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The Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 1 Mk III is part of a long and storied line of Lee-Enfield rifles that served as the core arm of the British military throughout the Empire and Commonwealth from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s. Learning from continual use, design improvements were fairly constant, a factor that when combined with interchangeable parts, production in many countries, and delays in adopting updated designs, resulted in numerous variations of rifles over the course of history.
Production of the Lee-Enfield Mk III SMLE (Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield) began in 1907 and saw extensive service in the First World War. In 1916, before the war’s end, changes in sighting and small parts required the new designation of SMLE Mk III*. Together, the Mk III and Mk III* served in the remaining years of the war, but it was the Mk III* that played a sizeable role in the interwar years and the Second World War. Rifle nomenclature changed in 1926 with the introduction of the numeric sequence. At this point, the SMLE Mk III and the Mk III* became known as Rifle No. 1 Mk III and Mk III* respectfully.
The Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 1 Mk III offered here was produced in India at the Ishapore factory in 1939, the year war broke out, and represents a transitional rifle with characteristics of both the Mk III and Mk III*. Research indicates that the Ishapore factory did not adopt the numeric nomenclature or ‘*’ action body designations until the 1940s which fits with this rifle’s ‘SHT.L.E III’ marking on the butt socket. In addition, the rifle retains the brass butt marking disc, curved front sight protector wings, nosecap swing swivel, and magazine cut-off of the SMLE Mk III. The trigger guard front wire loop, rear sight, and gunmetal (brass) butt plate with trap are among the definitive Mk III*/Rifle No. 1 Mk III* characteristics.
The receiver, nosecap, bolt, and rear sight leaf serial numbers on our Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 1 Mk III all match. Although worn and difficult to decipher, the forearm stock SN appears to match as well. Magazine SN does not match. The butt socket, right side (under bolt handle) is marked ‘crown/G.R.I (George Rex Imperiatus)/Ishapore/1939/SHTL.E/III’. Stock cartouche is post-independence Indian ownership/arsenal. Overall good condition with service handling marks on wood and some service wear on metal. Many proof/inspector’s/other markings as noted in photos. Nosecap swing swivel (not pictured) is included but the rifle is missing the swivel screw. Fair to good bore that is clean, bright with shallow rifling.
See pictures for overall condition. FFL or C&R required for purchase.
Rifle Factory Ishapore
Rifle No. 1 Mk III*
fair, clean, bright, shallow rifling