Monday, April 4, 2011
Personal Critical Review of Firearms - SMLE Lee-Enfield rifles
Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle
I am going to talk only at a general level, I don't want to go into the SMLE variants there are too many.
Personal - Ugly, sorry but I think this rifle is about the ugliest bolt action rifle ever designed. I dislike the cock on closing bolt. I have owned or fired several of the many versions, I liked the Indian .308 version the best (Ishapore .308 rifles were cheep as dirt a few years ago) I also found it to be the most accurate of any I have shot. I dislike rimmed cartridges and unlike the 7.62r used in the Mosin-Nagant the .303 is a bit anemic for the size.
Function - it's a bolt action, as long as the ammo does not damage the gun, everything is in safe working order, and the feeding is unimpaired the user is all that is needed. Like the Mauser, 1903A3, and Mosin-Nagant they can be dependable and accurate if in good condition and well made.
Design flaws - Rear locking requires good metallurgy in the bolt, a poorly made bolt of inferior metals can be unsafe to fire.
Quality - depending on the maker quality is all over the map, many of the third world copies are poorly made and older service rifles can be damaged or poorly maintained.
Caliber/Ammunition - .303 is an obsolete rimmed round and surplus ammunition can be of questionable quality. The .303 is a serviceable cartridge for hunting and defense capable of good accuracy, because of its primitive design it can be used well with cast lead, paper patched bullets and black powder.
Use - again this is a bolt action, a trained monkey could operate this rifle, poorly made or maintained rifles can be nominal in accuracy and many in good working order are extremely accurate.
Current Production - This is an obsolete rifle, but the numbers of former production are huge, literally tons of rifles exist, there are two obscure small manufacturers that produce new models one makes a version that uses AK mags and fires the 7.62x39 round (they may have stopped production) and one company that makes a new .308 version.
I would consider this rifle a good possible trade item and a "throw down" for arming friendlies, not even a secondary choice for MBR, without a doubt I would consider the SVT40, M1, FN49 or even the SKS a better secondary choice.