SMLE Rifle Grenade Launcher (Video)

While rifle-launched grenades date back hundreds of years, they first came into widespread use during World War One, on all sides of the conflict. The first years of the war saw the use of rod grenades, but their downsides (mediocre accuracy, bulkiness, and a propensity to damage rifle bores) led to the British adopting a 2.5” cup grenade discharger in late 1917. This new launcher used slightly modified Mills bomb hand grenades, and could launch them with significant accuracy from 80 to 200 yards. They would become a staple of WWI combined arms infantry tactics, and be used clear through WW2 until replaced by the 22mm NATO style spigot grenades.


  1. Well this rifle is definitely reserved for grenade launcher duty. The stock is wrapped with wire. I can imagine that a volley of grenades would be quite annoying to anyone on the receiving end. However, the designated grenade guys would be deprived of their long arms and thus would need side arms like revolvers or privately purchased semi automatic pistols (a Colt M1911 would do nicely).

    • “grenade guys would be deprived of their long arms”
      This finally lead, much much later, to development of under-barrel grenade launchers, anyway it must be considered worth its price, as several armies during WWII maintained rifle grenade launching ability

    • EY grenade rifles (It stood for “EmergencY use only”)were quite capable of being fired with ball ammunition. The major problem with them was that sustained firing of the heavy weight of the 36M Mills caused splitting of the stock and forearm (hence the wire binding) and distortions of barrel and action bedding.

      The bedding problems meant that accuracy was generally not up to minimum standard (1″ 3-shot group at 100 yards off the rest). Shooting beyond 400 yards (a rare event anyway) was inadvisable with ball rounds, and overhead support fire (over friendly troops) was prohibited due to vertical dispersion from line of sight.

      In short, an EY SMLE tended to shoot like a standard one with a badly worn bore.



  2. I would love to get my hands on an inert grenade to go with mine. And I can say that the rifle shoots ball ammo just fine without the cup in place.

  3. I have a lot of fun with mine. Using a tennis ball, original military spec blank (not the ballisite grenade blank) aim in the general direction and have fun between 30-100yds depending on the blank and brand of tennis ball.

  4. Also great fun for launching tennis balls. Can get 3 shots per tennis ball by rotating it 90° after each launch, as a blank will punch a a hole right thru the ball. Make sure you have the proper Walsrode grenade launching blanks if firing even an inert grenade, as conventional blanks will blow up the rifle…

  5. I know the germans fitted a silencer in place of the grenade launching tube on the Kar 98 mauser but that tube was only about 30 mm in diameter so regular sites could be used
    I wonder if this british system was ever ued for fitting a silencer to the lee-enfield maybe BIG rubber wipes

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