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The British Service Lee.

* Every once in a while, something comes along that, right from the outset, marks it as a classic in its field. In films, you have "Gone With The Wind"; auto buffs of the 1930s viewed the Bugatti Royale with awe. Currently, I am pleased to note that The British Serice Lee, by Ian Skennerton, Arms & Armour Press, has all the earmarks of an instant winner.

To those of us who are Enfield Buffs, the only real reference in recent years has been Major E.G.B. Reynold's The Lee Enfield Rifle, now out of print. Unfortunately, that book placed major emphasis on the No. 4, Mark I Enfield, and rather skimped on some of the earlier patterns.

Not so with The British Service Lee. Skennerton's large format (410 pages) volume is chock full of juicy information about the precursers of the Lee Metfords and Enfields, and covers the entire lineage with a profusion of rare period photos, as well as detailed modern artwork, showing guns and many of their salient features.

Information includes original research as well as exerpts from contemporary government publications and studies. There are separate chapters covering production of arms in Australia, the United States, India, and Canada, and an extremely detailed study of Lee ammunition.

As well as the standard military arms in .303, sub-caliber trainers are given the best treatment I have seen in years. Tables containing proofs, and factory and national markings make this a must-have for those, like myself, who have spent countless hours trying to determine the provenance of a particular piece.

The British Service Lee is more or less divided into two parts. The first portion is a detailed history of the Lees, finishing off with chapters on cartridges, wirebrakers and cutters, grenade launchers and bayonets.

The second section covers each rifle separately, reiterating and condensing much of the information contained previously. Full-length photos of each arm allow the researcher to immediately identify a piece; if one wishes to learn more one may turn to a pertinent earlier chapter and delve into the gun's background more deeply.

It is difficult to praise this book too highly. One rarely sees such painstaking work nowadays. I would welcome a similarly well-produced volume on, say, Remington rifles. Skennerton, who has written several other fine volumes having to do with British arms and equipment, is to be congratulated on The British Service Lee. It is an obvious labor of love that avoids the too real danger of infatuation with any one specific model.

The British Service Lee is available from most booksellers specializing in outdoors publications, or from the exclusive North American distributor, IDSA Books, Dept. GA, P.O. Box 185, Hamilton, OH 45012, for $32.50 plus $1.50 postage.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:James, Garry
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1984
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