Developed in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Smith & Wesson Light Rifle, aka the Model 1940, was conceived in response to a request by Great Britain for a lightweight semi-automatic rifle. S&W's response was mechanically novel, especially in the fully ambidextrous magazine well/ejector chute; this feature was relatively ahead of its time, it was generally outclassed by other carbines and submachine guns on the market, particularly the U.S. M1 Carbine. In competition, it squared off against the now-iconic U.S. M1 Carbine, with the additional handicap of severe ammunition trouble. The Light Rifle had been developed using commercially available 9mm Parabellum ammunition, which was not a chamber pressure match for the military-contract ammo issued during the test. S&W revisited the drawing board, resulting in the Mark II, which integrated a machined steel sleeve around the receiver, which acted as a reinforcement as well as a positive bolt-blocking safety. This was not enough to save the project, and the British shelved the Light Rifle, demanded a refund on their advance, and, once the pressing matter of World War II was resolved, took their stock of unwanted Light Rifles and threw them in the English Channel. According to the Smith & Wesson historian, in 1974 Smith & Wesson found a limited number of unfired 1940 light rifles packed in crates. These were classified as Curio & Relic items and sold as collector's pieces. According to Jinks on page 240 of "History of Smith & Wesson," 137 Mark I rifles were found along with 80 Mark II rifles. Many of these survivors are branded with a prominent metal plate (absent on this example) declaring them unsafe to fire. Blade front and elevation adjustable notch rear sights, with a fluted barrel, ribbed safety, signature combination magazine well/ejector port, and a smooth stock with a ribbed buttplate numbered to match the rifle. Includes a non-factory storage case, correct original leather sling, three extra magazine, spanner wrench, and manual.
Excellent with 99% bright original blue finish remaining, some scattered light surface scratches, and a few small scattered handling marks on the buttstock. Mechanically excellent.
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