The Lee-Enfield rifle was the main firearm used by the British Empire from its adoption in 1895 until 1957.
The Lee-Enfield rifle takes its name from the bolt’s designer, James Lee and the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) in Enfield.
The Lee-Enfield rifle was designed to fire the high-powered rimmed .303 British cartridge. First produced in 1896, there have been numerous design changes resulting in many models of the Lee Enfield rifle. This overview will overview the Lee Enfield #1 Mk III* model.
In 1916, General John T. Thompson worked with Thomas Ryan to develop a new semi-automatic rifle that would use a breach locking system patented by U.S. Navy Commander John Blish. The Auto-Ordnance Corporation was then founded in Cleveland, Ohio to design and build this new firearm.
After two years making several prototypes, the design team at Auto-Ordnance developed a few prototypes of an ‘automatic rifle’ using the Blish system that was chambered for the standard .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) pistol cartridge.
During the First World War, the British Government used Webley revolvers that fired the .455 (11.6 mm) cartridge. This round was effective but it produced a substantial recoil that affected a trained soldier’s marksmanship.
After the War, the Government decided to adopt a smaller and lighter double-action revolver that could be quickly mastered by recruit soldiers.