"What's the cut-off for?"
How many times has this question been asked, and how many times did we answer? But will it really be the right answer? On British Rifles, the cut-off in the form we are used to seeing it is all down James Joseph Speed's creative genius.
J.J.Speed started working at Enfield's factory at the age of 25 as an engineer. In time, he demonstrated his capacity to become first deputy director and then director of Enfield's Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF), which he held from 1891 to 1909.
Thanks to his skills and creative genius besides the cut-off, we can also find the bolt head on British Ordinary Weapons, the gun safety lever on the MLE rifles, the mud cover Dust cover, volley sight, ZigZag springs and auxiliary springs in tanks / loaders, the safety catch used on SMLE, followed by marginal modifications even on the most modern models ( N ° 4 - N ° 5 ....). In his collaboration with Wotkins Engineer, the rings with the spring holding the inner band and the gradual setting of the target mark must be fitted.
He was a controversial character because he patented his inventions while working as an employee of the Government. That's why he was attacked by newspapers of the time. He always argued that despite the remarkable contribution to the development of the ordained rifle, he only received his salary as an employee, while other inventors including William Ellis Metford received financial reward from the government. With its patents applied only to weapons produced for the civilian market (I hope everyone knows the Lee Speed) a decent pension was however guaranteed.
In July 1879, Colonel Frank Hyde of Sharp Rifle Co. presented to the War Office the prototype of the "1879 Lee Repeating Rifle" (rifle 45/70 and 30/40 with a patented removable magazine ( www.google. com / patents / US221328 ) by our old friend, James Paris Lee) opening the door to repeating weapons with removable magazines, and fear within the government and senior officers that a high system capacity to Fire would undermine the discipline of men and result in useless waste of ammunition.
When the weapons were single-necked, each committer had to be in close contact with the other men; They depended directly on each other. After firing the shot, he touched his companion to cover his shoulders as the first recharged. Also knowing that they had a single shot at their disposal were more focused on the target. With repetitive weapons, officers feared that in chaotic situations as it often did in the most cynical phases of the fighting, ranks would have widened and everyone would have thought for themselves with putting men at risk and wasting ammunition.
There were many communications received from the "Committee on Small Arms", a body that carried out the arms tests to be adopted. On January 13, 1887, Colonel CG Slade, Commander of the 2nd Battalion, Fucilieri, sent a report saying, "... complete replacement of single-handed weapons with repetitive weapons will cause the total change of war strategies ...".
Repetitive weapons for the British were an absolute novelty, accustomed to and attached to their Martini-Henry, which was considered for over twenty years the "Empire Rifle". At the time of the change of order, all possible aspects of a repetitive weapon were considered, and many of the "high spheres" were opposed to the danger of having a large number of ammunition available. On the other hand, many other European (and extra-European) countries had already adopted repetition weapons with a fixed tank (Mauser, Vetterli, Mannlicher, ...). Although reluctantly, the British had to adapt to changing times and adopting weapons with greater firepower.
When the War Department ultimately decided to adopt a new weapon, he made numerous assessments and tests cwith a wide range of rifles (kropatschek, Hotchkiss, Winchester model 1876, Lee rifle, Lee Carbine, Gardner, Green, Vetterli, Mauser with tank Lee) using the services of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusilier men (as collaborators / testers) who enjoyed a great deal of experience on the battlefields of Crimea, India and Burma. After several months of difficult testing due to accidents (which excluded all weapons with a tubular loading system) and jams due to incomplete feeding system tests, it finally came to the end of the selection.
Of all the weapons under investigation, the best project turned out to be that proposed by Mr. Lee. At the end of the development phase saw the light of Lee Metford Magazine (Rifle equipped with a tank, Lee mechanics and Metford rigging). At the design stage engineers could not ignore the demands of the high "poppies"; So among the characteristics that the weapon needed to have the weapon, the Ministry asked for a device to limit the use of the magazine. It was at this point that Mr. Speed's genius intervened by inserting the cut-off.
In the List of Changes (LoC) with Circular No. 5877 dated December 22, 1888, which concerned the characteristics of the new order weapon, the following was added:
"... A cut off is mounted on the right side of the body, which , When pressed inwards, stops the supply of cartridges from the magazine, so that the arm can then be used as a single loader. ... "
That translated sounds more or less:
" ... A cut off is mounted on the right side of the receiver, when pressed inward, stops feeding the cartridges from the tank so as to feed the weapon to Single shot ... ".
The absence of any security on the first models led to the cut-off being both a single shot device and as safe to avoid accidentally charging the weapon. With the change of time and the variation of the models this "piece of sheet metal" increasingly assumed the role of security rather than a practical system to limit the use of ammunition, although during the test the weapon had to always work correctly Either powered by the Magazine or as a single shot rifle.
In 1902 with the introduction of the "short" rifle, Small Envelope Lee Enfield No. 1 MKI made us a small breakthrough. In the characteristics of the weapon it was indicated that the weapons intended for the navy departments (marked with the "N" mark) had to be cut off (LoC 11715 of 23 Dec 1902), while weapons destined for the land departments could be missing. As often as the English did, however, we rethought and in 1906 it was reintroduced again as an obligation also in weapons destined for land troops (LoC 13612 of October 25, 1906). The reason why the navy asked for the reintroduction of the cut-off on the weapons they intended was simple, the rifles never abandoned the tradition of firing at command by executing the officer's order on the deck.
Over the years the cut-off suffered several marginal changes in the design to meet the needs of new weapons. The first cut-offs mounted on MLM and MLE closed the tank completely. At the top they were shaped to accommodate a support ammo to facilitate insertion into a cartridge chamber. With the introduction of the guide for loading slabs on the shutter head and the subsequent introduction of the loading jumpers integrated on the receiver, the cut-off was gradually changed to facilitate the use of the slabs and the insertion of ammunition (LoC 12129 of February 18, 1904).
They know at least nine different variants.
When the loading bridge for the use of slabs was introduced with the advent of CLLM and CLLE (Charger Loading Lee Metford and Charger Loading Lee Enfield) the cut-off utility was also revised because in the various conflicts it became its The dreaded "machine gun" appeared, and with such weapons it was useless to use excessive ammunition. Starting with 1909, with the introduction of SMLE No. I MKIII, the cut-off destination was definitively changed by using a limiter to single-shot, which should only be used in two cases:
1-When a full Magazine is closed shut allowing a round to be put in chamber.
2-When you want to unload the weapon (having the cartridge in chamber) keeping ammunition in the magazine.
In the 1909 Musketry regulation it was stated that it was only allowed to use it when not engaged in combat and expressly prohibited its use to feed the single-shot weapon.
On January 2, 1916, with the circular LoC 17622, the SMLE MKIII * was officially adopted, where the asterisk indicated a variation from the previous models, among the various directives it was indicated: "A model of this rifle has been approved in which the cut-off is not required, no longer needing the slot to be milled in the receiver and no threaded hole for the fixing screw .... ". Conditional use in this (as in other) circulars caused a bit of confusion. In keeping with the discretion of the directive, some manufacturers such as BSA, SSA and then NRF to speed up machining and perhaps save a few pence produced some thousands of milling receivers, actions for MKIII* models, Later they were specifically asked to continue to produce the cut-off editing actions, leaving some intention for future productions. It would seem that the cut-off, after almost thirty years after its appearance, was still at the center of debates.
Thanks to the insistence of the Navy always faithful to the "command fire" (it would be useful to find a marine manual to verify) that again required their weapons to continue to be produced with cut-offs was introduced the model MKIII* "canceled" Appending two lines of obliteration to the asterisk (see picture). Has been still at the center of debates.
Despite the times being changed, and repetition weapons, semi-automatic and automatic, have now taken hold in all countries, in British Orders, the cut-off has never ceased to be present even if it is only considered a safety for the magazine. It was also present on the latest models No. 1 MKV in 1923 and the first 2500 units of N ° 4 MKI produced in the early 1930s and then disappeared definitively in 1941 when rifle N ° 4 MKI was officially adopted in its definitive form.
The cut-off that we see here is the most classic, introduced in 1904 on SMLE n ° I MKI rifles. It is made up of a shaped "sheet". It has a single fixing point through a hole in which the screw will be inserted into the appropriate seat in the receiver allowing it to rotate and slide inside the milling (1), has the tapered and knurled tapered end to facilitate its gripping With its fingers (2), is provided with a stop tooth in the back to stop the opening stroke (3) and a second tooth to stop the sliding slider (4), a small ramp drawn In the back to help shutter slider when the cut-off is closed (5), in the flat part there is a contour that for the spring effect allows the sheet to remain locked both in opening and closing (6) and milling in order not to interfere with the insertion of ammunition through the plates (7).
Operation is simple, just press the tapered part (1) slightly and pull out to open it and vice versa, press it slightly and push it to close it. By releasing the spring effect it will allow the protrusion (6) to "cling" and keep the position (whether open or closed).
As often happens, there are legends that always circulate about the misuse by someone of the tapered tapered part that will comfortably call it "handle" (in the photo above indicated with the number 2), is equipped with a punch for the whole length. Rumors say the hole was used to break the tip of ammunition to create "dum dum" bullets to increase its disabling effect on the impact of the enemy's body. Modifying ammunition to increase the power of arrest during the First World War (and not only) is a documented but prohibited procedure and punished very severely by all belligerent forces. Anything could be used to break or even crush the tip of ammunition. Specifically, the "handle" could actually be used, but it certainly was not designed for that purpose. The over-dimensioning of the cut-off part of the piece is due to the fact that it plays an important role even when loading through the plates. From manual: "... After placing the sheet vertically in the guides, place the thumb finger on the first cartridge immediately after the sheet, with the index finger grasping the cut-off and pushing it with the thumb, with constant force Ammunition inside the tank until the last ammo is inserted ... ". The over-dimensioning of the cut-off part of the piece is due to the fact that it plays an important role even when loading through the plates. From manual: "... After placing the sheet vertically in the guides, place the thumb finger on the first cartridge immediately after the sheet, with the index finger grasping the cut-off and pushing it with the thumb, with constant force Ammunition inside the tank until the last ammo is inserted ... ". The over-dimensioning of the cut-off part of the piece is due to the fact that it plays an important role even when loading through the plates. From manual: "... After placing the sheet vertically in the guides, place the thumb finger on the first cartridge immediately after the sheet, with the index finger grasping the cut-off and pushing it with the thumb, with constant force Ammunition inside the tank until the last ammo is inserted ... ".
The "handle" in addition to providing a good grip to maneuver the cut-off in opening and closing also serves as a take-off point during loading. The through hole is just a lightening without seconds.
For almost half a century this device was mounted on all British order weapons, He started his career as a device to rule out the tank to be able to use the single shot weapon and after about twenty years was "downgraded" to a simple device Safe.
When asked: "What's the cut-off?"
It would be right to say, "It depends on what model it is."
Copyright© 2017 - Andrea Grazioli for CoEx
Translation: Kevin Fisher
Musketry Regulations Part. I 1909 - General Staf War Office
The Lee Enfield Story - Ian Skennerton
SAIS n ° 23 - Ian Skennerton
List of Changes in British War Material (LoC) - Ian Skennerton
The Lee Enfield Rifle - EGB Reynolds