Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1467: Smith & Wesson Mark I Semi-Automatic Light Rifle

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Rare Smith & Wesson Mark I Semi-Automatic Light Rifle

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $5,500 - $8,500

Rare Smith & Wesson Mark I Semi-Automatic Light Rifle

Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: Mark 1
Type: Carbine
Gauge: 9 mm
Barrel: 9 1/2 inch round
Finish: blue
Stock: synthetic
Item Views: 1025
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 368
Class: Curio & Relic Long Gun
Bore Condition: Shiny - Very little wear

Developed in the 1940s, the Smith & Wesson Light Rifle was a contender for military contracts with both the British and the Americans and squared off against the M1 Carbine as a pistol substitute for officers and support personnel. While it had some novel features, such as the dual-purpose magazine well/ejector port, it failed at trials. Large numbers of the Light Rifle were destroyed, both during testing and afterwards, including a reported incident of the British cutting their Light Rifle samples up with a blowtorch and tossing the resulting scrap into the English Channel. According to Smith & Wesson historian Roy Jinks, a number of crated, unfired Model 1940 Light Rifles were found by Smith & Wesson in 1974 and subsequently sold as collector's items. The information on page 240 of "The History of Smith & Wesson" by Jinks lists 137 Mark I rifles and 80 Mark II rifles in this found grouping. The front sight is a fixed blade, and the rear sight is an adjustable notch. The wide magazine housing serves a dual purpose. The front section holds the actual magazine, and the rear portion is actually the ejection port, so the fired cartridges are ejected directly to the ground instead of into the air. The action operates from an open bolt, with the cocking hook on the right side above the patent numbers, and right side mounted rotary safety. The left side of the action is marked with the two-line Smith & Wesson address. The pistol grip stock is made of a black plastic/composition material and is fitted with a serrated metal buttplate that is marked with the serial number. A sling swivel base is present, but no swivel. The metal hazard tag associated with the Light Rifles released from S&W inventory in the 1970s is detached from the buttstock but included. Two slings and an extra magazine are also included.

Rating Definition:

Excellent, with 97% plus original blue finish, showing some light spotting and scratches overall. Much of the surface bears a thin coating of dried grease; test cleaning in selected areas shows bright blue underneath. The stock is in equal condition. Mechanically excellent.

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