India Retires Its Last Lee-Enfields

Fred Gunner

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My first Rifle at age 16 was the British Lee–Enfield No. 4 Mk I in .303
My last and current Enfield is a Ishapore 2A/2A1 7.62mm
Sad to see this great old gun retired like me:

delhi-police-marching-india-retires-last-lee-enfields-keefe-report-f.jpg

by Mark Keefe - Friday, February 7, 2020

Above: A Delhi Police marching contingent passes through the Rajpath during the rehearsal for the celebration of 60th Republic Day -2009, in New Delhi on January 06, 2009. This file is a copyrighted work of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India, licensed under the Government Open Data License - India.

How does a service life of more than a century sound? The Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield rifle chambered in .303 British went into service in 1904, And they have been in continuous use in India, first as a British colony and then after independence in 1947, ever since.

That just changed in Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, on that nation’s republic day, Jan. 26, 2020. According to a report from ndtv.com, about 45,000 of the rifles were slated to be decommissioned and turned in, to of all places back to Rifle Factory Ishapore, which started cranking out Lee-Enfields shortly after its founding in 1904.

“This [.303] rifle is a fantastic weapon and has served us brilliantly in various operations in the past,” the article quoted senior police officer Bijaya Kumar.

According to the photos accompanying the ndtv.com article, these guns were not the 2A/2A1 rifles chambered in 7.62x51 mm NATO and made from 1962 until, perhaps, as late as the 1980s, although some sources state production ended with around 250,000 guns ending in 1974. A 2009 photo clearly shows that at least the Delhi police had upgraded to 7.62 mms at some point. You can tell by the magazine, which is distinct from that of a .303 British SMLE.

Utta Pradesh Police Superintendent Amit Verma said his constables favored the Lee-Enfields for their “accuracy and sturdiness,” something with which British soldiers in two world wars would agree. “They have been in use since independence (from the British in 1947), and now they'll be replaced by INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) and SLRs (Self-Loading Rifles),” Verma told NDTV.

According to the article, some of the UP police were reluctant to give them up.

“Saroj Kumar Mishra, a constable with Uttar Pradesh police since 1982, said he would miss the heavy-duty rifle. ‘The weapon is as smooth as butter, even after 20 rounds of back-to-back firing,’ he was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times newspaper. ‘This feature is perhaps the most important one which we often miss in the modern-day weapons.’”

Us, too, Constable Mishra. Us, too.

Don’t get your hopes up, collectors, as the Indian government has plans for them. Sadly, they are slated to be converted at Ishapur into “anti-riot guns,” whatever those are. Seem to me an SMLE with a 17” sword bayonet could be useful in a good riot.

If you are interested in Lee-Enfields, Bud’s Gun Shop and Century International Arms have teamed up to offer “Drill Purpose” rifles that have been decommissioned to help raise money for NRA-ILA for election fights looming ahead. The guns are offered through Bud’s at $250 each and are demilled—but they do require an FFL. All the money goes to NRA-ILA, and you get an Enfield out of it.

https://www.americanrifleman.org/ar...e-report-india-retires-its-last-lee-enfields/
 

Skinnersblade

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The end of an era , the lee endfield was a service weapon in Canada from the middle of the First World War when it replaced the Ross straight pull rifle until 2018 when they by c19 a colt bolt action. 114 years of continuous service speaks for itself.
 

Major Khan

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I have many , many fond memories of the .303 British calibre Lee Enfield bolt rifle.
We used to use so many of them , during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
We learnt to operate them so fast that enemy soldiers often thought that we were using semi automatic rifles.
@Kawshik Rahman won his military award after he used 1 of these to kill a Pakistani H.M.G ( heavy machine gun ) operator who was cutting down our freedom fighters when the Mukti Bahini overran the Pakistani fortification in Jessore. He used a single shot to the head , using iron sights at 100 yards .
The Indian Forest Department also used to issue Lee Enfield bolt rifles and 215 grain solid metal covered cartridges to their officers for shooting rogue elephants.
In Bangladesh , many private security companies still issue the .303 British calibre Lee Enfield bolt rifle to their employees . Our forest department officers also have several of them in their inventory.
 
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Longwalker

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I shot my first game animal with a No 1 SMLE .303 in 1973. Last year the Canadian Rangers, a volunteer military reserve force in our Arctic retired the last of their No. 4 Lee Enfield rifles in favour of the Colt C19 (Tikka T3 Arctic) in 7.62 NATO.
 
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Bullthrower338

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The SMLE will live forever in this place, the .303 Bar, Adalaide River Inn, Adalaide, NT, OZ
1CFEDC45-5886-4C7F-A7DF-09E989E6B1A7.jpeg
30295E75-1640-4304-94C0-5943C2C7EBD9.jpeg
1FC7576A-F380-40F4-B7E5-F41EEDB5C316.jpeg
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Bullthrower338

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@Bullthrower338 you just added another place I need to see some day to an ever growing list.
It is worth the trip, the Four X is cold and a lot of cool stuff to check out, even have the Buffalo from Croc Dundee life size stuffed on the bar!

FD21C6C7-1499-469B-A7E8-5C4472CC433E.jpeg
 
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Skinnersblade

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Rule 303

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It was not the ultimate sporting bolt action rifle but to me it was the ultimate bolt action military/service rifle.
 

BC.Pat

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I have a small collection (6) including a No.4 T in its original transit case. They are get very hard to find in original unmolested condition.
I am very sad to see them no longer in service.
Pat
 

WebleyGreene455

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HWL

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It is said, they will be replaced by Mauser M98!

;)

HWL
 
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I have many , many fond memories of the .303 British calibre Lee Enfield bolt rifle.
We used to use so many of them , during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
We learnt to operate them so fast that enemy soldiers often thought that we were using semi automatic rifles.
@Kawshik Rahman won his military award after he used 1 of these to kill a Pakistani H.M.G ( heavy machine gun ) operator who was cutting down our freedom fighters when the Mukti Bahini overran the Pakistani fortification in Jessore. He used a single shot to the head , using iron sights at 100 yards .
The Indian Forest Department also used to issue Lee Enfield bolt rifles and 215 grain solid metal covered cartridges to their officers for shooting rogue elephants.
In Bangladesh , many private security companies still issue the .303 British calibre Lee Enfield bolt rifle to their employees . Our forest department officers also have several of them in their inventory.
@major Kahn
My dear friend how I wish I still had my first SMLE No1Mk111 that my father and I worked on together. It was a 1918 model with a serial number of 82509. In a moment of madness I sold it off but I do still have a sporterised 1942 SMLE No1Mk111 that was given to me by a friend.
Bob
 

Rule 303

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I am having a sporting - Lee Speed style- one built upon a No4 action. My Gunsmith had the action gathering dust and I figure it will make a good walk around/stalking rifle. Plus I will have more than 5 rounds for the odd mob of pigs. :giggle:
It is said, they will be replaced by Mauser M98!

;)

HWL

If you call an FAL a M98:LOL:
 

Scrumbag

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Quite a few in the UK were converted to .410 shotguns as easier to license that way. I wonder if that's what the Indian Government mean by "Anti Riot" guns

There are still a lot shot in the UK in Civilian Service Rifle competitions. Might be a home for some of them there.

Scrummy
 

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Tokoloshe Safaris

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About two years ago Binga CAMPFIRE needed another rifle to replace one of their unrepairable. I heard of a "nice" .303 Enfield. When I went to pick it up it appeared to be a unfired Mk4- made at the Canadian arsenal. I wanted to keep that rifle, giving that nice of a rifle to campfire was like "pouring perfume on a pig" Paid $300.00!
 

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