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GUNS Magazine September 2012 Digital Edition - Page 32
HOLT BODINSON Britain’s grenade launching SMLE is the perfect launcher for long-range tennis balls. f there’s a milsurp to make you smile, it has to be a wirewound SMLE with an attached discharger cup. A wirewound SMLE is striking looking in itself. Add a surplus discharger cup, and our SMLE becomes the best tennis ball pitcher in town. This is one fun combination. Wire-wound SMLEs are not uncommon. They’ve been floating around milsurp circles for years. I remember coming across them in my teens, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why those SMLEs were wire-wound and in many cases, carried painted stripes. The grenade-launching SMLE made its debut in WWI with the development and manufacture of the No. 1 Discharger Cup in November 1917. The discharger, clamped onto the muzzle of an SMLE, was designed to fire a Mills-pattern hand grenade using a special .303 blank cartridge. What a raCQuet! The business end with a, um, tennis ball grenade. I The Mills grenade was fitted with a 7-second delay fuse. In his book, The Lee-Enfield Story, Ian Skennerton writes, “… early in the war, the proportion of hand to rifle grenades was about 10-to-1 in favor of the hand-thrown model, but by the end of the war, more of the rifle grenades were in use than their handthrown counterparts.” The design of the cup discharger for the SMLE is very clever. Measuring about 6-1/2" overall with a 2-1/2" bore, the discharger cup sports two clamps that engage the lightening cuts on either side of the SMLE nosecap. As the knurled body of the discharger is turned in a clockwise direction, the clamps are tightened into place by the inclined plane of the discharger base. The cup indexes on the bayonet stud so the bore of the rifle barrel and the bore of the discharger are perfectly aligned. Gas adjustment At the bottom of the cup is an adjustable gas port that slides backand-forth like a shutter. By either decreasing or increasing the amount of gas directed at the disk base of the grenade, the soldier could vary the velocity and range of the grenade. In 1925, a 2" discharger was introduced in which the gas shutter was actually calibrated from 100 to 325 yards for high explosive grenades and from 100 to 250 yards for smoke grenades. In 1933, the 2-1/2" discharger was SMLE No. 1 Mk. 3 gRENADE RiFLE mAKER: Ishapore Rifle Factory, mECHANISm: Bolt action, CALIBER: .303, CAPACITY: 10, BARREL LENGTH: 25.2", OVERALL LENGTH: 44.5", SIGHTS: Original issue—not used for grenade firing, WEIGHT EmPTY W/dISCHARGER: 12 pounds, 5 ounces, FINISH: Black paint, VALuE: +/- $400 Up, up and away! The firing angle was always “guesstimated” by the firer at 45 degrees. 32 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 2