(Mfg by RSAF Enfield)
(Click PIC to Enlarge)
Rifling & Twist: .............. 5 Groove, Enfield, Left Hand Twist
Barrel Length: ............... 25.2 in (640 mm)
Overall Length: ............. 44.5 in (1130 mm)
Weight: ........................ 8.6 lb. (3.9 kg) (unloaded)
Magazine Capacity: ....... 10 rounds (magazine loaded)
Qty Mfg: ....................... 20,000 (1922-1924)
Source: ........................ The Lee-Enfield Story by Ian Skennerton (1993) - ISBN: 185367138X
Canadian Market Value Estimate: $
1924 ShtLE (Short Lee-Enfield) No.1 MkV Rifle
(117 picture virtual tour)
Observations: by Claven2
Note: Pictures provided courtesy of MILSURPS.COM member ~Angel~
The success of the SMLE throughout the Great War effectively shelved British plans to adopt the Pattern 1913 and Pattern 1914 series rifles with Mauser-like receivers. The Pattern 1914's use in the later half of the First World War, however, had shown the merits of a rear mounted aperture sight on a turn-bolt battle rifle. Rapid sight acquisition and improved accuracy due to a longer sight radius did not go unnoticed in the field.
The years immediately following cessation of hostilities saw a great downsizing in the stores of military materiel from the arsenals of the larger belligerents while the poorer nations of the world took advantage of this opportunity to bolster their war reserves. Despite the vast decrease in emphasis on small arms stockpiles in the United Kingdom, work nevertheless continued unabated at RSAF Enfield on research and development while the King's engineers looked to apply the lessons learned from the conflict in forthcoming arms development.
The Enfield action, being well liked by the Commonwealth troops and having proven itself as arguably the best battle rifle of the war, was retained as a basis for new design innovations. One of those proposed changes would become the centerpiece of a new rifle, the Sht.LE MkV, or No.1MkV Lee Enfield. Approved in 1922, the new rifle was essentially a No.1MkIII* Short Magazine Lee Enfield with a newly designed rear sight mounted behind the charger bridge, a longer one-piece hand-guard which completely encased the barrel and omitted the opening for the older tangent sight, and an additional stock band to better stabilize this newly designed woodwork.
The design held enough promise that production of 20,000 rifles was ordered for immediate field trials. Despite the obvious improvements, wide-scale production was not undertaken, and all production work was halted sometime in 1924. The commonwealth already had vast stores of No.1MkIII* rifles left over from the war and adoption of a new rifle would have been a heavy financial burden for a country already suffering from its war debt. Additionally, preliminary work was likely already beginning on what would eventually become the MkVI trials rifle and would evolve into the No.4 series Lee Enfield.
The MkV rifles already produced were issued throughout the 1920's, possibly the 1930's and were issued once again after the disaster at Dunkirk in WW2 created a pressing need for serviceable arms. Figures do not exist today, but it is plausible to assume a significant number of these rifles would have been lost to service wear and action in the second world war, making the MkV one of the rarest Lee Enfields to be mass produced which a collector is likely to encounter.
Collector's Comments and Feedback:
1. Skennerton lists the total number of MkV's manufactured as about 20,000 (1922-1924). According to some sources, 2,000 rifles were produced in 1923 (approximately ten percent of total production) with about 6,500 having 1922 dates. The balance were manufactured in 1924. .......... (Feedback by "Badger")
2. Below are a series of pics of a No. 1 Mk V Lee-Enfield Trials Rifle showing the evolution of this particular Enfield model. It is all matching, and apart from a row of dings on top of the buttstock, is in rather nice shape. The No. 1 Mk V Lee-Enfield Trials Rifle is usually on the top or right side of frame in the pics. The full length shot shows that apart from rear sight and receiver mods, the trials rifle is made from a standard 1915 Enfield No. I Mk III.
The photos show the obvious differences between the trials and production models, but something I found very interesting is the unique safety lever and rear volley sight arm on the trials rifle. Looking at picture #4, you will notice the safety lever is grooved across its whole surface, (not partially, as on a standard Mk V), and convex in profile, causing the rear volley sight arm to be formed around it to clear when in the upright position. In my admittedly, limited experience, I have yet to see these two items on any other rifle. ..... (Pictures of rifle and feedback article courtesy of Advisory Panel member "Terry Hawker")
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Photos show the only difference between the top rifle and a standard No I Mk III are the rear sight and receiver modifications.
With the removal of the standard rear sight a new rear handguard was fabricated, but the slot for the sight protector in the fore-end was left unplugged. Still entertaining retention of the volley sight, a new rear aperture arm had to be fabricated to clear the new, wider, safety catch locking bolt.
Early method of machining the trials receiver flat reveals the charger bridge lost a large slice of the left side. Bottom rear of both receivers shows heat discoloration from the brazing of the new rear sight assemblies, (not as evident to the naked eye). The trials rifle has commercial proofs on the barrel flat...wonder if it slipped in with a group of standard Mk V's?
Trials rifle sight marked to a greater range of 1500 yards, but different construction of aperture allows it to be indexed lower down, thus the entire yardage scale is engraved lower on the ladder. Trials rifle bears evidence of an inherent fault of the Mk V design...a weak rear sight prone to bending.
This, and previous photo, show the convex shape of the trials safety lever and the fabrication of a volley arm with curve in it to accommodate this extra width. At the top of the inside of the trials sight ladder is stamped the numeral, "5".
The more simple machining of the rear sight assembly of the trials rifle is evident.
This 1915 Enfield SMLE Mk III is the same year rifle as the one on page 168 of LES, and page 188 of "The Lee Enfield" and although Ian refers to several batches of these trials rifles being produced, there is no actual production figure mentioned. It is rare enough that the Pattern Room collection doesn't have one, so where did they all go?
3. I think there may be an error in one of the photos for the 1924 ShtLE No.1 Mk.V, which I'd like to bring to your attention. It appears that a cut-off for a No.1MkIII has been fitted to the pictured Mk.V. In the detailed photo montage of the 1924 ShtLE No.1 Mk.V displayed in this MKL entry, photo #48 (see pic) of the shell cut-off a “spotting hole” can be seen.
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A review of Skennerton’s The Lee Enfield (pg.472) states that the “spotting hole” was omitted from Mk.V production and an examination of my matching 1922 ShtLE No.1 Mk.V example (see pics below) seems to confirm this. I didn’t see a mention of this in the collector notes for the rifle so I am assuming that you were unaware of the spotting hole’s presence or I have in some way misinterpreted the information in Skennerton’s book. ..... (Feedback by "No4Mk1(T)")
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4. In reference to No4Mk1(T)'s comments, he is correct there should not be a hole in the cut off plate. However, I have a few of the ShtLE No.1 Mk.V cut off plates for my 1922, 1923 and 1924 dated rifles and here's an interesting new observation. I've now noticed that My 1922 and 1923 cut off plates do not have the hole (correct), however the 1924 does have one, in the same way the 1924 ShtLE No.1 Mk.V in this MKL entry does ??? The mystery deepens. ..... (Feedback by "Wheaty")