Semi-Automatic Lee-Enfield Is Hard to Stop Gawking At

  • Joey Upper

The Lee-Enfield is one of the great, iconic rifles in firearms history.

Traditionally chambered in the .303 British, the Enfield has been through many iterations and served the British as well as dozens of other nations in some capacity from 1895 to this day (though today’s use is extremely limited).

The Enfield was a massively successful and reliable long-range, close-range, mad minute, and volley fire-capable weapon, proving itself in two world wars. Its only real shortcoming according to some is the fact that the Enfield, as a product of its time, was a bolt-action rifle, therefore allegedly not able to keep up with some of its more modern counterparts in later years (see the M1 Garand, or even the SKS).

Funnily enough, that didn’t have to be the case.

The M1915 Howell Automatic Rifle, or as I like to call it, the Lee-Enfield-on-Steroids, was a carefully-crafted, modified version of the original bolt-action rifle.

The idea behind the rifle was to create a relatively easy upgrade for the Enfield to give it more rapid firing power than it already had. See mad minute below, courtesy of YouTube account britishmuzzleloaders.

As you can see from the video above, the rifle can be truly absurd in the hands of a trained operator. However, if you want to make operator error less of a factor in the equation, consider giving the Howell a try.

The Howell’s ingenious design didn’t result in many models being produced, but there really, truly was a semi-automatic rendition of the Enfield that existed in time for service for the First and Second World Wars, should Britain have felt the need to make use of it.

Check out the video demonstration below, created a few years back by Forgotten Weapons:

Whether the semiautomatic rendition of the firearm makes you excited or causes you to cringe (its beauty is decidedly an acquired taste), consider picking up a Lee-Enfield the next time you find one at your local gun show or military surplus store go-to. It’s an incredible firearm and a heck of a piece of history.

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