Rare British P1903 bayonet for the Mk1 III Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) rifle.
The P1903 design combined the P1888 blade and crosspiece with a new pommel design. Many 1903 pattern bayonets are actually P1888 bayonets that have been converted. This bayonet is a good example of a converted 1888.
The P1903 had a short service life as the blade wasn’t thought to be long enough, having less reach than most European bayonets when combined with the shorter Mk1 rifle. The P1903 was produced for British use from 1903–1907, at which time the P1907 was adopted.
This example is in good condition. The 300mm double-edged blade is bright and clean with a service sharpened edge. The blade has a flattened diamond cross-section with a raised medial ridge and terminates in a spear point. The ricasso is stamped with the Indian stores arrow, bend test stamp, Indian government inspection stamp and a worn Enfield maker’s mark and broad arrow.
The obverse ricasso bears the crown stamp of Queen Victoria and the pattern date, 1903 which is stamped over the original manufacture date, indicating that this bayonet was originally an 1888 pattern. An additional date stamp of 1897 is present beside a Birmingham inspection stamp. The spine of the ricasso bears an Enfield inspection mark.
The steel crosspiece and pommel retain their original polished finish with a pale patina and age related marks. The end of the pommel bears a faint RFI stamp, indicating that the conversion from P1888 to P1903 was carried out at the Rifle Factory Ishapore in India.
The press-stud locking mechanism works perfectly. The wooden grip scales are in good condition with age and use related marks.
The black leather scabbard is in good condition. The steel furniture remains bright with a pale patina and some shallow pitting. The leather is stamped with faint ownership and inspection stamps. The stitching is intact and in good condition and the leather retains most of its original finish with some crinkling to the front.
This is a good example of an increasingly hard to find British P1903 bayonet that began service as an 1888 pattern and was then converted to the 1903 pattern and issued to the British army in India.