C&Rsenal Continues Excellent Primer Series with the Venerable SMLE

C&Rsenal, an utterly fantastic resource for the historically inept at firearms history, has released their latest Primer episode. The Primers are in-depth looks at the firearm including their history (often the result of a combination of conflict, technology, and politics) and their ultimate design, including excellent transparent models.

The latest episode focuses on perhaps the second most famous bolt-action rifle (behind the Mauser), the British Short Magazine Lee-Enfield rifle chambered in .303 British. Referred to affectionately as the “Smelly” the SMLE, the weapon is still in use today by modern paramilitary and police forces.

A derivative of the “Long Enfield,” the SMLE owes its origin to the British Empire’s defeat in the first Boer War, wher the British regulars faced an early Mauser design. The Long Lees ran into multiple issues and the British were not so haughty as to ignore the lessons and design of the weapon that served the Boers well into the second Boer War.

Combined with other influential ideas, the SMLE evolved slowly into the fantastically quick bolt action that we know today. Even today, the record for the mad minute still stands from the SMLE platform with the record set in 1908.

Fair warning, this Primer is a long episode, but seems short with Othias’ quick wit, solid pacing, and heavy usage of graphics.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Sabertooth88

    Definitely a channel worth watching for anyone interested in the deeeeeep history/operations of mostly WWI firearms (for the time being). The episodes are long, but packed with content given with humor and explained in great context. Othias really knows what he’s talking about and he’s got his hands on some really rare firearms for all of us to see. The only other channel that I can think of that gets to this depth is Ian at forgotten weapons (always interested in more if there’s suggestions!!!)

  • aweds1

    Almost wish these were still made. It gets hard to find one not beat to hell… I had a Mk IV back in the day, but it was the SMLE that I always wanted.

    • Jason Culligan

      I’m not sure if they’re still in business, but a British company by the name of Armalon Ltd supposedly makes factory new SMLE’s in 223, 308 and 30M1.

  • RocketScientist

    Sweet. An SMLE is the only key piece missing from my milsurp collection (well, there are MANY vacancies, but thats the most glaring). Just decided recently a good one is going to be my next gun purchase, but I’ve never done any significant research to determine the options, what i want, prices, etc. this will be a great start. Anyone have any other recommended online resources for collectors-type info on the SMLE family?

    • PGConley

      I bought mine probably around 6 years ago for 300 on consignment, definitely my favorite gun. Im not sure how much they go for these days.

  • Kerry Tatlow

    Anybody know where to get a SMLE No. 1 Mk 3* rebarreled?

    • Secundius

      @ Kerry Tatlow

      Try Gibbs Rifles of West Virginia. (gibbsrifles . com)…

  • Steve Mentis

    Enjoyed this very much . I have several of these rifles and learned a few things I didn’t know. Your top 5 selections of battle rifles I would question though, especially your choice of the Carcano and the Ross. I wouldn’t have included them at all.