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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Thanks Matty. The underlying question of this thread was whether barrels were dated on manufacture, or on fitting to a rifle. Your rifle still could be an example of both I guess. Muffet pointed out something I was unaware of re instructions to travelling armourers, where armourers would apply the date when fitting the barrel to the receiver.

Muffett specifically points out that a barrel is only dated when fitted to a receiver and proofed.

The confusion in my mind, without having read the source documents, was that there are many examples of un-numbered spare barrels which are dated. The SMLE Mk.I spare barrels made by BSA in 1911 and 1912 that were fitted to Australian issued rifles in the 1920s, and stamped with the fitting date, are cases in point. There are also quite a few MLE spare barrels that are dated 1912 that have serial numbers of the contemporary V series SMLE production.

So I assume here that these barrels were made as spares but were dated when fitted to a receiver for proof, and then dismantled and put to store when proofed successfully. Given the practice of numbering the barrels and giving the receiver the barrel number pre 1920s, the spare MLE barrels make sense. So why were the SMLE Mk.I barrels dated '11 but not serial numbered on manufacture? (these barrels usually have the fitting date in large stamps in M/YY format on the right side of the knox form, with the rack number instead of the receiver serial number).

The other point of confusion was the Australian made heavy barrels where the NOS ones sold by Mick Smith were undated. Muffett draws our attention to the material that says they were, but using a letter code in front of the knox form rather than the familiar M 'YY format date on the left side of the knox form. These were only M 'YY dated by the armourer (factory or travelling) when fitted to a receiver. I have to say that I have not seen an example that could pick holes in any of that.

One of my little projects that I never got around to was recording the letter date codes on my heavy barrels and comparing them with the fitting dates. Unfortunately that will have to wait as my stuff is in storage with a dealer.
 

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MattyR82
Maybe a rifle club re barrel
That it could be however the barrel is a mid/late 1930s manufacter and the 9'44 on the barrel surely must align with the 9'44 stamping in the butt. Maybe not FTRd but an armourers stamping for when it was rebarreled. Has the H on the wrist so not necessarily a rifle club H barrel conversion. It's the second H barrel I have seen with a 9'44 marked barrel and 9'44 on the butt.
 

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That it could be however the barrel is a mid/late 1930s manufacter and the 9'44 on the barrel surely must align with the 9'44 stamping in the butt. Maybe not FTRd but an armourers stamping for when it was rebarreled. Has the H on the wrist so not necessarily a rifle club H barrel conversion. It's the second H barrel I have seen with a 9'44 marked barrel and 9'44 on the butt.
How is this a 30’s barrel?
 

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I would have to agree that the date was applied when fitted.. The books detailing the "sequence of operations" , If they exist at Lithgow, would normally show what stamps were applied and when.

According to S.A. Examination Instruction No-9.. Marking of Components..dated 1951.
"Complete weapons found to be acceptable are marked with the workmark, the Examiner's personal mark, acceptance mark and the date mark indicating the year the weapon was inspected"
It goes on to say that .."Only stamps of approved design will be used.. Instruction #45 of 10 June 1943 details these stamps and workmarks".

The letters that muffett referred to would be batch numbers..these were applied to the steel when it came from the Steelmakers, and the stamp transferred through all operations to the finished product.
These letters are also found on the Slazenger sporting rifles.

According to my notes the letters on (H) barrels are as follows.
F 48
G 9 '49
H 7 '52
AD 11 '55
AE 9 '53
AH 7 '58
AO MA 62
AW 7.62 #4 barrel

Ken.
 

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Ive had H barrels dated as late as 1962.
I’m not buying the dates on assembly bit.
Surely that date of 1962 would be a fitment marks as SAF ended its production of No.1 parts in 1960 (according to Ian Skennerton). When National Service finished in 1959, there was a large drawdown in SMLE stocks and these were sold off, given to cadets or put into storage. The only support for No.1s in service were for the HTs that lingered in service for a little while yet. And RAAOC also ended its wider support for No.1s at unit level in 1959 upon completion of NS in 1959.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
This is probably going to give a slight headache Damien. No serial number on the barrel!

View attachment 3908522
Matty, not sure what the letter code is on this H barrel as per Muffett's post, but that may assist if you can find it. It has the look and feel of a 1950s club rifle, being parkerised as pointed out before. Is there a rearsight bed, and if so, how professionally has it been fitted?. The bruise on the edge of the knox form indicates a barrel that has not been fitted up in a proper vice, so again lends weight to it being installed by what passed for the club armourer. Many of the club armourer fitted barrels did not have serial numbers.

As an aside, the rearsight bed can be very telling - if the barrel has been made as a rifle club spare, it will probably be parkerised under the rearsight bed, the rearsight bed will have a different finish to the barrel, or there will be a longitudinal hacksaw cut along the bottom of the rearsight bed's band so it can open out and fit the larger diameter H barrel. My understanding is that original WW2 production H barrels were assembled with the rearsight bed "in the white" and then parkerised is a unit, if not as the whole barreled action. But again, someone more knowledgeable may educate me on that point.

I have a theory that the barrel may have been a spare left over from the sniper program judging by the date, as I cannot see the MA VII stamp that goes on both barrel and receiver ring on barrel fit up. So the barrel is a spare made and proofed in 9 '44 as a spare pending fitting to a Mk.3H(T). Club armourers would have not put the MA VII stamp on, as they were not factory inspectors. When I can drag out my own Mk.3H(T), I will compare the date and inspection stamps to test my theory. I am struggling to recall whether my sniper had a numbered barrel, but the date was consistent with the butt marking and the list in Skinny's books.

The coincidence between the barrel date and the butt FTR might be just that. Rifle 54021 should be a 1916 Lithgow made in Nov - Dec 1916 and issued to 5MD in 3/17. Does the butt have the same 5MD rack number, or is it a completely different butt from the FTR mix & match? I am not sure why Lithgow would be rebuilding this rifle as a Mk.3H in Sept 1944 when they were in the earlier stages of the sniper program. One possibility that crossed my mind is that it was fitted with the H barrel as part of the sniper program, but was not completed.

Sorry, you have really got me on a tangent now. The problem with that is the lack of MA VII stamp and the thought that they would have finished completing it into a Mk.3H(T) being relatively early in the program makes me think the barrel was not installed at Lithgow. The whole assembly sequence does not seem to gel with my understanding of it (but I could be wrong). I have never yet seen a Mk.3H(T) that had its original 1930s H barrel - only with new 1944 barrels so far. This suggests to me that the Mk.3H rifles used as the basis for the snipers were selected for reasons I am not clear on. Was it that if they were proven target rifles, then they must be OK for accuracy? We know that many (most?) of these rifles were largely broken down to receiver only before being rebuilt with new parts, so why bother?? That said, I have seen a few original snipers that use woodwork that appears to be original to the unconverted 3H rifle.

Anyhow, a good 5MD issue mark. Not too often seen....
 

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All the H.T.s that I have seen did not have the barrel numbered to the rifle unless they were FTR in the 1950s. I have seen a few high ( or medium) mounted HT rifles that looked like original H rifles that had been fitted with scopes. As they were done first it would make sense that what was in stock was used up first. Brian Labudda had one I looked at and it still had it's original British walnut furniture.

Edited to add...

The medium mount H.T.s that appeared to be converted from older H rifles did have barrels numbered (as far as I can remember) .......
 

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Damien, just a question about the MA VII stamp you mention above. Just looking at a few spare H barrels here, on a 39 dated has the stamp, a 48 doesn’t, but a 53 does. Does this mean it, the 39 & 53, was fitted to a rifle at the factory? There are no serial numbers on any of them. Also have a 62 dated one, dated totally different, MA62. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Anthony, that is what my theory suggests. The MA VII is stamped on both barrel and receiver ring on the left side pretty much next to each other, suggesting that it was related to inspecting the breeching up of the barrel in the receiver. Looking at the pre 1926 rifles, the A-star VII mark is used.
 

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The barrel has an E code on it so I may totally be wrong on the dates that this barrel is from. Good information too there D.
Now this rifle is confusing me and irritating me with its origin. Looking at my 1908 Enfield, that has a stamp on it with the date directly underneath the serial number. I'll add the photo into this bunch.
Going back to the 1916 in question. It has the inventory number on the butt matching to receiver.

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Here is my HT medium mount has a 38 dated barrel, maybe a replacement as it has been a target rifle after leaving the military, but has been factory drilled for a sight bed And also has the “p” for paint which is still evident on the action.
In my opinion too much of a coincidence to have had a replacement barrel after service as the target shooters wouldn’t know what the P designates.
More likely is that it is an original H rifle converted to a HT as Doogal suggested.
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Surely that date of 1962 would be a fitment marks as SAF ended its production of No.1 parts in 1960 (according to Ian Skennerton). When National Service finished in 1959, there was a large drawdown in SMLE stocks and these were sold off, given to cadets or put into storage. The only support for No.1s in service were for the HTs that lingered in service for a little while yet. And RAAOC also ended its wider support for No.1s at unit level in 1959 upon completion of NS in 1959.
No not surely because some of them were unused, never fitted to an action and dated.
 
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