Watch: The Very First SMLE Rifles

   04.07.17

Watch: The Very First SMLE Rifles

The venerable SMLE, or Short Magazine Lee-Enfield rifle, has been around for a heck of a long time. In this video, Ian of Forgotten Weapons takes a look at two of the test rifles, made 115 years ago.

SMLE 1902 test rifle, type A (Photo: James D. Julia, Auctioneers)
SMLE 1902 test rifle, type A
(Photo: James D. Julia, Auctioneers)

Interestingly, although one thousand SMLE test rifles were made for testing by troops in the field, this pair are apparently the only ones to have survive to date. Ian tells us that the other 998 of them were converted into 22 caliber training guns 110 years ago.

On top of that, this pair consists of one each of the A type and B type test rifles, which means that although these guns represent just 0.2% of SMLE 1902 trial guns made, they offer about as full a view of those rifles as is likely to be seen today.

SMLE 1902 test rifle, type B (Photo: James D. Julia, Auctioneers)
SMLE 1902 test rifle, type B
(Photo: James D. Julia, Auctioneers)

If you love history and factual info, this video is for you. And if you are more interested in the guns themselves, feel free to jump ahead in the video to about the 5:00 minute mark.

Ultimately, the A type was adopted as the SMLE Mark I after a few minor changes, and as they say, the rest is history.

Both are for sale separately at the James D. Julia Auction site:

SMLE 1902 Troop Trials Rifle Type A
SMLE 1902 Troop Trials Rifle Type B

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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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