It may be the ugly duckling of military firearms, but the Lee–Enfield series of bolt action rifles served the British Empire from the closing years of the 19th century, almost to the 21st. And while troops might have referred to the rifle as “Smelly,” a spin on its SMLE designation, it was always said with affection.
The Lee-Enfield dates back to an earlier rifle designed by American inventor, James Paris Lee for black powder. But when smokeless cordite died replaced black powder, the higher-pressure cartridges quickly wore off the shallow rifling of the black powder guns. The replacement barrels featured new rifling designed by the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield, hence the Lee–Enfield was born.
The Lee-Enfield’s baptism of fire came in the Boer War in Africa starting in 1899, and it didn’t go well. The Lee-Enfield’s inferior sites and slower loading system put the English at a huge disadvantage to the Boers’ deadly long-range accuracy and high rate of fire from their Mausers. It was a problem that British engineers quickly remedied.
By the beginning of the Great War, British Tommies were trained to fire as many as 30 rounds a minute from their SMLE Mk IIIs, both individually, and in …Read the Rest
Source:: Guns and Ammo