S. M. L. E., actually. Short Magazine, Lee-Enfield, Number 1 Mark III, to be precise. With the Pattern of 1903 sword-bayonet. It is the rifle, and not the magazine, by the way, that makes the weapon “short”, being some 4.5″ shorter than the Magazine, Lee-Enfield, Mark I, which it replaced in service starting in 1907.
This is the rifle Bill asked me to have a look at and clean up a bit. For which he was most generous and grateful. She was pretty humble when brought to me, caked with rust, dirt, and residue in the crannies of long-ago applied cosmoline. The stock, while beautifully showing years of oiling, cleaning, and handling (in a good way), had major damage on the fore-end portion. Got the new piece in from Numrich last night, and with a little bit of fitting (a SHARP chisel beats all) got her back together and ready for use. As soon as I figured out how to properly re-assemble the safety latch, thanks to some online help! Some oiling of the untreated wood of the new stock followed. I used almond oil, of all things. It is used on guitar necks and is thin enough to soak into the wood and not leave a greasy surface to handle. Three coats, and that stock fore-end looked like it had been on there for decades.
She is a wonderfully balanced piece, with a pivoting V-cut rear sight and a barleycorn front sight. The distinctive snout (nosecap, technically) took considerable work to get passable. And there is still some that should be done. CLP will help dissolve some of the oxidation, and a brass chamber brush will help. The bayonet, while rusty, was razor-sharp, and in perfect condition. A good soaking in solvent, and then CLP, did the trick.
The first photo is the rifle itself. The second shows the bolt, bolt handle, action, and guide bridge. One of the business end, muzzle and nosecap, and one of the business end with the sword-bayonet attached. The last shot is Bill’s Great War veteran with my No 4 Mk I from the Second World War above it. Mine was made in Canada and was much more of a cleanup project than Bill’s. I paid $15 for it at Rose’s Department Store on Lejeune Boulevard in Jacksonville NC. It was so rusty I had to use a rubber mallet to get the bolt open. But once cleaned up, has been an incredibly enjoyable (and accurate!) shooter.
Now that I have had a chance to work with Bill’s wonderful rifle, I will be seeking one of my own. Need it? Nope. Want it. A smooth and handy rifle, and a piece of history to be sure.