Very Rare BSA Long Lee Floating Charger Loader dated 1902
Converted at The British India Army Factory
Even by Lee Enfield standards this is a rare rifle, to understand why the British government needed to test out the floating charge idea and more importantly away from prying eyes.
By the end of the second boar war the writing was on the wall for the Long Lee Enfield rifle, if nothing else fighting a war without charger loading was almost certainly going to be domed. The Long lee had come up against the Charger loading Mauser in the Second boar war and lost, now it was a race against time.
By 1901 the concept idea of having just one general service rifle had taken hold and development of this 'new ' service rifle had to be kept a secret. The British Indian Army facility seemed the ideal place to test out any ideas as it was a long, long away from any prying eyes.
A batch of Long lees were dispatched to India to have the floating charger fitted and most importantly tested in troop trials far away from the British press and anyone else.
Above and below are the conversion, later this conversion would be a standard part of the 'new' British Service rifle. The Short,Magazine, Lee Enfield MK1.
Fitted with a Lee Metford II Bolt (above)
Very clear British Indian Proof Stamp and close up of the floating charger system
BSA Factory stamp for 1902 , there are no conversion stamps on the other side which make this a very early factory conversion
After the end of the Second Boar War there was a surplus of Mk1* Long Lee
and this rifle must have been sent to the Floating Charge loading rifle Trials program in British India.
It was cheaper to send surplus and very soon obsolete Long Lees for floating charger trials to British India for testing and evaluation as part of the testing for the new British Service rifle (Short, Magazine, Lee Enfield).
At the time news of this 'New' short Service rifle which was going to replace the well loved Enfield Long Lee, but it was getting slatted in the British press very badly.
In 'The Times' of 1902 -1903 pages and pages of negative comments were filling up 'The Times' sporting comment 'The Editors' section and the biggest most Vermont complainant was from the NRA based at Bisley. They all hated this 'new' Short, Magazine, Lee Enfield Service Rifle.
...............but that another story !
By 1904 the roll out of the 'new' British Army service rifle was well under way, the British press had come around to this 'new' service rifle and in 1905 the floating charger long lee was adopted into the British army inventory. By 1907 long lees were converted to MkIII type fixed charger bridge and that program continued until the outbreak of the Great War.
No one knows how many long lees were convert to the floating charger system but no more than a few thousand at the most. Most never left India and are very rare to find.
This rifle floating charge system still works today as it did 119 years ago and the barrel has good strong rifling.
In 119 years time will there be any plastic SA80 around, I bet not !
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