Britain’s Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle – History By Cammack

By Marc Cammack

Enfield No. 4 MK1 and MK2 Rifles
Enfield No. 4 MK1 and MK2 Rifles **

AmmoLand Gun News

USA –  -(Ammoland.com)- Many famous firearms were used in World War Two. The United States produced M1 Carbine and M1 Garand.

The Germans had the K98 Mauser bolt action Rifle, the Russians used Mosin Nagant rifles, and the Japanese had the Arisaka bolt action.

The British Army’s most famous rifle of the conflict was the Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle Mk 1 in .303 British. The No. 4 Enfield was the evolution of an older design and was used in many famous battles such as D-Day and Arnhem.

Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle

The venerable British Enfield MKIII in .303 British performed well during World War One. This rifle’s bolt design enabled soldiers of the British Empire to put out high volumes of accurate fire. The Enfield’s 10 shot magazine was also double the magazine capacity of the German Gewehr 98 Mauser 8mm rifle.

However the MKIII Enfield had its faults, namely its sights. The MKIII had open sights, which were inferior to peep sights for use in combat.

World War II Savage British No. 4 MKI (T) Enfield Bolt Action Sniper Rifle with Sling: Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle
World War II Savage British No. 4 MKI (T) Enfield Bolt Action Sniper Rifle with Sling **

From 1922 to 1924 a new rifle was produced, that had peep sights called the No. 1 Mk V. 20,000 of these rifles were built for troop trials by RSAF Enfield. The Mk V’s rear sights did not stand up to heavy use and it was decided not to adopt the gun as the new infantry rifle. The No. 1 Mk VI rifle was prepared for testing in 1931, and was made in limited numbers by the Royal Small Arms Enfield Factory. Also in 1931, the Mk VI became known as the No. 4 rifle.

The No. 4 featured a peep sight that was more rugged than the Mk. V sights. It also had a heavy barrel and a spike bayonet. Further trials of the No. 4 were carried out to work out issues with the rifles, and the rifle was adopted for use by the British Army in 1939. Despite the adoption in 1939, mass production of the No. 4 rifle didn’t begin until 1941. During World War Two the No.4 saw widespread use by British forces.

The weapon was used in all theaters of war in which the British fought. The weapon performed well, and was reliable just like the MKIII Enfield which it replaced.

The Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle Mk 1 was produced by a variety of different manufacturers in England. These included ROF Fazakerley, BSA, and ROF Maltby. Wartime guns all had letter prefixes, but each maker had a different number after the prefix to differentiate manufacturers. Maltby guns had a “1” after the letter prefix, Fazakerley guns had a “2”, and BSA generally a “3”. Some BSA guns lacked an alphabetic prefix, and other BSA guns had dual letter prefixes that did not start with a “3”.

 Fazakerley Number 4 Mark I Rifle with Two Bayonets
Fazakerley Number 4 Mark I Rifle with Two Bayonets **

After the war ROF Fazakerley continued production of the No. 4 Mk 1, producing rifles as late as 1948. These rifles were marked with the month and year of production and ROF on the left side of the receiver. These guns’ serial numbers began with PF prefixes.

Enfield No. 4 MK1* Bolt Action Rifle with Scope, Bayonet and Sling
Enfield No. 4 MK1* Bolt Action Rifle with Scope, Bayonet and Sling **

Lee Enfield No 4 MK 1 Rifles were produced in both Canada and the United States during World War Two. The majority of these North American produced rifles were No. 4 Mk 1* rifles meaning that the bolt head was released through a slot that was cut in the rear of the receiver instead of a catch below the rear sight. The No. 4 Mk 1* was only produced in North America, and this change helped in simplifying production of the No. 4 Enfield rifle.

Canadian production of the Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle began in 1941 at the Long Branch Arsenal in Toronto. Wartime production of the No. 4 ceased in 1945, but the rifle was later put back into production from 1949 until 1950. Long Branch made over 900,000 No. 4 Enfield rifles in total. Savage produced the No. 4 Mk1* rifle in Massachusetts beginning in 1941. Savage made No. 4 Enfields were marked “US Property” on the left side of the receiver, and they were also marked with an square S for Savage. Savage’s rifle contract was cancelled in June 1944, with an estimated 1,236,706 rifles being produced.

World War II Enfield No. 4 MK1 (T) Sniper Rifle with Scope, Mount and Storage Crate
World War II Enfield No. 4 MK1 (T) Sniper Rifle with Scope, Mount and Storage Crate **

A sniper variation of the Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle was used in World War Two, that used the No. 32 3.5x power scope and had a wooden cheekpiece. This model was adopted in 1942 and it was known as the No. 4 Mk 1 T. The earliest sniper rifles were converted from the Trials No. 4 Enfields at the Royal Small Arms Enfield Factory. Later that year Holland and Holland was contracted to convert select No. 4 infantry rifles to No. 4 Mk 1 T sniper rifles. British and Savage made rifles were selected for conversion. Somewhere between 23,177 and 26,442 rifles were converted by Holland and Holland. Long Branch made a small number of sniper rifles late in World War Two, in addition to those that were converted by Holland and Holland.

An improved version of the Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle was introduced in 1949, called the No. 4 Mk 2. The No. 4 Mk 2’s trigger was mounted onto the receiver unlike earlier guns in which the trigger was mounted on the trigger guard. This provided for a better trigger pull. No. 4 Mk 2 rifles were produced by ROF Fazakerley for a wide variety of countries and organizations such as South Africa, Ireland, and the Royal Air Force. Many of these guns are found today in excellent or like new condition due to many of them having never seen action. Many No. 4 Mk 1 and No. 4 Mk 1* rifles were upgraded to Mk 2 specifications. These rifles are marked either No. 4 Mk 1/2 or No. 4 Mk 1/3. They will also be marked FTR meaning Factory Through Repair.

The Pakistani Ordnance Factory (POF) made both No. 4 Mk. 1 and Mk. 2 Enfield rifles in limited quantities during the 1950’s and early 1960’s. In addition to building new rifles POF rebuilt older No. 4 rifles. Many No. 4 Enfield rifles of all types were overhauled and rebuilt in India at the Ishapore factory. These rifles were often marked “RFI” for Royal Factory Ishapore. Many of these Indian overhauled rifles also had a reinforcing screw on the left side of the stock.

Fazakerley Arsenal Number 5 Mark I "Jungle" Carbine
Fazakerley Arsenal Number 5 Mark I “Jungle” Carbine **

A shortened and lightened version of the No. 4 Enfield was adopted in 1944 as the No. 5 Mk 1 Carbine. The No. 5 is better known as the “Jungle Carbine” and was made by ROF Fazakerley and by BSA. The No.5 used a unique blade bayonet and today these bayonets bring a high premium over No. 4 bayonets. A total of 251,000 No. 5 Carbines were produced from 1944 until 1947. The No. 5 was used late in World War Two and saw widespread use during the Malayan Emergency.

No. 5 Carbines featured a flash suppressor, rubber buttpad, and rear sight graduated out to 800 yards. The Carbines also had several lightening cuts made to reduce weight, including in the bolt, barrel, and receiver.

The No. 5 was said to have been unable to be sighted in and this became known as “Wandering Zero”. Because of this the No. 5 was declared obsolete in 1947, but the gun still continued to service in Malaya.

In the United States surplus Enfields were modified by importers to resemble No. 5 Carbines, but real No. 5s are easy to tell. Real No. 5s will be marked No. 5, their rear sights will be marked out to 800 yards, and they will have a hollowed out bolt handle and lightening cuts made on the rear part of the barrel. Finally real No. 5s were only made by ROF Fazakerley, (Code ROF marked on left side of receiver) and BSA. (Code M47C on left side of wrist)

Fazakerley Arsenal No 5 MKI Jungle Carbine
Fazakerley Arsenal No 5 MKI Jungle Carbine

Today surviving Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle of all types including No. 4s and No. 5s are gaining value on the collectible market. Many Enfield rifles were sporterized or modified following their release on the commercial market. Today Enfields are found only on the secondary market. There are many collectors that focus just on Enfield rifles and their many variations. Sniper rifles and trial rifles like the MKV and MKVI bring a substantial premium over comparable infantry rifles.

Enfields are also popular in places like England, Canada, and Australia where semi automatic rifles are either banned or heavily regulated.

** Images: Rock Island Auction Company ( www.rockislandauction.com )

Resources:

  • Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle For Sale
  • Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle Books
  • Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle Videos
  • Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle Parts

Check Out this Video of Run & Gun Shooting of the Lee Enfield No 4 Rifle:


About Marc Cammack
Marc Cammack has been collecting firearms since he was 14 years old.

His interests are primarily military surplus firearms of the late 19th into the 1950’s. He has studied these in depth, and currently volunteers at two local museums providing them with accurate information about their firearms.

He is a graduate of the University of Maine with a bachelor’s degree in history. He has studied modern European and American history since the age of 9, and has been shooting since the age of 11. He currently resides just outside of Bangor, Maine.

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    James MartinColin StevensWilliam HanshawmelindaJon Recent comment authors
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    James Martin
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    James Martin

    Hi all how can I find out info on my No4 mk1* the serial number is 17L4279

    Colin Stevens
    Guest
    Colin Stevens

    Mahatma (and anyone else) – I have some Long Branch (2 words) sniper rifles in my collection and have some info on my web site at https://captainstevens.com/military/weapons/snipers/lee-enfield-no-4-mk-i-t-sniper-rifle/ The Stevens-Savage rifles were converted either by the Royal Small Arns Factory at Enfield or by Holland and Holland in London. No Stevens-Savage rifles were converted at Long Branch in Canada as far as I know. Canada did convert a bunch of Canadian made rifles into sniper rifles at Small Arms Limited located at Long Branch near Toronto. I have also owned quite a few No. 4 Mk.I (T) rifles made at BSA… Read more »

    William Hanshaw
    Guest
    William Hanshaw

    I have an Enfield Mark 4 number two, with serial “AC7594”, also marked “1943”, and “M” +7. ,On the top of the front barrel cap it has “JB”letters. On the bolt-knob handle it has “7 23L 0031” . On the bolt knob’s bottom it has a stylized, sort of “NV with a vertical bar in the crook of the V, (sort of hard to describe). Questions: (a) who made this piece, (b) is it rare or just ordinary, and (c) retail estimate today. It’s in very good condition – no rust, original blacked coating, stock very good, bore-some pitting but… Read more »

    melinda
    Guest
    melinda

    I am having a problem with all the markings on my no 4 MK1 long branch it was my dads on or before ww2 i have R52 underthe wood and the serial # is engraved and i cant find the year amywhere

    Mahatma
    Guest
    Mahatma

    Years ago i used to personally collect mostly military sniper rifles like the bring backs fron WWII and Nam and picked up a 1945 Longbranch No 4 T with the mounted pads and bracket but with no scope from an old guy at a gun show. This was maybe 25 years ago. Without the scope it was not much of a sniper i guess but at that time there were still some originals available so i figured i’d eventually get one. One of the main reasons i bought it was because it was ‘like new’ ! I figured it was… Read more »

    Robert L. Philyaw
    Guest
    Robert L. Philyaw

    I have a No44 mkt long branch rifle made in England ,caliber mark 306-2.222 I need a magazine.

    Jon
    Guest
    Jon

    eBay usually has a good selection of original magazines and springs…

    Eddie
    Guest
    Eddie

    Malawi Police still quite a few of 4 MK1 in use

    James parrish
    Guest
    James parrish

    How strong is a mark 4 in field action.
    Did you use the action for 6.5 X 55 swed..

    James A Parrish
    Guest
    James A Parrish

    I was wondering if anyone read my post and can reply to it.
    How strong are these actions and can these action ne used for a 6.5 x55 Swede?

    Keith steele
    Guest
    Keith steele

    I just picked up a N 4 MK 1 1943 serial number starts with a 1 above the serial number there is an A O.
    I can not find any other markings on it to find out where it was manufactured. Although the barrel stock is shorter then the photos I have looked at.

    I need some expert advice.

    Thank you
    Keith

    S. Williamson
    Guest
    S. Williamson

    I have read that British factories had unique numbering codes. Serial numbers starting with “1” would be manufactured at R.O.F. Maltby (yours I presume). BSA numbers started with something else (2 perhaps, I really don’t remember) and Enfield may have been 3. I am sure of the “1” being Maltby however as mine is a Maltby “1” range. The letters preceding the serial number started with “A”, after the 99,999 had been reached the letter would change to “B” and so on through “Z”. At that point the lettering would move on to “AA” and the cycle would start again.… Read more »

    Jim Kerr
    Guest
    Jim Kerr

    I wish to know where to obtain a rear peep sight,extra magazines,bayonet,and carrying strap for my Stevens/Savage Enfield N0.4. I would also like know where i can get .303 military ammo.

    Tom G.
    Guest
    Tom G.

    Jim…for some of parts you are seeking try Gunpartscorp.com in NY, also Sarco I believe has parts. Ebay has venders that are selling parts for the Enfield. Original mags are hard to come by but sometimes you can find them on Ebay and Promag also sells mags for the Enfield. Ammo for the 303, military type was being sold by Midway but not sure they have any left, that was about a month or two ago. If that doesn’t work for ammo try Charlie Company in Chichester, NH and talk to Milt. You can probably give them a call, e:… Read more »

    Scott W.
    Guest
    Scott W.

    No doubt only a handful of people will agree with me however I think the No.4 is a gorgeous rifle. Mine is a Mk.1 mfg. at R.O.F. Maltby, Action, bolt and forend are number matched and this thing shoots as though it just came of the assembly line. It also has great condition furniture. Only work done to it was clean the wood, fresh soak with DB linseed and a few hours of hand rubbing with “000” steel wool. Paid considerably less than a hundred bucks for it 20 years ago and I see many for sale that look bug… Read more »

    Jesse Scott
    Guest
    Jesse Scott

    Sarco has them. http://www.e-sarcoinc.com

    Ray
    Guest
    Ray

    Would anyone here happen to know where I can find a #4 MK1 magazine ?
    This is the magazine with the short ridge in the rear that from the top only runs about half way down.
    Sure appreciate any help!

    Scott Williamson
    Guest
    Scott Williamson

    Your post is now 5+ months old so I’m sure you have found your magazine by now. Just in case not, don’t be too shy to pick-up a SMLE No. 1. All that is required is some filing at the lower rear to remove most of the locking ramp and spring that is below the locking ramp you need for your No. 4. I have one that I modified this way and it fits my Maltby No4 Mk1 just fine.