Spring SMLE: Part 1

Cold War, Custom builds, Lee-Enfield, Rifles, SMLE, VSR SMLE, Weapons, WWI, WWII

So, a few people have seen my GaSMLE project but don’t know I’ve also been working on a spring SMLE as well! If you’re not familiar with the story of the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield check out the introduction I did on this series of rifles HERE.


In the meantime, here is a bit of the build so far on the spring version:


The first item on the agenda was to modify the bolt-action. I used a VSR as the base gun as it has many options for upgrades available and isn’t dreadful to start with.

I made this extension on the lathe, turned to the diameter of the bolt so that it fitted into the action. In this I cut a slot at the front so that the out of battery safety can be operated when the bolt is turned. As you can see I have also made a backstop to prevent this extension from pulling back over the securing bolt.


Then I cut a piece of steel bar and bent it to shape. I produced a rough ball on the lathe with a hole through the centre and hammered it onto the steel bar to a friction fit. This unit was then welded onto the extension.


I had already designed the magwell unit to screw straight onto an unmodified VSR action. I have seen airsoft Enfields which just have a wooden magwell and found these tend to swell and shrink with moisture and temperature, gripping the magazine and making it difficult or impossible to remove during a firefight.


Finished and in place on the action. The big spring locks the magazine in.


Getting the action to fit the stock took quite a lot of work due to the shapes involved, so I shall skip to the stage where it is fitted. I am making this stock from scratch rather than trying to lever the VSR into a real SMLE stock as a real forestock is expensive and frankly a bit small to take this action very well. It can be done but it leaves the wood paper-thin at some points. This is walnut so is ideal for gunstocks and can be tailored for this action.


Initially, this is cut a little deep but this is fixed later on.


I planed it down a little and roughly fitted the nose cap into place-rounding off the fore-end a bit.


Once planed down to size it is much easier to reach the magazine! I also started to fit the trigger guard at this stage, this will have the rear band attachment for the buttstock attached.


A side view, so you can see where the band will be going now.


OK, I confess, I forgot to photograph the band being made! It’s all coming together now, shaping the wood stock being the main priority, then making the rear sight, foresight and top guard.


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The ‘realism’ kit, and a teaser

Add-on kits, Sub Machine-guns, WWII


Some of you may have noticed that in the MkV post, my Sten looked a bit different from the standard ASG Sten (and not just because of the load of wood attached to it!). Due to the shape of the AEG internals, it is not possible to fit a real steel spring so I made up a jig that would allow me to bend some wire to a consistent angle repeatedly.

This created a wire zig-zagged like half a spring, but flat. Pressing this along the outside of the Sten longways bends it roughly to shape for the inside of the gun. Although it can be inserted through the back of the gun, I found that it made the ‘spring’ get stuck on the back of the gearbox. Instead, I removed the fore-end and slid it in backwards, easing it along with a pair of pliers.

The fake bolt-carrier I used is actually made from a sardine tin lid. The finish on this is of course rustproof within reason, making it ideal. Again, I bent it to shape outside the Sten and just slid it in through the fore-end. In the longer run, I plan on replacing this with a piece of brass sheet and offering it as a kit, once I have made a cover for the rather ugly hex-bolt that comes with the original gun.



And why is this post a teaser? The first picture is a clue to my next project for release…