The Lee-Enfield Rifle is, in some ways, the British equivalent of our own Springfield M1903. That’s not to say anything of the size and balance of the platform, of the operation of its action, or even of the cartridge that was paired with it. It’s only to suggest that the scope of influence of the rifle, which was carried by British forces throughout much of the early 20th century, mirrors the influence of the M1903, which was carried in many of the same places, but by Americans.
That has given the Lee-Enfield Rifle, and variants, a very well deserved and solidly cemented place in history as well as in pop culture. It is one of the most popular platforms owned and maintained throughout the world, with collectors coveting them in all four corners of the globe.
It was probably the impact that the Lee-Enfield had in the hands of British Commonwealth Forces throughout the First World War that really ensured its legacy. While the power of the cartridge is just about middle of the road when compared to other cartridges that were being used at the time, it is the action of the rifle that made such an impression – both in the hands of the soldiers firing it and the soldiers upon which it was being fired.
At the beginning of the 1900s, there were many drastic changes being made in the small arms industry that vastly affected the operations of firearm actions. Hardly 50 years before, many armed forces were still in the habit of using muzzleloaders or rudimentary breech-loading, repeating rifles that fired black powder cartridges.
This bolt action rifle was designed around the earlier Lee Metford rifle and was produced for the British Military at the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield, hence the name. It’s not the name that made it famous, though. Among other innovations, it was a solid, reliable action with a short through and smooth operation that enabled very fast cycling time.
The Lee-Enfield took a bolt action and made it better. It was smoother and shorter, which drastically reduced cycling time and rate of fire. Soldiers also found it easy to adapt to, and were able to fire off rapid shots in succession from the platform’s 10 round mag.
In fact, it was used to such deadly effect by the British forces, and they were often able to cycle its action so rapidly, that it was reported that at some points Central Forces believed the English to be using autoloaders or machine guns. Imagine a bolt operated action being cycled that quickly – it happened.
This rifle didn’t only see service in the First World War, but also in World War II and variants were developed and used around the world to varying, but predominantly positive, effect.
Proud owners of a Lee-Enfield Rifle, whatever the variant, are also owners of a piece of living history, especially if they have taken the time and care to restore their rifle – or keep it in working order from the start.
Doing so, however, requires no small or common degree of skill and knowledge. It also requires you to be familiar with the inner workings of the rifle and to have a supplier on hand that can keep you well prepared with parts for repair, replacement, restoration and more. For parts, accessories and the help of experience, Sarco, Inc., is there to assist.
Visit their website, SarcoInc.com or get them on the phone today at 610-250-3960 and one of their staff members will help you out. Whether you have a question about the care of your Enfield Rifle or you need to get in touch with a seller for parts, they’re there to help.