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Production and Manufacturers
In total over 16 million Lee-Enfields had been produced in several factories on different continents when production in Britain shut down in 1956, at the Royal Ordnance Factory ROF Fazakerley near Liverpool after that factory had been plagued with industrial unrest. The machinery from ROF Fazakerley was sold to Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) in Rawalpindi where production and repair of the No.4 rifle was continued. Also contributing to the total was the Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) at Ishapore in India, which continued to produce the SMLE in both .303 and 7.62 mm NATO until the 1980s, and is still manufacturing a sporting rifle based on the SMLE Mk III action, chambered for a .315 calibre cartridge the Birmingham Small Arms Company factory at Shirley near Birmingham, and SAF Lithgow in Australia, who finally discontinued production of the SMLE Mk III* in 1950. During the First World War alone, 3.8 million SMLE rifles were produced in the UK by RSAF Enfield, BSA, and LSA.
From the late 1940s, legislation in New South Wales, Australia, heavily restricted .303 British calibre (and other "military calibre") rifles, so large numbers of SMLEs were converted to "wildcat" calibres such as .303/25, .303/22, .303/270 and the popular 7.7x54 round. 303/25 calibre sporterised SMLEs are very common in Australia today, although getting ammunition for them is very difficult and has been since the 1980s. The restrictions placed on "military calibre" rifles in New South Wales were lifted in 1975, and many people who had converted their Lee-Enfields to the "wildcat" rounds converted their rifles back to .303 British. Post-Second World War, SAF Lithgow converted a number of SMLE rifles to commercial sporting rifles- notably the .22 Hornet model- under the "Slazenger" brand. In the early 1950's Essential Agencies Ltd.(E.A.L.)produced a run of several thousand No.4 enfield rifles cambered in .303 british. serial# below 6000 were for civilian sale serial# 6000 and higher were built under contract to the Canadian government. Most of these were destined for service with the canadian rangers for the next sixty-five plus years. The C.A.F also used these as a survival rifle in the remote parts of Canada.
RFI in India and SAF Lithgow in Australia both produced single-shot conversions of the SMLE chambered for a .410 shotgun cartridge. The .410 conversions made by Ishapore were generally used as riot shotguns for crowd control in India, and were originally chambered for the .410 Musket cartridge, basically a .303 inch cartridge with no "neck" formed to reduce the calibre of the projectile. As these cartridges were not commercially produced, ammunition is available only through handloading. Many of these conversions have been reamed out to accept modern 2½" and 3" .410 shotshells in the United States. As the pressure for even high velocity .410 ammunition are well below standard .303 British pressure ranges these conversions, when done by a competent gunsmith, are quite safe to shoot. The SAF Lithgow/Slazenger .410 shotguns were, however, chambered for commercial .410 shells, as they were primarily intended for civilian sale, with over 7,000 eventually being manufactured.
Numerous attempts were made to convert the various single-shot .410 shotgun models to a bolt-action repeating model by removing the wooden magazine plug and replacing it with a standard 10-round SMLE magazine. None of these is known to have been successful, though some owners have adapted 3-round magazines for Savage and Stevens shotguns to function in a converted SMLE shotgun, or even placing such a magazine inside a gutted SMLE magazine.
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