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SHT LE MK III* 1917 303 riifle


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#1 rick329

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 02:40 AM

I have a 303 SHT L.E. MK III* British rifle that was made by the BSA Co1917 . It has fine increments on the rear sight(200-2000yds? in 250yds increments?) the rear sight has side ways adjustments as well. When the rear sight is lifted ,it has an H.V. (high volicity ) stamping.The receiver is also drilled for a scope The rifle is also stamped with a broad arrow , England , a Crown , a"side ways B " looking mark some letters and a few other various marks . All the serial numbers on the barrel match the bolt ,and all stampings seem consist all over the gun including the front sight and trigger
Does anyone have any more info, on this rifle or if i can track it through a serial number ? I have read sites about the gun but cant seem to track it's origin . I yhink it may be a rifle of Value? Thank you for your time
r.evers@sympatico.ca

#2 Garron

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 03:14 AM

Hi

BSA Co = Birmingham Small Arms Co. Ltd
1917= well 1917

Drilled for a scope sounds like its been sporterised slightly,

Value, its sounds like its all matching which is a bonus... any signs of a mark FTR?? (Factory Thorough Repair pretty much means reconditioned and somtimes re-numbered) and all depends on the blueing finish the stock's condition and if it has been sporterised (drilled for a scope) which would bring down the collection value a little.

Theres gonna be a pal who know more about this so i'm sure they will answer your question in more detail.

Gaz

#3 4thGordons

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 05:56 AM

BSA made approximately 468,447 (Skennerton) No I MkIII* in 1917 so you have one in almost half a million. It is not likely to have scarcity value.
Observed prefixes for serial numbers from BSA in 1917 are D, E, F, G, H (Stratton) - if you do not have one of these look for signs of FTR (although this is not an absolute given these are observed data)
HV indicates sighted for the MkVII round, common mark
If it had an H in a circle on the barrel this would indicate a heavy barreled "sniper" - very uncommon, mostly post war and mostly Australian.

The simple answer regarding the value of the rifle is "whatever the market will bear" my gut reaction on "do you have an especially valuable rifle?" is...NO.

All matching numbers are however a plus, (does this include the front sight protector, the wood furniture?) - is the bolt "force matched " to the receiver/barrel? (ie does it look like the rear of the bolt handle has been filed down and renumbered- pretty common)
The fact that it is drilled and tapped for a scope (unless it is a military fitting - vary scarce without other indicative markings) is a major negative in collectors terms. If the drill /tap can be shown to be original to the rifle (ie it is a "sniper" rifle) then we are into another set of figures but frankly I would think it very very unlikely. (although not impossible)

In terms of value you omit lots of important information: What is the condition of the bore? How is the headspace? what about the overall condition and match of the wood (does it have a transverse reinforcing screw through the fore end?) these are all potentially significant elements in valuing a rifle.

In the US I would expect to pay between $150 and $250 for a rifle meeting this basic description. In the UK because of the license requirements (and exchange rate!) it will vary (it seems deactivated weapons sell for a good deal more), same for Canada etc. of which I have no knowledge. The drill/tap probably kills the historic value but if someone is interested in a 1917 BSA for idiosyncratic reasons then they may well pay more. If you were selling to a dealer whose aim was to sell on you would very likely get the low end of my bracket because the dealer has costs associated with documentation, transfer and then resale at a profit so...value? virtually impossible to determine. Weapons/Artifacts have no intrinsic monetary value they are worth what people will pay for them. In my local gun shop this would probably be tagged at $250 but you may be able to get it for less - Condition is important. Individual rifles may have historical significance (which may or may not translate to monetary value) regardless of their condition. (so for example weapons of known provenance, unit marked etc may be of higher value even in poor condition) but these are uncommon outside specialized collecting circles.

So the bad news is - you have a common rifle which has probably been modified since it was sold out of service. Historically it is of little significance. It probably shoots well (if in sound condition).

The good news (in my humble opinion) is more or less the same! the drill/tap is a negative if it is non military (which 99% are) but, disregarding that, you have a standard SMLE no1 MkIII* of the type that armed the British and Commonwealth forces from 1916-1942/3 (and on) in good condition it is an accurate and very reliable rifle. Although purists will shudder, the idea that someone wanted to add an optical sight more recently is in my view testament to this, over a century after the rifle was introduced it is still an effective weapon. Historically is it unique? no - but of course it was designed as a mass produced weapon for a mass army so why should one expect that? When you shoulder it, or sight it down the range you are doing what (literally) millions have done before in numerous circumstances before you, and that, even if it does not imbue it with monetary value in a fickle market, certainly establishes some form of historical connection.

There are several books (Skennerton or Stratton) which have lots of detail should you be interested and a good number of web sites too.
Pictures would help members comment as to general condition etc.
Hope this is of use
Cheers
Chris

#4 Bootnecks

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 06:03 AM

Hello Rick329,

'4thGordons' just piped me to answering but, for what its worth...

As a confirmation of what Garron has mentioned, your SMLE does appear to have been a re-build from a sportized example, as the standard practice when sportizing a .303 is to mount an optic scope. The rear sight certainly is not standard for that year as the 'Windage adjustment' was discontinued about the time that the Mk.3* was introduced = 1916.

As to value... around $150.

Seph

#5 Gunner Bailey

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 07:58 AM

Have a look at my favourite Lee Enfield website. Loads of information about manufacturers and inspection stamped markings, plus lots more, including photos of sporterized versions.

http://enfieldrifles...st.net/main.htm

Gunner Bailey

#6 TonyE

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 10:48 AM

I agree with Bootnecks, if the rear sight has windage adjustments it was not original to the rifle as the Mk.III* dispensed with the windage adjustment. The rear sight should be numbered on the underside to the rifle, although it is always possible the sight was replaced by an earlier one or a later one when manufacture reverted to the Mark III.

One thought occurred to me. You say it is drilled for a scope - where is it drilled? It is not unknown for the gas escape holes at the front of the receiver to be mistaken for scope holes. Have a look at some pictures on the Enfield sites or better still, post some pictures of your rifle here.

Here in the UK a good condition "live" SMLE will fetch considerably more than in the US. I am still looking for a decent one myself.

Regards
TonyE

#7 4thGordons

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 02:55 PM

QUOTE (TonyE @ Nov 25 2007, 04:48 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I agree with Bootnecks, if the rear sight has windage adjustments it was not original to the rifle as the Mk.III* dispensed with the windage adjustment. The rear sight should be numbered on the underside to the rifle, although it is always possible the sight was replaced by an earlier one or a later one when manufacture reverted to the Mark III.
One thought occurred to me. You say it is drilled for a scope - where is it drilled? It is not unknown for the gas escape holes at the front of the receiver to be mistaken for scope holes. Have a look at some pictures on the Enfield sites or better still, post some pictures of your rifle here.
Here in the UK a good condition "live" SMLE will fetch considerably more than in the US. I am still looking for a decent one myself.
Regards
TonyE


Good point Tony, regarding the gas-escape hole - I hadn't thought of that. Pictures would be helpful.

regarding the rear sight - you are of course correct on the windage adjustable one; however, I have a couple of MkIII*s with this fitted. I suspect there was considerable overlap as parts produced earlier were used up in assembling rifles - (although 1917 would seem late for this) and likely there was post war retro-fitting at unit level. (and of course it is a relatively simple "upgrade" post surplus sale with the parts easily available)
One can find rifles identified as MkIII* which use receivers milled for the cuttoff (it is absent) and also MkIII* non cut receivers assembled with low-cut MkIII fore-ends so I think there is some variation even as the rifles were produced.

#8 TonyE

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 03:46 PM

I agree with you. I had thought about making the comment that there was a great mixture of receivers/parts when production first switched to the III*, but like you I thought 1917 too late for this.

Also, it is quite likely a later unit replacement which was why I remarked about the post war revision to mark III manufacture.

Regards
TonyE

#9 Bootnecks

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 05:35 PM

Hello TonyE, Chris,

I agree with what you are both saying, but it is also quite easy in this modern time to aquire everything that one needs to 'build' or 'retrofit' an SMLE. I think the latter has happened in this items case.

Take a look at this site and it will illustrate just what is available if one is in the position to carry out such work...

http://gunpartscorp.com/

Incidentally, I may have missed it, but has anyone enquired if the site number matches the rest of the serial numbers on the rifle?

Seph

#10 TonyE

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 09:16 PM

Hi Bootnecks

Agreed about the possibility of contemporary fitting. That was also the reason I said in my post that the rear sight should be numbered to the rifle if it was original or even if it was a post war unit refit. (Often armourers would renumber replacement parts)

We need pictures to determine if it has truly been drilled for a scope or whether it is simply the gas escape holes that look like it has been drilled.

Regards
TonyE

#11 Pete1052

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 11:30 PM

Why Tony E periodically sells off his gun collection and then tries to buy the same models of guns when they cost three times as much as before he sold the ones he already had is beyond me. On top of that he's married to a psychologist from the NHS. It don't make no rational sense to me. I honor him as one of the world's leading small arms ordnance experts but I'm sure glad that earlier in life he didn't decide to be a stockbroker or a banker.

#12 TonyE

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 05:24 PM

Well at least I cannot claim she does not understand me!

On a more serious note, nobody regrets more than I the things I sold back in the 1970s, but they did pay the deposit on my first house.

Regards and a large British raspberry,
TonyE

#13 Pete1052

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 05:32 PM

No offense intended, just jerking your chain. I own 11 guns but these days I rarely shoot. It's deer season here right now and in the past few days I've seen five bucks being checked in at the local store.

#14 TonyE

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 12:00 PM

None taken!

Regards
Tony




#15 frontline

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 03:08 PM

Just how much are live smle's to license holders in the UK fetching nowadays?
If I wanted a 3 or 3* (pre 1918)for eg.

#16 Devils Own

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 03:44 PM

In the past couple of years I have paid around 200-250 for them in good nick. BUT you can pay up to and around 600-700. You need to be patient and look around. Also, as usual, it depends on whether it has matching numbered bits or not. The good thing is that you can get them re-barreled easily as there are many unused and stored South African barrels kicking about.

Steve

#17 Bootnecks

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 09:45 PM

Hello Chums,

Now I'm over here, I'm as happy as a pig-in-a-mud-pile in regards to the purchase of SMLE's and genuine replacement parts. I know its not going to help those of you in the UK, but here, a surplus none issue SMLE barrel and receiver group from British surplus stock, can be purchased for $75.00, in todays exchange rate, thats about 35 GBP. Both receiver groups are avalable for Mk.3 or Mk.3*. All prices are less postage, and only the receiver group is required to be sent through a firearms licence holder dealership. Every other part can be sent via normal mail.

I've posted earlier in this thread, the site address of one of the best stores available for such parts.

Seph

#18 rick329

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 10:37 PM

QUOTE (4thGordons @ Nov 24 2007, 09:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
BSA made approximately 468,447 (Skennerton) No I MkIII* in 1917 so you have one in almost half a million. It is not likely to have scarcity value.
Observed prefixes for serial numbers from BSA in 1917 are D, E, F, G, H (Stratton) - if you do not have one of these look for signs of FTR (although this is not an absolute given these are observed data)
HV indicates sighted for the MkVII round, common mark
If it had an H in a circle on the barrel this would indicate a heavy barreled "sniper" - very uncommon, mostly post war and mostly Australian.

The simple answer regarding the value of the rifle is "whatever the market will bear" my gut reaction on "do you have an especially valuable rifle?" is...NO.

All matching numbers are however a plus, (does this include the front sight protector, the wood furniture?) - is the bolt "force matched " to the receiver/barrel? (ie does it look like the rear of the bolt handle has been filed down and renumbered- pretty common)
The fact that it is drilled and tapped for a scope (unless it is a military fitting - vary scarce without other indicative markings) is a major negative in collectors terms. If the drill /tap can be shown to be original to the rifle (ie it is a "sniper" rifle) then we are into another set of figures but frankly I would think it very very unlikely. (although not impossible)

In terms of value you omit lots of important information: What is the condition of the bore? How is the headspace? what about the overall condition and match of the wood (does it have a transverse reinforcing screw through the fore end?) these are all potentially significant elements in valuing a rifle.

In the US I would expect to pay between $150 and $250 for a rifle meeting this basic description. In the UK because of the license requirements (and exchange rate!) it will vary (it seems deactivated weapons sell for a good deal more), same for Canada etc. of which I have no knowledge. The drill/tap probably kills the historic value but if someone is interested in a 1917 BSA for idiosyncratic reasons then they may well pay more. If you were selling to a dealer whose aim was to sell on you would very likely get the low end of my bracket because the dealer has costs associated with documentation, transfer and then resale at a profit so...value? virtually impossible to determine. Weapons/Artifacts have no intrinsic monetary value they are worth what people will pay for them. In my local gun shop this would probably be tagged at $250 but you may be able to get it for less - Condition is important. Individual rifles may have historical significance (which may or may not translate to monetary value) regardless of their condition. (so for example weapons of known provenance, unit marked etc may be of higher value even in poor condition) but these are uncommon outside specialized collecting circles.

So the bad news is - you have a common rifle which has probably been modified since it was sold out of service. Historically it is of little significance. It probably shoots well (if in sound condition).

The good news (in my humble opinion) is more or less the same! the drill/tap is a negative if it is non military (which 99% are) but, disregarding that, you have a standard SMLE no1 MkIII* of the type that armed the British and Commonwealth forces from 1916-1942/3 (and on) in good condition it is an accurate and very reliable rifle. Although purists will shudder, the idea that someone wanted to add an optical sight more recently is in my view testament to this, over a century after the rifle was introduced it is still an effective weapon. Historically is it unique? no - but of course it was designed as a mass produced weapon for a mass army so why should one expect that? When you shoulder it, or sight it down the range you are doing what (literally) millions have done before in numerous circumstances before you, and that, even if it does not imbue it with monetary value in a fickle market, certainly establishes some form of historical connection.

There are several books (Skennerton or Stratton) which have lots of detail should you be interested and a good number of web sites too.
Pictures would help members comment as to general condition etc.
Hope this is of use
Cheers
Chris

Thanks for your help .It does shoot very well and has become a faithful deer rifle