|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.