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Short Magazine Lee Enfield No. 1 Mk. III*

Author's SMLE, Imported by the former Springfield Sports.


Model Caliber Country Arsenal Date
SMLE No. 1 Mk. III .303 British Great Britain Ishapore, India 1949

The SMLE lineage began in 1888 with the adoption of the Lee-Metford rifle. This rifle was in .303 British caliber. With the advent of smokeless cartridges, the Metford rifling wore quite fast, so it was replaced by 5-groove rifling designed by Lee, becoming the Lee-Enfield rifle, for the Enfield arsenal it was developed in. This was a bolt action rifle, with the locking lugs placed to the rear of the magazine.

The Short Magazine Lee Enfield was first adopted in 1902 as an attempt to make a universal issue short rifle, instead of the long rifle and carbine system. The initial design went through many changes. These includes the addition of a magazine cutoff (a system to allow the rifle to act as a single shot system), addition of sling swivel, addition of butt trap, and improvement of charger guides.

At the onset of WWI the current rifle was the No.1 Mk.III. In order to develop a more easily manufactured rifle, the No.1 Mk. III* (pronounced "star") was developed. This had many simplifications, including omission of volley sights, omission of windage adjustment, omission of some sling swivels, omission of buttplate, and omission of magazine cutoff.

This rifle was eventually replaced by the No. 4, adopted in Nov. 1939. However, the SMLE was still manufactured in colonies, including India. This rifle is from Ishapore, in Bengal, India. It is stamped "G.R.I." for Georgius Rex Imperator. King George was "Emperor" of India at the time. His crown is stamped above GRI. Around the time period this rifle was made, India was gaining independence, so later rifles (1950 or so and later) are stamped RFI, or "Rifle Factory Ishapore.")

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