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The SMLE Lee Enfield Mk III Rifle...

...a de-activated example

One of the best references for a modeller has to be an example of the real thing.  In this case it is a de-activated example of the standard

Based around a design for the bolt from James Lee, it was initially produced at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield, and hence the name of Lee-Enfield.  It was the standard British Army rifle from 1895 - 1957 in the various marks.  It is fitted with a steel magazine that can hold 10 rounds of .303 ammunition.  Unlike modern small arms, the magazine was simply re-loaded from above, with the bolt open, using 5-round 'stripper' clips.  Not a case of carrying/inserting new magazines like lore modern automatic weapons.  A very good bolt design, and in the hands of an experienced rifleman capable of firing 20-30 aimed rounds in a minute.  Still in use with some armies around the world, over 17 million (!) Lee Enfields were produced.

This is a Mk.III, a version introduced in 1907 and a standard rifle in use in WW1 and WW2 by British and Commonwealth forces.  My particular rifle was made by the Australian company of Lithgow SAF and is dated 1920.  It would be fitted with the sword type bayonet, though I have yet to get hold of one for it.  An oil bottle and pull-through for cleaning the barrel would be housed in the storage compartment in the butt of the rifle.

The first thing to mention is the weight.  It is a fine example of why combat troops must be very fit.  The gun itself is heavy.  Add ammunition, kit, steel helmet etc, a soldier will have quite a load to carry.  Cleaning kit would be kept in the storage located within the butt of the weapon.  I found mine through here in the UK.


Owning Deactivated Firearms

Here in the UK there are ever stricter rules about owning a deactivated firearm, though they do not require a firearms licence. As a note on de-activated weapons, they are quite readily available and do not require a Firearms license.  The current specification for a de-activated weapon means that as well as the barrel being fixed so you cannot change it and it is welded blocked, and the bolt is welded in place as well so it is impossible to return it to firing condition.  You must not carry them openly in public, they must be wrapped or carried in a gun bag.  To do otherwise invites being reported to the police, clearly disturbing members of the public and hence may find yourself the target for a police firearms unit.  You do get, and need to keep, the proof-house de-activation certificate for the weapon and they can only be purchased by persons over the age of 18.  It is good advice to keep them secure in your home, and personally I use a proper gun cabinet.  There are a number of dealers who sell these all perfectly legally.  Prices vary enormously depending on the type of weapon you are interested in but it is worth shopping around to find the best price.  Do note that these are sold within the UK and cannot be shipped overseas.

In the most recent changes to the rules, unfortunately bolt action weapons such as this must have the bolt welded in place, so the 'action' cannot work.  That was not the case with the earlier de-activation specifications so that's rather sad.


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