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 P1888 Lee-Metford bayonets were converted to the 1903 pattern. The P1903 had a short service life as the blade was considered not long enough, having less reach when combined with the shorter rifle. The P1903 was produced for British use from 1903–1907, at which time the P1907 was adopted.
This example is in very good condition. The 304mm double-edged blade is bright and clean with its factory edge. The blade has a flattened diamond cross-section with a raised medial ridge and terminates in a spear point. There is minimal, light tarnishing and a small patch of very shallow pitting at the point. The ricasso is stamped with the War Department broad arrow, Wilkinson maker’s mark, bend test stamp and inspection stamps.
The obverse ricasso bears the crown stamp of King Edward VII, the pattern date, 1903 and the manufacture date of November 1902. This is a conversion from a P1888 bayonet to a P1903 and was conducted at the Rifle Factory Ishapore in India. Similar conversions were carried out in England by the Enfield, Chapman, Sanderson and Wilkinson factories. The RFI conversions were of bayonets in use by British forces in India, being more cost effective than shipping the bayonets back to England to be converted. The spine of the ricasso bears two worn Wilkinson inspection marks.
The steel crosspiece and pommel retain their original finish with minimal age related marks. The pommel retains its original finish and bears two numerical stamps. The end of the pommel bears the RFI stamp of the Ishapore Rifle Factory. The press-stud locking mechanism works perfectly and the wooden grip scales are in good period condition. The scales bear faint inspection stamps.
The black leather scabbard is in great condition. The steel furniture retains its original polished finish with a mild speckled patina. The steel locket and chape bear inspection stamps, top and bottom and the leather is also stamped. The stitching is intact and in good condition.
This is an excellent example of this increasingly hard to find British P1903 bayonet.