Howell automatic rifle

Calibre: .303 British
Barrel: 25.2in (640mm)
Length: 44.5in (1130mm)
Weight: 11lb 12oz (5.3kg)
Magazine: 10 or 20 rounds
Country: United Kingdom
Years: 1918 - 1940

The Howell rifle was designed in Britain during the Great War. Essentially it was nothing more than a standard-service Lee-Enfield No.1 Mk.III rifle converted to fire automatically, like a machine gun. There was little to no interest in the weapon at the time; the Lewis gun was in service and there was no need for another machine gun.

It was only when World War II broke out that the Howell gained any attention. Mr. N. Howell submitted his rifle to the Ordnance Board for testing, and it was considered as an anti-aircraft weapon for the Home Guard. Nothing ever became of it, however. No such weapons were ever issued to any wings of the British Army.

In terms of design, the Howell was quite crude. As mentioned before, it was simply a Lee-Enfield rifle converted for automatic firing. A long 25-inch gas tube was fixed to the right side of the rifle and ran along from the barrel to the bolt. Recoil was fierce so a pistol grip was fixed in place of the original stock grip, and a sheet metal guard wrapped around the trigger to protect the firer's hand.

Similar designs include Dawson & Buckingham's "Auto-SMLE", Rieder's automatic rifle, Ekins' automatic rifle, and the Charlton automatic rifle. A surviving example of the Howell automatic rifle can be viewed at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

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