Very rare R.S.A.F Enfield .303 Dated 1902 Long Lee floating charger loader
This rifle may have been part of the 1904 Troop trials program
This is a very rare example of a R.S.A.F Enfield 1902 Long Lee converted to 'Floating Charger Bridge' as part of the British Army's upgrade service life program for Long Lee Enfield Service rifles.
After the performance in the Second boar War 1899-1901 it was very apparent to the British Government that a replacement for the Long Lee Enfield British Army service rifle was badly needed.
In 1902 just after the end of the South African Boar War a 'new' Service rifle was being developed at R.S.A.F Enfield under the guidance of the War Office. In 1903 the first batch of the 'new' rifle now known as the Short, Magazine, Lee Enfield' (SMLE) started rolling off the production lines at R.S.A.F Enfield and R.S.A.F Sparkbrook , later followed by the Private Small Arms company's, London Small Arms and BSA & Co.
There was a big problem for the British Government and in particular the War Office as what do they do with the tens of thousands of Long lee's now being put into storage as the replacement rifle (SMLE) replaced them in front line service.
In 1903 the War Office instructed R.S.A.F Enfield to modified a batch of Long Lee which were now being held in storage to the 'new' Floating charger conversion as used of the 'New rifle' SMLE No1 Mk1
In 1904 the British Army conducted troop trials for the evaluation and testing of these 'converted' Long Lees as well as converting Long Lee's into the SMLE (ConD 2).
(The ConD 2 program was to establish the cost effeteness of converting a Standard Long Lee into a No1Mk1* rifle )
The 1904 troop trials were successful for not only the 'modified' Long Lees but also the (ConD 2's ).
By 1905 all the British Small Arms Factories were now in full production of the SMLE and any planned machining time for anything else could not be accommodated within the British Factories system.
So in early 1905 the decision was taken to hand all work on the Modified Long Lee's to the British Indian Factory was was being set up by workers shipped over from R.S.A.F Sparkbrook Factory as R.S.A.F Sparkbrook was being sold off to the BSA Company.
This 1904 Floating Charger conversion date this rifle must have been in the 1904 troop trials of that year as the British Indian factory did not start converting Long Lee's until late 1905.
Nice clear 1902 and 1904 factory stamps on the receiver
Nice view of the fixed 'Charger ' on the left hand side of the receiver
Top down view of the 'Floating Charger system'
You can see the 'end stop' for the charger bolt which was the same modification as on the ConD 2. Th 'Float' is fitted to the bolt head and you 'charge the clip when the bolt 'charger and receiver charger line up. The No1 Mk3 used a 'fixed' charger bridge but both system work the same way.
The other very important modification was that the Enfield engenders replaced the single stage trigger system from the Long Lee to a Two stage trigger system as used on the No1 Mk1* . This made a hugh difference as a two stage trigger has a much lighter pull than a heavy single stage trigger.
Please Note: The SMLE No1 Mk1 & Mk1* had a machined in 'end stop'
The Tang is full marked EFD as is the whole rifle, no idea R.C. stands for but 133 is the rifles 'rack number'.
The butt stock has a lovey original R.S.A.F Enfield 'cartouche' the other stamp is the 'in and sold out of service' stamp .
Nice view of the whole left hand side of this Long Lee Mk1*
This rifle is all matching numbers and is fitted with is original 1902 'Enfield'
barrel. It has 50% of its rifling left and has just come back from the London Proof House fully proofed.
This rifle like all Long Lee's and SMLES No1's , ConD 2's , ConD 4's and early Mk3's all used Mark 6 .303 ammunition and not the later new Mark 7 Ball rounds.
This Long Lee .303 Floating Charge Mk1* will not set the world alight, but its very rare to ever come across one. Its a snap shot in the development of the Lee Enfield rifle .
Historical foot note:
The production life of the Long Lee Mk1* Charger Loader and the ConD 2 converted Long Lees was short lived. In mid 1906 the 'New' SMLE No1 Mk1* was its self being replaced.
In Mid 1906 R.S.A.F Sparkbrook factory was indeed sold to the BSA Company and in later in 1907 The BSA Company closed down the Sparkbrook factory forever. Most of the R.S.A.F Sparkbrook engineers that were sent to set up the British Indian Army Small Arms factory in 1905-6 stay on and in 1907-8 most of the R.S.A.F Sparkbrook tooling and machines were shipped to the new factory in a small town in India called 'Ishapore'.