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Old December 16, 2018, 15:22   #1
Combloc
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1904 BSA MkI *** Bound for Ireland

The other night, I was talking to a friend of mine about the No4 Mk2 I had recently posted and he happened to mention that he had a 1904 model that had been upgraded for Ireland. I asked if I could take a look at it and he said "Sure, I've been thinking about selling it and I'll let you have it for what I paid for it if you want." Well.....to cut to the chase, the following pictures are the result. He told me the stripper clip guide on the bolt is a reproduction but the rest was good as far as he knew. After spending hours on the net researching these damn things, I'm certain this rifle is a typical BSA MkI that was more or less upgraded to a MkIII configuration using a combination of the original BSA parts with a liberal sprinkling of Enfield parts and a new serial number applied for sale to Ireland in the 1920's. Then, in the 1960's it was sold as surplus on the US market. Unfortunately, I'm also pretty certain this old clunker was sporterized at some point by cutting down the stock as was common back then. I still remember well my uncle bragging back in the 1970's about how nice and handy an Enfield he had was for hunting once he got rid of all that extra walnut and bulk. Even back then as a kid I knew he was destroying History but he didn't care. He had "built" himself a "reel nice huntin' riefell purdy cheep!".....ugggghh. Anywho, at some point somebody took pity on this old relic and restored it by replacing all of the wood in front of the stock socket, bringing it back to an approximation of what it would have looked like back in the 20's after the rework. I say "approximation" because there was some variation in these depending on what parts were used and those parts were sawed off long ago and likely burned up in a stove for heat. I love the smell of burning History in the morning; smells like...….stupidity. So, it very well could have looked like this or just a bit different. Whatever the case, the restoration bits used are original parts so, while it has little monetary value, it still makes for a nice looking representative example of what would have left the rework armoury bound for Ireland back in the 1920's. It's kinda' neat holding a little piece of the once Mighty British Empire in your hands.
Let's take a look:

I'm not going to bother with descriptions of every photograph as I'm sure you know what you are looking at more than I do but I'll interject some drivel where I think it's appropriate.










Unit disk has been scrubbed and you can still faintly see the old stock cartouche in the walnut:



Stock repair:


























Serial number on bottom of sight matches the original struck out one on the receiver:



I love the old bone inlay on the slider:




















I guess the fore stock is an early MkIII unit made by Enfield. This, the upper handguards (maybe not the rear upper but certainly the front), rear band and the front cap are what I figure are the restoration parts. They look to be NOS parts nicely installed:








The bore isn't too bad. It's nothing to write home about but it looks serviceable. I don't really plan to shoot it anywho.
Here's a bullet rambo'd into the end:



It's pretty funky looking prior to any cleaning:







But with just a minimal amount of work it's looks quite a bit better. I only ran a bristle brush through it about 5 times and swabbed it until it was semi-clean. With a little focused attention, it might clean up pretty good:





Last picture shows 50 years of development. A 1904 and a 1954, both bound for Ireland:



Okiedokie, that's my restored Mk I ***. It's as obsolete as me just prettier. Thanks for taking a look!
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Old December 16, 2018, 16:49   #2
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Old December 16, 2018, 17:11   #3
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Makes my knees weak combloc...I love early, pre-WW1 SMLEs.
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Old December 18, 2018, 08:55   #4
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Interesting, but why does it have a Elizabeth Rex seal stamped on it? She wasn't Queen until 1952.
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Old December 18, 2018, 08:57   #5
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Interesting, but if it went to Ireland in the 20s, why does it have a Elizabeth Rex seal stamped on it when she wasn't Queen unil 1952?
King Edward VII.
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Old December 18, 2018, 09:17   #6
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King Edward VII.
Oops, forgot about him.
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Old December 18, 2018, 11:02   #7
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Thanks for the interesting post Combloc! Great old history there.
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Old December 18, 2018, 18:36   #8
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To truly get the skinny on your rifle join Lee Enfield Knowledge Forum and post your photos there.
https://www.milsurps.com/forumdisplay.php?f=72

Peter Laidler is a former and now retired British armorer and posts regularly as well as many other gents from the UK and Commonwealth countries. You will not find a better source of accurate info on Lee rifles (Metford and Enfield) anywhere.

And not trying to argue but I don't think your rifle is an Irish Contract model but a standard MkI to MkIII up grade, hence the SHT.L.E. I ***. Serial No changes were not uncommon. Unless you have come a cross info that shows your serial number in a range that was in an Irish contract or some other provenance it is hard to say where that rifle has been before it came over the pond.

And I always assumed (maybe incorrectly) that all Mk1 to MkIII upgrades had a charging bridge strap added across the rear of the receiver. Earlier conversions have the charging guide on one side of the receiver and bolt head. It could be as you surmise that the gun was sporterized at one point and removing charging bridges was very common on sporterized Enfields.

All said, it is a nice representation of the era of an early 20th cent Lee Enfield.
And I'll admit, it's rather enjoyable to hunt down the past of these old rifles especially when they are in shoot-able condition. Looks like you did very well.
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Old January 12, 2019, 05:50   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazed and Confused View Post
To truly get the skinny on your rifle join Lee Enfield Knowledge Forum and post your photos there.
https://www.milsurps.com/forumdisplay.php?f=72

Peter Laidler is a former and now retired British armorer and posts regularly as well as many other gents from the UK and Commonwealth countries. You will not find a better source of accurate info on Lee rifles (Metford and Enfield) anywhere.

And not trying to argue but I don't think your rifle is an Irish Contract model but a standard MkI to MkIII up grade, hence the SHT.L.E. I ***. Serial No changes were not uncommon. Unless you have come a cross info that shows your serial number in a range that was in an Irish contract or some other provenance it is hard to say where that rifle has been before it came over the pond.

And I always assumed (maybe incorrectly) that all Mk1 to MkIII upgrades had a charging bridge strap added across the rear of the receiver. Earlier conversions have the charging guide on one side of the receiver and bolt head. It could be as you surmise that the gun was sporterized at one point and removing charging bridges was very common on sporterized Enfields.

All said, it is a nice representation of the era of an early 20th cent Lee Enfield.
And I'll admit, it's rather enjoyable to hunt down the past of these old rifles especially when they are in shoot-able condition. Looks like you did very well.
Would the “ER” prefix of the retsamped SN not be indicative of Irish contract? I’ve always heard that SMLEs bound for Ireland between 1919-24 were retsamped with an ER prefix.
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Old January 13, 2019, 16:45   #10
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Originally Posted by VALMET View Post
Would the “ER” prefix of the retsamped SN not be indicative of Irish contract? I’ve always heard that SMLEs bound for Ireland between 1919-24 were retsamped with an ER prefix.
That was also my understanding
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