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Thread: Lee Speed/Metford Top (Dust) Cover source?

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  1. #11
    Legacy Member 1903Collector's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waco16 View Post
    All long rifles had the bayonet lug - the clearing rods were abolished circa 1899
    You may be thinking of the Lee Metford. According to the Wiki Lee Speed post (and it may very well be wrong) there were 3 variants; 1) Offices pattern with bayonet mount; 2) Officers pattern without bayonet mount; and 3) Trade pattern.

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  3. #12
    Legacy Member 1903Collector's Avatar
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    Lee Speed variants


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  5. #13
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    Some confusion might come from the the designation "Lee Speed". Lee Speed is the actual name of the rifle family. It comes from the engineers who designed it, James Lee and Corporal Joseph Speed. When it was adopted by the Britishicon, the enlisted Speed's credit was given to Enfield RASF, hence all British government Lees are Lee Enfields.

    For the commercial production, manufacturers were allowed to properly credit Speed. All rifles produced as sporter, target, and foreign military patterns are Lee Speeds.

    There are several variants of commercial rifle at this time, but for the sake of simplicity, it can be narrowed down to two. Customers can choose if they wanted cleaner stronger Enfield rifling, or weaker accurate Metford rifling for either variant. Commercial metford barreled rifles will have the No 1 Lee Speed action, without a E marked on the barrel.
    The first is a sporting pattern. This is a shorter rifle without full wood. May not look much different than a sporterized SMLE, but very rare and desirable.
    The second is the military model. These are almost exactly the same as produced for the British. The Ethiopian hoard is made up of these.

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    Legacy Member 1903Collector's Avatar
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    good summary

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    Legacy Member Daan Kemp's Avatar
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    I've always wondered why commercial/sporting LE/etc always have the ten round magazine. I would have expected them to be sold with a flush fitting magazine.

  8. #16
    Legacy Member 1903Collector's Avatar
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    ours is not to reason why! ;-)

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    Legacy Member BVZ24's Avatar
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    The sporter pattern rifles had a nearly flush fitting 5 round. I have never seen one in person.

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    Advisory Panel Surpmil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daan Kemp View Post
    I've always wondered why commercial/sporting LE/etc always have the ten round magazine. I would have expected them to be sold with a flush fitting magazine.
    "Fish Belly" five round mags were more or less the standard fitting on "Lee Speed" sporters.

    Done mostly for aesthetics and differentiation from military models I expect.

    And some sportsmen might have been put off by the implied suggestion that they would need ten rounds on a hunt!

    A little vanity some may have had cause to regret when things or animals did not turn out as planned.
    Last edited by Surpmil; 10-06-2022 at 11:24 PM. Reason: Insert quote
    “There are invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

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    Let me help clarify a few things. There is actually a lot of info on Lee-Speeds online, searchable. Wikipedia is not a good source.

    1. “Lee-Speed” is not the name of a rifle family. It is not even the model name of a particular rifle. Neither of the two companies that manufactured commercial Lee-Metfords and Lee-Enfields ever called them “Lee-Speeds.” WE call them Lee-Speeds because we are referring to rifles that are marked “Lee-Speed Patents.” That is a patent acknowledgment—not a model name. What about the commercial rifles (target as well as sporting) that lack the patent acknowledgement? Well, modern collectors call those “Lee-Speeds” too, which is perfectly OK, because we need terms that we agree on so that we can communicate. But not everyone would agree to call it a “Lee-Speed” if it lacks the patent acknowledgement.

    There is one exception here…this will be covered more fully in the book… in the very earliest days of the Lee-Metford rifle (c1891), there is some use of the term “Lee-Speed” in the press…why? Because the earliest commercial rifles had the patent acknowledgement and also because the term “Lee-Metford” was not yet in widespread use. Remember, when first introduced, it was just called the “Rifle, Magazine (Mark I)” (see LoC 5877 and 6476). It was not even called the “Lee-Metford” until 1891. Many collectors (maybe even most) would use the term “Lee-Speed” to refer only to the sporting versions meant for big game hunting. For my part, I loosely use the term to refer to all commercial Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield rifles, whether of sporting, semi-military, or military configuration.

    2. Naturalized American James Paris Lee and Englishman Joseph Speed were both civilians. Speed was not a “corporal” nor was he “enlisted”— he was Assistant Superintendent of the Small Arms Factory at Enfield (a government factory--which never made Lee-Speeds). Lee was the primary designer of the Remington Lee rifles that were the immediate ancestors of the Britishicon magazine rifle. Lee's patents were still acknowledged on the British Lees. Speed (working separately from Lee) patented several improvements to it, and earned some royalties when a commercial rifle was sold. These gentlemen were not a partnership like Rogers & Hammerstein. They probably never met.

    3. Not all British government rifles are Lee-Enfields—they were Lee-Metfords before that.

    4. The E on the barrel is found on government rifles, not on Lee-Speeds. If you want to know what type of rifling pattern is on a Lee-Speed, you need to inspect the barrel and count the grooves. Markings won’t help.

    5. There were basically three types of commercial rifles. First, the military pattern (better described as the “service pattern”). These were made for commercial sale to foreign governments and also to civilians, who mostly used them for competitive target shooting (see this link: https://www.milsurps.com/showthread.php?t=76034 )

    Next, there were the “semi-military” group of commercial rifles, which were intended for (and purchased by) military officers for their private use while on active service. These rifles are often called the “Trade Pattern” and they were all carbines, usually (with one exception) being fitted for bayonets. They were not strictly of military pattern, but had full-length stocks so they cannot be classified as sporters either.

    Finally, there were the well-known Lee-Speeds in sporting configuration, meant for big game hunting. These are the ones you see in “The Ghost and the Darkness,” etc.

    You could add the small bore (.22 LR, .300 Sherwood) versions of the Lee-Speed and end up with many more types. Also, any of these could be ordered with optional or customized features—so the number of legitimate variations is quite large.

    As noted in the 2018 HBSA Journal article, the .375 Express version of the Lee-Speed differs sufficiently from the others that it can be considered its own model. And it has variations and options as well.

    Also, keep in mind that the rifles in every one of these categories not only came in different grades, but they also changed over time. More than one person has been led astray (including participants in some threads on these forums) by assuming that something they saw in a 1912 BSA catalogue holds true for a rifle made in 1896, or 1931.

    6. Fish belly magazines were not originally offered. They came later. The customer could choose which magazine they wanted. 5 and 10-round were both offered, and historical photos show both types being used in the field. Rifling type (Metford or Enfield) could be ordered to taste, even years after the latter rifling pattern had replaced the former in service.

    As for the dust covers, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one from a government rifle, and it will probably look just fine on the commercial rifle (certainly on the service pattern). These come up now and then. It won’t have engraving like the higher grades of Lee-Speeds, and it might have government markings that you’ll have to ignore. I would find one and put it on and call it good. However, never say never. I once needed a spare dust cover for a No.1 Lee Speed (engraved), and eventually an engraved one turned up on auction. Hard to believe, but true.
    Last edited by Jc5; 09-24-2022 at 04:19 AM. Reason: typo
    .
    .
    Researching Lee Speeds and all commercial Lee Enfields. If you have data to share or questions, please send me a PM.

  12. Thank You to Jc5 For This Useful Post:


  13. #20
    Legacy Member Strangely Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jc5icon View Post
    2. Naturalized American James Paris Lee and Englishman Joseph Speed were both civilians. Speed was not a “corporal” nor was he “enlisted”— he was Assistant Superintendent of the Small Arms Factory at Enfield (a government factory--which never made Lee-Speeds). Lee was the primary designer of the Remington Lee rifles that were the immediate ancestors of the Britishicon magazine rifle. Lee's patents were still acknowledged on the British Lees. Speed (working separately from Lee) patented several improvements to it, and earned some royalties when a commercial rifle was sold.
    This has struck a chord with me on some research I've been doing regarding a member of the 1908 Olympic military rifle team who later became MP for Chertsey in Surrey.
    Described as "major" PW Richarson when he had a bungalow built at Bisley in 1902 I can find no record of him serving and my assumption for this title is that he served in the "Volunteer" force that eventually became the Territorial Army in 1907 rather than the regular army of the day.
    It does beg the question, was Joesph Speed in the Volunteer movement at one time?

    Philip Wigham Richardson's bungalow is still there in club row at Bisley, and its name has changed over the years from, Major Richardson's Bungalow, Richardson's Hut to finally Richardsons Lodge.
    Mick

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