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Thread: SMLE AM-prefix N° 2 Mk IV* training rifle

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  1. #1
    Member Didier's Avatar
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    SMLE AM-prefix N° 2 Mk IV* training rifle


    From what I could read here and there, these N° 2 Mk IV* SMLEs with serial numbers beginning with the AM prefix are rather atypical, as far as N° 2 Mk IV* trainers go.


    The information I found was a bit confusing to me, as there seems to be no general consensus as to their ultimate origin - the AM prefix is supposed to stand for (British) Air Ministry but the rifles were sold by Ireland and imported into the USAicon in 1991. To make things worse, some of these rifles could have been converted by Parker-Hale from 1936 to 1945, whereas others were Irish SMLEs sent back to Englandicon in the early 1950s to be converted there by Parker-Hale. The original Air Ministry (= ex-RAF) trainers were sold to Ireland in the late 1940s but, nonetheless, some of these AM-prefix SMLE trainers were used by ATC units in England up to the 1980s or early 1990s, which still adds to my confusion !


    Mine was built on a 1916 BSA Mk III* SMLE (= N° 1 Mk III*). From what I could read and see on the Internet, most if not all of these AM-prefix trainers were typically built on BSA Mk III* rifles - is my assumption correct ?


    889 of these .22 cal. SMLE conversions are known to have been imported by Century Arms from Ireland into the US in 1991 - this one wasn't : it was imported to continental Europe by Hege (Germanyicon) and proofed at the Ulm proofhouse (antlers) in 1991 (KB year code). Worthy of interest is the fact that it was imported in the same year as the US AM-prefix SMLEs and falls into the same serial number range as Century Arms ones (lowest recorded : AM 544 ; highest recorded : AM 1534) - mine is # AM 680. I have spotted other "German" AM-prefix trainers : # AM 732 (built on a 1918 Mk III*) and AM 817 (built on a 1917 Mk III*). There is no telling how many of these trainers Hege imported in 1991, but I suppose one hundred would be a maximum, given the size of the European rifle market at that time.















    The handguard bears an SRG in a triangle marking, so I suppose it came from a Southern Rhodesia Government rifle.










    If the more knowledgeable members of the forum could help me decode the markings on the Nock's form, I would be very thankful indeed, as I haven't got the appropriate literature to decipher them.









    Last edited by Didier; 06-20-2018 at 11:21 AM.

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    Really Senior Member Frederick303's Avatar
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    That one was in Ireland, sent back to be converted to .22 cal, very late.

    neat find.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick303 View Post
    That one was in Ireland, sent back to be converted to .22 cal, very late.

    neat find.
    Thank you for your answer, Frederick.
    Could by any chance August of 1954 be the date of the conversion? If this is the case, I suppose that this trainer never saw "action" in the hands of ATC units. Was it used by the Irish military or is it a purely "commercial" conversion for private use in your opinion?

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    Really Senior Member Frederick303's Avatar
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    The evidence I have comes from an examination of the individual rifles examined in the 889 US import lot that was obtained from Ireland in 1991 by Century arms. That was how many Century arms got from Ireland in that lot, or so the evidence indicates.

    The serial range of the rifles ranges from AM 544 to AM 1534, or 990 serial range. The early rifles seem to have been ex RAF rifles that were sold to Ireland sometime around 1948, all converted by P-H before April of 1945. Around 1950/51 (the Birmingham proofs date marks spans middle of year to middle of year), a quantity of worn out SMLE Irish rifles were sent to Parker Hale for conversion. You see rifles with conversion proofs up to around 1953.

    The way you can tell they came out of Irish stocks is the old serial number of the Irish SMLE on the barrel knox, which was not overwritten. The action body had the old serial ground off and what would appear to be a continuing AM 3 digit or 4 digit serial number applied .


    Also you should see, it the rifle is in its original stock, a small FF mark in a circle on the underside of the stock, just foreword of the front action screw. It is a small mark and only appears on rifles that were sent back to the UKicon for a barrel conversion.

    if you are interested in how to know the old F18184 serial on the barrel is Irish, check out this thread on the topic, see post # 20

    Fritz's FF marked Enfield sticky

    So the likely history of your rifle is:

    1916 Made at BSA
    1921 to 1923 remarked at Enfield lock, sent to Ireland as part of the 27,400 SMLE rifles supplied to the free state.
    sometime in 195, sent over to PH for conversion to .22 configuration.

    Now when it was sold out of service, well it does not have the typical Century import mark seen on these rifles in the US, so if it was part of the 1991 export lot or the Irish separately sold 100 of the rifles to a European vendor, well no idea.

    Hopes that helps. Your rifle is now in the Irish .22 conversion data base, which as 61 rifles in the range from AM544 to AM 1534

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick303 View Post
    The evidence I have comes from an examination of the individual rifles examined in the 889 US import lot that was obtained from Ireland in 1991 by Century arms. That was how many Century arms got from Ireland in that lot, or so the evidence indicates.

    The serial range of the rifles ranges from AM 544 to AM 1534, or 990 serial range. The early rifles seem to have been ex RAF rifles that were sold to Ireland sometime around 1948, all converted by P-H before April of 1945. Around 1950/51 (the Birmingham proofs date marks spans middle of year to middle of year), a quantity of worn out SMLE Irish rifles were sent to Parker Hale for conversion. You see rifles with conversion proofs up to around 1953.

    The way you can tell they came out of Irish stocks is the old serial number of the Irish SMLE on the barrel knox, which was not overwritten. The action body had the old serial ground off and what would appear to be a continuing AM 3 digit or 4 digit serial number applied .


    Also you should see, it the rifle is in its original stock, a small FF mark in a circle on the underside of the stock, just foreword of the front action screw. It is a small mark and only appears on rifles that were sent back to the UKicon for a barrel conversion.

    if you are interested in how to know the old F18184 serial on the barrel is Irish, check out this thread on the topic, see post # 20

    Fritz's FF marked Enfield sticky

    So the likely history of your rifle is:

    1916 Made at BSA
    1921 to 1923 remarked at Enfield lock, sent to Ireland as part of the 27,400 SMLE rifles supplied to the free state.
    sometime in 195, sent over to PH for conversion to .22 configuration.

    Now when it was sold out of service, well it does not have the typical Century import mark seen on these rifles in the US, so if it was part of the 1991 export lot or the Irish separately sold 100 of the rifles to a European vendor, well no idea.

    Hopes that helps. Your rifle is now in the Irish .22 conversion data base, which as 61 rifles in the range from AM544 to AM 1534
    Thank you very much indeed for this thorough explanation, Frederick!

    My rifle has no FF marking on the stock and, as far as I can tell, only the handguard is a replacement part from a Southern Rhodesia Government (SRG marking within a triangle) rifle - how it got there is anybody's guess, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Hege Jagd & Sport, the German importer, is responsible for that. I have no real idea how many Irish trainers Hege imported to Germanyicon in 1991, but I could enquire, as I speak and write German.

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    If I understood well, the renumbering of the WW1 SMLEs sold to Ireland in the early 1920s took place in Englandicon - is that right?
    I have sent a message to Hege asking them about the number of Irish SMLE trainers imported to Germanyicon in 1991 and their serial numbers...

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    Sorry for the useless question - I have found the relevant information in one of your posts :

    "They were re-marked by the Britishicon at Enfield lock. This occurred because at the time of the formation the Irish Free State was still supplying arms to the IRA in Northern Ireland and the MOD wanted to be able to trace any arm supplied to the Free State. That is why the script is larger then normal and of a different font."

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    Really Senior Member Frederick303's Avatar
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    Not at all, please report back what you find from the Germanicon importer.

    There was a sale in the mid 1990s of incomplete arms around 1985. In that sale were around 500 barrel actions which had gone back to Enfield Locke in 1938 and perhaps there were incomplete .22 cal conversions, or the arms were purchased at another time. There certainly are around 100 of the .22 cal conversions missing from the known disposition lists.

    The know parts of the 1985 sale were 10 batches of 1,000 SMLE rifles, along with one lot of 5000 incomplete actions. Several importers bought batches from that sale including

    Samco in Floriad USAicon
    Century Arms in USA
    Federal ordnance in California (barreled actions only)
    Franconia Waffen in German (one lot)

    All this data was gathered piecemeal, so there well might be some holes or mistakes in the data.

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    I think one of the puzzling aspects of these AM-prefix smallbore SMLEs is the order in which their serial numbers were attributed - my rifle is AM 680 and wasn't apparently part of the original Britishicon Air Ministry contract, although the highest recorded serial number is AM 1453, if I remember well. Did the Irish fill in the gaps in their AM-series trainers? In that case, they might have run the risk of duplicating existing serial numbers.

    Of course I will report back as soon as I get an answer from Hege.

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    Still no answer from Hege for the time being...

    I have tried to study the Irish serial numbers of AM-prefixed trainers - could only find four of them, actually, as my "research" relies solely on the pictures I can find here and there on the Internet. The results are nonetheless quite interesting : AM 567 was once F 18377, AM 621 was F 18327, AM 680 (my rifle) was F 18154 and AM 1186 was F 18522.

    The very tight range of Irish serial numbers seems to suggest that the rifles sent over to Englandicon for conversion were not selected randomly because of their poor condition but because they belonged to the same batch and/or were stored in the same place.

    Could you tell me whether my theory holds water or not?
    Last edited by Didier; 06-27-2018 at 05:08 PM.

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