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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thudclang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2019 at 9:11pm
Unit numbers?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thudclang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2019 at 9:26pm
Is this front sight an original MLE or was it upgraded to an SMLE before it was sporterized? The overall length is 44.5” but the barrel length is 24.5 with Enfield 5 groove rifling. Same as an SMLE. This is what confuses me. Help please!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thudclang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2019 at 9:28pm
Crown /upside down keys or flags?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thudclang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2019 at 9:35pm
Two sets of numbers: one 5 digit number on the receiver and one 4 digit number  ahead of it. 
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Crown/E
Bottom side stamps (behind rear ladder sight) wood cover
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Thudclang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 09 2019 at 9:44pm

R22?
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Monarch/Victoria Regina 1P
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shamu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 10 2019 at 6:39am
The "ANDREWS" stamp is interesting. A commercial custom long lee of some kind?
Don't shoot till you see the whites of their thighs. (Unofficial motto of the Royal Air Force)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote englishman_ca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 10 2019 at 10:55am

Pisss me off. I just typed a bunch of stuff and I somehow pressed the wrong button and it is gone. Gahhhh! I retype.


Ok. Here we go…

 

Reading the rifle.

First blush at a distance is that she is a long Lee that has been sportered in the shed by a previous civilian owner. Yours has caught my interest as I have its twin on my rack (1896 Enfield made MLM Mk.II*)




A couple of pics of its twin.


Your non serial matching bolt is a replacement and has the safety catch on the cocking piece, which would have been from either a MLM (Magazine Lee metford) Mk.II* or from a MLE (Magazine Lee Enfield) Mk.I or Mk.I*.

A quick look at the flat on the nocks form shows a capital E which denotes Enfield form rifling in the barrel. Thus she is a Lee Enfield.

 

The next place that I would look is on the right hand butt socket band for the year and maker. I dont see that pic. All military rifles had the Monarch, date, Model and Mark information. I do see military proofs on the barrel so I do know that it was at some time a service rifle.

 

The left butt socket shows a N marking, which tells me that this is an ex-Naval service rifle. The left hand side of the barrel reinforce shows naval workshop markings. P/N/1 which would be Naval Workshop number One in Portsmouth. There appears to be an over strike of a 3 which would be for Naval Workshop number Three at Chatham.


A bit of a back grounder is that your rifle was likely a first line weapon with the British Regular Army, and then when the new Sht.LE rifle was issued to land troops starting in 1903, the long Lees that were replaced were returned to stores and some were passed along to the Royal Navy. Before re-issue, the rifles went through a full refurbishment. Some of them were actually Mk.II Lee Metfords which were upgraded to Lee Enfield specs with a replacement Enfield barrel. This one got its turn through the Naval workshop in October 1905. Again in May 1911 (probably for resighting to the new Mk.VII cartridge). Then it went back to the workshop one more time for repair or update in December 1914.

 

Underneath that is a Victorian 1st proof mark and a Sparkbrook factory inspector’s view mark. Crown/B/31. The block capital B is the Sparkbrook factory, 31 is the inspector’s unique number.

 

The serial numbers are oriented vertical. This is a feature unique to Sparkbrook due to the roll die machine that they used to mark the numbers on barrel and receiver. The same die was used for both numbers, so  the missing number is an interesting mistake? Either that or perhaps the barrel has been replaced and renumbered. Rear sight is numbered to the barrel so is likely original.

 

There are other parts with the Sparkbrook B view markings. Eg bolt dust cover (Crown/B/22).

 

The top of the receiver ring is marked Andrews.

T. Andrews, Gun and Rifle Manufacturer 25 New Road, Woolwich. London.

The rifle was probably purchased surplus by Andrews who regulated it for competition use. I have seen more than one ex naval long Lee with the Andrews marking. The front sight ramp might have been modified by Andrews to accept the insert. But I doubt that Andrews shortened the barrel, (now i'm not so sure).

Usually, Andrews did some careful bedding to full length rifles, but this fore end has been cut back to just ahead of the barrel band. This one aint an Andrews modification for sure. (now i'm not so sure). No idea if this is the original fore end or a replacement. The handguard has an Enfield view mark (E), so has been switched out. As previously mentioned, the bolt is a replacement too. EFD marked on the bolt head is an RSAF Enfield marking used 1897 onwards.

 

The trigger guard has an RSAF Enfield inspector view mark along with a broad arrow Brit acceptance mark, which is from a later date than usually seen on the long Lee trig guard. I would guess that it isn’t a long Lee trigger guard, but one from a Sht.LE. Does it have a lightening slot at the very top rear on the outside of the finger loop?

So what you have is a long Lee Enfield Naval service rifle. It was sold surplus to Andrews of London. What I find interesting is that I dont see any commercial proof markings as this time, so dont know if this was sold through the British Gun Trade or exported overseas directly through a dealer.

It has since been modified into sporter form by a previous owner. I was initially thinking Bubba did it, but now am not sure. 

The twins have exactly the same modifications to the fore arm, barrel and sight ramp. even has the same style bead sight insert. Did Andrews buy a batch of these surplus rifles and made some econo hunting rifles, as did several other gun makers at one time (Parker Hale, Churchill)?


Just to help confuse with the model nomenclature...

There is a rifle designated Magazine Lee Enfield Mk.I (MLE Mk.I), and there is a Short Magazine Lee Enfield Mk.I (SMLE Mk.I), but there is no such an official designation as a No.1 Mk.I. 

In 1925 rifle designations were simplified. eg no.1 rifle, No.2 rifle, No.3 etc.

The Sht.LE Mk.III was the current model of SMLE and was redesignated as the No.1 Mk.III. 

However, all the earlier obscolete models did not get the new designation. 


So a No.1 rifle could be a SMLE Mk.III, or IV, or V or VI, 

but never the earlier Mk.I or Mk.II Cond.

Clear as mud, aint it?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hoadie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 10 2019 at 11:09am
Yeah!! Wot he said!! That bout sums it up!
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Just a quick reply, as I’ve been on call at work and barely had time to reply: A look at the “blank” right side. Not sure what that means. Thank-you for that reading! Highly entertaining and much appreciated! Truley amazing historical journey. More replies coming. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote englishman_ca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2019 at 8:09am

I downloaded your pics and enlarged them to see details. I am fairly certain that both yours and mine were modified by the same gunsmith. Both have the barrel cut to the same approximate length. I cant actually measure mine as the rifle was stripped and put into the bins for parts. The receiver was used back and is going through a build back to mil spec with a replacement full length barrel. The take off barrel from my Andrews one has been turned down for use on a cavalry carbine.
The thing that caught my attention was the front sight ramp modification and the fitting of exactly the same style of bead sight insert.
Both have the woodwork cut back and the end finished at the same angle of dangle.

Both have the Andrews stamp in the same place.

Your right butt socket band has been scrubbed of markings, but mine has not. Quite common for this to be done, either by whoever converted the rifle or by a previous owner. I can understand why an owner of a sporting rifle would want the government marking removed to spiff things up. Too bad for us a hundred years later trying to figure out the rifle. Difficult to figure out as to what model and mark of rifle it is as both Lee Metford and Lee Enfields used exactly the same forging for the receiver. The only difference is the markings. I'll dig in my notes and review the Sparkbrook serial number.
My money is on this being a Lee Enfield Mk.I due to the serial number matching barrel.

As we all know, sportered military rifles were very popular and affordable, and still are. If I was a subsistence hunter and needed to put meat on the table to feed the family, a sportered Lee Enfield would be just the ticket! There were several businesses and even local gun smiths converting the long barrelled army rifles to lighter handier sporting arms.
As I understand, the naval marked long Lees were sold off when the ships on which they were stored were decommissioned. This would be after the first world war in the 20's. There was a great purge of obscolete military arms from British stores and sold off surplus in 1925. Time frame fits. Literally tons of surplus rifles available for civilian purchase. Naval marked long Lees are common to see.
The 30s brought the great depression and for many money was tight. I can see a market for a decent sporter with a brand name that was ready to use.
This is all guess work on my part of course, but I base things on my observations and have confirmed many little details to myself over the years. That is one reason why I will never turn down the opportunity to examine any old Lee, Mil spec, commercial sporter or Bubba special.

What puzzles me now is that neither rifle appears to have British commercial proof marks. This tells me that neither one of them was sold on the UK home market through the British Gun Trade. This suggests that they were built for export. This also jives as the market for a hunting rifle in England is quite limited. Those that had the means to go hunting would likely have more than a few shillings to spare and would likely buy a rifle such as a Lee Speed and not a cut down army rifle. This rifle would likely be pooh-poohed by the toffs going on safari.

So now the scenario in my mind that seems to fit is that our rifles were converted to sporter by Andrews in London for sale overseas, the big market being north America. No commercial proofs required. Probably not coincidence that both rifles have been found in Canada.

Is it valuable? No. Collector interest as a long Lee is long gone. Any value is now as a working sporter.
Sometimes they can shoot very well. They make a great bush gun, are robust, reliable and get the job done for any game in found north America. 

I thank you for sharing your rifle with us. I have certainly added to my notes. But just two rifles is too  small a sample to be conclusive. If I encounter another sportered Lee with the Andrews mark,  you betcha I will be all over it.
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