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Ok this may be a dumb question but you have to understand that I am very green when it comes to Enfields. SMLE means: short magazine Lee Enfield correct? Is there a long magazine Enfield? I guess the question is- why is there a need for a for a distinction of "short magazine"? I do not want to start another Cordite war either.
 

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There is an "MLE", and it's longer. The "Short" refers to the rifle, nothing to do with the magazine. The short rifle was designed to provide a common rifle replacing both the long rifle for infantry use and carbine for mounted and other special uses.
 

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It comes

from the british military habit of cataloging items. Thus a 9'x9' tent becomes shelter, canvas 9'x9'.
A Norwegian army shirt becomes, shirt, man's, cold weather.
A short rifle with a magazine, following the Lee Enfield pattern becomes, Rifle, short, magazine, Lee Enfield.
 

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To understand the background, the British Army had only recently moved on from single-shot rifles - the Martini-Henry. The word "magazine" was therefore used to differentiate two different rifles in service at the same time:

Rifle (Martini-Henry)

Rifle, Magazine, Lee-Metford (hence MLM Mk1, and then MLE Mk1 for the Lee-Enfield)

When the "short rifle" was adopted in 1907, it appeared in the stores system alongside the Long Lee Enfield, which was still on general issue - hence the two rifles again had to be described separately:

Rifle, Magazine, Lee-Enfield (MLE)

Rifle, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield (hence SMLE or Smellie)


The British Army has always used stores terminology designed to assist indexing, in the form "Item, description, description, use", viz:

"Paper, toilet, abrasive, soldiers"

"Paper, toilet, soft, officers"

etc....
 

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I recently listened to an audio book on XM Sonic Theatre, a Sherlock Holmes story written in the style of the originals but not of Sir Authur's hand. In this story, a character surmises that the rifle used in a sniping incident was probably an Enfield, the older style with the "long magazine". Gave me a chuckle. Best wishes. Dave
 
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