Bill’s “Smelly”

S. M. L. E., actually.  Short Magazine, Lee-Enfield, Number 1 Mark III, to be precise.  With the Pattern of 1903 sword-bayonet.    It is the rifle, and not the magazine, by the way, that makes the weapon “short”, being some 4.5″ shorter than the Magazine, Lee-Enfield, Mark I, which it replaced in service starting in 1907.






This is the rifle Bill asked me to have a look at and clean up a bit.  For which he was most generous and grateful.   She was pretty humble when brought to me, caked with rust, dirt, and residue in the crannies of long-ago applied cosmoline.  The stock, while beautifully showing years of oiling, cleaning, and handling (in a good way), had major damage on the fore-end portion.  Got the new piece in from Numrich last night, and with a little bit of fitting (a SHARP chisel beats all) got her back together and ready for use.  As soon as I figured out how to properly re-assemble the safety latch, thanks to some online help!  Some oiling of the untreated wood of the new stock followed.  I used almond oil, of all things.  It is used on guitar necks and is thin enough to soak into the wood and not leave a greasy surface to handle.  Three coats, and that stock fore-end looked like it had been on there for decades.

She is a wonderfully balanced piece, with a pivoting V-cut rear sight and a barleycorn front sight.  The distinctive snout (nosecap, technically) took considerable work to get passable.  And there is still some that should be done.  CLP will help dissolve some of the oxidation, and a brass chamber brush will help.   The bayonet, while rusty, was razor-sharp, and in perfect condition.  A good soaking in solvent, and then CLP, did the trick.

The first photo is the rifle itself.  The second shows the bolt, bolt handle, action, and guide bridge.   One of the business end, muzzle and nosecap, and one of the business end with the sword-bayonet attached.  The last shot is Bill’s Great War veteran with my No 4 Mk I from the Second World War above it.  Mine was made in Canada and was much more of a cleanup project than Bill’s.   I paid $15 for it at Rose’s Department Store on Lejeune Boulevard in Jacksonville NC.  It was so rusty I had to use a rubber mallet to get the bolt open.  But once cleaned up, has been an incredibly enjoyable (and accurate!) shooter.

Now that I have had a chance to work with Bill’s wonderful rifle, I will be seeking one of my own.  Need it?  Nope.  Want it.   A smooth and handy rifle, and a piece of history to be sure.

15 thoughts on “Bill’s “Smelly””

  1. What is the disk on the butt, just above the swivel for? A firing pin tool, like on a KAR 98K?

    1. Scott, the brass disc is called a marking disc, it provided a place to permanently stamp information about the unit the rifle had been issued to. The disc may also be steel, as brass was in short supply in wartime. When a rifle was sent back to the armoury for repair a new blank disc would be fitted and the rifle returned to the supply depot ready for re-issue.

      Many mausers had such a disc too.

      Go here for parts diagrams

  2. Jeeze, I need to send you my Israeli Kar98k … it’s one of the ones came out of Guatemala in the 90’s, and it definitely looks like it lived in the jungle for a while.

    1. Hm. You have your C&R license? If you do, I might actually consider doing that. Of course, I can’t afford the sort of recompense that Bill offered … a nice bottle of single malt or something might have to do. 🙂

  3. Looking into the C&R license. Gotten busy, but should look again when I can come up for air.

    1. It’s on my list of things to get as well, although I think it’ll be worthless in CA pretty soon – they’re doing full long gun registration starting in 2014, so even C&R’s will have to go through an FFL and get paper like any pistol does currently.

      Time to get my mill and lathe set up finally …

    1. Trevor,

      I am sure you can find a “new” barrel, but unless you are a smith who can properly set headspace, buying one and getting it fitted will cost more than another Mosin. My suggestion, unfortunately, is to find another one and use the original for spares.

  4. The English used them in the Boer War while the Boer’s used 7 mm which entreated the British to consider converting to the 7 mm but WWI broke out and the Brits kept the .303. Reputedly the action on the bolt of a “Smelly” is quite fast as well as the fact that the “Smelly” held more rounds in its magazine than the “03” Springfield, or the German Mauser equivalent. Great weapon.

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