Whilst the Lee Enfield Rifle is most commonly associated with British Armed Forces, it was not the only rifle in use and tonight we are considering the Enfield Pattern 14 (P14) rifle.During the Boer War the British were faced with accurate long-range fire from the famous Mauser rifles, model 1893 and 1895, in 7×57mm caliber. This smaller, high-velocity round prompted the War Department to develop their own “magnum” round, the .276 Enfield, in 1910. An advanced new rifle using a modified Mauser-pattern action was built to fire it, the Pattern 1913 Enfield (P13); effective mass production was still some way off when World War I started, to say nothing of the logistical nightmare of introducing a new rifle cartridge in wartime, so nothing came of it.
Adapting the design to fire the standard .303 round led to the Rifle, .303 Pattern 1914 (P14), a design fed from a five-round internal magazine. With its prominent sight protection ears on the receiver,“dog-leg” bolt handle and “pot-belly” magazine, it was distinctive in appearance. The action was essentially a Mauser design with some Lee features and optimised for rapid fire. The P14 was an advanced design for the time, and was said to be the most advanced service rifle of World War I. The P14 featured an aperture rear sight adjustable to 1600 yards and a 300yd battle setting protected by integral and prominent ‘ears’ on the receiver bridge (note the sight is still missing on mine):There were also volley-fire sights similar to those on the SMLE fitted to the left side of the weapon for use up to 2600 yards, though these were of little use and were usually deleted when the weapon was refurbished.Like the Lee–Enfield, the safety falls under the firer’s thumb and can be operated silently.It is a large, strong action, and the bolt travel is long, as it was designed for a powerful cartridge.The primary contractor (Vickers) was unable to produce more than a handful of rifles, so the P14 became a de facto afterthought. The SMLE therefore remained the standard British rifle during World War I and beyond. Compared to the Lee–Enfield the P14 was more accurate, more durable, and had nearly the same high cyclic rate of fire; however, it was considerably heavier and had only half the magazine capacity, giving it a significantly lower effective rate of fire. In contrast to the Boer War experience which had led to the P13/P14 project, Great War conditions favored volume of fire, at which the SMLE excelled.
The need for additional small arms combined with a shortage of spare industrial capacity led the British government to contract with U.S. commercial arms manufacturers, Winchester, Remington and Eddystone (a subsidiary of Remington set up principally to manufacture the P14) to produce the P14 for the British before the US entered the war in 1917. This rifle has the ‘RE’ mark of Remington on the barrel:The butt has a large ‘IR’ in a circle again indicating Remington manufacture and the two /|\ facing each other indicating it has been deleted from military service:Unlike the SMLE the barrel protrudes beyond the woodwork, with the forsight protected by two guards:The bayonet, although externally similar to that of the SMLE, attaches in a more conventional fashion:As with most rifles the butt has a metal plate to reinforce it:These rifles were mainly used fro training in the First World War, many being sold as surplus to the newly formed Baltic states after the war. These rifles were also brought out of storage in the Second World War and as well as being used by the Home Guard they saw second line service, as in the case of this private who is guarding a crashed German aircraft somewhere in Britain:And this member of the Pioneer Corps talking to an Italian POW:Note the grooves on the bayonet handle preventing it being confused with the bayonet for the SMLE.