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RattlesnakeBob

Lee Enfield Rifles....

Question

Just been watching a Forgotten Heroes of WW1 episode and a thought struck me....

......the Lee Enfield Rifles the lads carried into France in 1914/18 looked (at least on screen) to be the same as the ones their descendants carried into France once again in 1939/45 ..

........so..

...was there any difference at all/if any between WW1 Lee Enfields and WW2????....

and seeing as the British Army carried them for a good few more years after WW2 ..was there ...any much of a difference between the last ones issued and the very first ones??

Edited by RattlesnakeBob

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Most conventional war is carried out at a range of about 200 meters. The reasoning behind 5.56 is that it is ballistically effective at 200 to 400 meters, light recoil, light to carry for soldier and logistics. It can also provide a short weapon for the expected FIBUA. Even the effective range of SLR was quoted at 200 yards. It takes a lot of traning to achive first time hits, especially snap shooting at over 200 yards. Hence the Enhanced Marksman Rifle and the issue of a lot of dedicated Sniping Rifles.

 

The bit about traumatic injury is complete horse apples. The same was said of the original Cordite and Ballisite rounds, claims of Tampered Ammunition is a charge that has been levelled at opposing forces for years. Any such ammunition would be in direct contrivation of the Geneva Convention. Snipers in particular depend on consistent ammunition, no one in their right mind would tamper with it.

 

With all due respect Tony, I'm not talking about any nature of 'field modified' ammunition such as dumdum or whatever......from what I have read I understood the deliberate design intention of the high velocity /small calibre SA80 round was so that it 'tumbled' on hitting something?....This idea (again.. as I understood it ...but I accept that I could be wrong...) was as a result of battlefield expiriences in Vietnam with the M16 round ???? If I'm wrong I accept it completely....

Mind you I do have to add this......

...I've just read a book on the war in Burma and I don't think the Geneva Convention figured very highly out there (nor quite probably in many other theatres?)..

the absolutely viscious nature of the hand to hand fighting left very little room for a man to worry over how he actually killed an enemy soldier.........I know full well, the very dark thoughts must have come later over how you may personally have 'done the job' but on the day?.....in the middle of such combat?...

I don't think a soldier should really be held accountable over how he got the job done...and if the guys sat in their foxholes now and then and 'doctored' their ammunition a bit to make it even more effective???.

.....who was honestly going to worry about it when at the end of the day those same boys had managed to hold a hill or take a position against a formidible and absolutely determined enemy?.....

...I know this is a terrible issue to think of especially on this day .

Edited by RattlesnakeBob

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Tumbiling ammunition? No, The 5.56 ammunition SS109, which is the British design does not tumble. Dosen't need to. You get hit by one, and there is none of the Argh, tie a hankie round it and defeat the baddies. You stay down! As a bullet enters the body the round dumps it's kinitic energy as heat. The result , as the body is mostly water is to boil the water change it to gas and cause what is known as Cavitation. A large void around the area of impact, but this mostly closes as the round passes .To see the effect of a standard 78 grain .22 rimfire bullet on Ballastic Gelatine , which retains the cavitation is a dam good saftey aid.

 

A soft round such as pure lead or a semi jacketed round (The most efficent manstopper is reckoned to be a 125 grain semi jacketed .357 S&W Magnum revolver round) Will intial expand but lacks penetration. All military rounds are fully jacketed, for ballistics and penetration. As the round slows and encounters harder material such as bone and gristle then it's course will be deflected causing a jagged wound track.

 

The tumbiling bullet is another Great War myth. The Germans issued a SKM 7.92 round, initally for use aginst aircraft later aginst tanks. This was the standard 7.92 round with the bullet withdrawn and replaced head first so the flat end hit the target. the rseult was a semi armour piercing bullet with the outer jacket folding back from the lead core. It was effective against the first tank armour. Prisioners found with these rounds were often given short shrift. If a bullet tumbles on impact it has to be inherently unstable, therefore when fired, where is it going to go? No use firing at a target if your not going to hit it.

 

The American experience with 5.56 M109 amunition in Vietnam was the stuff was bl**dy useless! The problem is that being a light round it is easily deflected by hitting leaves or branches and lacked penetrtation. There was also the dosen't need cleaning myth of the M16, till the propellant formula was changed, without anyone being told. Why change? The intial charge was found to make the bullet unstable in flight, so you didn't know where it was going. The 7.92 Kalasnikove round was able to penetrate undergrowth

 

To give you an idea let me quote an old story, Richard Couer De Lion is said to have entered Saladin's camp. Saladin drew his light sharp sword, threw a silk cloth into the air and sliced it in two before it hit the ground. Richard drew his broadsword and split an anvil.

 

One very effectve is the so called Air Marshall round. This looks like a small wine gum, with distilled water in the middle (Distilled to prevent infection, go figure) This is deliberatley designed to have little or no penetration and is the eqivalent of Richard's broadsword, a supersonic sledgehammer.

 

The best book I can think of about the Burma campaign is Geroge Mc Donald Frazer's Quartered Safe Out Here. And yes he does go into quite a lot of detail about the morality of war out there. To wit, I survived, that is what matters.

Edited by Tony B

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Many thanks Tony..I'm always ready to learn mate and you obviously have far more expirience/knowledge than I do on this subject.....and I understand entirely what you mean about 'I survived' and thats good enough...I've just finished reading the Julian Thompson book on Burma in the Forgotten Voices Series... and it's got to be said...

...'hand to hand' nor 'close combat' isn't really an accurate description of what went on there is it? ........

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One thing I ALWAYS kept in mind when I was serving was: 'If it's me or Him. It sure as Hell isnt' going to be ME!'.

Rules Pretty much went out the window when Bullets are being aimed at you & you have to move DAMM Fast to get to a safe position!.

When it comes to survival & the Adrenilin is pumping like hell! The Genva convention & 'Rules' as such. Funnily never were the uppermost Priority at the time!.........................:shocked:

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For your enjoyment a pic of my ex gf, who is alo now one of my best mates, with my lee enfield, no.1 mk5.

 

 

 

 

Nice. :-) Think the SMLE + its bayonet LOOKS far more balanced than a no4 = 'pigsticker'.

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One thing I ALWAYS kept in mind when I was serving was: 'If it's me or Him. It sure as Hell isnt' going to be ME!'.

Rules Pretty much went out the window when Bullets are being aimed at you & you have to move DAMM Fast to get to a safe position!.

When it comes to survival & the Adrenilin is pumping like hell! The Genva convention & 'Rules' as such. Funnily never were the uppermost Priority at the time!.........................:shocked:

 

As the old saying goes 'Better tried by twelve than carried by six'.

 

Another one I saw 'Always fight an enemy who is prepared to die for their cause, Then you don't have to worry about upsetting them'.

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As RAF Armourers we use the motto " RAF Armourers, providing the enemy the oportunity to die for their country"

 

I'm a Lee Enfield fan and in my collection I have

 

1898 CLLE Mk1* by Enfield

1898 LEC Mk1* by Enfield

1908 MkIII by LSA

1916 MkIII* by Enfield, Ex Australian D^D

1917 MkIV by BSA

1922 MkV Enfield trials rifle

1942 No.4 Mk1* by Savage

1946 No.5 Mk1 by BSA

1947 No.5 Mk1 By BSA (Unissued)

1962 2A1 (Indian 7.62mm Mk3)

1970s L59A1 Official Drill rifle based on a 1942 BSA No.4 Mk1

 

 

The original designations using Mark only changed in the late 1920s to Number and Mark, hence why the early SMLE are marked as such.

 

I also have a Relic CLLE with really good metal but no wood found on the somme and a 1918 dated MkIII* by BSA found in a Dunkirk sand dune, left behind by a RASC soldier in 1940. I like to think it was my Grandads as he told me before I got this rifle, that he burried his in the sand.

 

Going back to the SA80, I really like this rifle, I've used it for 15 years in all sorts of areas of operations and found it to be very good. I've also used the AK47 in 7.62 and the Ak74 in 5.54mm and although rugged, they arn't paticularly accurate at longer ranges, I've seen a MOD video of comparison trials of a AK and M16 and the AK barrel visably bends as the projectile travels down the barrel. I've also used the M4 carbine and its very similar to a L85 in performance but the M4 is bit easier to bring into the shoulder in my opinion. They both use the same Stoner Locking Mechanism so both suffer with the bolt not rotating fully (I've not experienced this with the L85A2 though) and require a forward assist.

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Um, where to start?

 

1888 New "Small Bore" rifle (.303" Lee Metford) introduced. National Rifle competition forced to move to Bisley as Wimbledon Common is too small - 303" has several times the range of the .577/450 cartridge.

 

Fanatical Opponents like the new rifle immensely "It's wonderful. You can be hit several times and still carry on fighting", with the result they preferentially charge the British troops rather than the native levies as they are more likely to reach hand-to-hand distances.

 

Experiments performed (exposed lead tip, slit jackets, etc) to improve effectiveness of the .303" round

 

European powers (after some "iffy" research) raise outcry, 1899 Hague Convention bans the use of expanding ammunition. (Declaration III)

 

WW1 is fought using small bore rifles. Rapid weapon development and lots of new ideas.

 

WW2 begins with the weapons of WW1, plus portable automatic weapons (LMG and SMG).

 

Postwar analysis shows that most engagements are fought at 300 yards or less. Much thought given to lighter and more portable weaponry - more ammunition can be carried.

 

Russia develops the AK-47, designed by an infantryman. Cartridge is 7.62 x 39mm rather than 7.62 x 54mm

Britain develops the EM2, designed by Enfield team including ex-Polish infantrymen. Cartridge is .280 Ross. (7mm)

America decides on 7.62 x 51mm (.308") as that is a slightly shorter .30 Springfield and all their existing tooling still works.

Economic pressure from America forces NATO to adopt 7.62 x 51mm despite the fact that it's excessively powerful for the intended role. UK cancels the EM2 order.

Enfield design team (who did the EM2 design) get the job of making the FN FAL work with cordite and produce the SLR.

America realise that the 7.62 x 51mm cartridge is too powerful and develop the M16.

M16 gains an undeserved reputation for jamming due to the use of remanufactured propellant (ex-naval bag charges which contained chalk as a stabiliser for long term storage - the chalk ends up in the gas system and jams the weapon). This is hushed up and a "forward assist" button added to the M16 to allow the bolt to be rammed home if there is excessive fouling present. New production propellant assists in saving the day. 5.56mm not a very effective projectile. SS291 (I think) "improved" 5.56mm bullet approaches the performance of ,280 Ross.

Enfield design team (none of whom appear to be ex-infantrymen) design the SA-80 from a grab-bag of other countries weapon features and make it superficially like the EM2. End users not happy, lots of failures due to poor design/build quality, the plastic furniture keeps falling off, the hammer chews its way through the hammer stop, causing either a failure to fire or the weapon going full-auto. Jungle trials "The problem was not so much keeping it clean, as preventing it from rusting away before your very eyes.", etc. After being in service for several years, most of the problems are apparently corrected (rumor has it by designers from Heckler & Koch, who Royal Ordnance (British Aerospace) own at this point).

 

Sigh.

 

This lot brought to you because I used to read "Handgunner" magazine, own a copy of EM-2 Concept & Design, and got interested in the subject despite being a crap shot (competitively) with a rifle. I'm much better with a pistol, so they banned them.

:argh:

 

(I also got a tour of the Enfield Pattern Room (before BAE asset stripped RO and sold the site for housing, not considering the toxic hazards of somewhere that had been used for weapon design/production for 170 years).)

 

Chris.

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And the Lee Enfield is STILL in service (sort of), in the UK, with Cadet units, as the .22 in No 8 Rifle which has a modified No 4 action. . .

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Unfortunatly the No.8s are obsolete (Or should be), the No.8 has been replaced with the L98 now.

 

The No.8 action body is based on a No.5 action rather than a No.4 but the 5 action is machined from in the white No.4 bodies anyway so you are correct.

 

Anyone have a No.8?

Edited by Chris Hall

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Anyone have a No.8?

 

Don't have a No.8, put have good memories of using one at the local rifle club many years back. Incidentally, the first rifle I fired was a SMLE on the zero range at Bisley, I was only about 12 years old then !

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Unfortunatly the No.8s are obsolete (Or should be), the No.8 has been replaced with the L98 now.

 

The No.8 action body is based on a No.5 action rather than a No.4 but the 5 action is machined from in the white No.4 bodies anyway so you are correct.

 

Anyone have a No.8?

 

no but I keep looking for one to use on the local range

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One of the first .22 rifles I used was a .22 barrel grafted to a Martini action with the arrow and crown dated 1897!.

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I used the No.8 and the Martini in .22, I loved the Martini, it was very accurate and just sat well with me. The No.8 just never fit me as well, maybe having my own SMLE at the time meant it was too similar to a full bore rifle. I now nave a .303 martini carbine converted from a .45 rifle in 1903.

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The No.8 is still very much in use by cadet forces, even though it is obsolescent. A replacement has been discussed for many years, but nothing has come of it so far.

There are still rumoured to be large stocks of unused parts for them as well.

I have seen a No.8 with 1970s stamped woodwork that still looks as new as the day it left the factory where it hasn't been touched by sweaty cadet fingers!

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