Lee-Speed Military Model (Video)

In 1892, just a few years after the British military adopted the Lee-Metford rifle, the BSA and LSA factories began offering several configurations on the civilian/commercial market. They would produce them all the way into the 1930s, with your choice of Metford or Enfield rifling, and in Sporting, Trade, or Military/Target configurations. The Lee-Speed name comes from the patents used in the rifles – James Paris Lee for the magazine, and Joseph Speed for several improvements to the bolt and magazine. Speed was an employee of the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield, and was instrumental in the development and adoption of the Lee rifles.

This particular example is a Military/Target rifle, of the Lee-Enfield MkII pattern. Note the safety lever on the cocking piece, the Martini style rear sight, and the magazine chained to the trigger guard assembly. When they haven’t been sporterized, the Lee-Speed military pattern rifles are a great time capsule of British rifle design. Military rifles were generally updated as new patterns were adopted, while these civilian guns were not.

5 Comments

  1. Considering that this would only be used for target shooting, the tethered magazine makes sense. The only problem is if the magazine gets dinged during cleaning. I suppose the military style stock would have a matching bayonet, if the Lee-Speed was laid out just like the Wehrmanngewehr in Germany. The latter is a single shot weapon chambered for a civilian sporting round, but has military styled stock, sights, and bayonet! Did I mess up?

  2. This is gorgeous piece where every detail stands out. Far cry from battle dinged, scratched military rifles. Thanks to FW I found appreciation of these old repeaters. It does not mater if they are Mannlicher, Mauser of Lee, they are all equally interesting and intriguing.

  3. As Ian says cordite burns very hot even old cordite
    In about 2000 I had the brilliant idea of selling neutrilized canadian 303 shells from the Vimy battlefield to canadians as souveneers
    It was possible for me to do this as I had a customer down here in S.W. France who owned a house not far from Vimy
    He picked up about 50 303 rounds with canadian markings in 30 minutes off the battlefield after spring plowing
    Most were in really good condition although the brass was brittle
    So 9/11 happened and my brilliant idea went out the window
    But in between time I had pulled a few bullets to empty out the cordite
    One day my son who was 11 and very in to fire crackers said lets try to burn it
    I was a little hesitant due to the fact that our black powder making experiments had scorched the middle of our dining room table
    Thank goodness we did iit with a long stemmed ligter for lighting gas stoves talk about heat and it burned in a linear fashine along the length of the cordite
    in fact it made a good fuse for dud fire crackers

    • Are those 303 shells still available, by any chance? I love my British WWI veteran – it would be pretty cool to have some genuine spent brass from the ‘Big One’, as well!

  4. I cant send you any cartriges a big legal nono for a private individual
    however there were apparently hundreds of them in the fields
    its the 100 years of VIMY this year go over for the celebration
    getting shells back as souveners is something else
    on a side note I was born in canada and am still a canadian citizen however every where in the eu i have to use my british passport except for Vimy which due to the sacrifice of canadian soldiers was given to canada and is in essence a canadian enclave in France or so I have been given to understand

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