The Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk. I (T) and No. 4 MK. I* (T) were the standard WWII sniper rifles for the British and for the Commonwealth, except for Australia. Prior to their creation a variety of WWI sniper rifles were in use. These included the Ross MK. III sniper rifle and Enfield No. 3 MK. I sniper variants. The Australians built their own sniper variant based upon the No. 1 MK. III rifle (the old S.M.L.E. design) using a heavy barrel.
HOW MANY No. 4 Mk. I and MK. I* (T) RIFLES WERE MADE?
Not everyone agrees on the totals, but that is due to lack of complete archival records. The figures below do not include prototypes, pilot models and experimental sniper rifles, of which very few were made. For details of these conversion numbers, please see these three books:
- AN ARMOURER’S PERSPECTIVE by Peter Laidler and Ian Skennerton pp. 23 – 25
- WITHOUT WARNING by the late Clive Law. pp. 36 – 41
- THE LEE-ENFIELD by Ian Skennerton p. 229
1,403 Converted by Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield in 1941-1942
21,617 Converted by Holland and Holland 1942-1946
100 Assigned to BSA (their fate is not known, but we assume that they were )
1,588 Converted by Small Arms Limited and later Canadian Arsenals Limited at Long Branch 1942-1946,
TOTAL (as far as I can tell) 24,708
Of those No. 4 (T) about 1,100 to 1,200 were converted to L42A1 sniper rifles in 1970 – 1992.
No. 4 MK. I (T. LESS TELESCOPE)
3,440 remained unfinished on the date the contract with Holland and Holland ended in 1946. These were designated “No. 4 MK. I (T. LESS TELESCOPE)” as they never had scopes mated to the rifles, and this designation was stencilled on the front of their No. 15 Mk. I wooden chests. As best we can tell from surviving examples, these rifles had the “S“, “TR“, “S51” marks and cheek rests, but neither the “T” nor scope serial number on the wrist of the butt.
Collectors need to be especially careful when purchasing No. 4 (T) rifles.
- Most No. 4 (T) sets sold in North America appear to have been sold with mismatched scopes by surplus dealers. Although a mismatched scope and bracket look correct, if they are not mated to the rifle in military service, then the scope is not collimated to the rifle barrel. as the unfinished No. 4 MK. I (T. LESS TELESCOPE) rifles, being already 80% converted, are the easiest to “finish off” though they would not be properly collimated (i.e. scope not perfectly aligned to the barrel). Collectors also need to be very careful of any No. 4 (T) sniper rifles converted before 1944 as the markings took time to become standardized and it can be very difficult to detect a fake.
Holland and Holland rejected 681 rifles and these would have been replaced by other rifles. However, they would likely have the “S” and “TR” markings, possibly cancelled upon rejection. As well, RSAF Enfield rejected one Holland and Holland completed rifle.
R.S.A.F. ENFIELD CONVERSIONS
In 1941 and early 1942, 1,403 Lee-Enfield No. 4 MK. I rifles were converted at Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield. Most, but not all, of these were 1931 and 1933 Trials rifles. A very few were Stevens-Savage made in the USA and a few may have been made by Maltby and BSA. Rifles converted by them are marked with a tiny Enfield examiner’s stamp on the top of the front scope pad and no “S51” stamp on the underside of the butt.
HOLLAND AND HOLLAND CONVERSIONS
Late in 1942 a contract was issued to Holland and Holland, the famous gunmakers in London, England, to convert rifles into sniper equipment. Rifles converted by them were marked “S51″ in 1/4” high letters on the underside of the butt.
This web page will eventually go into detail on these rifles. I wish to thank the many collectors and museums who have granted me access to photograph their items.
SMALL ARMS LIMITED (S.A.L.) at LONG BRANCH CONVERSIONS
The Canadian sniper rifles were produced at Small Arms Limited at Long Branch (two words) Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
On flikr there are some albums of official photos posted by Gary Blakeley. Two of the photos in “Small Arms Ltd., Company Photo Album” show sniper rifles. That external web site is here At this time (2016-08-24) he has 4 albums. The second and fourth albums are of Small Arms Limited at Long Branch where the Lee-Enfield No. 4 rifles and the Sten Gun MK. II were made. The wooden shoulder stock/holster for the Inglis pistol was also made at SAL. The first and third albums are of John Inglis Company which made Browning Machine Guns, Bren Guns and No. 1 and No. 2 pistols (versions of the Browning High Power Model 35). NFB is “National Film Board” of Canada which did a lot of documentary film work. Low resolution copies of those two images are shown here. Below are links to higher quality images on flickr.
- On page 1, the 12th photo entitled “Princess Alice – 5” Princess Alice is in the centre wearing the fur coat, was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and was married to the Earl of Athlone, Governor General of Canada during WWII. In front of the people is a display of firearms made at Small Arms Limited, Long Branch. Nearest the camera to the people:
- Chinese contract wooden holster for the Inglis No. 1 MK. I pistol.
- Long Branch Training Rifle (non-firing). similar in concept to the British Swift Training Rifle apparently.
- No. 5 Mk. I “Jungle Carbine” prototype. This model was not manufactured in Canada other than prototype(s).
- No. 4 Lightweight . Notice lightening cuts in fore end and butt.
- No. 4 MK. I* (T) with a British style mount for No. 32 and No. 67 scopes. It appers to be a No. 32 scope. Butt has British style cheek rest on top and butt plate is standard metal one.
- No. 4 MK. I* (T) It looks like a Trade Pattern with Canadian variation of U.S. Griffin & Howe mount and Lyman Alaskan scope but with the Canadian Monte Carlo type butt and rubber butt-pad.
- No. 4 MK. I* (T) with what may be a No. 67 MK. I scope and Canadian Monte Carlo cheekiest and rubber butt pad.
- No. 4 MK. I* with MK. II simple “L” back sight. This appears to be a standard mid-war production specimen.
- On page 2, the 11th photo entitled “Army Officers -2” shows 6 men. In the foreground, out of focus are thee sniper scopes mounted on rifles. Unfortunately they are out of focus. This photo was probably taken in the same room as the first photo with Princess Alice.
Private Peter Braidwood parachuted into Normandy carrying a No. 4 MK. I (T) with 1 Canadian Parachute battalion in the 6th Airborne Division. He also carried one in the Battle of the Bulge when 6 AB Div was sent over by sea and land, due to the bad weather, to reinforce the Americans. Peter was issued another No. 4 MK. I (T) but as it had shrapnel in the furniture, he managed to “accidentally” drop it during a practice parachute jump. He was issued a fresh No. 4 MK. I (T) which he carried on the Operation Varsity parachute jump into Germany in March 1945 and on the advance to Wismar to cut the Soviets off from illegally occupying Denmark. The scope shown here, No. 32 MK. I serial number 7466, was issued to 1 Canadian Parachute Battalion, so it is possibly one that Peter carried in battle. The scope only was brought back as a souvenir by Private George Siggs of 1 Can Para Bn. Sadly Peter Braidwood died less than a week after I took this photo. The scope 7466 is shown here mounted on an early British sniper rifle, a 1943 BSA Shirley serial number AT4872 made No. 4 MK. I (T) which is now in a private collection in Quebec fitted with a different scope.
More to come …
- Link to my page on the Long Branch Scout Sniper’s Rifle 1943-1944
- Link to my page about No. 4 MK. I (T) Markings
- Link to my page about No. 4 MK. I (T) Furniture
- Link to my page about the R.E.L. C No. 67 Mk. I scope
- Link to my page about the R.E.L. No. 8 MK. 2 canvas scope case for the C No. 32 MK. 3 telescope
- Link to my page on World War II sniper rifles which shows where the No. 4 (T) rifles fitted in with its contemporaries.
OTHER WEB SITES TO LOOK FOR
M1907 Sling – This was an American sling that was the normal issue with the No. 4 (T) sniper rifles.
- US M1907 Sling (search those words in that order. Direct link not shown as their web site is not secure)
- M1907 SLING INSTALLATION by the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) in the USA (Direct link not shown as their web site is not secure)
- The Use of the M1907 Sling by Walt Kuleck – Fulton Armory From FM 23-5, Octorber 1951 (Direct link not shown as their web site is not secure)