Howard Francis SLC

Calibre: 7.63mm Mauser
Barrel: 12.75in (324mm)
Length: 32in (812mm)
Weight: 8lb 1.5oz (3.7kg)
Magazine: 12 rounds
Country: West Africa
Years: 1943

This "self-loading carbine" (SLC) was designed by a man named Howard Francis. Basically it was adapted from a Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III, with changes to the feeding system. The bolt-action system of the Lee-Enfield was replaced with a blowback-operated system with a heavy breech block. Some parts, such as the trigger mechanism, were retained from the Lee-Enfield. The original .303 chambering of the Lee-Enfield was replaced with chambering for the 7.63mm Mauser pistol cartridge. All in all, the weapon weighed about 8lb, 1oz, and measured at about 32in. The barrel, which was simply a cut-down Lee-Enfield barrel with exactly the same rifling, was about 12 3/4 inches and weighed about 1lb, 7oz.

Francis' SLC was investigated by the Naval Ordnance Inspection staff at Simonstown, West Africa, and a prototype was delivered to the Ordnance Board in London for testing. During vigorous tests, the feeding system completey failed and each round ended up having to be chambered by hand. Recoil was strong and threw off aim to the left. The Ordnance Board concluded that there was not much point in developing the weapon any further since it performed so poorly during tests. No subsequent prototypes were ever made.

Francis' carbine disassembled.

It is probable that, since only one prototype seems to have been produced, the Francis SLC is no longer in existence. No photographs of the weapon were taken. Above is a sketch drawn by a Naval Ordnance Inspection officer; this is likely the only visual representation of the weapon that has survived.

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