Pattern 1913 Enfield
|Rifle, Pattern 1913|
Pattern 1913 Enfield experimental rifle
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|Used by||United Kingdom|
|Wars||Did not enter service|
|Variants||Pattern 1914, Model of 1917(US)|
|Weight||8 lb 11 oz (3.94 kg) (Empty)|
|Length||3 ft 10.3 in (1,176 mm)|
|Barrel length||26 in (660 mm)|
|Caliber||.276 inch (7.0 mm)|
|Action||Modified Mauser bolt action|
|Rate of fire||Manual, as determined by skill of operator|
|Muzzle velocity||2,785 ft/s (849 m/s)|
|Feed system||5 round, clip-fed reloading|
The Pattern 1913 Enfield (P'13) was an experimental rifle developed by the Royal Small Arms Factory for the British Army as a result of its combat experience in the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902. The weapon was to serve as a replacement for the Short Magazine Lee–Enfield (SMLE). An advanced designed chamber allowed for a high-velocity .276 Enfield rimless round, which was more powerful than the service-issued .303 British cartridge. However, implementation of the P'13 was rendered impractical by the outbreak of the First World War.
During the Second Boer War, the British Army had been faced with expert Boer marksmen equipped with the Mauser Model 1895, in 7×57mm caliber. This experience prompted the War Office to develop its own "magnum" round in 1910, using a .276-calibre rimless cartridge. In August 1910, the Small Arms Committee, which had been responsible for the adoption of the Short Magazine Lee–Enfield, was asked by the Director of Artillery to produce a new specification for a service rifle. The main changes called for a Mauser-style action and a one-piece stock (a cheaper and more serviceable option). In response, Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) submitted a design chambered for a rimless high-velocity cartridge. In 1911, the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) at Enfield, the British Government's design and production facility, produced a modified Mauser-pattern rifle for a similar cartridge, the .276. This rifle was presented to the Small Arms Committee on 3 April 1911 by the Assistant Superintendent Carnegie, and the Chief Designer Reavill.
Initially the RSAF designed the new rifle, at this point the Pattern 1911, around two calibres; the .276 and the .256. The .256 was found to be inaccurate and the .276 was adopted in mid-1911 for further testing. Problems with pressure and jacket fouling in the bore resulting from the high velocity round led to the cartridge being redesigned. Numerous changes to the rifle and the cartridge led to eleven Pattern 1911 and Pattern 1912 rifles being manufactured. At the end of 1912, it was decided to put the latest incarnation of the design into limited production for troop trials in 1913 and 1,000 were ordered from RSAF. By the end of 1912, 508 rifles had been completed, and by the end of January 1913, 1,251 had been manufactured. The rifle was distributed to the army as the Rifle, Magazine, Enfield, .276-inch. The trials took place in Britain, Ireland, Egypt and South Africa and at the end, the Chief Inspector of Small Arms recommended a number of changes, which resulted in a quantity of 6 improved Pattern 1913 rifles being manufactured between March and April 1914. The outbreak of World War I led to the abandonment of the effort to introduce a smaller caliber rimless cartridge for purely practical reasons. Adapting the design (with largely cosmetic alterations aside from chamber and extractor redesign) to fire the standard .303 British round led to the Pattern 14 Rifle (P'14), which was fed from a five-round internal magazine by five-round stripper clips. Effective mass production in Britain during World War I was impossible, and so the P'14 became a de facto afterthought. Thus the SMLE remained the standard British rifle during World War I and beyond.
The design of the weapon showed the emphasis on accurate, rapid fire emphasised by British Army training during this period. The adjustable flip-up aperture rearsight with a 300 yd (274 m) battle setting when folded down was an excellent design, allowing rapid and accurate sight acquisition, and was advanced for the period. The Mauser-type bolt had a low-profile bolt handle with an integral safety lug built into its base that locked in the receiver. The unusual 'dog-leg' shaped bolt handle is low profile and places the bolt knob just rearwards of the trigger close to the firer's hand, again facilitating rapid cycling and fire. Like the Lee–Enfield, the safety falls under the firer's thumb and can be operated silently. The action was configured to be easily operable, even when heated by sustained rapid fire, with slick operation, cock-on-closing feature and positive camming action when opening or closing the bolt. The Pattern 1913 Enfield bolt locking lugs had a 4 degree helical angle with matching angles on the receiver lug seats (the technical term is interrupted threading). This means that final head space is not achieved until the bolt handle is turned down all the way. The Lee–Enfield rifle also featured helical locking surfaces. The British probably used helical locking lugs to allow for chambering imperfect or dirty ammunition and that the closing cam action is distributed over the entire mating faces of both bolt and receiver lugs. This is one reason the bolt closure feels smooth. The angled lugs had no tendency to unwind with chamber pressure since the "angle of repose" of smooth, lubricated steel surfaces is approximately 8 degrees. One advantage was that when the bolt handle was turned up was that the lugs cleared each other immediately so full effort was applied to the extraction cam. The trigger had a mechanical interlock to prevent firing unless the bolt was fully locked. The action was large and strong and had a long bolt throw compared to other military service rifle bolt actions, since it had to be capable of handling the dimensionally large .276 Enfield cartridge variants, and the barrel was given a heavy profile. The Pattern 1913 Enfield like the Mauser Gewehr 98 had no magazine cut-off mechanism, which when engaged permits the feeding and extraction of single cartridges only while keeping the cartridges in the magazine in reserve. It was a long and comparatively heavy rifle – the Lee-Enfield Mk III weighed 8 lb 10 oz (3.91 kg) empty – and the pronounced sight protector 'ears', the 'pot-belly' magazine and 'dog-leg' bolt handle gave it an ungainly air.
The lack of industrial capacity led the British government to contract with US commercial arms manufacturers: Winchester Repeating Arms Company, Remington Arms and Eddystone Arsenal (a non-governmental arms manufacturer owned by Remington Arms) who produced the P'14 in .303 British for the British Army before the United States entered the war in April 1917. When the US entered the war, the P'14 was modified and standardized by the US Ordnance Department and went into production at the same factories as had produced the P'14, production of that rifle having ceased, as the Model of 1917, commonly M1917 Enfield, chambered for the standard US .30-06 Springfield cartridge and enjoyed some success as a complement for the Springfield M1903 rifles, which were America's official standard issue, soon far surpassing the Springfield in total production and breadth of issue.
The P13 is distinguished by unusual angled finger grooves on the fore end of the stock, which were not present on the later P14 and M1917. Some P'13s survived as target rifles in the UK, often having been "sporterized" (removal of wooden handguards and shortening of the stock). Very few were produced, and so very few survive.
- Skennerton. The U.S. Enfield. pp. 1–2.
- Skennerton. The U.S. Enfield. p. 5.