Department and went into production at the same factories as had produced the P14, production of that rifle having ceased, as the Model of 1917, commonly M1917 Enfield, chambered for the standard US 30-06 cartridge and enjoyed some success as a complement for the Springfield M1903 rifles which were America's official standard issue, soon far surpassing the Springfield in total production and breadth of issue.

Prior to and during World War II, the P14 was used, after undergoing modification ("Weedon repair standard", formally the Mk II standard) in Britain as a rearguard rifle, primarily to equip the WWII Home Guard. The rifle was also used again as a sniper rifle, the configuration being different from the WWI incarnation. Additionally, the US also sent some M1917 rifles to the UK under Lend-Lease, though the different ammunition requirements limited use and necessitated clearly marking the rifles as being non-standard. The Australian Army also used some quantities of the sniper variant of the P14 during World War II.

Service history
Used by UK, British Commonwealth


Production history
Designed 1914-15
Number built 1,235,298 total
Variants Sniper (telescopic and unmagnified), grenade launcher, US M1917 rifle


Weight 9 lb 6 oz (4.25 kg) unloaded
Length 3 ft 10¼ in (1175 mm)
Barrel length 26 in (660 mm)
Cartridge .303 British
Caliber .303 inch (7.7 mm)
Action Modified Mauser turn bolt-action
Rate of fire - Manual, as determined by skill of operator
Muzzle velocity 2380 ft/s
Effective range 800+ meters
Feed system 5 round, charger reloading


The Lee–Enfield rifle was derived from the earlier Lee–Metford, a mechanically similar black-powder rifle, which combined James Paris Lee's rear-locking bolt system that had a barrel featuring rifling designed by William Ellis Metford. The bolt has a relatively short bolt throw and features rear-mounted lugs and the bolt operating handle places the bolt knob just rearwards of the trigger at a favourable ergonomic position close to the operator's hand. The action features helical locking surfaces (the technical term is interrupted threading). This means that final head space is not achieved until the bolt handle is turned down all the way. The British probably used helical locking lugs to allow for chambering imperfect or dirty ammunition and that the closing cam action is distributed over the entire mating faces of both bolt and receiver lugs. This is one reason the bolt closure feels smooth. The rifle was also equipped with a detachable sheet-steel, 10-round, double-column magazine, a very modern development in its day. Originally, the concept of a detachable magazine was opposed in some British Army circles, as some feared that the private soldier might be likely to lose the magazine during field campaigns. Early models of the Lee–Metford and Lee–Enfield even used a short length of chain to secure the magazine to the rifle. [14] To further facilitate rapid aimed fire the rifle can be cycled by most riflemen without loss of sight picture.

These design features facilitate rapid cycling and fire compared to other bolt-action designs like the Mauser. [10] The Lee bolt-action and 10-round magazine capacity enabled a well-trained rifleman to perform the "mad minute" firing 20 to 30 aimed rounds in 60 seconds, making the Lee–Enfield the fastest military bolt-action rifle of the day. The current world record for aimed bolt-action fire was set in 1914 by a musketry instructor in the British Army—Sergeant Instructor Snoxall—who placed 38 rounds into a 12-inch-wide (300 mm) target at 300 yards (270 m) in one minute. [15] Some straight-pull bolt-action rifles were thought faster, but lacked the simplicity, reliability, and generous magazine capacity of the Lee–Enfield. Several First World War accounts tell of British troops repelling German attackers who subsequently reported that they had encountered machine guns, when in fact it was simply a group of well-trained riflemen armed with SMLE Mk III rifles. [16] [17]

The Lee–Enfield was adapted to fire the .303 British service cartridge, a rimmed, high-powered rifle round. Experiments with smokeless powder in the existing Lee–Metford cartridge seemed at first to be a simple upgrade, but the greater heat and pressure generated by the new smokeless powder wore away the shallow and rounded Metford rifling after approximately 6000 rounds. [9] Replacing this with a new square-shaped rifling system designed at the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) Enfield solved the problem, and the Lee–Enfield was born. [9]

Models/marks of Lee–Enfield rifle and service periods Edit

The Lee–Enfield rifle was introduced in November 1895 as the .303 calibre, Rifle, Magazine, Lee–Enfield, [9] or more commonly Magazine Lee–Enfield, or MLE (sometimes spoken as "emily" instead of M, L, E). The next year, a shorter version was introduced as the Lee–Enfield Cavalry Carbine Mk I, or LEC, with a 21.2-inch (540 mm) barrel as opposed to the 30.2-inch (770 mm) one in the "long" version. [9] Both underwent a minor upgrade series in 1899 (the omission of the cleaning / clearing rod), becoming the Mk I*. [18] Many LECs (and LMCs in smaller numbers) were converted to special patterns, namely the New Zealand Carbine and the Royal Irish Constabulary Carbine, or NZ and RIC carbines, respectively. [19] Some of the MLEs (and MLMs) were converted to load from chargers, and designated Charger Loading Lee–Enfields, or CLLEs. [20]

A shorter and lighter version of the original MLE—the Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee–Enfield or SMLE (sometimes spoken as "Smelly", rather than S, M, L, E) [13] —was introduced on 1 January 1904. The barrel was now halfway in length between the original long rifle and the carbine, at 25.2 inches (640 mm). [21] The SMLE's visual trademark was its blunt nose, with only the bayonet boss protruding a small fraction of an inch beyond the nosecap, being modelled on the Swedish Model 1894 Cavalry Carbine. The new rifle also incorporated a charger loading system, [22] another innovation borrowed from the Mauser rifle and is notably different from the fixed "bridge" that later became the standard: a charger clip (stripper clip) guide on the face of the bolt head. [23] The shorter length was controversial at the time many Rifle Association members and gunsmiths were concerned that the shorter barrel would not be as accurate as the longer MLE barrels, that the recoil would be much greater and the sighting radius would be too short. [24]

The best-known Lee–Enfield rifle, the SMLE Mk III, was introduced on 26 January 1907, along with a Pattern 1907 bayonet and featured a simplified rear sight arrangement and a fixed, rather than a bolt-head-mounted sliding, charger guide. [13] The design of the handguards and the magazine were also improved and the chamber was adapted to fire the new Mk VII High Velocity spitzer .303 ammunition. Many early models, Magazine Lee–Enfield (MLE), Magazine Lee–Metford (MLM) and SMLE, were rebuilt to the Mk III standard. These are called Mk IV Cond., with various asterisks denoting subtypes. [25]

During the First World War, the SMLE Mk III was found to be too complicated to manufacture (an SMLE Mk III rifle cost the British Government £3/15/–), and demand outstripped supply in late 1915 the Mk III* was introduced incorporating several changes, the most prominent of which were the deletion of the magazine cut-off mechanism, which when engaged permits the feeding and extraction of single cartridges only while keeping the cartridges in the magazine in reserve, and the long-range volley sights. [26] [25] [27] The windage adjustment of the rear sight was also dispensed with, and the cocking piece was changed from a round knob to a serrated slab. [28] Rifles with some or all of these features present are found, as the changes were implemented at different times in different factories and as stocks of parts were depleted. [29] The magazine cut-off was reinstated after the First World War ended, and not entirely dispensed with in manufacturing until 1933 some rifles with cut-offs remained into the 1960s. [28]

The inability of the principal manufacturers (RSAF Enfield, The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited and London Small Arms Co. Ltd) to meet military production demands led to the development of the "peddled scheme", which contracted out the production of whole rifles and rifle components to several shell companies. [30]

The SMLE Mk III* (renamed Rifle No.1 Mk III* in 1926) saw extensive service throughout the Second World War, especially in the North African, Italian, Pacific and Burmese theatres in the hands of British and Commonwealth forces. Australia and India retained and manufactured the SMLE Mk III* as their standard rifle during the conflict, and the rifle remained in Australian military service through the Korean War, until it was replaced by the L1A1 SLR in the late 1950s. [31] The Lithgow Small Arms Factory finally ceased production of the SMLE Mk III* in 1953. [25]

The Rifle Factory Ishapore at Ishapore in India produced the Mk III* in .303 British, and then the model 2A, with strength increased by heat treatment of the receiver and bolt to fire 7.62×51mm NATO ammunition, retaining the 2,000-yard rear sight as the metric conversion of distance was very close to the flatter trajectory of the new ammunition. The model 2|A1 changed the rear sight to 800 m, and was manufactured until at least the 1980s a sporting rifle based on the Mk III* action remained in production.

The rifle became known simply as the "three-oh-three". [32]

Pattern 1913 Enfield Edit

Due to the poor performance of the .303 British cartridge during the Second Boer War from 1899–1902, the British attempted to replace the round and the Lee–Enfield rifle that fired it. The main deficiency of the rounds at the time was that they used heavy, round-nosed bullets that had low muzzle velocities and poor ballistic performance. The 7×57mm Mauser rounds fired from the Mauser Model 1895 rifle had a higher velocity, flatter trajectory and longer range, making them superior on the open country of the South African plains. Work on a long-range replacement cartridge began in 1910 and resulted in the .276 Enfield in 1912. A new rifle based on the Mauser design was created to fire the round, called the Pattern 1913 Enfield. Although the .276 Enfield had better ballistics, troop trials in 1913 revealed problems including excessive recoil, muzzle flash, barrel wear and overheating. Attempts were made to find a cooler-burning propellant, but trials were halted in 1914 by the onset of the First World War. Wartime demand and the improved Mk VII loading of the .303 round caused the Lee-Enfield to be retained for service. [33]

In 1926, the British Army changed their nomenclature the SMLE became known as the Rifle No. 1 Mk III or III*, with the original MLE and LEC becoming obsolete along with the earlier SMLE models. [34] Many Mk III and III* rifles were converted to .22 rimfire calibre training rifles, and designated Rifle No. 2, of varying marks. (The Pattern 1914 became the Rifle No. 3.) [34]

The SMLE design was relatively expensive to manufacture, because of the many forging and machining operations required. In the 1920s, a series of experiments were carried out to help with these problems, resulting in design changes which reduced the number of complex parts and refining manufacturing processes. The SMLE Mk V (later Rifle No. 1 Mk V), adopted a new receiver-mounted aperture sighting system, which moved the rear sight from its former position on the barrel. [35] The increased gap resulted in an improved sighting radius, improving sighting accuracy and the aperture improved speed of sighting over various distances. In the stowed position, a fixed distance aperture battle sight calibrated for 300 yd (274 m) protruded saving further precious seconds when laying the sight to a target. An alternative developed during this period was to be used on the No. 4 variant, a "battle sight" was developed that allowed for two set distances of 300 yards and 600 yards to be quickly deployed and was cheaper to produce than the "ladder sight". The magazine cutoff was also reintroduced and an additional band was added near the muzzle for additional strength during bayonet use. [35]

Long before the No. 4 Mk I, Britain had obviously settled on the rear aperture sight prior to WWI, with modifications to the SMLE being tested as early as 1911, as well as later on the No. 1 Mk III pattern rifle. These unusual rifles have something of a mysterious service history, but represent a missing link in SMLE development. The primary distinguishing feature of the No. 1 Mk V is the rear aperture sight. Like the No. 1 Mk III* it lacked a volley sight and had the wire loop in place of the sling swivel at the front of magazine well along with the simplified cocking piece. The Mk V did retain a magazine cut-off, but without a spotting hole, the piling swivel was kept attached to a forward barrel band, which was wrapped over and attached to the rear of the nose cap to reinforce the rifle for use with the standard Pattern 1907 bayonet. Other distinctive features include a nose cap screw was slotted for the width of a coin for easy removal, a safety lever on the left side of the receiver was slightly modified with a unique angular groove pattern, and the two-piece hand guard being extended from the nose cap to the receiver, omitting the barrel mounted leaf sight. The design was found to be even more complicated and expensive to manufacture than the Mk III and was not developed or issued, beyond a trial production of about 20,000 rifles between 1922 and 1924 at RSAF Enfield all of which marked with a "V". [35]

The No. 1 Mk VI also introduced a heavier "floating barrel" that was independent of the forearm, allowing the barrel to expand and contract without contacting the forearm and interfering with the 'zero', the correlation between the alignment of the barrel and the sights. The floating barrel increased the accuracy of the rifle by allowing it to vibrate freely and consistently, whereas wooden forends in contact with barrels, if not properly fitted, affected the harmonic vibrations of the barrel. The receiver-mounted rear sights and magazine cutoff were also present and 1,025 units were produced in the 1930 period. [36]

In the early 1930s, a batch of 2,500 No. 4 Mk. I rifles were made for trials. These were similar to the No. 1 Mk. VI but had a flat left side and did away with the chequering on the furniture. Observed examples are dated 1931 and 1933. Roughly 1,400 of these were converted to No. 4 MK. I (T) sniper rifles in 1941–1942 at RSAF Enfield.

By the late 1930s, the need for new rifles grew and the Rifle, No. 4 Mk I was officially adopted in 1941. [37] The No. 4 action was similar to the No.1 Mk VI but stronger and easier to mass-produce. [38] Unlike the SMLE, that had a nose cap, the No 4 Lee–Enfield barrel protruded from the end of the forestock. For easier machining, the charger bridge was no longer rounded. The iron sight line was redesigned and featured a rear receiver aperture battle sight calibrated for 300 yd (274 m) with an additional ladder aperture sight that could be flipped up and was calibrated for 200–1,300 yd (183–1,189 m) in 100 yd (91 m) increments. This sight, like other aperture sights, proved to be faster and more accurate than the typical mid-barrel open rear sight elements sight lines offered by Mauser, previous Lee–Enfields or the Buffington battle sight of the M1903 Springfield.

The No. 4 rifle was heavier than the No. 1 Mk. III, largely due to its heavier barrel. A new bayonet was designed to go with the rifle: a spike bayonet, essentially a steel rod with a sharp point, nicknamed "pigsticker" by soldiers. [38] Towards the end of the Second World War, a bladed bayonet was developed for the No.5 Mk.I rifle ("Jungle Carbine"). Post-war versions were made that would fit No. 4 rifles and were designated No. 7 and No. 9 blade bayonets. [39]

During the course of the Second World War, the No. 4 rifle was further simplified for mass-production with the creation of the No. 4 Mk I* in 1942, with the bolt release catch replaced by a simpler notch on the bolt track of the rifle's receiver. It was produced only by Small Arms Limited at Long Branch in Canada, and Stevens-Savage Firearms in the USA. [40] The No.4 rifle was primarily produced for the United Kingdom, Canada and some other Commonwealth countries including New Zealand. [41]

In the years after the Second World War, the British produced the No. 4 Mk 2 (Arabic numerals replaced Roman numerals in official names in 1944) rifle, a refined and improved No. 4 rifle with the trigger hung forward from the butt collar and not from the trigger guard, beech wood stocks (with the original reinforcing strap and centre piece of wood in the rear of the forestock on the No.4 Mk I/Mk I* being removed in favour of a tie screw and nut) and brass "gunmetal" buttplates (during the war the British, Americans and Canadians replaced the brass buttplates on the No.4 rifles with a zinc alloy (Zamak) type to reduce costs and speed production). Near the end of the war and after, Canada made blued steel buttplates. [42] With the introduction of the No. 4 Mk 2 rifle, the British refurbished many of their No. 4 rifles and brought them up to the same standard as the No. 4 Mk 2. [43] The No. 4 Mk 1 rifles were re-named No. 4 Mk I/2, while No. 4 Mk I* rifles that were brought up to Mk 2 standard were renamed No. 4 Mk I/3. [40]

Later in the war, the need for a shorter, lighter rifle forced the development of the Rifle, No. 5 Mk I (the "Jungle Carbine"). [44] With a cut-down stock, a prominent flash hider, and a "lightening-cut" receiver machined to remove all unnecessary metal, reduced barrel length of 18.8 in (478 mm) the No. 5 was shorter and 2 lb (0.9 kg) lighter. Despite a rubber butt-pad, the .303 round produced excessive recoil due to the shorter barrel. It was unsuitable for general issue and production ceased in 1947, due to an "inherent fault in the design", often claimed to be a "wandering zero" and accuracy problems. [45]

The No. 5 iron sight line was similar to the No. 4 Mark I and featured a rear receiver aperture battle sight calibrated for 300 yd (274 m) with an additional ladder aperture sight that could be flipped up and was calibrated for 200–800 yd (183–732 m) in 100 yd (91 m) increments. The No. 5 Mk I was popular with soldiers owing to its light weight, portability and shorter length than a standard Lee–Enfield rifle. [46] The No. 5 was first issued to the British 1st Airborne Division and used during their liberation of Denmark and Norway in 1945. BSA-Shirley, Birmingham produced 81,329 rifles and ROF Fazakerley, Liverpool 169,807 rifles. It was equipped with a No. 5 Mk. I blade bayonet which had a large muzzle ring to fit over the flash hider. The No. 7 Mk. I/L bayonet, which has a rotating handle and a large ring on the cross-guard was not for the No. 5 Mk. I rifle as many collectors believe.

An Australian experimental version of the No. 5 Mk I, designated Rifle, No. 6, Mk I [47] was also developed, using an SMLE MK III* as a starting point (as opposed to the No. 4 Mk I used to develop the No. 5 Mk I). The Australian military were not permitted to manufacture the No. 4 Mk I, because the Lithgow Small Arms Factory was producing the SMLE Mk III. The No. 6 Mk I never entered full production and examples are rare and valuable to collectors. [44] A "Shortened and Lightened" version of the SMLE Mk III* rifle was also tested by the Australian military and a very small number were manufactured at SAF Lithgow during the course of the Second World War. [48]

The term "Jungle Carbine" was popularised in the 1950s by the Santa Fe Arms Corporation, a U.S. importer who refurbished many surplus rifles, converting many of the No. 4 marks, in the hope of increasing sales of a rifle that had little U.S. market penetration. It was never an official military designation but British and Commonwealth troops serving in the Burmese and Pacific theatres during World War II had been known to unofficially refer to the No. 5 Mk I as a "Jungle Carbine". [44] The No. 4 and No. 5 rifles served in Korean War (as did the No.1 Mk III* SMLE and sniper 'T' variants, mostly with Australian troops). [13]

Sniper rifles Edit

During both World Wars and the Korean War, a number of Lee–Enfield rifles were modified for use as sniper rifles. The Australian Army modified 1,612 [49] Lithgow SMLE No. 1 Mk. III* rifles by adding a heavy target barrel, cheek-piece, and a World War I era Pattern 1918 telescope, creating the SMLE No. 1 Mk. III* (HT). (HT standing for "Heavy Barrel, Telescopic Sight), [13] which saw service in the Second World War, Korea, and Malaya and was used for Sniper Training through to the late 1970s. [50]

During the Second World War, standard No. 4 rifles, selected for their accuracy during factory tests, were modified by the addition of a wooden cheek rising-piece, and telescopic sight mounts designed to accept a No. 32 3.5× telescopic sight. [51] The telescopic sight had a field of view of 8 degrees 20 minutes and featured a bullet drop compensation range drum on top of the sight graduated in 50 yards (45.7 m) increments from 0 to 1,000 yards (914 m). Side adjustments in 2 MOA increments were made by the drum mounted at the side of the sight. These rifles were designated as the No. 4 Mk. I (T). The accuracy requirement was ability to place 7 of 7 shots in a 5 inches (12.7 cm) circle at 200 yards (183 m) and 6 of 7 shots in a 10 inches (25.4 cm) circle at 400 yards (366 m). The wooden cheek-piece was attached with two screws. The rear "battle sight" was ground off to make room to attach the No. 32 telescope sight to the left side of the receiver. Each No. 32 and its bracket (mount) were matched and serial numbered to a specific rifle. [52]

In British service, the No. 32 telescope progressed through three marks with the Mk. I introduced in 1942, the Mk. II in 1943 which offered side adjustments in finer 1 MOA increments, and finally the Mk. III (Mk. 3) in 1944 which had a improved field of view of 8 degrees 30 minutes. [53] A transitional model the No. 32 Mk. 2/1 was also made. The Canadian scopes made by Research Enterprises Limited and were prefixed with a letter C and went through C no. 32 Mk. I, Mk. I A (a transitional model), Mk. II and Mk. 3. Many Mk. 3s and Mk. 2/1s (Mk. 2s Modified to Mk. 3 standard) were later modified for use with the 7.62×51mm NATO L42A1 Sniper Rifle. They were then known by the designation Telescope Straight, Sighting L1A1.

Initial production was 1,403 conversions of 1931–1933 troop trials No. 4 Mk. I rifles at RSAF Enfield and a few others including Stevens-Savage No. 4s. These were converted in late 1941 and into the later part of 1942. Then, the work was assigned to Holland & Holland, the famous British sporting gun manufacturers, which converted about 23,000 No. 4 Mk. I (T) and No. 4 Mk. I* (T) sniper rifles. The Holland & Holland conversions usually have the contractor code "S51" on the underside of the buttstock. BSA Shirley undertook 100 conversions to .22". James Purdey and Sons fitted special buttstocks later in the war. About 3,000 rifles, mostly Stevens-Savage, appear to have been partially converted by Holland & Holland but never received brackets, scopes of the final "T" mark. Canada converted about 1,588 rifles at Small Arms Limited (to the end of 1945) and, in 1946, at Canadian Arsenals Limited. Both were located at Long Branch, Ontario. Most of the Canadian made No.4 Mk.I* (T) sniper equipments went into British service. The No.4 (T) rifles were extensively employed in various conflicts until the late 1960s.

The British military switched over to the 7.62×51mm NATO round in the 1950s starting in 1970, over 1,000 of the No. 4 Mk I (T) and No. 4 Mk. I* (T) sniper rifles were converted to this new calibre and designated L42A1. [42] The L42A1 sniper rifle continued as the British Army's standard sniper weapon being phased out by 1993, and replaced by Accuracy International's L96. [54]

.22 training rifles Edit

Numbers of Lee–Enfield rifles were converted to .22 calibre training rifles, [55] in order to teach cadets and new recruits the various aspects of shooting, firearms safety, and marksmanship at a markedly reduced cost per round. Initially, rifles were converted from obsolete Magazine Lee–Metford and Magazine Lee–Enfield rifles [56] [57] but from the First World War onwards SMLE rifles were used instead. These were known as .22 Pattern 1914 Short Rifles [58] during The First World War and Rifle, No. 2 Mk. IV [59] from 1921 onwards. [60] They were generally single-shot affairs, originally using Morris tubes chambered for cheap .22L cartridge and some larger types, circa 1907. Some were later modified with special adaptors to enable magazine loading. In 1914, Enfield produced complete .22 barrels and bolts specifically for converting .303 units, and these soon became the most common conversion. A five-round .22 cal 'Parker-Hiscock' magazine was also developed and in service for a relatively short period during the later period of the First World War, but was subsequently withdrawn from issue due to reliability problems with its quite complicated loading and feeding mechanism. [61] [62] No. 2 Mk. IV rifles are externally identical to a .303 calibre SMLE Mk III* rifle, the only difference being the .22 calibre barrel, empty magazine case, bolthead and extractor which have been modified to fire .22 calibre rimfire cartridges. [63]

After the Second World War, the Rifle, No. 7, Rifle, No. 8 and Rifle, No. 9, all .22 rimfire trainers and/or target rifles based on the Lee action, were adopted or in use with Cadet units and target shooters throughout the Commonwealth, the No.8 as of 2017 has been replaced among cadet forces due to obsolescence. [64] [65]

In Britain, a .22RF version of the No.5 Rifle was prototyped by BSA and trialled with a view to it becoming the British Service training rifle when the .303"CF No.5 was initially mooted as being a potential replacement for the No.4 Rifle. [66]

The C No.7 22" MK.I rifle is a .22 single shot, manually fed, training version of the No.4 Mk I* rifle manufactured at Long Branch. [67] Production of this model was 1944–1946 and a few in 1950 to 1953. [68] [ unreliable source? ]

Muskets and shotguns Edit

Conversion of rifles to smoothbored guns was carried out in several locations, at various times, for varying reasons.

SAF Lithgow, in Australia, produced shotguns based on the MkIII action under the "Slazenger" name, chambering the common commercial .410 shotgun shell. [69] Commercial gunsmiths in Australia and Britain converted both MkIII and No4 rifles to .410 shotguns. These conversions were prompted by firearms legislation that made possession of a rifle chambered in a military cartridge both difficult and expensive. Smoothbored shotguns could be legally held with far less trouble.

RFI, in India, converted a large number of MkIII rifles to single shot muskets, chambered for the .410 Indian Musket cartridge. These conversions were for issue to police and prison guards, to provide a firearm with a much-reduced power and range in comparison to the .303 cartridge. A further likely consideration was the difficulty of obtaining replacement ammunition in the event of the rifle's theft or the carrier's desertion.

While British and Australian conversions were to the standard commercially available .410 shotgun cartridge (though of varying chamber lengths) the Indian conversions have been the source of considerable confusion. The Indian conversions were originally chambered for the .410 Indian Musket cartridge, which is based on the .303 British cartridge, and will not chamber the common .410 shotgun cartridge. Many of these muskets were rechambered, after being sold as surplus, and can now be used with commercially available ammunition. Unmodified muskets require handloading of ammunition, as the .410 Indian Musket cartridge was not commercially distributed and does not appear to have been manufactured since the 1950s.

Numerous attempts have been made to convert the various single-shot .410 shotgun models to a bolt-action repeating model by removing the wooden magazine plug and replacing it with a standard 10-round SMLE magazine. None of these is known to have been successful, [70] though some owners have adapted 3-round magazines for Savage and Stevens shotguns to function in a converted SMLE shotgun, or even placing such a magazine inside a gutted SMLE magazine.

Civilian conversions and variants Edit

From the late 1940s, legislation in New South Wales, Australia, heavily restricted .303 British calibre (and other "military calibre") rifles, [71] so large numbers of SMLEs were converted to "wildcat" calibres such as .303/25, .303/22, .303/270 and the popular 7.7×54mm round. [72] 303/25 calibre sporterised SMLEs are very common in Australia today, although ammunition for them has been very scarce since the 1980s. [71] The restrictions placed on "military calibre" rifles in New South Wales were lifted in 1975, and many people who had converted their Lee–Enfields to the "wildcat" rounds converted their rifles back to .303 British. [71] Post-Second World War, SAF Lithgow converted a number of SMLE rifles to commercial sporting rifles- notably the .22 Hornet model- under the "Slazenger" brand. [73]

In the early 1950s Essential Agencies Ltd. (E.A.L.), of Toronto, Ontario, produced a run of several thousand survival rifles based on the No. 4 action, but lightened and shortened, chambered in .303 British. Serial numbers below 6000 were for civilian sale, serial numbers 6000 and higher were built under contract to the Canadian government. The Royal Canadian Air Force also used these as a survival rifle in the remote parts of Canada. [ citation needed ]

L59A1 Drill Rifle Edit

The L59A1 was a conversion of the No4 Rifle (all Marks) to a Drill Purpose Rifle that was incapable of being restored to a firing configuration. It was introduced in service in the 1970s. A conversion specification of No.1 rifles to L59A2 Drill Purpose was also prepared but was abandoned due to the greater difficulty of machining involved and the negligible numbers still in the hands of cadet units.

The L59A1 arose from British government concerns over the vulnerability of Army Cadet Force and school Combined Cadet Forces' (CCF) stocks of small arms to theft by terrorists, in particular the Irish Republican Army following raids on CCF armouries in the 1950s and 1960s. Previous conversions to Drill Purpose (DP) of otherwise serviceable rifles were not considered to be sufficiently incapable of restoration to fireable state and were a potential source of reconversion spares.

L59A1 Drill Rifles were rendered incapable of being fired, and of being restored to a fireable form, by extensive modifications that included the welding of the barrel to the receiver, modifications to the receiver that removed the supporting structures for the bolt's locking lugs and blocking the installation of an unaltered bolt, the removal of the striker's tip, the blocking of the striker's hole in the bolt head and the removal of most of the bolt body's locking lugs. Most bolts were copper plated for identification. A plug was welded in place forward of the chamber, and a window was cut in the side of the barrel. The stock and fore end was marked with broad white painted bands and the letters "DP" for easy identification.

De Lisle Commando carbine Edit

The Commando units of the British military requested a suppressed rifle for killing sentries, guard dogs and other clandestine operational uses during the Second World War. The resulting weapon, designed by Godfray de Lisle, was effectively an SMLE Mk III* receiver redesigned to take a .45 ACP cartridge and associated magazine, with a barrel from a Thompson submachine gun and an integrated suppressor. [27] It was produced in very limited numbers and an experimental folding stock version was made.

Ekins Automatic Rifle Edit

The Ekins Automatic Rifle was one of the numerous attempts to convert a Lee–Enfield SMLE to an automatic rifle. [74] Similar developments were the South African Rieder Automatic Rifle and the New Zealand and Australian Charlton Automatic Rifles.

Howard Francis carbine Edit

Howard Francis Self-Loading Carbine
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Production history
DesignerHoward Francis
Mass3.7 kg (8.2 lb)
Length812 mm (32.0 in)
Barrel length324 mm (12.8 in)
Cartridge7.63×25mm Mauser
Rate of fireSemi-automatic
Feed system12-round box magazine
SightsIron sights

The Howard Francis Self-Loading Carbine was a conversion of a No. 1 Mk III to the 7.63×25mm Mauser pistol cartridge. [75] It fired in semi-automatic only and suffered some feeding and extraction problems and, despite meeting accuracy and soundness of design concept, never made it past the prototype stage.

Howell Automatic Rifle Edit

The Howell Automatic Rifle was the first attempt to convert the Lee–Enfield SMLE into a semi-automatic rifle. The weapon was reliable but unergonomic for the user as the force of the recoiling bolt interfered with handling.

Rieder Automatic Rifle Edit

The Rieder Automatic Rifle was an automatic (full automatic only) Lee–Enfield SMLE rifle of South African origin. The Rieder device could be installed straight away without the use of tools.

During the 1960s, the British Government and the Ministry of Defence converted a number of Lee–Enfield No. 4 rifles to 7.62×51mm NATO as part of a programme to retain the Lee–Enfield as a reserve weapon. [ citation needed ] The Lee–Enfield No. 4 series rifles that were converted to 7.62×51mm NATO were re-designated as the L8 series of rifles with the rifles being refitted with 7.62×51mm NATO barrels, new bolt faces and extractor claws, new rear sights and new 10-round 7.62×51mm NATO magazines that were produced by RSAF Enfield to replace the old 10-round .303 British magazines. [76] The appearance of the L8 series rifles were no different from the original No. 4 rifles, except for the new barrel (which still retained the original No.4 rifle bayonet lugs) and magazine. [77] The L8 series of rifles consisted of L8A1 rifles (converted No.4 Mk2 rifles), L8A2 rifles (converted No.4 Mk1/2 rifles), L8A3 rifles (converted No.4 Mk1/3 rifles), L8A4 rifles (converted No.4 Mk1 rifles), and L8A5 rifles (converted No.4 Mk1* rifles).

Sterling Armaments of Dagenham, Essex produced a conversion kit comprising a new 7.62mm barrel, magazine, extractor and ejector for commercial sale. The main difference between the two conversions was in the cartridge ejection arrangement the Enfield magazine carried a hardened steel projection that struck the rim of the extracted case to eject it, the Sterling system employed a spring-loaded plunger inserted into the receiver wall.

The results of the trials that were conducted on the L8 series rifles were mixed and the British Government and the Ministry of Defence decided not to convert their existing stocks of Lee–Enfield No. 4 rifles to 7.62×51mm NATO. Despite this, the British learned from the results of the L8 test program and used them in successfully converting their stocks of No. 4 (T) sniper rifles to 7.62×51mm NATO, which led to the creation of the L42A1 series sniper rifles. [78]

In the late 1960s, RSAF Enfield entered the commercial market by producing No.4-based 7.62×51mm rifles for sale. The products were marketed under alliterative names e.g. Enfield Envoy, a rifle intended for civilian competition target shooting and Enfield Enforcer, a rifle fitted with a Pecar telescopic sight to suit the requirements of police firearms teams.

Ishapore 2A/2A1 Edit

At some point just after the Sino-Indian War of 1962, the Rifle Factory Ishapore in India began producing a new type of rifle known as the Rifle 7.62 mm 2A, which was based on the SMLE Mk III* [79] and was slightly redesigned to use the 7.62×51mm NATO round. Externally the new rifle is very similar to the classic Mk III*, with the exception of the buttplate (the buttplate from the 1A SLR is fitted) and magazine, which is more "square" than the SMLE magazine, and usually carries twelve rounds instead of ten, [80] although a number of 2A1s have been noted with 10-round magazines.

Ishapore 2A and Ishapore 2A1 receivers are made with improved (EN) steel (to handle the increased pressures of the 7.62×51mm round) [81] and the extractor is redesigned to suit the rimless cartridge. From 1965 to 1975 (when production is believed to have been discontinued), the sight ranging graduations were changed from 2000 to 800, and the rifle re-designated Rifle 7.62 mm 2A1. [82] The original 2,000 yards (1,800 m) rear sight arm was found to be suitable for the ballistics of the 7.62×51mm, which is around 10% more powerful and equates to a flatter trajectory than that of the .303 British MkVII ammunition, so it was a simple matter to think of the '2000' as representing metres rather than yards. It was then decided that the limit of the effective range was a more realistic proposition at 800 m.

The Ishapore 2A and 2A1 rifles are often incorrectly described as ".308 conversions". The 2A/2A1 rifles are not conversions of .303 calibre SMLE Mk III* rifles. Rather, they are newly manufactured firearms and are not technically chambered for commercial .308 Winchester ammunition. However, many 2A/2A1 owners shoot such ammunition in their rifles with no problems, although some factory loaded .308 Winchester cartridges may appear to generate higher pressures than 7.62×51mm NATO, even though the rounds are otherwise interchangeable – this is due to the different systems of pressure measurement used for NATO and commercial cartridges.

In total, over 16 million Lee–Enfields had been produced in several factories on different continents when production in Britain shut down in 1956, at the Royal Ordnance Factory ROF Fazakerley in Liverpool after that factory had been plagued with industrial unrest. The machinery from ROF Fazakerley was sold to Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) in Rawalpindi where production and repair of the No.4 rifle was continued from 1957. [83] [84] Also contributing to the total was the Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) at Ishapore in India, which continued to produce the SMLE in both .303 and 7.62×51mm NATO until the 1980s, and is still manufacturing a sporting rifle based on the SMLE Mk III action, chambered for a .315 calibre cartridge, [85] the Birmingham Small Arms Company factory at Shirley near Birmingham, and SAF Lithgow in Australia, who finally discontinued production of the SMLE Mk III* with a final 'machinery proving' batch of 1000 rifles in early 1956, using 1953-dated receivers. During the First World War alone, 3.8 million SMLE rifles were produced in the UK by RSAF Enfield, BSA, and LSA. [86]

List of manufacturers Edit

Manufacturer markings of MLE, CLLE, and SMLE Mk I—Mk III*
Marking Manufacturer Country
Enfield Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield United Kingdom
Sparkbrook Royal Small Arms Factory Sparkbrook United Kingdom
BSA Co Birmingham Small Arms Company United Kingdom
LSA Co London Small Arms Co. Ltd United Kingdom
Lithgow Lithgow Small Arms Factory Australia
GRI Rifle Factory Ishapore British India
RFI Rifle Factory Ishapore India (Post-Independence)

"SSA" and "NRF" markings are sometimes encountered on First World War-dated SMLE Mk III* rifles. These stand for "Standard Small Arms" and "National Rifle Factory", respectively. Rifles so marked were assembled using parts from various other manufacturers, as part of a scheme during the First World War to boost rifle production in the UK. Only SMLE Mk III* rifles are known to have been assembled under this program. GRI stands for "Georgius Rex, Imperator" (Latin for "King George, Emperor (of India)", denoting a rifle made during the British Raj. RFI stands for "Rifle Factory, Ishapore", denoting a rifle made after the Partition of India in 1947.

Manufacturer marks for No. 4 Mk I, No. 4 Mk I* and No. 4 Mk 2
Marking Manufacturer Country
ROF (F) Royal Ordnance Factory Fazakerley United Kingdom
ROF (M) Royal Ordnance Factory Maltby United Kingdom
B The Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited United Kingdom
M47 and later M47C Birmingham Small Arms Factory (Shirley) United Kingdom
Long Branch Small Arms Limited and later, Canadian Arsenals Limited Canada
Squared S and US PROPERTY Savage Arms U.S.
POF Pakistan Ordnance Factories Pakistan

Second World War UK production rifles had manufacturer codes for security reasons. For example, BSA Shirley is denoted by M47C, ROF(M) is often simply stamped "M", and BSA is simply stamped "B". Savage-made Lee–Enfield No. 4 Mk I and No. 4 Mk I* rifles are all stamped "US PROPERTY". They were supplied to the UK under the Lend-Lease programme during the Second World War. No Savage Lee–Enfields were ever issued to the US military the markings existed solely to maintain the pretence that American equipment was being lent to the UK rather than permanently sold to them. [87]

Australian International Arms No. 4 Mk IV Edit

The Brisbane-based Australian International Arms also manufactured a modern reproduction of the No. 4 Mk II rifle, which they marketed as the AIA No. 4 Mk IV. The rifles were manufactured by parts outsourcing and were assembled and finished in Australia, chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO and fed from modified M14 magazines. The No. 4 Mk IV was designed with the modern shooter in mind, and has the ability to mount a telescopic sight without drilling and tapping the receiver. [88] AIA also offered the AIA M10-A1 rifle, a Jungle Carbine-styled version chambered in 7.62×39mm Russian, which uses AK-47 magazines. [89] Magazine supply/importation (M14 and AK 10 single stack mag) whilst legal in Australia, it has been spasmodically curtailed by Australian Federal Customs (for more information, see Gun politics in Australia). It is possible to obtain a 10-round (the maximum allowed by law) M14 magazines for the M10-B2 match rifles in particular, provided an import permit from the appropriate Licensing Services Division can be obtained in some States, yet Australian Federal Customs may still refuse importation on no valid grounds. [90]

Khyber Pass Copies Edit

A number of British Service Rifles, predominantly the Martini–Henry and Martini–Enfield, but also the various Lee–Enfield rifles, have been produced by small manufacturers in the Khyber Pass region of the Pakistani/Afghan border. [91]

"Khyber Pass Copies", as they are known, tend to be copied exactly from a "master" rifle, which may itself be a Khyber Pass Copy, markings and all, which is why it's not uncommon to see Khyber Pass rifles with the "N" in "Enfield" reversed, amongst other things. [92]

The quality on such rifles varies from "as good as a factory-produced example" to "dangerously unsafe", tending towards the latter end of the scale. Khyber Pass Copy rifles cannot generally stand up to the pressures generated by modern commercial ammunition, [92] and are generally considered unsafe to fire under any circumstances. [13]

Khyber Pass Copies can be recognised by a number of factors, notably:

  • Spelling errors in the markings as noted the most common of which is a reversed "N" in "Enfield")
  • V.R. (Victoria Regina) cyphers dated after 1901 Queen Victoria died in 1901, so any rifles made after 1901 should be stamped "E.R" (Edwardius Rex—King Edward VII or King Edward VIII) or "G.R" (Georgius Rex—King George V or King George VI).
  • Generally inferior workmanship, including weak/soft metal, poorly finished wood, and badly struck markings. [92]

Armalon Edit

British company Armalon Ltd [93] developed a number of rifles based on the Lee Enfield No 4. The PC Gallery Rifle is a carbine in pistol and revolver calibres, the AL42 a 5.56 mm rifle and the AL30C, a carbine in .30 Carbine.

The Rifle That Forged the British Empire: The Enfield Pattern 1853 Rifle

The Enfield Pattern 1853 Rifle was developed in time for use by the British Army in its first great war in decades and was arguably the catalyst of another conflict that nearly destroyed its colonial empire. While its use as the main service rifle was short-lived, lasting just thirteen years, it was a proven weapon that earned a reputation for reliability when it was used by both sides during the American Civil War. This rifle didn't build the British Empire but it helped maintain the foundation and paved the way for future firearms development.

The Shots Heard Round the Empire

As the saying goes, the sun never set on the British Empire. And from the cool, damp British Isles was built the largest empire by landmass the world had ever known. The First British Empire (1583–1783) saw great technical innovation in naval development and small arms. It was during this time that “Brown Bess”—less commonly known as the Land Pattern Musket—was introduced.

This particular musket and its derivatives fired a .75 caliber ball and remained the British Empire's standard long gun from 1722 until 1838. It was the musket that was used during the American Revolution and in the conflicts against Napoleon Bonaparte. It was thus the weapon that helped build the Second British Empire (1783–1815) and usher in Britain's Imperial Century (1815–1914).

After more than 125 years of use, the Brown Bess was superseded by percussion cap smoothbore muskets. Many of these older flintlocks were converted for use with the new percussion system that became known as the Pattern 1839 Musket. However, a fire at the Tower of London in 1841 destroyed many muskets before these could be converted but it was clear the age of the musket was fading into history.

As the British Empire became more global, the Brown Bess continued to see use around the world. At the same time, the technical advances of the Industrial Age ushered in new methods of production and this led to the development of what would be one of the most important firearms in the history of the British Empire—the Enfield Pattern 1853 Rifle.

The origins of the rifle actually go back to the earlier era of the British Empire, when the European military designers suggested that a barrel with grooves inside would improve accuracy. In 1567 these grooves were added—first to ease loading and to provide crevices for the gunpowder residue. Within a few decades, it was determined that the grooves, or rifling, could make the ball fly straighter.

For the next century, most refinements in firearms were limited to more expensive “sporting” or hunting rifles, and the common soldier was left with cruder firearms. Even the long-used Brown Bess, which served British “Red Coats” around the globe for more than 100 years were smoothbore. While the advantages of rifling were established and understood there was a long-held view in the British Army after the fall of Napoleon that “what was good enough at Waterloo is good enough now.” By the 1840s, that could no longer be accepted.

Ironically, even throughout the Napoleonic Wars, there was ample evidence that the musket was really not good enough, but British military planners were not quick to change even when the evidence suggested that there was room for improvement. Contemporary studies indicated that at the Battle of Salamanca some 8,000 enemy soldiers were wounded or killed—yet some three and a half a million cartridges had been fired. Just one shot in 437 had any effect clearly, there was room for improvement.

The inadequacy of the smoothbore musket was further brought to attention in the trials carried out when the Pattern 1842 musket—one of the post-Brown Bess percussion cap muskets to be adopted—was tested by Captain McKerlie of the Royal Engineers in 1846. This is noted in Lt. Col. H. Bond's Treatise on Military Small Arms and Ammunition, where he noted that the testing found that the rifle “should never be opened beyond 150 yards, and certainly not exceeding 200 yards.”

As a result, many Pattern 1842 muskets were converted into rifles while the British Army adopted the Regulation Pattern 1851 Minié rifle, which was a major technological step forward yet looked only slightly different from Pattern 1842 musket. After further refinements the Pattern 1853 Rifled Musket arrived. This came to be because the original idea was to have two different sighting arrangements, one for 'ordinary' soldiers and one for rifle regiments. The term “rifle-musket” was also used as it meant that rifle was the same length as the musket it replaced.

This was done because a longer rifle was at the time thought to be necessary enable the muzzles of the second rank of soldiers to project beyond the faces of the men in the front, while also ensuring that the weapons would be long enough to be fitted with a bayonet to be of effect against cavalry. This most certainly played into the British use of squares that had proven so successful against cavalry attacks at battles such as Waterloo.

The Pattern 53 Design

Between 1853 and 1867, some 1.5 million Pattern 53 Rifles were produced. The weapon was designed by RSAF Enfield, and it weighed 9.5 pounds unloaded and was about 55 inches in length—taller than many soldiers who carried it into battle. It featured a 39-inch barrel that had three groves with a 1:78 rifling twist. The barrel was fastened to the stock by three metal bands, which is why the rifle is still sometimes referred to as a “three band” model. The use of iron bands to retain the barrel had been common with French weapons since the middle years of the eighteenth century and is why this model is often noted for having French influences.

The rifle featured an adjustable ladder rear sight that had steps for 100 yards, which was considered the “battle sight range,” 200 yards, 300 yards, and 400 yards. For greater distances, an adjustable flip-up blade sight was graduated from 900 to 1,250 yards.

British soldiers of the era were trained to hit a target six feet by two feet with a two feet diameter bull's eye from ranges of 600 yards. Another target was used from 650 to 900 yards and it offered a three-foot bull's eye. Any man who scored seven points with 20 rounds at that range was designated a marksman!

The rifle featured cartridges that contained 68 grains of black powder and had a ball that was typically 530-grain Pritchett or Burton-Minié. The Pattern 53 Rifle has a velocity of about 850 to 900 per second.

Another French influence on this model was found in the bayonet. While British socket bayonets had relied upon a so-called “zig-zag” slot to fix them to the muzzle—which often blocked the foresight - the Pattern 53 adopted a French method that included a rotating locking ring on the socket of the bayonet. This allowed for the bayonet to be easily fitted and with a slight turn secured in a way that prevented it from detaching.

From Crimea to India

The Enfield Pattern 1853 rifle arrived just when it was needed, and it was clear that what worked at Waterloo would not suffice in the coming conflict. Great Britain found itself drawn into war with Russia and numerous regiments shipped off to the Crimea equipped with the Pattern 1851 Minié rifle, yet many still carried the 1842 pattern smoothbore musket. The British War Department had approved the Pattern 53 just as the nation headed to war, but it wouldn't have its official baptism of fire until February 1855, more than five months after the first British troops began to arrive on the southwestern coast of the Crimean peninsula.

The Pattern 53 proved effective against infantry, cavalry and even artillery positions alike. The era of the smoothbore musket—which had been "good enough" at Waterloo—was truly a weapon whose time had passed. The age of the rifle had begun.

As the dust settled in the Crimea thousands of miles away another war was simmering and ironically the rifle that was part of technological advancement served as the catalyst in the Jewel of the Crown that was the British Empire.

The story has been told countless times the Indian Munity began as Sepoys—the Indian soldiers serving in the Honourable East India Company—were issued with cartridges that were greased with beef tallow or lard and revolted. The truth is that there were many other factors well beyond the cartridges, but it is true that this did play a significant role in starting the rebellion that nearly destroyed the British Empire.

The Enfield Pattern 53 rifle, which had served the British Army well in Crimea, was introduced to the Indian troops serving in the East India Company. It is first worth noting that the company began based on trade, but into the early nineteenth century the unique geopolitical situation actually required that three independent armies of the company's Presidencies were formed. While these units were made of British soldiers this army was not at the time part of the British Army. British officers trained at the company's own Addiscombe Military Academy.

The .303 British Service Cartridge

The .303 British Service cartridge, commonly known as the .303 or .303 British was adopted by Britain along with the Lee – Metford Rifle in 1889. This round, as originally adopted, consisted of a 215 grain, round nosed, cupro nickel jacketed bullet in front of 71.5 grains of RFG2 Blackpowder. This powder charge being pressed into a pellet with both ends slightly rounded and pierced with a flash hole through the centre. There was a glazeboard wad on top of the charge to protect the base of the bullet. It initially had a small boxer type primer and was officially designated Cartridge, S.A., Ball, Magazine Rifle, Mark 1.C. Solid Case, .303inch. This round had a muzzle velocity of 1830 feet per second and a chamber pressure of about 19 tons per square inch.

Cordite was used as a propellant from 1891 and the first adopted cordite cartridge, the Cartridge S.A. Ball, Magazine Rifle Cordite Mark 1, had a 215 grain round nosed cupro-nickel jacketed bullet giving a muzzle velocity of about 1970 feet per second at a chamber pressure of about 17.5 tons per square inch. Cordite consisted of 58% Nitro-glycerine, 37% Nitro-cellulose and 5% Mineral Jelly and was normally pressed into cord form but tubular, tape, flaked and sliced cordite were also used. Nitro-cellulose was first used as a propellant in the .303 cartridge during 1894 although it was not officially approved for service until 1916. This propellant, however, was not considered to be as stable as cordite in the tropics and cordite was, therefore, still retained as a propellant in military cartridges for the remainder of the cartridges service life. Nitro-cellulose propellant however was extensively used during the first and second world wars. The last .303 ball cartridges manufactured at Radway Green in 1973 were loaded with nitro-cellulose powder and not cordite, cordite having last been used for the .303 cartridge in the 1960s.

The round nose bullet form of the Black Powder Mark 1 and 2 and of the Cordite Mark 1 and 2 were felt by many servicemen to have less man stopping effect than the old lead .45 inch Martini bullet, the predecessor in service of the .303 cartridge. This was confirmed by experience gained in the Chitral and Tirah expeditions of 1897/98 on the North West Frontier of India where the round nose ball round compared poorly against the .303 inch Dum Dum rounds specially issued in 1897. This cupro-nickle jacketed bullet, produced at the Dum Dum ammunition factory in India, had an exposed lead nose which gave rapid expansion on impact and therefore greater wounding effect when it hit a body. Following experimentation to increase the effectiveness of the ball cartridge the British Government adopted a 215 grain cupro-nickle jacketed hollow pointed bullet in 1897 as the Cartridge S.A. Ball .303 inch Cordite Mark III. Similar jacketed hollow point bullets were used in the Mark IV and V rounds. These soft nosed and hollow pointed bullets were considered however to be in contravention of the St Petersburg Declaration and the Hague Convention, in 1903 they were withdrawn from active service and were afterwards to be used solely for target practice. The Mark VI round was introduced in 1904 with a 215 grain jacketed round nosed bullet similar to the Mark II bullet but with a thinner jacket.

In 1910 the 174 grain pointed Mark VII bullet was adopted and the muzzle velocity was increased to 2440 feet per second. This mark of bullet remained the standard ball round for the remainder of the .303 cartridges service life.

In 1938 the .303 Mark VIIIZ round was approved to obtain greater effective range from the Vickers Medium Machine Gun. This round had a nitro-cellulose powder charge with a 175 grain boat tailed, streamline, jacketed bullet having a muzzle velocity of 2550 feet per second. Chamber pressure however was higher at 20 – 21 tons per square inch compared to the 19.5 tons per square inch of the Mark VII round.

Tracer, armour piercing and incendiary cartridges were adopted by the British Government during 1915, explosive bullets having been approved for service in 1916. These rounds were extensively developed over the years and saw several Mark numbers. The last tracer round introduced into British service was the G Mark 8 round approved in 1945, the last armour piercing round was the W Mark 1Z introduced in 1945 and the last incendiary round was the B Mark 7 introduced in 1942. Explosive bullets were not produced in the UK after about 1933 due to the relatively small amount of explosive that could be contained in the bullet limiting their effectiveness, their role being successfully fulfilled by the use of Mark 6 and 7 incendiary bullets which were also of a less complicated construction.

In 1935 the .303 O Mark 1 Observing round was introduced for use in machine guns. The bullet to this round was designed to break up with a puff of smoke on impact with a target or the ground . It was intended as a training aid only, for the observation of long range shooting where accuracy of fire was not always easily defined, even if tracer ammunition was used. The later Mark 6 and 7 incendiary rounds could also be used in this role if required.

Since the introduction of the .303 cartridge in 1889 it has been manufactured in at least 20 countries and in nearly 200 military variants as well as in numerous experimental and sporting cartridge configurations. It may be of some interest to learn that during the First World War more than 7,000 million Mk 7 ball cartridges were produced by British factories alone.

Although the United States of America did not officially adopt a .303 rifle, it did produce, under the Lend – Lease scheme of World War 2, nearly a third of the wartime production of No 4 rifles used by British troops. US Lend – Lease production for the UK was 1,196,706 No 4 rifles whereas the total British wartime production of this rifle was 2,021,913. This of course was not the total number of .303 rifles produced in the UK during WW2, as the SMLE Rifle No 1 was still being manufactured, BSA alone producing nearly a quarter of a million No 1 Mk III and III* rifles. The USA had also produced the .303 Pattern 1914, also known as the Rifle No 3 Mk 1 or 1*, for the British Government during the First World War. The USA should therefore, along with Australia, India and the United Kingdom, be considered as one of the major producers of both .303 rifles and ammunition.

The following sections attempt to identify the manufacturers of the .303 cartridge and whilst it is acknowledged that this may not a complete listing I hope it will give some insight into this historically important cartridge. Should the reader be aware of any omissions in this manufacturer’s listing then the author would be very pleased to hear from them. My thanks to John Kindred for clarification on the monograms used on Australian small arms ammunition.



A – Pretoria West Metal Pressings Pty., Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA. ( A standing for Armscore ). Known to have produced 7.7 x 56R ball cartridges, which are interchangeable with the .303 cartridge post 1961.

A or AI – Artillerie Inrichtingen, Hembrug, NETHERLANDS. This Military Arsenal became Nederland Wapen & Munitiefabrik’de Kruithoorn’ NV,’s Hertogenbosch and later became Eurometaal. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

AE Arsenal do Ejercito, Lisbon, PORTUGAL. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded 7.7 x 56 M917 ball ammunition, which is interchangeable with the .303 cartridge

AF – Small Arms Factory, Footscray, AUSTRALIA. Manufactured .303 cartridges with this headstamp January 1924 to February 1925

AOC – Bombrini, Parodi et Delfino, Rome, ITALY. Used on military .303 (7.7 x 56R) cartridges supplied to Egypt in the period 1948 – 1954. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded cartridges in:

APX – Atelier de Construction de Puteaux, FRANCE. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 (identified on headstamp as 7.70) cartridges during 1918 in:

Also known to have produced ball rounds in the 1920s and 30s

A – VE – Atelier de Construction de Valence, FRANCE. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges

A.VIS – Atelier de Fabrication de Vincinnes, FRANCE. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges in 1924

B,J,M or N – Birmingham Metal and Munitions Co Ltd., Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM. This company was formed in 1897 and was a wholly owned subsidiary of Nobels explosive company who also owned a further ammunition plant, fully acquired in 1907, at Waltham Abbey, Essex. Birmingham Metal and Munitions had ceased manufacture of ammunition by 1920. The assets of the company were taken over in 1918 by Explosives Trades Ltd which soon after was renamed Nobel Industries, this new organisation having been founded to amalgamate most of the explosives and ammunition interests of the many separate companies operating in Britain at that time. Nobel Industries in turn was to become part of the new giant Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd when it was formed in 1926.

The headstamp code B denoting the manufacturer should not be confused with B as in BVIIZ which indicates incendiary ammunition. The following types of .303 cartridges are known to have been produced during the period 1897 to 1919:

Armour Piercing Mks VII.P, VII.W and VII.W.Z

Ball, Cordite Mks 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z

Ball, Short Range Practice

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite H Mk 1

Dummy, Drill Mk 3, Premark 6, Mk 6

Experimental Armour Piercing Ammunition

BE or BE – Royal Ordnance Factory, Blackpole, Worcester, UNITED KINGDOM. This factory was part of the 1939 – 1945 war emergency expansion plan and was situated at Blackpole on the site of the earlier Government Cartridge Factory No 3 of 1916. Initially ICI Ltd were to have operated this plant but they were advised in 1940 of the change in plans and the factory was run as a Royal Ordnance Factory by the Ministry of Supply. This factory made and marked cases but filling was carried out at the Royal Ordnance Factory Swynnerton, Staffs. .303 cartridges known to have been produced with the Blackpole headstamped cases from 1941 to 1945 are:

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite H Mk 1Z

Incendiary, B Mk 6Z and B Mk 7Z

BLANCH J – Blanch & Sons of Fenchurch St, London, UNITED KINGDOM. Made dummy drill rounds with a one piece tinplate case and bullet and having a crimped on base in 1915.

BM – British Munitions Co Ltd, Millwall, London, UNITED KINGDOM. This company is believed to have manufactured .303 Ball, Blackpowder Mk 2 cartridges from 1890

BPD – Bombrini, Parodi et Delfino, Rome ITALY. In addition to the .303 cartridges manufactured for Egypt this company also manufactured nitro-cellulose loaded 7.7 x 56R cartridges, which are interchangeable with the .303 round and are known to have been produced in:

Incendiary Armour Piercing with Thermite filling

Incendiary Armour Piercing with Phosphorus filling

C.. – Pirotecnico di Capua, ITALY. Known to have manufactured 7.7 x 56R bulleted blanks, which are interchangeable with the .303 cartridge

CAC – Colonial Ammunition Co., Auckland, NEW ZEALAND. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Cordite Mks 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7z

Blank, Mk 6 and 6 converted

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite H Mk 1Z

Short Range Practice ( New Zealand Pattern)

215 gr RNSP, 180 gr PSP, 180 gr HP, 174 gr PSP, 150 gr PSP, 130 gr PSP and 150 gr HP Sporting Ammunition

Mks 4 and 5 Big Game Exploder Sporting Ammunition

H.V. Exploder Sporting Ammunition

CAC – Colonial Ammunition Co., Melbourne, AUSTRALIA. Believed to have manufactured .303 ammunition as early as 1898 until 1918. After May 1918 the CAC monogram was used with two arrows . Production gap from Jan 1921 to March 1921 after the factory was leased to the Government Known to have produced during 1920-21 the .303 cartridges in:

CP – Crompton Parkinson Ltd, Guiseley, Yorkshire, UNITED KINGDOM, although filling took place at Doncaster (see below). This factory was set up as part of the 1939-1945 war emergency expansion plan. Known to have produced .303 cartridges during the period 1940 – 1944 in:

C-P – Crompton Parkinson Ltd, Doncaster, Yorkshire, UNITED KINGDOM. This company was already in existence but unconnected with ammunition manufacture when the 1939 – 1945 war broke out. It was selected to produce small arms ammunition as part of the 1939-1945 war emergency expansion plans. Production of ammunition ceased in 1944. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Armour Piercing W Mk 1 and W Mk 1 Special

Experimental Armour Piercing (1942)

D – Dominion Cartridge Co., Brownsberg, Quebec, CANADA. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges.

D, DF, N or S – Indian Government Ammunition Factory, Dum Dum, Calcutta, INDIA. This factory manufactured cartridges for use by the British Army in India as well as the Indian Army. In 1918 this factory was capable of producing at the rate of about 10 million rounds per month. It is known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Cordite Mk 2, Mk 2 Special, Mk 6 and Mk 7

Ball, Short Range Practice I.P. Mk 1*

Dummy Drill Mk 1. IP,and IP No 2 Mk 1

DA – Dominion Arsenal, Montreal, CANADA. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Blank, Nitro-cellulose L Canadian Mk 1 (1955 & 1956)

DAC – Dominion Arsenal, Quebec, CANADA. Known to have manufactured .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z ( Late Pattern )

Blank, Cordite Mk 5 ( Canadian Pattern )

Blank, Nitro-cellulose L Mk 5Z ( Canadian Pattern )

Drill D 1942 ( Canadian Pattern )

Tracer G Mk 1 ( Canadian Pattern )

Tracer G Mk 1Z ( Canadian Pattern )

DAL or LAC – Dominion Arsenal, Lindsay, Ontario, CANADA. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

DC Defence Industries, Brownsburgh, Quebec, CANADA. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Gallery Practice Mk 1 ( Black powder – Canada )

Gallery Practice Mk 1 ( Smokeless – Canada )

Gallery Practice Mk 2 ( Canada )

DC – Dominion Cartridge Company which later became the Dominion Ammunition Division of Canadian Industries Ltd. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Cordite Mk 2, 4, 6 and 7

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7 ( Canadian WW1 contract pattern ) 1914-16

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z ( Canadian Pattern )

Drill D 1942 ( Canadian Pattern )

Tracer G Mk 2Z, G Mk 4Z ( Canadian Pattern )

DI – Defence Industries, Verdun, CANADA. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z ( Canadian Pattern )

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 8Z ( Canadian Pattern )

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite H Mk 1Z ( Canadian Pattern )

Drill D 1942 ( Canadian Pattern )

Tracer G Mk 2Z, G Mk 4Z, G Mk 6Z ( Canadian Pattern )

Do – Hirtenberg Patronenfabrik factory at Dordrecht, NETHERLANDS. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges .

DWM – Deutsche Waffen Und Munitionsfabrik, Karlsruhe, GERMANY. Known to have produced both ball and blank .303 cartridges

E or EB – Eley Brothers, Edmonton, London, UNITED KINGDOM. Factory in operation 1828 – 1919. During WW1 Eley produced in excess of 209 Million .303 Mk 7 cartridges. Eley Brothers are known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Cordite Mks 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z

Ball, Short Range Practice ( Gaudet )

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite Mk 1

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite H Mk 1Z

Drill, Mk 3, Drill Mk 3 Expedient

Explosive Pomeroy Mk 1, PSA Mk 1, PSA (VII.A) MK 1

PSA Mk 2 and PSA (VII.AA) Mk 2

RL Tracer Mk 1, Tracer SPK Mk VII.T and SPG (VII.G) Mk 1Z

Yokosuka – Naval Arsenal, JAPAN. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded Imperial Japanese Navy Year Type 92 Machine Gun ammunition, which is interchangeable with the .303 cartridge in:

Incendiary – Phosphorus filling

F or AF or SAAF – Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA.

Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite H Mk 1Z

F – Small Arms Ammunition Factory, Footscray, AUSTRALIA. Manufactured .303 cartridges with this headstamp March 1925 to April 1926

FC – Federal Cartridge Co, Anoka, Minn., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

180 gr jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

150 gr jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

FN – Fabrique National d’Armes de Guerre, Herstal, BELGIUM. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, H Mk 7Z, M11 and M12

Jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

FNM – Fabrica Nacional de Municoes e Armas Legeiras, Moscavide, PORTUGAL. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded 7.7 x 56R ball ammunition which is interchangeable with the .303 cartridges

FNT – Fabrica Nacional de Espana, Palencia, SPAIN. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

G, GB or GBF – Greenwood and Batley, Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM. This company manufactured ammunition from an early stage, finally ceasing production in the late 1950s. They had a filling factory at Abbey Wood and later during the 1939-45 war a filling factory at Farnham.

The headstamp code G, denoting manufacturer, should not be confused with G as in GIV indicating a tracer cartridge. During WW1 Greenwood & Batley are known to have produced in excess of 705 million .303 Mk 7 cartridges. They are known to have manufactured .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Cordite Mks 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z

GA – Grenfell and Accles Ltd, Perry Barr, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM. The company was formed in the early 1890s having acquired the Holford Works of the National Arms and Ammunition Company and was in existence for only a short time. Known to have manufactured Black powder Ball Mk 2 .303 cartridges from 1891 – 1896.

G18F1 or C18F1 – Government Cartridge Factory No 1, Blackheath, Staffs., UNITED KINGDOM. This factory was built in 1916 and was administered on behalf of the Government by the Birmingham Metal and Munitions Co. .303 cartridge production started in early 1918 and continued until late 1918 when the factory ceased production altogether. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z

G..F3 or C..F3 – Government Cartridge Factory No 3, Blackpole, Worcestershire, UNITED KINGDOM. This factory was built in 1916 and was administered on behalf of the Government by the Kings Norton Metal Co. Production of .303 cartridges did not start until late 1918 and the production of all ammunition finally ceased in early 1919. Known to have manufactured .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z

GKB or K – George Kynoch, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM. This company was first formed in 1862 and manufactured percussion caps. It became G. Kynoch & Co Ltd in 1884 and by then was manufacturing metallic ammunition. It became Kynoch Ltd in 1897. Prior to the formation of Kynoch Ltd (see later entry) it was known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Blackpowder Mks 1 and 2

GEVELOT – Gevelot & Gaupillat Freres, Paris, FRANCE. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges for export.

Hornady – Hornady have manufactured their Custom brand of nitro-cellulose loaded .303 ammunition in the following sporting cartridges:

150 gr Spire Point Soft nosed sporting cartridge

174 gr Round Soft nosed sporting cartridge

HN – Royal Ordnance Factory, Hirwaun, South Wales, UNITED KINGDOM. This factory was set up as part of the 1939-45 war emergency expansion plan. It was involved in the production of .303 cartridges in only a very limited way and is known to have manufactured these cartridges in:

Tracer G Mk 2 (in cases dated 1943 and 1944)

HXP – Greek Powder and Cartridge Co, Athens, GREECE. Known to have manufactured nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

Ball, L1A1 to British Government contract(1982-85)

IMPERIAL – Canadian Industries Ltd, Montreal, CANADA and Plattsburg, NY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

180 gr jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

K or KYNOCH – Kynoch & Co, Witton, Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM. This firm was first formed by George Kynoch at Witton in 1862 as a manufacturer of percussion caps. It was changed to a limited company in 1884 as G. Kynoch & Co Ltd and by then was manufacturing metallic ammunition. A further reorganisation and expansion followed in 1889 when George Kynoch was ousted from the management and this then culminated in a further change of title to Kynoch Ltd in 1897. During the period ending with the 1914-18 war Kynoch, which by then was the largest of the British commercial ammunition manufacturers, owned rolling mills at Witton at Lodge Road, Birmingham and at Eyre Street, Birmingham. At various times it had propellant factories at Arklow, County Durham, making cordite at Warsboro Dale, Yorkshire, making blackpowder and at Kynochtown, Stanford Le Hope, Essex, making smokeless powder. In addition to these plants the original cap production was maintained at Witton. Later, effective tracer and incendiary composition operations were also carried out at Witton. After the war in 1918 Kynoch Ltd, in common with most other British small arms ammunition manufacturers, was merged into Explosives Trades Ltd, later to become Nobel Industries. In 1926 when Nobel Industries became part of the new Imperial Chemical Industries, the old Kynoch factory at Witton was retained as the ammunition centre as part of the Metal Group within ICI. The propellant interests being concentrated mainly at Ardeer within the Nobel Division of ICI. In 1962 the Metals Division of ICI was reorganised as a separate company known as Imperial Metal Industries (Kynoch) Ltd. During WW1 Kynoch produced in excess of 2,373 million .303 cartridges.

The following .303 cartridges are known to have been produced by Kynoch:

Armour Piercing Mks VII.S, VII.P, VII.W, W Mk 1 and W Mk 1Z

Ball, Cordite Mks 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mks 7Z and 8Z

Ball, Short Range Practice

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 8z with Aluminium Case

Blank, Cordite Mks 4 and 5

Blank, Nitro-cellulose L Mk 5Z

Bulleted Blank, Blackpowder Mk 1

Cartridge Line Thrower H Mk 2

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite H Mk 1Z

Drill, D Mk 6, D Mk 8, D Mk 9 and D Mk 10

Greener Triplex Cartridge

Incendiary Buckingham Mk VII.B

Incendiary B Mk 3, B Mk 4Z*, B Mk 6, B Mk 6Z,

Tracer Mk VII.G, G Mk 1, G Mk 2, G Mk 2Z, G Mk 3,

Tracer G Mk 3Z, G Mk 4, G Mk 5, G Mk 6, G Mk 6Z, G Mk 7, G Mk 8 and G Mk 8Z

Triple Ball Experimental (1918)

180 gr Jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

Streamlined Pattern 1927 Match Cartridge

Streamlined Pattern 1936-37 Match Cartridge

Streamlined Pattern 1947 Match Cartridge

Bulleted blanks for Bren, Lewis and Vickers

Experimental armour piercing

Experimental semi-armour piercing

Experimental armour piercing tracer

Experimental armour piercing incendiary (1956)

Experimental tank piercing (1940)

Experimental Bulleted Blanks

K2 – Imperial Chemical Industries Kynoch factory at Standish, near Wigan, Lancs, UNITED KINGDOM. This factory was set up as part of the 1939-45 war emergency plans and produced its first complete .303 rounds in October 1940. Known to have manufactured .303 cartridges in:

Armour Piercing, W Mk 1 Special

Tracer G Mk 2, G Mk 3and G Mk 6

K4 – Imperial Chemical Industries Kynoch factory at Yeading, Hayes, Middlesex, UNITED KINGDOM. This factory was also set up as part of the 1939-45 war emergency expansion plans. Cartridge cases were being produced by late 1940 but the ball bullets were still being imported into the factory in 1941. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Tracer G Mk 2,G Mk 3, G Mk 4, G Mk 5 and G Mk 6

K5 – Imperial Chemical Industries Kynoch factory at Kidderminster, Worcestershire., UNITED KINGDOM. Set up as part of the 1939-45 war emergency expansion plans. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Tracer, G Mk 2, G Mk 3 and G Mk 6

KF or K – Indian Government Ammunition Factory Kirkee (or Kirkee Arsenal), near Poona, INDIA. In 1918 this factory had the capacity to produce about 5.4 million rounds per month. It is known to have manufactured .303 cartridges in:

Armour Piercing W Mk 1 and W Mk 1 IP

Ball, Cordite Mk 2, Mk 2 Special, Mk 6 and Mk 7

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Cordite H Mk 3 and H Mk 5

Observation O Mk 2 and O Mk 3

KN – Kings Norton Metal Co., Birmingham, UNITED KINGDOM. This company was formed in 1890 at Kings Norton, it owned its own rolling mills and had a loading plant at Abbey wood in Kent. Cases were made in Birmingham then assembled and loaded at the Abbey Wood Factory, next to Woolwich Arsenal. Known to have produced .303 cartridges up to 1919 in:

Armour Piercing VII.F, VII.FZ and VII.W

Ball, Cordite Mks 2, 4, 5, 6, 7

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mk 7Z

Dummy, Drill Mk 3, Mk 3 Expedient, Mk 5

Incendiary Buckingham (VII.B) and B Mk 3

Tracer SPG Mk VIIG Mk 1 and Mk 1Z

Experimental RTT Explosive Cartridge

Experimental Blank Cartridges

L – There is some confusion over this headstamp code as both Lorenz Ammunition and Ordnance Co, Millwall, London, UNITED KINGDOM and Ludlow and Co, Wolverhampton, Staffs, UNITED KINGDOM are believed to have used a L as their code and both manufactured .303 cartridges between 1887 and 1890. Both firms are believed to have manufactured .303 Blackpowder Mk 2 Ball Cartridges

L-E or U – Remington UMC, Bridgeport, Conn., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. On UK Government contracts 1914 – 1915. Known to have manufactured nitro-cellulose loaded .303 Ball, Mk 7 cartridges

M – Nobel Explosives Ltd., Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM. Known to have produced .303 cartridges 1914 – 1918 in:

MAXIM – Maxim Arms Co.,London, UNITED KINGDOM. The cases were made by BSA for Maxim machine guns in the 1890s. Cartridges known to have been manufactured in:

MEN – Maschinenfabrik Elisenhutte, Nassau, WEST GERMANY. This producer is now known as Metallwerk Elisenhutte GmbH Nassau. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges during 1988.

MEXICO – Fabrica National de Munitions, Mexico City, MEXICO. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges

MF or AF – Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 1, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA. They used the MF monogram May 1926 to 1945 and the AF monogram from January 1924 to February 1925. The monogram MF1 was used for a short time in 1940 when the Gordon Street Factory commenced production. The Gordon Street Factory used the monogram MF2 for a short time during 1940. Between 1988 and 1992 the Gordon Street factory used the monogram AFF. Known to have manufactured .303 cartridges in:

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Cordite H Mk 4

Tracer G Mk 2 (Australian Pattern)

MG / MF2 – Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 2, Gordon Street, Footscray, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA. 1940 – 1949. The MG monogram was changed to MF in 1949 which was used until 1962. There was no production of .303 ammunition in 1961. Known to have manufactured .303 cartridges in:

MH – Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 3, Hendon, AUSTRALIA. Monogram in use 1940 to 1945. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Tracer G Mk 2 (Australian Pattern) (projectiles were filled by MS at Salisbury)

MI – Societe Meridionale d’Industrie, Robert Paulet & Cie ( formerly called Cartoucherie Leon Paulet), Marseille, FRANCE. Known to have produced 7.7 x 56R ball cartridges which are interchangeable with the .303 cartridge.

MJ – Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 4, Hendon, AUSTRALIA. Monogram in use 1941 – 1945. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

MJB – Incendiary Annexe to MJ Hendon, AUSTRALIA. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in 1942 only. Cases were supplied by MJ

Ball Mk 7 (loaded into cases with BVI head stamp)

MKE – Makina ve Kimya Endustrisi, Kuruma, TURKEY. Known to have produced 7.7 x 56R ball cartridges, which are interchangeable with the .303 cartridge.

MQ – Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 5, Rocklea, AUSTRALIA. Used the monogram 1942 to 1943. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

MS – Explosives Factory, Salisbury, AUSTRALIA. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Tracer G Mk 2Z (Australian Pattern)

(The metal components for these rounds were manufactured by MH and MJ at Hendon)

MW – Small Arms Ammunition Factory No 6, Welchpool, AUSTRALIA. Used the monogram 1942 to 1945. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

NORMA or norma – Norma Projectilfabrik, Amotfors, SWEDEN. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

130gr, 150gr, 180gr and 215 gr jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

OFN – Government Ordinance Factory, Lagos, NIGERIA. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges

P or PC – Peters Cartridge Co., Kings Mills, Ohio, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Mk 7. British military contracts 1914 – 1917

Ball, Mk 7Z (Canadian Pattern). On British military contracts 1940-45 180 & 215 gr jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

PMP – Pretoria Metal Pressings (Pty) Ltd., Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose filled .303 cartridges in:

174 gr Full jacket boat tail bulleted ammunition

150 and 174 gr jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

POF – Pakistan Ordnance Factory, Rawalpindi, PAKISTAN. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

PPU or nny – Prvi Partizan, Titovo Uzice, YUGOSLAVIA. This factory is known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

PS or S – Pirotechnico Militar de Seville, SPAIN. Known to have produced 7.7 x 56R cartridges which are interchangeable with the .303 cartridge in:

RA – Remington Arms Co.,Inc., Bridgeport, Conn., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Nitro-cellulose filled .303 American WW1 Contract Pattern cartridges were produced during the period 1914 – 1917 as.

RA – Raufoss Ammunisjonsfabrikker, Raufoss, NORWAY. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges c 1934

RG – Royal Ordnance Factory, Radway Green, Cheshire, UNITED KINGDOM. This factory was part of the 1939- 45 war emergency expansion plans being situated near Crewe and is still in operation. Production of the .303 cartridge commenced in 1940 and the last known production of this cartridge was in 1973 with Mk 7Z Ball and Dummy Drill cartridges. Initial Radway Green production used a single arrow as the headstamp code and this was replaced in 1942 by the RG code. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Armour Piercing W Mk 1, W Mk 1 Special and W Mk 1Z

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mks 7Z and 8Z

Blank, Nitro-cellulose L Mk 5Z

Bulleted Blank, Nitro-cellulose L Mk 10Z

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Cordite H Mk 2, H Mk 4 and H Mk 4Z

Incendiary B Mk 6, B Mk 6Z, B Mk 7 and B Mk 7Z

RH – Raleigh Cycle Co, Nottingham, UNITED KINGDOM. Known to have produced .303 cartridges 1941 – 1945 in:

RL – Royal Laboratory, Woolwich Arsenal, Kent, UNITED KINGDOM. Woolwich Arsenal, of which the Royal Laboratory was only a part, is situated in South East London on the River Thames. The Arsenal dates from 1670 and has manufactured many different items of warlike stores for the armed forces. Ammunition was made at Woolwich long before the adoption of the .303 cartridge in 1889. Ammunition production ceased completely at Woolwich in 1957, the last known production of .303 ammunition there being Mk 7 Ball in 1957.
The Woolwich site apart from containing all the supportive facilities for the research, design, development, inspection and testing of ammunition also included an extensive range complex on the Plumpstead Marshes. In addition there was a filling area not far away in the vicinity of Abbey Wood.

The following .303 cartridges are known to have been produced since 1889:

Armour Piercing Mks VII.S, VII.P, VII.PZ, VII.W, VII.WZ, W Mk 1,

W Mk 1 Special and W MK 1Z

Ball, Blackpowder Mks 1,and 2

Ball, Cordite Mks 1, 2, 2*, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Ball, Nitro-cellulose Mks 7z, 8z & 7z RC ( reduced charge )

Ball, Short Range Practice, Cordite Mks 1,2,3 and 4

Ball, Short Range Practice ( Gaudet )

Blank, Blackpowder Mks 2 and 3

Blank, Cordite, Mks 2, 3, 4, 5

Bulleted Blank, Black powder Mk 1

Bulleted Blank, Cordite Mks 1, 6

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Cordite Mks 1 and 2

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Cordite H Mk 2

Cartridge Rifle Grenade, Ballistite H Mk 1Z

Cartridge Discharger, Blackpowder E Mk 1T

Drill, Magazine Rifle Mk 1 and 2

Drill D Mk 6, D Mk 6*, D Mk 7, D Mk 8 and D Mk 9

Dummy Version of Explosive R Mk 3*

Inspectors Dummy Mk 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Explosive R Mk 1, R Mk 2, R Mk 3, and R Mk 3*

Incendiary Buckingham (VII.B), B Mk 1, B Mk 2Z, B Mk 4,B Mk 4.

B Mk 5, B Mk 6, B Mk 6Z and B Mk 7

Machine Gun Blank, Cordite Mk 1

Machine Gun Dummy Mks 1 and 2

Proof, Cordite Mk 1, Mk 2, Mk 3, Q Mk 3, Q Mk 4 and Q Mk 5

Tracer SPK(VII.T) and SPK(VII.TZ)

Tracer SPG(VII.G) Mk 1 and SPG(VII.G) Mk1Z

Tracer G Mk 1, G Mk 1 Special, G Mk 2, G Mk 3 and G Mk 4

Experimental steel anti fouling bulleted rounds

Experimental Armour Piercing Tracer (1917-18)

Experimental Armour Piercing Cartridges

Experimental Bulleted Blanks

Experimental Explosive, RTS and RTT Cartridges

Experimental Grenade Launching Cartridges

Experimental Lachrymatory Cartridge

RNRA – Rhodesia National Rifle Association. On nitro-cellulose loaded .303 Mk 7z Ball cartridges made by FNM of Moscavide, PORTUGAL.

R-P – Remington Arms Co, Bridgeport, Conn., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

180 & 215 gr jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

RR or RRCO – Ross Rifle Co, Montreal, CANADA. Produced .303 Mk 7 ball ammunition in cases believed to be made by Eley

RTS – Richard Threlfall and Sons, UNITED KINGDOM. On explosive anti – Zeplin cartridges.

R..W – Rudge Whitworth Ltd., Tyseley, UNITED KINGDOM. This company represents the only new commercial ammunition manufacturer put into business by the Government as a result of demand in the 1914- 18 war. They received their first Government contract for the supply of Mk 7 Ball ammunition in 1915 and continued to produce until the end of 1918 at their new factory at Tyseley. Manufactured .303 cartridges from 1915 – 1918 in:

Incendiary Buckingham (VII.B), B Mk 1, B Mk 2Z

SAAF – Small Arms Factory Footscray, AUSTRALIA. Known to have produced .303 cartridges with this headstamp April 1921 to December 1923, although some also produced in March 1924. Also manufactured Mk VI Dummy cartridges

SBR – Sellier & Bellot, Riga, LATVIA. Known to have produced .303 ball cartridges c 1937

SFM – Societe Francaise des Munitions, Issy – les – Moulineaux, FRANCE. Known to have manufactured nitro-cellulose loaded .303 ball cartridges for export pre 1939

SMI – Societa Metallurgica Italiana, Campo Tizzoro, ITALY. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded 7.7 x 56R ammunition which is interchangeable with the .303 cartridge in:

SR – Royal Ordnance Factory, Spennymoor, Durham, UNITED KINGDOM. This factory was part of the 1939-45 war emergency expansion plan. It began production of .303 ammunition in 1941 initially with the headstamp code of two arrows replacing these in 1942 with the code SR. The Spennymoor ammunition was filled at the Royal Ordnance Factory, Aycliffe, Durham. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Incendiary B Mk 6, B Mk 6Z, B Mk 7 and B Mk 7Z

TM..B – Pirotechnia di Bologna, ITALY. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded 7.7 x 56R ammunition, which is interchangeable with the .303 cartridge in:

T.BLAND & SONS – Commercial .303 ammunition loaded by T. Bland & Sons, London, UNITED KINGDOM in ball and sporting configurations

U or SAM – South African Mint, Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA. Used code U from 1939 – 1961 and SAM thereafter. When U used with a diamond this indicates manufacture in a subsidiary factory at Kimberley. Known to have manufactured .303 cartridges in:

Jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

Semi Armour Piercing F Mk 1

US – United States Cartridge Co, Lowell, Mass., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 Ball Mk 7 cartridges during the period 1914 – 1918.

VE – Cartoucherie de Valence, FRANCE. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 Ball cartridges

VIS – Atelier de Chargement de Vincennes, FRANCE. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 Ball cartridges 1923

VPT – Valtion Patruunatehdas, Lapua, FINLAND. Known to have produced Ilmavoimat Konekivaarin Patruuna Kal 7.70 machine gun cartridges, which are interchangeable with the .303 cartridge in:

W or WRA – Winchester Repeating Arms Co., New Haven, Conn., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges:

Ball, Mk 7 for 1914 – 1917 military contracts

Ball, Mk 7Z ( American WW2 Contract Pattern )

Scott multiball ( duplex ) cartridge

180 gr jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

WCC – Western Cartridge Co., East Alton, Ill., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Mk 7Z ( American WW2 Contract Pattern )

W-W – Winchester Western Division of Olin Industries, New Haven, Conn., UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded .303 cartridges in:

180 gr Jacketed soft point sporting ammunition

y – Toyokawa Naval Arsenal, JAPAN. Known to have produced nitro-cellulose loaded Imperial Japanese Navy Year Type 92 Machine Gun ammunition which is interchangeable with the .303 cartridge in:

Incendiary, phosphorus filled

ZV – Zbrojovka Brno, Brno, CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Known to have produced .303 cartridges in:

Ball, Mks 7 and 8Z. This ammunition is known to have been commercially exported by the manufacturer post 1950 to Afghanistan and India

CHINA is known to have produced some 7.7mm rimmed ammunition for use in captured Japanese machine guns from 1945 onwards. This cartridge is interchangeable with the .303 British cartridge.

EGYPT is known to have produced .303 ball ammunition at the Government Arsenal Shoubra, United Arab Republic and Factory No 10 at Alexandria, Egypt.

ETHIOPA is known to have produced .303 ball cartridges c 1959

FINLAND is known to have produced .303 inch cartridges in various loadings including Armour Piercing, Ball, Incendiary, Tracer and Drill rounds

FRANCE manufactured several variants of the .303 cartridge, including: Ball, Tracer, Armour piercing, Armour piercing / Tracer and Incendiary rounds

IRAQ is known to have produced .303 Ball cartridges

ISRAEL is known to have manufactured .303 ball cartridges at the Government Arsenal, Tel Aviv, Israel. c 1948

JAPAN is known to have manufactured nitro-cellulose loaded Imperial Japanese Army Year Type 89 Machine Gun ammunition, which is interchangeable with the .303 cartridge, without any headstamp codes in:

JAPAN is also known to have manufactured nitro-cellulose Imperial Japanese Navy Year Type 92 Machine Gun ammunition, which is interchangeable with the .303 cartridge, at their Aichi Naval Arsenal, Toyokawa Naval Arsenal and Yokosuka Naval Arsenal in the following configurations

High Explosive, (Violet Primer)

SPAIN manufactured .303 ammunition and used it on a limited scale during and after the Civil War of 1936 – 39


I have always been fascinated with militaria of all descriptions as well as the history of armed conflicts. Over the years, I have build up a relatively large collection of military arms from both the 19th and 20th centuries. I also have a large collection of British Army helmets covering the whole period from when they introduced in 1916 to the current army helmet. This web site provides a description of all all the objects in my militaria collection and a potted history for each.

In Action: Pattern 1914/Rifle No.3 MkI* (T)

The photographs above show a British sniper in training at the 21 Army Group Sniper School at Courselles, Normandy in July 1944. The sniper is loading and sighting his Rifle No.3 MkI* (T). The rifle is perhaps better known as the Pattern 1914 built in the US for the British Army in 1915. While the Pattern 1914 was not as widely issued as the SMLE during the war it gained a reputation for accuracy, due to its Mauser-style bolt, and was issued as a sniper&rsquos rifle. The British believed that the Pattern 1914&primes made by Winchester were inherently the most accurate and equipped these with Pattern 1918 3x telescopic sights made by the Periscopic Prism Co., Aldis and Winchester. While rifles in other configurations were in use during the war the Pattern 1914 Sniping Rifle, officially approved in April 1918, was the British Army&rsquos first officially adopted scoped, sniper rifle.

In 1926 the British Army changed its nomenclature system and renamed the Pattern 1914 the Rifle No.3, retaining the rifles and scopes in stores until the outbreak of World War Two. The British reissued the old rifles and new conversions of Winchester-made Rifle No.3s began with the fitting of World War One vintage scopes taken from stores. The War Office approved a new offset scope mount in December 1941 and cheekrests were also approved. Armourers were to fit them for snipers who required them, the sniper above does not have a cheekrest fitted. The scopes were graduated from 100 to 600 yards.

The British and Australians used the Rifle No.3 MkI* (T) during the war. Each sniper carried his rifle, two hand grenades, 50-rounds of ball, 5-rounds of tracer and 5-rounds of armour piercing ammunition. As well as a compass, binoculars and camouflage veils. The British used the Rifle No.3 MkI* (T) throughout the war alongside adapted SMLEs Rifle No.1 Mk III*s and Rifle No.4 MkI (T)s.

Images: 1 2 3

The US Enfield, I. Skennerton (1983)

Sniper in Action: History, Equipment, Techniques, C. Stronge (2010)

British Rifles: Catalogue of the Enfield Pattern Room, H. Woodend (1981)

.303 British Pattern 1914 Enfield

You are considering a used .303 British Pattern 1914 Enfield. The receiver is in good condition and stamped with the serial number ERA 370455. The barrel is 26 inches long and the bore is slightly dark but shiny and in good condition, no rust. The wood is in great shape with only some minor scratches and gouges. Overall it feels solid and is ready to shoot. This rifle is a great starter piece for gathering an Enfield collection.

Check out the picture’s so you know what you’re getting — they are the best indication of condition.

Sold “As Is”

All items are sold “As Is” with all the benefits and faults that this implies. We do everything in our power to authenticate items that we sell. Items are described to the best of our ability, however, it is up to the buyer to ask questions and look at the pictures to determine the usability of the items. Photos are indicative of the condition of the items and you will receive items in same or better condition, in the event, there are multiple items available.

Unfortunately, we do not ship items internationally.

Return Policy

We will not generally accept returns, but if you are unhappy with your purchase, please contact us directly to discuss returning your item.

Terms of Service


Sales tax of 6% of price plus shipping will be charged and collected on all shipments to Idaho. All purchases are subject to applicable Federal, State, and local laws. It is the responsibility of the purchaser to comply with any restrictions on purchase, ownership, and possession of any items bought from the seller. Seller reserves the right to cancel any sale which is determined to be in violation of any Federal, State or local law. All items are sold “as is”. Seller disclaims all express and implied warranties including that of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. Seller makes no claim as to the nature, extent or availability of any original manufacturer warranty. The buyer is responsible for having a firearm purchased to be inspected by a certified or accredited gunsmith for safety.

The Last Bolt Gun: The History of the MAS 1936 Bolt Action Rifle (2015) - Steve Jackson

At last, there now is an excellent and inexpensive primer on the MAS 36&ndashManufacture d&rsquoArmes de St-Etienne&ndash7.5x54mm Model 1936 bolt action service rifle in Steve Jackson&rsquos The Last Bolt Gun.

The title is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Since the 1986 relaxation of import restrictions for Curio and Relic firearms coincided with the French decision to finally sell off many of these rifles held in long-term reserve storage as surplus, sporadic gun articles mostly rehashed the previous coverage by the late British gun writer Ian V. Hogg: &ldquoThis was the last bolt-action design to be adopted by a major power, and opinions on it differ&rdquo ranging from a frank appreciation that from &ldquothe purely mechanical standpoint it is strong and simple, though simplicity was carried rather far by the omission of a safety catch&rdquo to noting &ldquoit was an ugly weapon and due to the positioning of the bolt and trigger, it was necessary to bend the bolt lever acutely forward, which many people find awkward to operate&rdquo (Hogg, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Firearms, 231). That the vaunted German Wehrmacht of the Nazi state emphasized development of the world&rsquos first General Purpose Machine Gun, and in 1935 officially adopted the nineteenth-century 1898 turn-bolt K98k 7.92mm rifle, apparently reveals that Paul Mauser attained perfection with his weapon design to firearm cognoscenti. No remarks about the &ldquolast bolt action&rdquo adopted by a major power, what with it fully three decades old. Similarly, the UK adopted Rifle No. 4 Mk.I in November 1939. But since it was merely a quicker-to-produce M1907 WWI-vintage SMLE with the heavier barrel and aperture sights of the P14, it also gets a pass from being a &ldquolast bolt action.&rdquo Also in 1939, the Imperial Japanese army responded to machine gun cartridges used at longer range and the increasing mechanization of warfare with vehicles, tanks, and aircraft to adopt the Type 99 Arisaka turn-bolt rifle in 7.7mm (.303&rdquo), in preference to the less powerful 6.5x50mmSR. But the modified Arisaka/Mauser action had emerged in 1905. Finally, and perhaps most extreme, the USSR in the Great Patriotic War went from planning for a self-loading service rifle in the form of the SVT-40 Tokarev, back to the 1891-designed Mosin-Nagant bolt action, for which production machinery, factory tooling and procedures had long existed, to produce millions more nineteenth-century service rifles. By 1944, a shortened version of this antiquated weapon with a carbine-length 20-inch barrel and a completely archaic throwback to the age of musketry in the form of a permanently attached folding spike bayonet became the standard Soviet service rifle even as WWII had produced the first intermediate power, select-fire &ldquoassault rifles. Uncannily, with the bayonet fixed, the Soviet M44 Mosin is the same length as a MAS 36 with its 13-inch spike bayonet inverted from under the barrel and fixed into position. Yet the MAS has a longer sight radius, an aperture sight, and a barrel about 3-inches longer firing a 139gr .307&rdquo projectile at about 2,700 fps. with rather less recoil than the Soviet Union&rsquos &ldquolast bolt action rifle.&rdquo

Jackson&rsquos e-book is written with a collector and shooter in mind. It offers a brief but informative discussion of the history of the rifle&rsquos design and usage, and explains many of its idiosyncrasies. Unless you are absolutely interested in this long-serving infantry weapon, used in the Second World War, Indochina, Algeria, the &ldquoAmerican War&rdquo in Viet Nam and a host of sub-Saharan African Wars of National Liberation, secessionist movements, and organized banditry in the formerly colonized world, the book may not hold much appeal. For an owner of a MAS Mle. 1936, the low-cost e-book would appear to be essential. French 7.5x54mm service ammunition is uncommon. While the iconoclastic and obsolete caliber is difficult to procure, a hand loader will have no problems reloading brass using typical 150-gr. bullets from .308 and .30-06 projectile manufacturers and other commonly available reloading components. A cast bullet shooter, similarly, would be able to work around the relative absence of the cartridge from the market. A modern collector and shooter lacks the logistical support of an armorer or French quartermaster to provision her or him with part, particularly the different sight leaves that were required to alter the windage and point of impact. This detraction: the inability to modify windage absent a spare part is noted by Jackson. Changing the sight leaf is a chore, requiring a MAS 36 owner to obtain a &ldquoneutral&rdquo N-marked rear sight leaf, and then the corrective aperture. Those who appreciate a very soundly engineered, stoutly constructed, reliable, and &ldquosoldier proof&rdquo rifle as a practical addition to a service rifle collection or even a hunting arm with the better features of the P14 (sights), Arisaka (bolt), Mauser (magazine), and SMLE (over-all length, balance, shortness of bolt throw, albeit in a cock-on-opening design not quite as slick to operate) should strongly consider acquisition of a copy of The Last Bolt Gun.

By David C. Carlson, Ph.D.

Previous editions of the HF Book Club can be found here and if you&rsquod like to submit a review of your own you can find out how here.