M1917 Enfield

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by Dave55, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Should bring the Doughboys, Sergeant York and the Philippine Scouts to mind but the first thing of think of now is Corporal Jones and Dad's Army. Theirs were probably P14s though. M1917s in UK should have had a red band on them to denote non standard ammo.

    Hard to take a decent picture of it because it is so long, but I'm no photographer.


  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    :lol: you needed to tell us this :lol: !!

  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    How often do you go shooting with it & what's it like ?
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  4. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    The rifle not the camera:rolleyes:
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  5. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    It has been at least ten years. My glasses correct my vision to 20/20 but I can't sharply focus on the rear sight, front sight and target simultaneously anymore. I don't want to put a scope on this one, except maybe a period correct one, which would cost many times what the rifle cost. Recoil is sharp and noticeable but not really unpleasant. Very loud but typical of any center-fire rifle. Ear protection a must or ears will ring for an hour after just one shot. I didn't do any rapid fire but just worked though the magazine from bench rest. Cocks on closing so firm forward push of bolt is required. I liked going slow and hearing the clacking of the action and the brass hitting the ground but I'm a little weird that way. Even though I don't shoot my center-fires much anymore I still enjoy the history and the craftsmanship of them.

    I'm going to put a vintage commercial scope on my 7 mm Mauser. I semi sporterized it in high school so adding a scope won't bother me. And old hunting scopes are almost free because of the equipment snobs typical in all sports that have to have the latest and the greatest.
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  6. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Ah Dave, if only you had a knife on it!

    Then again, not sure how well open carry plus bayonet would sit with your local gendarmes.

    Kind regards, always,


    M1917 1.jpg

    M1917 2.jpg
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  7. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    I read that the long bayonet on the SMLEs was designed to reach the chest of a man on horseback.

    Corporal Joes would know. :)
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  8. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I saw a bit of Dad's Army years ago, disliked it and have never felt the urge to watch since. I don't know what the guys in the show are carrying. The real Home Guard used a wide variety of rifles (including Long Lees, ex-French Berthiers and Lebels, etc.) but the M1917 Enfield--NOT the P14--was the quintessential HG rifle throughout the existence of the force and was far more numerous than any other type. Many other Allied forces used the M1917 too, including the French and Chinese (large numbers were sent to both), the Dutch, etc. The New York State Police also used them from the 1930s in to at least the 1950s.
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  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    There used to be an old transport cafe near Flamstead in Hertfordshire. It was in a somewhat dilapidated wooden hut and built in the 1930s and was on the old London Holyhead stage coach route which in the pre motorway days had become the London Liverpool route for lorries. In the 1990s the widening of the M1 meant that it had to be demolished. Underneath was found a huge cache of 0.30 American made ammunition. The local roads were closed whilst it was all taken away (in those days I lived in the area) The story at the time was that this was a Home Guard ammo dump but it was probably a dump for the Auxiliary Patrols that were to provide a British resistance movement in the event of a successful German invasion and used the HG as cover for their preparations. Likewise I think that stories that the M1917 was a HG weapon stem from the same source and it was rather intended as a weapon for the Auxiliaries.
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  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Not stories at all, fact. See Dale Clarke's recent Arming the Home Guard, which I've read and which is by far the most thorough study of the subject. The M1917 was certainly more numerous than other HG rifle types and probably outnumbered all the rest put together. British Army policy appears to have been to concentrate as many of the 1940-41 cash-and-carry small arms in US .300 caliber in the HG as possible, so the HG also got the M1918 BAR, Browning water-cooled MGs, some .300 Lewis guns, etc.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
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  11. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  12. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

  13. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Uhoh. He's gone native. :)

    Patton would privately blow a gasket when Ike said things like petrol and lorry.
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  14. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    He's not wrong.
    All military rifles are only complete with appropriate bayonet & sling.
    So there.
  15. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Not very much, in my opinion. What it really looks like is another French rifle, the Mannlicher-Berthier M07-15 M34. This was the older 8mm Berthier M07/15 greatly modified to take the same 7.5mm cartridge as the MAS. A little less than 50,000 were so modified before 1940, and they were mainly issued to fortress troops and the cavalry. We know that some 8mm Mannlicher-Berthier system guns wound up in HG hands after Dunkirk, and from the evidence of this training rifle I think it's possible that the Cheshire HG unit concerned had gotten hold of some M07-15 M34s in the same way. On the M07-15 M34 see armement reglementaire francais les fusils
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  16. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Supported by:
    Extracted from: WW2 Civil Defence and Home Guard - Suffolk
    The Ross rifle was also only ever issued to the Home Guard (but in very small numbers compared to the P.17), Auxiliary Coast Guard and other fixed defence troops.

    To get as many British .303” weapons into service with the Field Force as possible, there was a gradual exchange of the P14’s and SMLE’s issued to the Home Guard for P17’s. The withdrawal of the Mk III SMLE commenced as early as September 1940 as illustrated in 7th Battalion Suffolk Home Guard Battalion Order No 1:

    “All short-Lee Enfield rifles, bayonets and scabbards at present in possession of companies will be returned to these Headquarters forthwith and will be exchanged for Ross rifles.”

    The 1942 edition of The Home Guard Training Manual further illustrates the point::

    “You, as one of the Home Guard, may be armed with any one of the following rifles:
    (a) The .303” British Service rifle (S.M.L.E.).
    (b) The .303” pattern Dec. 14 rifle (p.14).
    (c) The .303” Canadian rifle (Ross).
    (d) The .300” U.S.A. 1917 model which looks almost exactly like the British P.14, having been copied from it (Model 17).
    (e) The .300” U.S.A. Springfield rifle (Springfield).

    When you first joined up you probably had a British rifle given you. If you have not already had it changed for one of the U.S.A. types, it is probable that this will happen shortly. The reason is that at first you had to be armed at once with what was immediately ready; now that large stocks of U.S.A. weapons are arriving, it is obviously better for all the Home Guard to have American weapons while the field army, which has to move about, keeps to the British types."

    By the end of 1942, very few .303” rifles remained in service with the Home Guard. Some Home Guard did resent losing their SMLE’s for “foreign” and “Great War” era rifles, but the fact was the P.17 was a more modern rifle than the Mk III SMLE. It was also more accurate and more powerful. That especially Home Guard who were veterans of the Great War favoured the SMLE is not surprising though, as it had proved itself as an excellent service rifle, reliable and easy to use in the field; its very long service history testifies to the robustness of the rifle.

    Although the Field Force avoided the issue of having two types of service ammunition, as can be seen from above, the Home Guard did not during its first three years. To avoid loading a rifle with the wrong ammunition it was imperative to distinguish between those that fired .303” and those that fired .30-06” (especially between the P.14 and P.17 which looked almost identical). All U.S.A. rifles were marked with a red band two inches wide to distinguish them; if it became worn, the Home Guardsman was advised to repaint it himself.

    By September 1943, the War Office had decided to reequip the Home Guard with .303” rifles (the No 4 Lee Enfield). The programme was to be carried out on a phased basis (in Eastern Command the exchange was anticipated to take place in 2 Corps District and Norfolk and Cambridge District in December 1943 but not until August 1944 in Eastern Central District). Although this may have pleased the Home Guard in at last achieving parity with the regular Army in terms of the rifles issued, the No 4 was likely to be inferior in performance to their exchanged P17’s; by this stage of the war, the need for mass production of No 4’s had resulted in manufacturing shortcuts and easing of quality standards. All .300 ammunition was to be retained for use with the Browning medium machine gun and the Browning light automatic rifle, which were to be kept in Home Guard use.

  17. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    This is pretty much how I used to do it. His is an Eddystone and mine is a Remington and he has his rear sight flipped up. Sometimes I think people fail to appreciate how powerful .30 caliber WWII rifles were.

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  18. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Like being hit in the chest by a train and invariably with the same result.

    Kind regards, always,

  19. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    They'll take any big game in North America. Careful shot placement might be required for an agitated grizzly though.

    Army Surplus.
  20. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The late Tony Edwards, the resident British small arms expert on this forum, handled and shot P14s/M1917s and had nothing but praise for their strength and accuracy. The P14 was not made the official British sniping rifle for nothing, and some shooters supposedly rated Enfields with iron sights as superior to other rifles with scopes. I've heard that the canted bolt handle takes some getting used to, but I've seen a video of an M1917 in rapid fire and apparently an experienced shooter can work the bolt with remarkable speed. If I had to choose a bolt combat rifle I'd take a No. 1 or No. 4, but if I was forced to take one with a Mauser-type action I'd take the M1917/P14 ahead of a Kar98K or any others.

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