Longarms: military or civilian Lee Metford Mk1?

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Longarms: military or civilian Lee Metford Mk1?

Postby glabrum » 13 Dec 2010 21:27

Hi.
I recently bought a deactivated rifle in London and I'm trying to identify it. It seems to be a Lee Metford Mk1* , made as a commercial sporting or target rifle by The London Small Arms Company Ltd. It is in .22 calibre with a solid barrel made by A G Parker, Birmingham. The barrel length is 25 inches and the stock is cut down about 2 inches in front of the finger grooves, with the hole for the clearing rod filled in. The buttsocket just has L.S.A.Co.Ld 1. on it and the butt has London Small Arms Company Limited, Old Ford London, printed? in an oval. There don't seem to be any military markings on it, just the serial number and the proof marks. There is an ordnance mark ? with the letters EH, under a sort of crown on the receiver, this mark is also on the underside of the barrel, but with an R underneath the EH. The receiver is numbered A1729336 and the bolt handle also has 9336 stamped on it. The bolt has a dust cover with three screws holding it in place and there is no safety catch fitted. The barrel has A G Parker Birmingham on the knox form and 22 L on the side. Inside the handguard is an what looks like an E with a sort of floral pattern. The front sight blade is missing, as is the eight round magazine. It has a BSA target aperture rear sight from around 1909 fitted. The condition of the rifle is very good indeed, with no pitting on the blued metalwork and the wood has hardly any dings. Such a shame that it's been deactivated.
If anyone knows what this rifle is, your knowledge would be much appreciated.
Here are some photos:
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg
http://i1142.photobucket.com/albums/n60 ... -12-10.jpg

Thanks.
Roger (glabrum)
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Re: I need help identifying a Lee Metford Mk1*

Postby QSVC » 14 Dec 2010 23:06

Hello, its a nice one no doubt about it........Can I suggest this site?

http://www.rifleman.org.uk/index.htm

They have a huge amount of information on these type of pieces, accessories, sights, etc. I'd be thinking that its a conversion from around 1900 - 1910 aimed at the minature rifle clubs market but thats close to an educated guess more than anything.

Good luck with your search for info.

Robert
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Re: I need help identifying a Lee Metford Mk1*

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 15 Dec 2010 03:15

Hello Robert and everybody.
It looks like you have a .22 caliber rifle made for civilian trade. It is made from the same components as the military Mk I, or Mk I*. It is greatly modified from what a 'real' Mk I trainer should look like though.
The Mk I Short rifle trainer was introduced in 1907 and was converted from Lee Metfords. The barrels were 25.2 inches or 640 mm. The barrel was a .303 barrel 'sleeved' down to .22 inch. The sleeving was done by A.G. Parker. All trainers were sleeved untill the .22 Short Rifle Mk IV approved in 1921. You stated that the barrel is solid and so it looks from the muzzle photo. The muzzle is not crowned. I have a small Martini gun in .310 and it is not crowned but the barrel may have been 'dressed' a bit to remove rust pits from thr muzzle crown.
The stock you have is a Mk I stock as told by the dimple just below the bolt on the right side of the stock and by the finger grooves on the wood below the barrel. The original trainer had wood going to almost the barrel muzzle. Your forestock has been cut down 'sporter' style and that was never done on the Military trainers. The trainers all had the dust cover removed. Yours still has it. The early trainers all had Mark designations and year of manufacture and caliber and place of manufacture on the right sice of the butt socket. Yours does not. It has L.S.A. (etc.) on it. The marking on the stock is no military marking I have ever seen. The wording and style seem post 1920. The sights are civilian both front and rear. The Mk I trainers did not have a saftey, and neither does yours. The marks on the metal and the 'E' on the underside of the upper hand guard may designate Enfield but the inspectors marks are not military. I see no military proof marks.
It appears you called the shots right in your post...it is a civilian sporter, and not a military gun though the parts started out military. The next thing to do is to find out about the L.S.A. commercial arms produced and figure out if everything is correct. That is beyond my knowlege as I only know military guns.
That is one very pretty gun.

See;
"The Lee-Enfield Story"-Ian Skennerton
"The British Broad Arrow"-Ian D. Skennerton
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Re: I need help identifying a Lee Metford Mk1*

Postby glabrum » 20 Dec 2010 02:31

Hi.
Thanks to Robert and Ed for your suggestions.
Unfortunately, the London Small Arms Company closed down in 1935 and there isn't much information about their products.
BSA,however, seem to have lots of catalogues and I've tried to use them as a comparison.
I'm guessing here...I think that the rifle was manufactured from new military parts as a sporter, for the budget end of the civilian market. I have seen a photo of another L.S.A. made rifle with similar markings on it, but obviously a more expensive model, with a figured walnut stock complete with pistol grip and chequering. It looked very similar to a Lee Speed in fact.
I have been trying to find out what the letters E H stand for, but I can't seem to find any mention of them. The rifle could have been made at any time between 1889 and 1910. The BSA aperture sights were manufactured from 1909 according to the catalogues. I don't know if the rifle was fitted with them at a later date, or not.
I don't know if it has any collectable value, as it never saw any battles. But it might have won a few prizes on the target range.
Thanks again for your ideas.
Roger
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Re: Longarms: military or civilian Lee Metford Mk1?

Postby englishman_ca » 01 Apr 2017 02:54

I saw this posting some years ago and occasionally find it again with my searching the internet for information on Lee Metfords.

Some years have passed and I have tackled a number of Mk.I restorations back to full military spec. I also have a pet project of a Sht.22 Mk.I trainer. The parent of this sporter.

I can tell that this rifle started out life as a commercial version of the military Mk.I service rifle in 303. The rifle was marked with the additional 'serial number' and EH factory inspector mark, with an entry into a factory register that denoted that the rifle was inspected and certified to meet military specs, to allow it to be used in service rifle competition. The original 303 barrel would have been similarly marked. The fee for such an inspection and marking cost one shilling and sixpence.

At some time, the rifle was converted to 22 rim fire by the fitting of a new barrel. The original woodwork would have been bobbed and the (sans bayonet bar) refitted. The official conversion included the removal of the dust cover on the bolt and a Deeley type of bolthead fitted into a modified bolt. The subject rifle still has the original bolt configuration, which tells me that this one was not converted by a military armourer. This seems correct, as this is not a military rifle. But it could have been converted for a rifle club for marksmanship practice. The aftermarket sight is designed for range work.

Then, somebody sporterised it from the trainer configuration.

Image
The form in which the rifle originally began.

Image
This is the military trainer version.

So yes, it is a shame that it is now deactivated. It would have been an accurate and fun little rifle to shoot.
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Re: Longarms: military or civilian Lee Metford Mk1?

Postby AlanD » 02 Apr 2017 08:34

It looks to be a commercial Lee Metford Mk 1 that has at some time been 'sporterised' and converted to .22 by Parker Hale, possibly they converted it to the cut down rifle we see now.

All commercial LSA Co rifles are scarce, especially Lee Metfords.

Regards

Alan David
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