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1933 Ishapore (India) SMLE - Converted in 1950 to a 410 "Prison Musket"

This rifle was sold to a private collection October 2023

An excellent condition 1933 Ishapore (India) No1 Mk3 SMLE that was built to be a British 303 rifle. This factory operated under British Armoury Inspector controls until Independence in 1948) and then was maintained by the Indian government to continue the rifle build and rebuild programs. This rifle probably saw a lot of service as a 303 and was classed as worn out and it entered the 410 conversion program. The Indian interior, prison and police needed a simple, one-shot muskets for prison guards and riot control - boring a 303 out (smooth bore) and creating a cartridge for it based on the rimmed 303. These were outwardly the same as the SMLE, but with a wooden block fitted in place of the magazine to act as a single round feed ramp.

The 1933 Ishapore SMLE parts and features can be seen to be exacting to the BSA made equivalents - later some parts developed specific "Ishapore" shapes and features (such as squared front sight protector ears). Other characteristics of Indian service are the "Ishapore screw" transversely through the front hand guard in front of the magazine. India also had its own source of hardwood for stocks - seen here it is a pleasing mid brown with fine grain, but is hard and finishes with a rough open grain - tough to sand and chips easily when carving. Another feature of Indian service (happily absent on this example) is a thick black lumpy semi gloss paint - which could only be a very poor imitation of the cold war British "Suncorite". This rifle shows a nice aged blued finish.


Rifle Details - Here you can see the block of wood fitted to the magazine well, flush on the outside - held in place with two dowels transversely through the front lower wood. The ammunition used a .410 lead ball, with a wad ahead of the usual cordite load in an expanded British 303 case (made new with reduced bottle form and no neck). This enabled the standard bolt, bolt head striker and extractor to be used - unlike other caliber / cartridge conversions. Above are also the 1933 and 1950 Ishapore factory and model marks on either side of the wrist.

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