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Weapons: Lee-Enfield Lives
   Next Article → INFORMATION WARFARE: The Islamic Bewilderness

July 2, 2008: Indian police in Himachal Pradesh recently agreed to sell several hundred Lee-Enfield rifles, and thousands of rounds of World War II vintage ammunition, to police in Jharkhand. Himachal Pradesh (an Indian state just south of Kashmir) wants to buy more modern weapons. Jharkhand (in eastern India) is having problems with communist rebels, and the bolt action Lee-Enfields are adequate for arming local voluntary security units. Since many of these volunteers belong to tribes out in the countryside, they like having a fine, if elderly, hunting rifle like the Lee-Enfield.

The Lee-Enfield is one of the oldest, and still widely used, rifles on the planet. Over 17 million were manufactured between 1895 and the 1980s. While there are more AK-47s out there (over 20 million in private hands), these are looked down on by those who use their rifles for hunting, or killing with a minimum expenditure of ammunition. The 8.8 pound Lee-Enfield is a bolt-action rifle (with a ten round magazine) noted for its accuracy and sturdiness. The inaccurate AK-47 has a hard time hitting anything more than a hundred meters away, while the Lee-Enfield can drop an animal, or a man, at over 400 meters.

There are millions of Lee-Enfields still in use throughout India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even Iraq and other Persian Gulf nations. These are largely World War II leftovers. In the early half of the 20th century, the British gave out millions of these weapons to allies, or those being courted. Noting the accuracy of the Lee-Enfield (.303 caliber, or 7.7mm), the locals came to prize the rifle for hunting, and self-defense. There are still many gunsmiths throughout the region (and at least one factory in India) that will refurbish century old Lee-Enfields to "like new" condition. Ammunition is still manufactured, with the high quality stuff going for a dollar a round, and lesser quality for 25 cents a round. These rifles sell in the west for $500-1,000. Non-firing replicas can be had for a few hundred bucks, and for about twice that you can buy deactivated (cannot be fired) originals. So the Lee-Enfield will carry on well into the 21st century.

 

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YelliChink       7/2/2008 11:02:53 AM
Those are better to be No. 4 or No. 5 variants with bayonets. I hope that someday I can have one.
 
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Zad Fnark       7/2/2008 11:24:00 AM
No 4s are fairly cheap.  I got mine for about 120.00 just a few years ago.  No 5s (Jungle Carbine) used to be, but they've gone up in the last few years.  Unless you use light loads, the carbine'll inflict pain when you shoot it.
 
ZF-
 
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Mrbinga       7/2/2008 11:55:33 AM
I bought a No. 4 about a month ago at a gun show for around $200.00.  It was a little more then I wanted to spend but it was in great shape and is a terrific shooter.  I really couldn't be happier with it.
 
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onceagrunt       7/2/2008 12:48:50 PM
This will make you guys cry. I have a 1916 vintage No. 1 Mk. III, made by BSA in my gun safe. Bought it at a gun store in Anchorage, Alaska in 1973.  $30.00.  Those were the days. Of course I was only making about $600 a month as a lieutenant.
 
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JayCrawford       7/2/2008 2:54:39 PM
I collected British and Soviet military small arms in the late 80's and 90's and my six Lee-Enfields are probably my favorites (though my Martini-Henry is pretty close). For a good combination of accuracy, power, and rapidity of fire, they are probably the apotheosis of military bolt action rifles.
My personal fav is an Australian No. 1 Mk III, serial 15384 though my rarest is a 1916 No. 1 Mk III*, serial 5324 (out of 1.6 million made).
Zad Fnark seems to have had some experience with the No. 5 "jungle carbine" but let me add something about its recoil. The No. 5 was adopted when the British were still using the flat-tail Mk VII round; indeed most of the 80,000 units were built before the switch to the Mk VIII boat-tail round (which comprised nearly all post-1948 ammunition production). These two cartriges have very different recoil characteristics in the light No. 5 rifle which are not really noticeable in the heavier No. 4 rifle. Putting it simply: If you use dingy old Mk. VII rounds in your No. 5, you won't be beaten up; use Mk. VIII (or commercial variants thereof) and you may be bruised.
Now a practical application of the above.
Invite your competitors/enemies to shoot your No. 5 then say: "Ten round challenge. Worst shot group buys the beer [insert name of favorite expensive brand]. Best shot group drinks the beer. I'll even give you the bright, shiny new ammo..."
 
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Ispose    Lee Enfields   7/2/2008 3:54:40 PM
Be careful when buying a Lee Enfield. I had a Number 4 which was a great shooting then I got a Number 5 Jungle Carbine. That thing would not shoot straight no matter what load I was using. I finally slugge dthe barrel and Lo-and-behold it was rifled to .315 diameter..004 over bore. The thing would never shoot straight with factory .311 loads.
This was a fairly common problem with late WWII Enfields - sloppy quality Controls.
 
 
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momus       7/3/2008 1:01:26 AM
I don't currently have an Enfield and miss having one of these excellent rifles.  It's sad to hear that some people must own non-firing replicas or deactivated and crippled originals.  I'm looking for one of the Ishapore Enfields in .308 right now--starting to  haunt GunBroker looking for the right one.
 
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YelliChink       7/3/2008 11:06:49 AM

I don't currently have an Enfield and miss having one of these excellent rifles.  It's sad to hear that some people must own non-firing replicas or deactivated and crippled originals.  I'm looking for one of the Ishapore Enfields in .308 right now--starting to  haunt GunBroker looking for the right one.

I'm just curious. Since people who do not have FFL can't buy and sell things on GunsAmerica or GunBroker, do they need to contact local gun store or people who have FFL to conduct cross-state purchasing and NCIS?
 
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displacedjim       7/3/2008 11:27:41 AM


I'm just curious. Since people who do not have FFL can't buy and sell [firearms] on GunsAmerica or GunBroker [across state lines], do they need to contact local gun store or people who have FFL to conduct cross-state purchasing and NCIS?


Yes.

 
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buzzard       7/3/2008 12:43:20 PM

I don't currently have an Enfield and miss having one of these excellent rifles.  It's sad to hear that some people must own non-firing replicas or deactivated and crippled originals.  I'm looking for one of the Ishapore Enfields in .308 right now--starting to  haunt GunBroker looking for the right one.

I picked up one of those about a dozen years ago for $80. Nice enough rifle, though I don't shoot it much.
 
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