Updated: Oct 30
This rifle was sold to a private collection October 2023
A complete and original Australian Lithgow 1943 SMLE training rifle in .22 rimfire - designated as the No2mk4 model. This immediately shows off the indigenous Coachwood (orange tinted) stock set made by Slazenger (SLAZ) the slightly green tint to the Parkerizing and the Painted Butt Stock Band (indicating which platoon of a unit - Red 1st, Green 2nd, Yellow3rd etc). The butt also features typical Lithgow "extra large" stamps for model and date of issue. This includes one of the seven sided star forms for inspection marks throughout the rifles execution and represents the 7 states of the Australian Nation / Continent. These are characterful features of the Lithgow produced rifles that are prized by collectors.
At the turn of the 20th century there was an observation that soldiers needed real live fire training materials, that were not as demanding as full caliber or as expensive to sustain the experience needed to build up the desired musketry disciplines and skills. Some of the first MLM and MLE models were converted to the then 40plus year old ,22 long rimmed round as rebuilds of worn and obsolete rifle types. This training category of the MLM-MLE-SMLE battle rifle is a huge field of study and subject to books in their own rights. Over 3 decades the features, technology and format of the .22 SMLE training derivatives were honed and perfected to the SMLE No2mk4 versioning that you see here.
Rifle Details - The barrel is a ,22 solid machined SMLE profile barrel produced by Lithgow. It is numbered to the rifle at the factory in 1943 and the rifle carries its serial in 5 places - bolt handle - receiver knox, barrel, nose cap and the underside of the rear sight. The E series of serials were the penultimate made by the factory. The bolthead and striker are particular to the No4mk2 model (rim fire) the bolt head is marked "22 No2". The Magazine is a regular #4 body but it is empty (no follower or spring) and is marked ".22" on the bottom, this is for catching the spent extracted brass. Typical of Lithgow inspectors and process approvals there are a series of codes in 7 sided stars just above the wood line on the receiver. under the area of the locked bolt handle. Interestingly the Australian models retained the small format nose cap screw in the transverse direction - this was enlarged by Britain to retain the nose cap and bayonet better (the bayoneting leverage could sheer the small format nose cap screw off). The nose cap is late production Lithgow with the boss and deleted hole for the stacking swivel. The wood and metal on this rifle have distinct machine finished surfaces - unaltered from the factory - this makes it a very tactile piece - this is often sanded smooth by enthusiastic owner / tinkerers. Under the pressures of WW2 the Lithgow factory itself focused on the production of machine guns. Dispersion factories were set up and assigned codes to produce rifle parts and sub assemblies - throughout this rifle you will see these marks: OA - Orange workshop (rear sight protector, rear sight spring, magazine body, cocking piece), MA workshop (mid band), BA - Bath workshop (nose cap and trigger guard). All wood is marked SLAZ 43 for Slazenger 1943. The receiver ring and bolt handle are marked "DPT" which is one form of "Drill Purpose" and had designated these to be built into the .22 model. This rifle has passed all gage and safety / function checks before shooting in private hands.
Parker Hale Details - The PH5A came in excellent condition and bolted up using a new fastener kit which included a longer rear trigger guard screw, longer safety screw and a coil spring to use in place of the regular safety group "dog bone" - the leg of the sight sits in place of this part. This leaves the standard safety lever tight and functional. The PH5A features .5MOA clicks and graduations to elevations and windage scales and has been set on this rifle to 200 yards. The eye piece is a Deluxe iris with a filter housing and polaroid filter enclosed. This set-up is a little excessive for a .22 but in this case it prepares the shooter for the use of these components on full bore models.