Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Enfield Trainer

I mentioned shooting this the other day, and while I wrote about this rifle before(I think), I can't find the post, so here it is again.

Every army has had the problem of training new recruits. In many countries, many times they had never even held a firearm before, so starting them off with a .30-06 or 8x57mm or something was not the best of methods. Could be done, but add LOUD noise and substantial recoil in some rifles to new shooter and that's not a recipe for quick learning.

Some just picked a good bolt-action .22 and went with it, and some did this: take a standard infantry rifle, bore and chamber it for .22lr, modify the bolt- and sometimes the magazine- for the smaller cartridge, and you have a rifle slightly heavier than the standard(due to the smaller bore), but otherwise everything- trigger, sights, safety and all- was the same. So a new trainee could learn the fundamentals of shooting with the standard rifle, only with .22-level noise and no recoil to notice.

In the case of the British:

It's a #1 MkIII Enfield in all ways except cartridge and being single-shot. To simplify matters, and so as to not worry about a new troop accidentally chambering a round without realizing it, the magazine is the shell only, and there's no ejector; you place a round in the chamber, close the bolt, fire, and when you open the bolt the extractor pulls out the empty and it falls into the magazine body. Very simple and neat. And for a country worried about costs, makes collecting the brass easy.

This one has two differences from the couple I've seen before. You'll notice that it has the standard rear sight, but this one also has something interesting: a Ross rifle rear sight mounted on the receiver. In the down position it's a low, wide 'V':

and when flipped up

it's an aperture with a screw-adjustment for elevation. Which is what first caught my eye; I was at a show and, walking past a rack, saw what I thought was just another #1 until I saw that odd sight on the receiver. Which made me look more closely and when I saw it was a .22 I about freaked. I'd seen one once before; a friend had spent a couple of years looking for one before finding it, but that one did not have this sight. There's a bracket mounted to the left side of the receiver with a dovetail slot; the base for the sight fits into the slot, and a thumbscrew locks it in place:

And, right in front of the magazine is a third sling swivel. When I mentioned the rear sight and the swivel to Og, he had a fit; apparently it's not just a trainer, it's a match rifle.

All in all, it's a really neat piece of history that I get to care for for a while. The receiver is marked 1916; I don't know if it was purpose-built from the first, or if they picked a standard rifle and rebarreled/modified it for training. In either case it was very well cared for; the metal and wood are in beautiful shape, and the bore is pristine. With both Eley Sport and Federal Lightning it'll shoot very well; as the target I posted the other day shows, less than 3" at a hundred yards. I think with a solid rest(or a better shooter) it might group a bit better, but all things considered I ain't complaining.

Oh, and this is one of the reasons I take every good opportunity to tell the UN to piss off; "Prohibit civilian possession of military-style rifles", as the IANSA would force, would mean this beautiful piece of the past would wind up in a smelter.

Assuming some thieving bureaucrat didn't sneak it away for himself. The bastards.

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