Tag Archives: Lee-Enfield

A look at the ‘Mad Minute’

A typical Tommy of the BEF’s original 1914, “The Old Contemptibles.” Not to be trifled with.

While slow, aimed, and deliberate fire was preferred– early SMLEs had magazine cut-off switches to leave the 10-rounds in the magazine as a sort of emergency reserve, forcing users to hand-feed single cartridges into the chamber as they went– the average “Tommy” was trained to deliver rapid-fire when needed, topped off by 5-shot charging clips.

As described in the British musketry regulations of the day, a trained rifleman should be able to lay down between 12 and 15 rounds in a minute, accurately.

In practice, the “Mad Minute” drill on the range became a standard of Commonwealth infantry for almost a half-century, with Australian troops still documented as carrying it out in the 1950s just before the Enfield was replaced with inch-pattern semi-auto FN FALs. Surpassing the 12-15 round minimum mark, some were able to squeeze in over 20 rounds in the same allotted time. One riflery instructor, Sergeant Alfred Snoxall, was credited with being able to deliver an amazing 38 hits on target with his Enfield in a one-minute period.

You see the Sergeant on the left, with an eye peeled for cockups? He will make sure your musketry is correct and by the book.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Indian Enfields see their last hurrah

Police in Northern India last week said farewell to a historic infantry rifle that has served them for generations– the .303-caliber Lee-Enfield.

Police for the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which counts roughly 200 million inhabitants, sent their Enfields off after using them for a final time in the country’s 71st Republic-Day Parade in late January, according to local reports. The force used 45,000 vintage Enfields, the agency’s standard-issue rifle since 1947. The historic bolt-action rifle will be replaced with domestically-made INSAS and inch-pattern FAL variants.

The below shows Uttar Pradesh police with their Enfields at last year’s RP Day parade.

“This (.303) rifle is a fantastic weapon and has served us brilliantly in various operations in the past,” police director-general Bijaya Kumar Maurya told AFP. “But it being a bolt action weapon with low magazine capacity, it was time for a change. Its production has also discontinued so there was all the more need for an upgrade.”

Although replaced, the Uttar Pradesh rifles will not be completely retired, they are reportedly being sent to the Indian Ordnance Factory at Ishapore to be re-worked into riot guns.

Going back to the old Magazine-Lee-Enfield of 1895, the Indians have used the venerable .303 for over 120 years in one form or another. In fact, starting in the 1930s Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) in the Bengal region made first 10-round MK. III* SMLEs then later what they termed Rifle 2/2A, a 7.62 NATO Enfield with a 12-round magazine in the 1960s and 1970s. Several thousand were imported to the U.S. in the late 1990s and sold for about $150.

An RFI (Ishapore) 2A1, note the longer 12-round magazine. These were made until 1975, possibly the last SMLE in factory production

I used to have an “Ishy” for several years and passed it on down the road to a friend. Of course, now I have regrets over that choice.

Nonetheless, I do still have an RFI-marked WWII-era Enfield P-1944 Jungle Bayonet with the late-war square pommel.

It is a beautiful bayonet with remnants of a white “drill purpose” mark around the band

The park is great on the blade and it is very tight. I would doubt it was ever used for anything except parade

Marked with King George VI’s cipher (GR) it has an RFI stamp and April 1944 production date.

As well as a DP stamp, which was likely applied in the 1946-47 era when these “ugly” square pommel bayonets were reclassified as second-line items.

Perhaps, with these stocks of vintage guns removed from service, we may see another wave of relic Enfields and their accessories wash up on our shores.

What a strange bird, 78 years ago today

A Tommy with 2nd Battalion, the Warwickshire Regiment is perched in a tree taking aim with his rifle. The photograph was taken during an exercise at Rumegies near the Belgian border, on the 22nd January 1940, during the eight-month “Phoney War” or “Sitzkrieg” period between the fall of Poland and the invasion of France.

His rifle is the Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle No.1 MkIII.

The Warwickshires were originally formed in 1685 in the Netherlands by James II as the 6th Regiment of Foot, changing their name to the 1st Warwickshire in 1782. They fought in the Napoleonic wars, both World Wars, the Boer War and other assorted conflicts around the globe for 283 years when amalgamated finally as a single battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers, they lost their name and were folded into the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1968 with their current RHQ in the Tower of London. Today they field an active duty armored infantry battalion (1st) equipped with Warriors while a TA unit, (5th bn) is equipped as light infantry.

There is prone, and there is Hawkins prone, 73 years ago today

A British Army sniper demonstrates the superior ‘Hawkins’ prone firing position (right) next to another in the standard position, at the 21st Army Group sniping school near Eindhoven, 15 October 1944. Note the scoped Enfields.

The Hawkins was described by one Tommy as “taking buttons off your shirt to get that much closer to the ground.”