The Indian made SMLE’s are some what unique and have an addition not found on their commonwealth counterparts, the “Ishy Screw”. The screw is a steel wood screw that goes through the forewood, see image 6 below. There seems to be some speculation as to the intent of the addition of the screw. Some feel It may have been to strengthen the wood being used for the fore-wood, others to help strengthen the wood whilst being used with a grenade launcher. Either way its an easy way to spot one of these old girls.
The Indian made rifles that were manufactured prior to 1949 are stamped with GRI whilst those post 1948 are stamped with RFI. RFI standing for Rifle Factory Ishapore which is still in operation today.
There seems to be a little unfair bias aimed towards the GRI marked rifles as being of an inferior or lesser quality build. I feel that this is a bit un warranted as the rifle produced prior to independence were subject to the same quality assurance, British tooling equipment and British trained inspectors as say the Lithgow factories in Australia. The rifles had to be inspected to such high standards as they were being sent all over the world. Also when you consider that the Indian army numbered just over 200,000 men at the start of WWII that would grow to 2,500,000, they couldn’t afford to be making inferior or substandard weapons.
If there is anything that does let the rifles down it would be the type of storage and extended length of use that they had in comparison to other commonwealth counterparts. To me personally, I see nothing wrong with the Ishy screw or the Indian made rifles and its a part of the history of the rifle.
Interestingly enough variants of the SMLE are still being manufactured at the Indian Ordinance Factory. The IOF .315 bears a striking resemblance to the Enfield of old. The site even gives the following performance information “With Standard Ammunition, the dispersion area will be 101.6 mm x 101.6 mm at 91.34 meters (100 Yds) and 304.8 mm x 304.8 mm at 274.32 meters (300 Yds) with a series of 6 shots with one elimination in both the cases.” http://ofbindia.gov.in/products/data/weapons/wsc/5.htm
Selection Of Ishapore SMLE No1 MkIII* Images, Please click on the pictures below for a larger image, scroll left and right and press esc to return to the web page.