london borough of enfield


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The Lee-Speed Rifle,

Before World War I a British company called Birmingham Small Arms manufactured these nifty little sporting rifles with a lee action.  At the time Lee-Enfields were manufactured by the Royal Small Arms Factory in the Enfield borough of London (thus Lee Enfield).  However, many other companies saw a market for civilian hunting and sporting rifles that used a Lee type action.

One such person was J.J Speed, a manager with the RSAF.  It was not unusual for various managers with the RSAF to take the Lee design, improve upon it, and patent their own Lee actions.  Speed’s patent was one of the most successful.  Two models were made, a sporting model and a full sized military rifle. The sporting model was fitted with a more traditional sporting type stock, had a more simplified Lee type bolt for easier maintenance and cleaning, a dustcover over the action, a simpler front and rear tangent sight, and had an open barrel and crown, whereas the Lee Enfield had protective wood furnishings over the barrel.  Instead of a ten round magazine it was fitted with a five round magazine.  Finally it had a shotgun style safety catch, located on the top of the grip behind the bolt, much like many common shotguns have. The military model was little different from the standard issue Lee Enfield, with the exception that the Lee Speed was produced with much greater quality and care. The military model was popular among officers who wished to pay out of pocket for a higher quality infantry rifle.

Most Lee Speed rifles were chambered for the .303 British cartridge. A number of small bore rifles were also produced in .22 Long Rifle for plinking, target shooting, and small game hunting. In addition BSA produced a number of different calibers by special request, mostly popular hunting calibers.  BSA would make their Lee Speed rifles up to World War I, suspending production to produce regular infantry rifles for the British Army during the war. Civilian production then resumed in the 1920′s and 1930′s.