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The Soley Armament Company

SMLE-like conversion of an Enfield Pattern '14 Rifle


In the Military Rifle Journal of February 2001, pages 33 - 44, Dan Reynolds wrote in his article on

THE RIFLES OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR.

 

" The Soley Armament Company was established near Regents Park in London by a former RFC officer, John Ball sometime in the mid 1920's. At a later date, Ball established a partnership with Edgard Grimard, a dealer located in Liege, Belgium. They formed the firm of Soley Grimard & Company to convert Pattern 14 rifles to the desirable 7.92x57mm used by many nations in their Mauser rifles. They believed that these rebuilt rifles would find a place on the market.

In 1930, BSA subcontracted their franchise for War Ministry surplus small arms to Ball."

 

In 1936, during the same period in which the Royal Small Arms Factory was working on the probable new British Service Rifle, the Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk. VI, later to become the No.4 Rifle, the Soly Armament Company put forward a design for a new weapon.

This was in the form of an Enfield Rifle No.3, better known as the Pattern '14, converted to a similar configuration to that of the First World War Short Magazine Lee-Enfield, and with an integral accommodation for a new bayonet.

 

 

The cranked bolt-handle, and lack of protruding magazine, give away the Mauser heritage of the

North American built Enfield No.3, or Pattern'14, RSAF designed parent arm.

Click on either of these two side elevations for higher resolution images.

The bayonet, as will be seen more clearly further down the page, bore a strong resemblance to the new "Pig Sticker"

design under consideration for the RSA Factory's in-build rifle,

even down to the cruciform section four-fuller blade of the early mark,

prior to economy and urgency resulting in the plain circular cross-section of later production.

 

The full-length rifle shown from above:

 

from below,

 

and with the bayonet fitted.

 

The bayonet, as will be seen more clearly below,

bore a strong resemblance to the new "Pig Sticker"

design under consideration for the RSA Factory's in-build proposed new Service rifle,

even down to the cruciform section four-fuller blade of the early mark,

prior to economy and urgency resulting in the plain circular cross-section of later production.

 

 

The quick-release slot, in which the bayonet was stowed, obviated any need for the infantryman to carry a separate unit.

 

However, whilst this style of bayonet was to be employed by British and Commonwealth servicemen for years to come,

 

it has to be said that, until the introduction of the swivelling-pommel No.7 bayonet for the No.4 Rifle,

 

the design left our combatants without the notable convenience of a dual-purpose knife-bayonet.

 

The comparatively simple bayonet and locking arrangement is shown below;

 

 

resulting in what was probably what was one of the lightest and quickest systems devised.

 

 

The stowage slot can be seen in relation to the butt-plate.

 

When compared with the Lee-Enfield Short Rifle, the butt-trap of the "P'14" is reversed, with the hinge at the bottom.

 

This feature was strangely repeated on just a very few rifles in the production of the War Office Pattern Miniature Rifle,

which otherwise were in the same orientation as the SMLE rifle of which they were a limited representation.

 

Below: the stowage slot with the bayonet removed.

 

The barrel's reinforce is heavily hand-engraved

 

"SOLEY ARMAMENT Co.

LONDON

EXPERIMENTAL No.4 1936

FOR C.I.S.A. ENFIELD"

 

 

The unusually blued-steel butt-disc carries, at 120 degrees spacing around its fixing screw,

 

the combined initials " JB ", being those for John Ball, the company's founder.

 

 

In his reference book on "The U.S. Enfield", (ISBN 0 949749 02 8), Ian Skennerton details two rifles with folding spike bayonets

produced one year earlier, in 1935; one by Soley, and another by the Birmingham Small Arms Company (B.S.A.).

 

Another Soley rifle, of the same configuration as the one on this page,

is there recorded as having similar engraving on the receiver,

but being "EXPERIMENTAL No.1", with "C.I.S.A. ENFIELD LOCK" beneath.

 

The "special backsight is graduated to 1,600 yards, and the sling-swivels are fitted to the left hand side of the outer band and the butt."

 

This last note suggests that, by the time our serial number "4" rifle was constructed a year later, the design had been taken further towards the style of an SMLE, with the sling-swivels "normalised", and with a 2,000 yard rear-sight calibration.

 

In 1930, at a time when the Small Arms Committee were, for the second time, considering the smaller .280 inch caliber for British Service use, (after the First World War had necessitated the continuation of the .303 round in the such as the Pattern '13 rifle), Soley were involved in the approved building of a larger caliber conversion of the P'14 - to take the German 8mm (x 57) cartridge for potential sales abroad.


 

Another contemporary experimental rifle, to be found at Warminster in the Small Arms School Collection, is fitted with a prototype bayonet

assumed to be of a design mooted for the new 'long rifle'.

This is affixed to an SMLE-like nose-cap from which the barrel protrudes about 3/4".

The rifle to which the bayonet is attached is labelled as

the "Lee-Enfield No.3 Pattern '14 - Shortened Experimental Model"- with folding bayonet".

This is understood to fold back underneath the fore-end.

 

 

View this flip-page facsimile of

Provisional Notes on Firing at Aircraft with MG and other Small Arms - 1917

See also: the Lee-Enfield Rifle No.1 Mk.VI

and the Enfield Trials Pattern 1913 Rifle

View an extremely rare British WW1/II sniper version of the P'17 rifle

and read a fascinating contemporary insight into the birth of the .30-06 calibre 'American Enfield' Pattern '17 Rifle


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