Ishapore SMLE MkI** India Pattern (Video)

While many people are familiar with the Ishapore 2A1 rifles chambered in 7.62mm NATO (largely thanks to their importation and sale in the US in large numbers), production of Indian Enfield rifles actually dates back to 1905, when the Ishapore arsenal was opened. The first rifles produced there were a batch of 3,000 MkI Enfield rifles in 1908/9. These were of course early pattern SMLEs, with features like split charger bridges, volley sights, and magazine cutoffs. Production quickly changed to the No1 Mk III pattern of rifle, which had been formally adopted in Britain in 1907.

During World War One, the need for arms led to those first early rifles being rebuilt in the MkIII configuration, but they retain their original markings, showing their origin. Today we have one of those first 3,000 to look at.

7 Comments

  1. It’s interesting to note that while the British (and Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, etc.) armies adopted the Bren gun, the British Indian army adopted the superficially similar but different Vickers-Berthier. The VB LMG was also made at Ishapore.

    • Perhaps the reason why the VB was favored in India was the design being much simpler (and therefore faster and more efficient) to produce than that of the Bren! The VB was two pounds avoirdupois heavier and slightly bulkier, so production simplicity seems to be its only forgiving feature. But then again, the design was modified into the aircraft-mounted (and later SAS jeep-mounted) Vickers K, with high capacity ammunition pans and a ludicrously high cyclic rate which reduced many an unsuspecting Axis soldier to hamburger!

      Did I mess up?

      • The ROF of the Vickers K G.O. was fairly standard for a 1930’s aircraft machine gun. For ground use it was pretty high and only second to the MG42. The SAS and LRDG liked it, because it was better suited for hit-and-run tactics with than the relatively slow firing British standard MGs. It also made a lot more convincing AA weapon, which was always a plus in the open desert.

  2. And yet Edward was King Emperor until his death in 1910, so if it was made in 1909 it would have been marked ERI under the crown.

    It looks like maybe the G was substituted later, since it’s out of register? Is there a trace of the original E, or of its removal?

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