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Swift Model B: For Training and Pranks

(lot removed from auction)

As World War 2 exploded in Europe, rifle training suddenly because a very important topic in Great Britain. Typical solutions are small bore rimfire training variants of service rifles, but the British also wanted an option that could be used indoors and without any actual ammunition expenditure – and the Swift training rifle was the answer. 

The Swift is a trainer the same size, weight, and balance as a Pattern 1914 Enfield rifle (and close enough to the No4 Enfield as to be quite usable). When “fired”, it projects a captive spring-loaded needle about an inch forward of the muzzle. It was coupled with a target from and paper targets depicting either plain silhouette targets or sketches of battlefields with enemy soldiers in various locations. The trainee would aim and fire, and the needle would prick a hole in the paper target at the simulated point of impact. In theory, this allowed for basic marksmanship training without noise, cost, or recoil.

The Swift trainers were well thought out, incorporating features like a spring loaded buttplate which would only allow the trigger to function if the rifle was pulled firmly into the shoulder. The mechanism was cocked by cycling the bolt, of course, but it specifically had to the cycled all the way back, to train shooters against short-stoking the mechanism. The force required to cycle the bolt forward was the same as that of a real rifle’s action, and the sight picture was also the same. In theory, it was an very good tool.

In practice, it was considered a joke by British soldiers and officers – much more useful for pranks played on companions bending over than for any sort of marksmanship training. The true potential of the device is probably somewhere in between the views of those officers and the Swift company designers.

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