Special Epic Blog looking at the iconic Lee-Enfield rifle.
The Lee-Enfield Rifle was the primary firearm of the British Empire and Commonwealth during the first half of the 20th Century. It is considered by many to be one of the greatest bolt action rifles ever made. The Lee–Enfield takes its name from the designer of the rifle’s bolt system, James Paris Lee, and the factory in which it was designed, the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield.
Adopted in 1895, it was the first British service rifle to use smokeless powder. In 1904 the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield, SMLE, was introduced, affectionately known as “Smellie”. It was a shorter, lighter rifle, designed to be issued to both cavalry and infantry. A ten round magazine and a beautifully smooth bolt action meant the SMLE could be fired astonishingly fast. A well trained marksman could, within a minute, put more than 20 shots on a man sized target at 300 yards. Many German soldiers during the Great War thought that every British soldier was issued with a machine gun!
The Lee-Enfield was adapted for a wide range of special purposes. During WW1, innovative periscope attachments allowed the shooter to remain within his trench and still accurately fire their rifle. Sniper variants of the Lee-Enfield were developed in the Great War and were further developed in the decades afterwards. A 7.62mm NATO SMLE sniper remained in service with the British Army until 1990.
It was succeeded in military service by semi-automatic rifles in the 1950’s. The SMLE remains incredibly popular with civilian shooters across the globe. The Bangladeshi Police and Canadian Rangers are still issued the venerable Lee-Enfield.
At Epic we have a wide range of British reenactment gear and original surplus, including Lee-Enfield accessories. Reproduction slings with various maker and date stamps, from 1913 through to 1944. Perfect for First and Second World War impressions.
We also have Original No.4 Spike Bayonets with original scabbards and frogs. The No.4 was nicknamed ‘Pigsticker’ by troops. Post-war 37 Pattern Webbing Triple Ammo Pouches, and reproduction Lee-Enfield Webbing Holsters.