RSAF Enfield Number 1 Mark 1 1904 Dated .303 floating charger SMLE
This first year of production 1904 dated Number 1 Mark 1 SMLE .303 British Army Service Rifle still has its original pure Mk1 fittings which are not seen on any later model.
This 117 year old British Army Service rifle was manufactured at RSAF Enfield and was the direct replacement for the Long Lee Mk1* .303 service rifle. This rifle design was light years ahead of its time and this stoked up a Hugh amount of negative letters being written to 'The Editor of the Times'. If you read 'Letters to the Editor ' in the 1903 / 1904 Times newspaper (now online) you would think this rifle would lose us the Empire.
As usual it was the Bisley target shooter's that complained the most (not surprising) followed and the ex military Generals type and very negative comments by the NRA.
The complaints were completely unfounded and the Small Arms Committee
approved the 'New Rifle' and production started in late 1903 but the official production date was set to 1904 .
The plunger type cocking piece was only used on the Number 1 Mk1 and by the Number 1 Mk1* it had been replaced.
Original Mk1 English walnut was used and a brass pin was inserted to strength the wood against recoil. Unlike the Long lee a metal insert was incorporated into the wood also to stop the recoil damaging the rifle.
The metal butt plated was only fitted the the Mk1 as it was found to rust so by the Mk1* it was replace by a brass butt plate.
The SMLE Mark 1 series of rifle only had a four year production life, by 1906 development of a fixed charger guide was well under way. By late 1907 the 'new Mk3' series of British service rifles was in production at all three UK Factories.
The SMLE Mk1 series story should have ended there but New Zealand was on the hunt for obsolete Service rifles that used the MkV1 ammunition and RASF had a large stock of Mk1 receivers so a deal was done that RSAF Enfield would supply Mk1's at a discounted price. The new Zealand contracted ended as soon as all surplus Mk1 rifle were sold off.
The last dated receiver we have in our gun stock room is a Number 1 Mk1 pure but is not dated 1904 but dated 1911 also we have a number of Mk1's dating 1909 and almost certainly have the largest stock of Mk1 receivers in the world (see our receiver list)
By 1907 the Greatest service rifle the world would ever see started rolling off the production lines and in 1914 a true killing machine was in action. The Number 1 Mk3 is by far the best Service rifle the world has ever seen, in the Great War the Germans thought they had machine guns against them rather than a .303 service rifles.
As late as 2015 in Afghanistan a whole platoon of US Rangers was pin down by
the Taliban using only Mk3 SMLE's and nothing else, only the deployment of a couple of Hellfire missiles stopped that engagement .
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