The Lee-Enfield bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle was the main firearm used by the military forces of the British Empire and Commonwealth during the first half of the 20th century. It was the British Army's standard rifle from its official adoption in 1895 until 1957.[3][4] A redesign of the Lee-Metford which had been adopted by the British Army in 1888, the Lee-Enfield superseded the earlier Martini-Henry, Martini-Enfield, and Lee-Metford rifles. It featured a ten-round box magazine which was loaded with the .303 British cartridge manually from the top, either one round at a time or by means of five-round chargers. The Lee-Enfield was the standard issue weapon to rifle companies of the British Army and other Commonwealth nations in both the First and Second World Wars (these commonwealth nations included Canada, Australia, and South Africa, among others).[5] Although officially replaced in the UK with the L1A1 SLR in 1957, it remained in widespread British service until the early 1960s and the 7.62 mm L42 sniper variant remained in service until the 1990s. As a standard-issue infantry rifle, it is still found in

Type Bolt-action rifle
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1895-1926 (MLE)

1907–present (SMLE)

Used by See Users
Wars Second Boer War

First World War Second World War Various Colonial conflicts Irish War of Independence Malayan Emergency Korean War Arab-Israeli War Nepalese Civil War Afganistan conflict

Production history
Designer James Paris Lee, RSAF Enfield
Produced 1895-1907 (MLE)

1907– (SMLE)

Number built 17,000,000+ [1]
Variants Short, Magazine Lee Enfield Mk. I, Mk. I*, Mk.III, Mk. III*

Rifle No. 4 Mk. 1, Mk. 1* (produced by Savage and Long Branch) Mk. 1(T) Sniper Rifle, Mk. 2 Rifle No 5 Mk. 1 (Jungle Carbine)

Weight 4 kg (8.8 lb)
Length 1,130 mm (44.5 in)
Barrel length 635 mm (25 in)

Cartridge .303 Mk VII SAA Ball
Action Bolt-action
Muzzle velocity 744 m/s (2,441 ft/s)
Effective range 550 yd (503 m)[2]
Maximum range 3,000 yd (2,743 m) [2]
Feed system 10-round magazine, loaded with 5-round charger clips
Sights Sliding ramp rear sights, Fixed-post front sights, "Dial" long-range volley sights; Telescopic sights on Sniper models.

service in the armed forces of some Commonwealth nations,[6] notably with the Indian Police, which makes it the longest-serving military bolt-action rifle still in official service.[7] Total production of all Lee-Enfields is estimated at over 17 million rifles.[1]

The Lee-Enfield takes its name from the designer of the rifle's bolt system – James Paris Lee, and the factory in which it was designed – the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield. In Australia, New Zealand, and Canada the rifle became known simply as the "303". So closely was the weapon associated with the British Empire that in the film Breaker Morant, a group of prisoners is said to have been shot "under rule three-oh-three"[8]

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