Trying to do a little bit of research on a Lee Enfield rifle I purchased years ago at a gun show. When I left active duty military service I thought it would be neat to begin a collection of the "go to" infantry rifles from various conflicts. My collection started with the rifle listed here, a 1917 Lee Enfield Short Mk III* (but then partially converted back to a III). It is chambered for the British .303 cartridge, the action is the smoothest of just about any bolt action rifle I have used. The rifle is very accurate and packs a bit of a recoil, a formative infantry rifle for sure.
I would love to know a bit more about the various markings on this rifle, especially the ones that might indicate if this rifle has been issued to units that actually might have seen action during WWI (or WWII). If anyone has knowledge about the potential military history of this rifle after seeing some of the markings, please let me know.
So, here is what I have gathered so far:
Make: Lee-Enfield, Year: 1917, Model: SHT Mk III* (but partially converted back), Sn: 24183, Receiver: SSA
And immediately it gets fuzzy. I believe there was an asterisk symbol after the III which has been struck through. From what I gather, this means that this rifle was converted back to an MK3 in some regard. Mine does not have the magazine cut-off, but it does have the volley sight.
The receiver is stamped SSA (Standard Small Arms), with additional markings stamped above the SSA that I can't decipher (I suppose these were added when it was refurbished)? I did find some decent information that Alan referenced here: further detail on Standard Small Arms
Opposite the SSA there are these markings:
The left wristband marking indicates RIF 1924, which I assume to indicate some sort of "factory refurbish" activity? Refurbished where? What parts in particular? This of course could indicate that this rifle did see some action during WWI, and required to be refurbished!
Despite the refurbish, it appears that most parts with stamped SN's remain with this rifle. The only non-matching Serial Number I see is on the nosecap. Of course the existing Serial Numbers are not without issue, case in point on the image below, the "4" in 24183 appears to have been struck over.
Also, the word "England" may have an "S" stamped over the "L". This is interesting, as the rear volley leaf sight also appears to have an "S" above the Serial Number as you will see in a a few images below this one.
The bolt appears to be marked 24183 as well.
Lifting the rear sight leaf also reveals an "S" with 24183 below it (with an additional number of: 8945 with a "B" above it, but with the letter and numbers having been struck out).
Still looking at the underside of the Volley Sight, there also is this stamp, which I believe reads: EFD 9L with the broad arrow above it
On the right side of the rear sight assembly, I found the following marks:
On the nosecap I can see this Serial Number: 39818
The front sight bears this:
Since there were so many markings partially obscured by the furniture, I decided to disassemble the rifle which provided me with an almost obscene amount of additional Inspector and proof? marks on the barrel.
I would love to know what 14D35 means in the image below. Almost as if this was another Serial Number? This is getting confusing ...
Would love to know what the "* N" and the '17 mean in the shot below.
So this picture below has me scratching my head: Is that not the Ishapore marking of ERI (with a poorly struck "E")? I suppose this would explain the import mark of "England", when the rifle came back to England?
The following image contains so much data: On the left, the Import mark "England", struck through with the letter "S" that the Serial Number below has been renegated to be sold in the commercial market. To the right of the #3, (NP). In the right portion of the image, we again see the "S" above the 24183 Serial Number, but in between we see the .303, which indicates that the rifle fired a .303 projectile, the case max overall length was 2.22 in inch’s and it was pressure tested to 18.5 tons. The NP stood for Nitro Proof, we see the London Proof House Nitro Proof mark, meaning it was tested and passed Nitro proofing. (Whatever THAT means). I'm not sure on the Crown with the A6 RE below it.
The Letter "Z" in the receiver, close to the magazine
Several markings on the bolt:
Of course, the more I look at the bolt markings, now i also see a faint 'W" and then perhaps some symbols to the right of the #3
And then there are these additional markings:
I have no clue as to what that stamp means ....
According to Stratton, "H.V." stands for high velocity, a mark stamped on rifles that had had the rear sight altered for the Mark VII bullet with its faster 174 grain bullet. The "S.C." stands for small cone: the forcing cone was lengthened 0.02 inches at the same time to improve accuracy. Stratton terms these stampings the second variation, found on later Mark III and Mark III* rifles. Any help would be appreciated!
I found the following websites especially useful, this one being poss. the best: All About Enfields
My rifle bears the SSA markings which apparently make it a bit rare. More on the "Peddle Scheme"
Decent references to various markings: Another reference link for various markings
More Info on a SSA Peddle Scheme rifle: SSA 1918 SHTLE
Decent link with more good information: Check out for further reference
All about Serial Numbers: Serial Number reference