Blake Stevens, author and publisher, Collector Grade in
Canada, died in April. He is well known for his books on the FN FAL, M16, Browning, Mausers, Garand, M1
Carbine, Thompson, AK-47, Maxim, MG-34, MG-42, &c. Other stalwart
collectors and authorities, Neil Speed, Ron Hayes and Barry Temple have also
passed away however they leave a legacy in their printed records for all of us
Bunduki Books has new owners in rural
north Victoria, a wider range of
titles and new website continues under construction at
See what Roger and Pauline have on offer.
A new Lee-Enfield shooting website
up and running now...
Proofed Action Assembly numbers
confirm original fitting of a breech bolt& body on SMLEs, especially Lithgows,
stamped prior to the the serial number, after proof. PAA numbers are small
engineers stamps under the bolt handle and on the adjacent area at the rear,
right of the action body.
our dedicated Serial Nos. page at Enfield Collector,
loads of data and food for thought!
internet firearms sales site in Oz,
Check out their offerings. Based in Victoria, the manager is Andrew and we are
happy to swap links. Good luck guys!
internet firearms sales site in Oz,
Check out their offerings. Based in Victoria, the manager is Andrew and
after a hearty chat, we are happy to swap links. Good luck guys!
New 7.62mm NATO Sharpshooter
rifle for the British Army? The L129A1 by Lewis Machine & Tool Co.,
Milan, IL The first batch of 500 Stoner type rifles was delivered, more likely to follow. One piece upper with
full-length Picatinny rail, quick change stainless barrel in 305, 406
& 508mm lengths on a one-piece upper. Looks like an AR10 with M16 shorty
rimfire sporting rifle from Lithgow, the LA101. This 'CrossOver' is a bolt
action 5-shot rifle, a fitting successor to the Slazenger Models 1 and 12.
It is touted to become available in .22LR, .22 WMR and .17HMR chamberings.
The design is distinctively European and the 5-round plastic magazine is CZ
compatible. Left-hand models are to be available and centre-fire variants in
.223 Remington and .308 Winchester reported to be in the pipeline.
The barrel is cold hammer-forged, medium weight profile with target crown. A synthetic one-piece stock adds to
a Steyr Mannlicher appearance. No fixed sights fitted, intended for
Weaver style bases and telescopic sight. The trigger is not adjustable, with
1lb and 2lb springs..
Swinfield passed away in his sleep on 10th November
2014 in Sydney.
Peter Thurley, Tasmania passed away shortly before
John. Peter was a dealer at many gun shows, always had a good offering of
collector rifles and shotguns. His British shotgun collection was second to
none in Oz.
Edwards (A.O. Edwards, M.A.) was a specialist in .303 British ammo,
he updated the "Lee-Enfield' chapter
on ammunition, a valuable section in
the final edition. Tony passed away 22nd Sept. after a long battle with
Singleton Infantry Centre Museum
had a multi-million dollar, double-storey rebuild. At Singleton army base, it is open to the public
Thursday-Sunday from 9am to 4pm, except public holidays. There is an Infantry
Corps shop and Lone Pine Kiosk. Entry is $8 adults, $5
pensioners, children under 16 are $3. Ankle-biters (nippers under 5)
are free. Discount family rate $20 and groups of 20+ are
$4 each but groups need to make a booking. Their website is at
firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone (02) 6575 0257, fax
(02) 6575 0239. Truly worth a visit.
See the Lithgow SAF Museum new pages at
www.lithgowsafmuseum.org.au It has now
been quoted as the premier on-display military small arms museum in Australia
today. So be sure to visit if you are anywhere near Lithgow.
as a battle rifle: British Sgt. Snoxall recorded 38 hits on a 12-in. bull at 300
yards in sixty seconds. The rifle was charger-loaded to fire as many rounds as
possible in one minute, dubbed 'the mad minute'. No other turn-bolt service
rifle can claim such a record. Enfields rule!
Another website dear
to our heart...
Barrack Hill, A History of Anglesea Barracks 1811-2011 by John
Lennox & John Wadsley celebrating the 200th anniversary of this Hobart
institution. 258-page hard cover, 180+ images. Funds to Legacy and Australian Army
Museum Tasmania. $50 ea. plus p&p, e-mail John at
orders. Pack & post is $11.20 within Australia.
FTR'd and converted No.4 rifles after the end of WW2, utilising new parts
dated 1954-58. Recently noted in the US, a keen observer logged a
number of Mk 1/2 'hung trigger' rifles. The broad arrow mark and finish is a
little different to WW2 and immediate post-war production, likely a War Office
contract for another country, possibly in Africa.
Report of a US unit coming under fire from afar, pinned down by high
trajectory fire. Air support was called in and a lone, white-bearded Afghan
took to his heels. When the foot soldiers finally came up to the position,
they discovered an old Short Lee-Enfield with sights set on maximum 2,000
yard setting. The old .303 bettered the 5.56mm at longer ranges,
and it took air support to equalize the situation. Lee-Enfields still
Army & Navy Co-operative Society Ltd. Stamped
on assorted turn of the century British rifles and pistols, many being
purchased by officers in service. Army & Navy Co-op. was established in 1871
by a group of Army and Navy officers to supply 'articles for domestic
consumption and general use to its members at the lowest numerative rates'.
The store was opened on 15th February 1872 at 105 Victoria St., Westminster,
In 1873, the co-op commenced trading in firearms.
Gun case label reads 'Guns, Rifles, Pistols, Fishing Tackle, Boats &
Naturalist Work. Motorist's Lathes, Machinery & Tools of all Descriptions.
No.8 Gun & Sporting Department, 3 Hawick Place'. This changed in
1934 to 'Army & Navy Stores Ltd.', then in 1973 was taken over by
the House of Fraser.
Thought you may like this snippet of information about 1914-1918 War bayonet
When Wilkinsons closed sword-making, there was a mass of papers &c.
that did not go to the Royal Armouries Library, considered
junk! Amongst them were Sword production records of Robert Mole from
1865 to 1877 and 1890 to 1919.
It shows Mole's 1907 bayonet production. They made the Patt '07 bayonet from 1908
to 1911 and then in 1914 and 1915 only, all their efforts being transferred
to 1908 Pattern cavalry swords which they made every year from 1908 until
1919 with the exception of 1913.
They made 1888 until 1901 and in 1901 and 1902 made 1888 Mk III (Browned
In 1903-04 they converted 1888 to pattern 1903, made new 1903s in 1903-04.
In 1916 they produced screws and nuts for 'Sword Bayonet Wire Breaker' @ 5/9
They also made spare components for RSAF Sparkbrook such as Bolts, malleable
with edged trimmed only at 2 and a half pennies each.
1888 Mk III: 9/6
1888 converted to 1903: 9/6
1907: 10/- reducing to 9/- and then in 1914-15, price rose to 11/-
Not earth shattering but part of the picture and explains Mole's low
production figures for 1907 as quoted in your SUPERB book!
bought Marlin Firearms. Marlin owns
H&R and LC Smith. In this corporate world, S&W now owns Thompson Center Arms
and manufactures Walther firearms in the USA. Remington is owned by Chrysler
Corporation, who also bought Bushmaster. Winchester Repeating now belongs to
Browning Arms (Morgan, UT) which is owned by FN Herstal, Belgium. Given the
Royal Ordnance and H&K ownership, the French ownership of ADI Lithgow, and
France's government GIAT and FN Browning's affiliation, so many traditional
gunmakers are now more corporate conglomerates.
Another firearms icon disappeared from
America's heartland, Winchester. The Model 94 is discontinued, the US plant
A few Winchester sporters will be made overseas, but
Winchester joins Enfield, Wilkinson and Webley as ghosts of the
SMLE Mk I charger guide
repros available in the USA
from Don Voigt in Charlotte NC. Price $90; e-mail photos look
good. Limited run, so if you need one to complete Mk I, Mk I*, Mk I*** rifles,
don't delay! E-mail Don at
Ammunition website worthy of paying regular visits...
Nobel 'Peace Prize'
In 2007 ex-US Vice President Al Gore
now joins this
2002 winner, ex-US President Jimmy Carter, for what?
2001 winner, ex-UN Kofi Annan, for Iraq efforts, along with his son?
1994 winner, ex-PLO leader Arafat, terrorist, stole millions in aid to his
1993 winner, Nelson Mandela, a South African terrorist?
What is the
Nobel Peace Prize? Gifted funds of US$1.5 million each year from the
inventor/maker of high explosives, truly a contributor to world peace... in
reality, this is only an
exercise in left-wing political farce.
Jane 'Hanoi' Fonda nominated as 'One of the Hundred
Women of the Century' !! This traitor passed on prisoners' notes for help to
captors. Some POWs died from beatings, others maimed. Fonda is one of the most
reviled women of the century.
Belgian contract Patt. 1853 rifles; we've
wondered who made them there. Apparently, a consortium, 'Societe de
Anglais' comprising of Ancion, Renkit, Pitlot & Francotte who produced
nearly 150,000 of the 3-band and 2-band Enfield .577 Rifle Muskets.
New Signals Museum at Fort Lytton at the
mouth of the Brisbane River... or if you are not in the neighbourhood, go to
Phone contact can be made with organiser Jim Meehan on 07 3890 1379 or cell 0406
005 920. Interested groups can be taken through on weekdays or the usual Sunday
opening around noon.
Netherlands Army Museum
Check out http://collectie.legermuseum.nl/ and go under the chapter 'Thems's' and
sub-chapter 'wapens'. We hope you can read Dutch!
Ever wondered what 'F.E.H.' and crossed rifles mark on Lithgow
SMLEs of 1916-post war mean, stamped prominently on the
butt stock and sometimes in other areas? Comprising of a crown, crossed
rifles, usually with a 'P' in one quadrant and 'F.E.H.' in opposite
quadrant. Frederick Edward Hart was Staff Sergeant-Major Instructor from Randwick School of Musketry, promoted to Lieut. in August 1916
when he led the first team of Army Inspectors resident at SAF Lithgow. It is said that the team brought deliveries to a halt within
days! Following the set-up of the Army Inspectorate at SAF Lithgow, their
production became even finer.
Webley Mk IV .38 revolvers supplied by Webley & Scott
from 1939 to 1945 amounted to about 120,000 pistols. Serial numbers from May
14th 1947 were 'A' prefixed and ran A8 to A100599 by 26 March 1957. From 4th
June 1957 to 7 Sept. 1979 when the last Webley revolver was made, serials
were 'B' prefixed and ran B0 to B88165. Not all serials were used as blocks
were assigned for specific calibres. The .380 Webleys were used by the
Edmonton Alberta police until circa 1978.
The revolver business was sold to a Pakistan company which acquired
all tooling, work in progress and spare parts, although were not permitted
to use the name 'Webley' in items.
This info from Ted Simmermon from Edmonton, Alberta.
new British sword books are a very welcome
addition to the library. These are 'British Military Swords - 1786-1912' by
Harvey J.S. Withers (2003) which has a listing of Wilkinson serial numbers and
years of production. So useful! Harvey's site is
www.britishmilitaryswordsbook.com The other new title is 'Swords &
Swordmakers of England and Scotland' by Richard H. Bezdek published by Paladin
in the U.S. of A. (2003) with lots of b&w photos and sells for US$70.
Another sword revelation... After Colloden (1746),
many captured and battlefield retrieved Scottish swords were used by
Cumberland's forces, as the steel was better than in most English blades.
Subsequently, the Scottish basket hilt was cut away on one side in English
service; this has been the subject of debate by English & Scottish blade
enthusiasts with theories of fitting a sword loop to retain the blade in use
from horseback, et cetera. The new sword book reveals the reason... The Duke of
Cumberland (the Prince Regent) required officers and men saluting him (bringing
the upturned hilt to the lips) to have part of the basket hilt cut away, so that
this could be performed per the Drill Regulations. So simple when you know!
Lee-Enfield slings... a little longer (57-in. vs 46-in.)
SMG model for Sten, Thompson, Austen, Owen; more suitable for firing
hip, later issued for .303 Bren and 7.62mm L4A4. The same
applies to pull-throughs... about 30-in. long (vs 53-in. for rifles) with steel
weight is for SMGs. We observe different length steel and brass weights on Aussie SMG
Lithgow 'Heavy' rifles...
Rifles were sent in by
Military Districts for fitting with 'short heavy' barrels at S.A.F. from 1932.
Lithgow started making re-placement 30.2" barrels in the early 1920's for Rifle
Clubs and Military District rifle teams. The short heavy is a 30.2" brl. cut
down 5 inches. A '2 '27' dated barrel is likely a Lithgow MLE 30.2" cut down, MD
markings confirm it as a factory job and dates tally. I have factory files here
now, internal correspondence on Heavy barrels and production changes in
Letters and orders confirm 1932 as the Heavy barrel designation beginning,
but earlier barrels were cut down by 5" too. There are details on conversions to
25.2" of the MLE rifles using methods proposed by A.S. Taylor gunsmith of 80
Bathurst St., Sydney and by H.J. Motton of 482 Pitt St., Sydney. Sketches show
these to be types 1. & 2. as described and shown on page 395 of LES. Many such
rifles were turned in during WW2, hence the double dose.
Orders for Lithgow converted ‘H’ marksman rifles carried through until as
late as 1955 with the last batch of 100. Reason for the variety of British and
Lithgow Mk III SMLE’s converted to sniper HT’s is that turned in ‘H’ target
rifles were the prime source for sniper conversions, generally with no back
sight as competition sights were used; Central, Mues, Motty, Rawson, Taylor,
Austral, &c. When there were none on hand, new rifles were selected from store,
so early 1940's Lithgows was included near the end.
shooting fraternity preferred early Lithgow actions as until 1916, the
tolerances for bolt-way and bolt diameters were done at maximum bolt and minimum
bolt-way clearances, making for a tight fit, and better accuracy. 1916 telexes
from Egypt reported rifle bolts seizing from sand and grit, so tolerances were
altered to the minimum bolt and maximum bolt-way tolerances, making more for
clearance in early in 1916. And not as accurate!
S.M.L.E. muzzle protectors have recently been the subject of an inquiry.
Internet chatroom references to the 'Flanders flap' muzzle covers relate to the
sheet steel cover with hinged flap and coil spring to retain the flap in the
closed or open positions.
Great war makers are listed as being J. Purdey & Sons, A.
Purdey, M. Myers & Son Ltd. and C. Brandauer & Co. Ltd. during 1915.
There is no doubt that orders continued during 1916-1918 with the distinct
possibility of other new suppliers as well.
Not all these muzzle protectors were the sheet steel type as
unit prices ranged from tuppence ha'penny (2.5 pence) for 10,000 from A. Purdey,
to 1/3d on 50,000 from J. Purdey & Sons, to 10/- on 100,000 from Brandauer
and 8/- each on 100,000 from Myers. It would seem that the Brandauer and Myers
manufactured protectors were 'Flanders flap' types while the less expensive
models from A. Purdey and J. Purdey & Sons were also different to each
At 2 and a half pennies each, the A. Purdey protectors were likely
canvas covers and Purdey & Son's offering at 1/3d would also have been quite
basic affairs. The sheet steel models have also been noted in brass. War
Office purchases were marked with the broad arrow upon acceptance along
with the contractor's name, initials or logo.
Facts & Figures...
Check out statistics at
www.nationmaster.com for an enlightening record.
Our 'Collector' #15 put some perspective on loss of life, battle
casualties, &c. But this site compares homicides, militarism, armed
forces, economies, tax & education in countries all around the world. Did you
know the USA ranks 3rd in Military Expenditure per capita behind Israel and
Singapore, with Australia at 14th, UK at 16th, Canada at 30th and New
Zealand at 39th with China at 79th? Or that for Murders per capita, South Africa
comes in 2nd behind Columbia, with the USA at only 24th. For murders with firearms,
South Africa is 1st, the United States at 8th, Canada at 20th, Australia at
27th, New Zealand at 31st and the UK at 32nd.
For longevity, the best is Andorra at 83.49 years, followed
by Macau, San Marino, Japan and Singapore with Australia 6th at 80.13 years.
Canada is 11th at 79.83 years, NZ 32nd at 78.32 years with
Britain 36th at 78.16 years, the USA 48th at 77.14 years. Africa is worst; South Africa 202nd at 46.56 years and Mozambique
last, 224th at only 31.3 years average life expectancy.
And most taxed? The Vatican City comes 1st by a long shot,
the Falklands 2nd, Sweden 7th, Gibraltar 12th, Belgium 13th, Germany 17th, Great
Britain 19th, NZ 24th, United States 27th, Canada 38th and Australia
42nd. For civil liberties, Canada comes in 4th behind Netherlands, Switzerland
and Sweden, then Australia rated 6th, NZ 7th and the US 8th with the United
Kingdom a poor 20th. Russia is 96th, Malaysia at 98th, China at 125th, Vietnam
at 128th, Laos at 130th and Burma at 135th with North Korea at 138th. Bottom of
the freedom list is Turkmenistan at 140th. So much for Socialist
'Democratic People's Republic' hogwash!
discovered at the S.A.F. Lithgow Museum...
The Australian machete bayonet was originally intended
for the new No.1 Mk III* H.T. sniper rifle! Probably as a tool
rather than to bayonet charging Japs with a sniper rifle.
Notes on conversation with Lieut. Pyke, 24th Nov. 1943...
Regarding the inquiry for 3,000 short heavy barrels for sniper rifle conversion.
A firm in Melbourne is making the mount to hold the telescope, Lithgow
will assemble them to the rifle. The M.G.O. is having Machetes made for use with
these rifles, they require pommel and crosspiece fittings assembled to them
similar to the operations on our present bayonet. To see
if this work can be performed by us, they are forwarding a sample Blade very
shortly. We are to then see whether we can assemble the Pommel and modified
Crosspiece and finish machine similar to the Bayonet. We will need to supply wooden grips, screws and nuts for securing
same to Machete'.
Early machete bayonets were profiled on Bren equipment at
Lithgow; bayonet production was at Orange by this stage. The run of
Machete bayonets, approved in April 1944 for Airborne troops and re-designated
Bayonet 'Parachutist' in 1946, was probably at Orange. Many were destroyed
although some sold surplus in the 1960's. A.I.A. had produced a new model as
Herb Woodend passed away at the QE2 Hospital
in Welwyn Garden City, Herts. on 29th July 2003, finally succumbing to cancer, worsened
during initial 'National Health' operations in England. Herb later went to the Anderson
Clinic in Houston, Texas for more successful treatment. His funeral was 13th August at Enfield
We have also suffered the losses from our ranks of J. Anthony Carter, Ian
Hogg and Peter Labbett in England. These gentlemen added significantly to our record of
military arms, Herb Woodend M.B.E. as Curator of the M.O.D. Pattern Room and
confidant to so many authors and researchers, Tony Carter as a British and German bayonet specialist and
publisher, Ian Hogg as an author for his many books on British service
firearms, ammunition, artillery and armoured vehicles and Peter Labbett
published detailed work on British service ammunition. Then not long afterwards,
Glenn De Ruiter, a well-known resident expert at Sarco in Stirling, New Jersey,
was killed in an accident at the range at Easton Fish & Game in Pennsylvania
shooting a 6mm Lee straight-pull. Valmore Forgett II of Navy
Arms finally succumbed to a rare cancerous blood disease. These friends are sorely missed... unfortunately
fewer younger enthusiasts take their places today.
Mick Smith of Smiths Sports
Store in George St. Sydney, along with Mike Long of Trident Arms in Nottingham,
England, have both passed on.
too, died in late 2006.
Cartridge Charger Clips have devoted collectors. .303
clips went through a number of marks (illust. List of Changes) made in Britain, Australia, Canada, South
Africa and non-Commonwealth countries that made the .303 round. The
steel chargers (not to be confused with the Americanised 'clips' as used
for 'magazines') have makers marks indicating origin, generally initials or codes.
This list of British Great War contractors should help to
realise a few more...
Bulpitt & Son, W.W. Greener, Kynoch Ltd., C. Mitchell, King's Norton, Perry
& Co., M. Myers & Sons Ltd., W. Mitchell (pens) Ltd., Gramophone Co.
Ltd., J. Mitchell, Brandauer & Co. Ltd., British Stamped Metal Ceiling Co.,
Perry & Co. Ltd., S. Thomas & Sons Ltd., Cook & Co., Baker &
Finnemore Ltd., Rudge Whitworth Ltd., Bibb Edwards & Sons, H.W. Taylor,
Parkinson & W.B. Cowan Ltd., Crane's Screw & Colgryp Castor Co. Ltd.,
Hancock & Corfield Ltd., H & T Vaughan.
Contract prices per 100 are listed at around 4/- (shillings) or L2 (pounds) per
1,000 so it is considered that all the above were for .303 cartridge
Kynoch made 6.5 Jap rounds and likely their clips too
(brass?). Arisaka rifles were acquired from Japan and mostly issued to Naval and
reserve forces. Great War contracts list 16 million 6.5mm rounds acquired from
the Japanese government in 1915 'with clip' and 1,315,000 of 7.9mm cartridges
from C. Osborne & Co. (likely an importer) in June of 1915.
S.M.L.E. oil bottles have dedicated collectors and researchers too.
Great War makers were: Gabriel & Co., Vickers Ltd., Nobel's
Explosive Co. Ltd., Lightwood & Son Ltd., Thomas Bland & Sons, J. &
J. Bent, King's Norton Metal Co., E. Showell & Sons, May & Padmore, H.
Jenkins & Sons Ltd., Marris's Ltd., S. Heath & Sons Ltd., M. Halliday
& Co. and W.H. Briscoe & Co. Ltd. Those specified as Mk IV oil bottle
contract suppliers were listed
as: W.H. Briscoe & Co. Ltd., Henry Jenkins & Sons Ltd., and J. & J.
Bent again, as well as Nicole, Nielsen & Co. Ltd., Harcourts Ltd., Sperryn
& Co. Ltd., and S. Hall & Sons Ltd.
A great site by Kevin Adams of N.Z., on 7.62 x 51mm
NATO stripper clips, chargers, &c. Check out Kevin's pages at http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~kevin_a/
And maybe Kevin will venture into 7.62mm ammo in the near future too.
computer lists from National Archives of Australia... a database of almost one
million Australian servicemen garnered from hundreds of thousands of ageing
paper records: www.ww2roll.gov.au
Records can also be printed out from WW2 Nominal Roll.
Southern Africa Arms and
Ammunition Collectors Association, (Johannesburg, South Africa) has
started a Web Page recording all currently known and possible South Africa and
other African, Manufacturer, Ownership, Unit and Proof markings generally found
on military equipment of all periods. It would be greatly appreciated if readers would
visit the Page at; http://www.saaaca.org.za/links/markings.htm and
see if they could perhaps help identify any of the markings shown or
perhaps contribute new markings not recorded. Thanks in anticipation ... Chris D Baragwanath
Boys, Asst. Supt. Design, RSAF Enfield, is best remembered as designer of
the .55" Boys Anti-Tank Rifle, first known as the Staunchion
Gun. Nomenclature was changed in recognition of his contribution.
He was also involved in .380 Enfield No.2 revolver design just
before the war and a sub-calibre version planned as the .22 No.3
Revolver. Only samples were produced of the rim-fire trainer although
the .380 No.2 pistol went on to be manufactured in Mark I, I* & I** variants
at Enfield and Albion Motors in Britain. And Howard Auto Cultivators in Sydney
which was then taken over by Hastings Deering at the very end. Only 355 Australian pistols were made so if you
come across a .380 No.2 revolver with HAC marked on the frame, it is very
desirable Aussie military and manufacturing history.
Left-hand action Lee-Enfields? Mostly where an editor
has the photo
back to front! But a few were converted by field armourers, in Anzac service at least. Not
a factory left-hand action, but a
converted bolt with handle cut off and replaced in a left hand position
(on top at 90 degrees). One was spotted in the ABC's 'Fortress
Australia, True Stories' series, c.20 minutes into the wartime film.
The .303 cartridge is becoming more popular as many collectors shoot
their Lee-Enfields. 'Textbook of
Small Arms - 1929' contains a sizeable section on .303 ammunition
manufacture, ballistics and theory. The Mark VII ball round has a 174 grain
With a muzzle velocity of 2,440 feet per second, the
length of time for it to 'arrive' is...
100 yards .2 second
c. 2,200 fps. velocity
600 yards 1.0 second
1,000 yards 2.1 seconds
1,300 yards 3.1
seconds 880 fps. velocity maximum range on No.4 sight
1,750 yards 5.1
close enough to one mile
2,000 yards 6.4
seconds 600 fps. velocity maximum range on SMLE leaf sight
2,600 yards 10.8 seconds
maximum range on volley dial sight
2,800 yards 12.8
seconds 340 fps.
velocity maximum range on volley dial sight
3,000 yards 15.1
seconds 300 fps. velocity
that is nearly 2 miles away!
The 'crack - thump' method was used to gauge the
distance from which one was being fired upon. When you heard the 'crack' of the
bullet passing by, upon burrowing into the turf or desert sand, one started
counting the seconds until the 'thump' or rifle muzzle report was heard, giving
a reasonable estimate of just how far away the firer was.
Original service finish on Lee-Enfield rifles... 'browning'. Armourer's Instructions for the browning mixture for 50 rifles
Rain or soft
water ... 12
3.5 oz. Spirits of
Spirits of nitre ...
For the first coat only, take 2 oz. of the mixture and add .25 oz. of nitric
The above-mentioned ingredients will be mixed by the armourer in the order
shown, directly they are received. They must not be kept in separate bottles as
danger from fire is likely to arise from nitric acid if spilt before
being mixed with the other ingredients.
Process: 1st day... Boil components in strong soda water for half-hour,
(1.5 lb. of soda to one gallon of water) to remove the grease. Wipe down with
clean wet cloths to remove soda (inside of barrels to be wiped out with rod and
wet jute). When barrels and components are cold, coat with the mixture, rubbing
the first coat well in. Stand in a dry place for 3 to 4 hours, then again coat
with the mixture, and stand in the drying room for the night.
2nd day... Boil components in clean water for 20 minutes and, when cold,
scratch off. Coat cold with the mixture and stand them in a dry place for 3 to 4
hours. Then again coat cold and stand them in the drying room for the night.
3rd day... Repeat as for the 2nd day.
4th day... Boil in clean water for 20 minutes. When cold, scratch
off and oil.
This 4 day process is obviously more permanent than modern 'cold blue' or painted
'Instructions for Armourers - 1931'.
tip from Brian Labudda for getting rid of surplus
store oil and grease on old bayonets & scabbards and other
surplus stores. Using solvents and modern-day commercial cleaners is
likely to damage leather and wood finish. Realize that
Great War items are now approaching 100 years of age, so extra care is
warranted. Leather and wood does
not have the longevity of metal.
A short-term remedy costs nothing! Wait
for a hot and sunny day, then lay out the scabbards or rifle parts in the sun,
or on a
bare cement or stone gravel area. Spread out some old newspapers to absorb oil and
the grease that leeches out
from leather too. You'll be surprised at how effective nature can be, with no damage to the surface, the wood or leather parts or their
One day is sufficient. We
acquired a bundle of
greasy Patt. 1907 scabbards on which markings were not visible, only a few
teardrop or small frog studs seen on lockets peeking out from globs of black
surplus grease. Hours in the sun revealed a few prizes and leathers
came up sharp and crisp, leaving enough oil for long term preservation and
condition so much more desirable.
Old leather had a Shellac finish which also stiffened
the leather. You don't want to remove this. Chemical treatments (especially
gasoline or spirit based) will likely render your scabbards limp and discoloured.
the go! For old or deteriorating leather, saddle soap is
reasonable for cleaning but commercial leather dressings are the best, from saddle
or equestrian shops. Not only leather scabbards, but this also applies to frogs
and leather carrying equipment. If the solution is too strong, stitching may rot, so
make inquiries first of other collectors. 'Boot goo' beeswax finish is great,
likely marketed under different names in different places.
BUT A WARNING... Neatsfoot Oil will darken leather
and rot stitching.
This old-time treatment is not advisable, leather is not easy to restore. While
stitching can be replaced with new waxed thread, cracked, chipped or damaged leather
is not readily restored.
over fifty years now since the huge wartime production
finished. This period has seen the passing
of most employees of the great ordnance factories; it is interesting how many
'lunchbox' guns and other firearms and weapons have come onto the market over
the past decade from 'house clearances' and relatives finding items tucked
Some interesting rifles have surfaced which
are now being touted as factory prototypes and experimental models. However,
many of these are best described as having been assembled from available parts
as a 'no-cost' hunting rifle. Such an example is a Long Branch No.4 lightweight
fitted with Lyman Alaskan telescopic sight, assembled from parts misappropriated
from the factory toolroom. And some .303 No.4 Savage rifles fitted with heavy
barrels and scope mounts, ex-Chicopee Falls employees.
Factory toolroom, test and prototype rifles almost
inevitably have numbers, markings and indicators from their work and test
record. On occasions, paperwork is available which helps to authenticate pieces but in many cases, the 'rare factory prototype' is really a management
or worker's personal freebie lunchbox gun. Why 'lunchbox'?
Because that's how most components were smuggled out through factory
of firearms is a distinct advantage for serious bayonet collectors as well as
relevant ammunition and webbing or load carrying equipment collectors.
And vice versa. The fields are closely related and knowledge of
the firearm muzzle, sword bar form & position helps a bayonet
collector determine what the bayonet was made to fit. And thus, what it
An good example of applies to socket bayonets. For
nearly two centuries, there was such an array of different socket bayonets that
they can all look so much the same. Starting with manufacture, proof, inspection
or issue marks to help ascertain the national origin of the item, one then needs
to work out what it fixed onto, to know what it actually is. With flint and percussion arms, the form of the
foresight is relative to the dimensions (two different channel widths) of the zig-zag slot as well as the shape of the loop at the muzzle end of the slot. The
length of the socket is also relative to the position of the end of the fore-end
and the firearm muzzle, because the socket end likely fitted flush with the
barrel muzzle. If there was some form of catch on the musket or rifle, there
would be a corresponding notch or catch on the socket bayonet rim. Some
scabbards had provision for retaining catches too.
Which all goes to make collecting of otherwise
boring old socket bayonets so fascinating. AND the knowledge of what it really
is makes for great finds at guns shows or antique shops, especially at
peanut prices. Knowledge of magazines, scabbard fittings,
accessories, &c. will likely determine what that odd piece of webbing or
leather equipment was for, for load carrying equipment and uniform buffs or
scroungers looking for bargains.
Correct nomenclature of British and Empire service firearms and edged
weapons is taking higher ground as they become more popular with US collectors
now. While we are witnessing less general Americanization of some terms (e.g. 'armory'
instead of 'small arms factory' or 'Royal Ordnance Factory' and 'Pattern 1917'
or P17 rather than the correct 'Model 1917' of M17), we still note widespread reference to
.577/450 instead of .450 M-H, 297/230 instead of .230CF (commercial rather than
the service nomenclature) and Schneider instead of Snider, as well as confusion
over Lee-Enfield rifles Mark and No. designations.
My pet peeve is when the typical commercial American
'type' or 'model' is improperly applied to British military service production.
For example— recent US booklets describing Lee-Enfield contractor production
alternatives as being 1st pattern, 2nd pattern, 3rd pattern or model, &c.
This wrongly infers a chronological or manufacturing procedure progression.
Differences were only production concessions and alternatives by different
makers. Most variations were concurrent production so cannot be '1st pattern',
'1st type', '2nd model', &c. Rather the 'Singer' or 'Lines Bros.' model or a
'waisted', 'hinged' or 'fabricated' definition. An appellant '1st type', '2nd
model' author's perception is rarely in any true chronological order anyway.
Fazakerley and BSA Shirley (M47C) No.4 rifles are
usually found with fewer alterative production parts as both these factories
manufactured all the No.4 parts at the time. Maltby ROF however was locally
referred to as 'The Tower' as they assembled rifles using components from the
sub-contractors. So alternative production parts are more often encountered on
Maltby rifles as well as certain other arms refitted by armourers. FTR (Factory
Thorough Repair) programs usually replaced such parts with better made
Fazakerley components; generally effected at ROF Fazakerley.