.303 caliber, 25.3125” round barrel, S/N 14748S. Blued finish, semi-pistol gripped checkered walnut stock. Right side of receiver ring marked in one line: BSA Co. Left side of receiver ring marked in three lines: N. / No. 4 S.C. / (Broad Arrow). Indicating ownership and acceptance by the British Royal Navy of this Lee-Speed “No 4 Sporting Carbine,” the commercial designation of this model. Reverse of breech marked with a variety of Birmingham proof marks, as well as the caliber .303 and the words NITRO PROVED. Bolt and receiver with matching serial numbers 14748S. Detachable 10-round box magazine, magazine cut-off on receiver, safety lever on right rear of bolt. Sporting-style rear sight, including quick acquisition express sight leaves for 100, 200 and 300 yards and a fully adjustable long-range ladder sight graduated from 400 yards to 1,000 yards. Blade front sight with Cole’s Holdfast Foresight Protector folding hood. Stock with two sling swivels, brass buttplate with trapdoor for cleaning kit (not present). A commercial sporting carbine variant of the Magazine Lee Enfield Mk1* military rifle, intended for private sale to sportsmen and hunters. The rifle has not been “sporterized,” but rather was acquired by the Admiralty in this configuration. This is one of only 970 of these No 4 Sporting Carbines acquired by the British Royal Navy during World War I. According to Lee Speed collector and researcher Roy Shadbolt: “ This rifle was one of 970 purchased ‘from the trade’ in order to equip trawlers and other miscellaneous craft shortly after the outbreak of World War One in 1915. At the outbreak of WWI there was a dire need for all arms, the War Office made an urgent request to the Admiralty for rifles to fulfill the rapidly growing requirements of the Army. Small quantities of the standard Lee-Metford military pattern of rifle could be found in the armory of all ships in service with the Royal Naval and these were soon gathered up and handed over the Army for re-issue.” As a result, small batches of commercial arms were purchased to refit the smaller ships. To date only handful of these rifles are known to exist, making this one of the rarest of British military arms from the Great War period. This rifle will be featured in an upcoming book about Lee-Speed rifles.
Very fine to near excellent. Retains much of the original blued finish, showing some minor thinning and wear, mixed with areas of lightly oxidized plum brown patina. Metal mostly smooth throughout. Mechanically fine, smooth action with all parts of the long-range sights fully functional. Bore rates about very good with strong rifling and some lightly scattered pitting. Stock is solid and free of any breaks or repairs, with crisp checkering. Stock shows the expected scattered bumps and dings from handling, use and service. A really outstanding example of an incredibly scare and desirable Royal Navy purchased Lee-Speed No 4 Sporting Carbine from the First World War, certainly one of the finest example of these rare rifles known.
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