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 more information on these sniper rifles, including details of the number that were converted, please see these 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
- THE BRITISH SNIPER A Century of Evolution by Steve Houghton (2019)
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. Most of these were Stevens-Savage made, but some were made at BSA-Shirley. The later are almost certainly those that were incomplete at the date and time that the contract finished.
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 of these early conversions by Enfield 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 stock.
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 appears to be a No. 32 scope. Butt stock has British style cheek rest on top and the 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.
The No. 4 (T) rifles each had a scope mated to them at the time of conversion. The rifle was marked with the scope serial number on the wrist, the flat spot on top of the wooden butt stock, just underneath and aft of the cocking piece. If a scope had to be changed in service due to damage, loss or upgrading to a newer model, the old scope number was cancelled and the new number was marked. The process was very specialized and involved PERFECTLY aligning (collimating) the scope and the rifle barrel.
Sadly, when most of the No. 4 (T) sniper sets were sold in North America, most of the surplus dealers either did not realize or care, to match up the scopes to the rifles. As a result, most sets are mismatched. A matched set is much more valuable and is a better shooter,.
How to solve the problem?
There are two options at the moment.
Contact me. I have a research database listing roughly 2,000 serial numbers at this time. This includes matching sets as well as serial numbered components such as scopes, brackets, rifles and scope cases. So far I and others have managed to “match-up” over half a dozen sets. Sadly the owners cannot always agree and reach a satisfactory conclusion. but there have been successes. A rifle in Scotland, bought out of the USA. I found the scope in the USA and he worked a trade and his set is now matching. I purchased a No. 4 Mk. I (T) out of Pennsylvania and imported it to Canada. Then Brian Dick of www.bdlltd.com in North Carolina found the matching scope set in Nebraska. I ended up sending the rifle to Nebraska and it is now reunited. I alerted a collector in California about a rifle matching his scope set that was for sale in the USA. I helped him to acquire it. Happily me later traded a Canadian No. 15 Mk. I chest for a British one. In Australia I found the Long Branch rifle that matched a Lyman sniperscope that I had though we were unable to reach a trade deal.
Forum ~Angel’~s ‘Match Making’ Serivice on MILSURPS.COM at https://www.milsurps.com/forumdisplay.php?f=48
More to come …
OTHER WEB SITES TO LOOK FOR
NRA American Rifleman video on YouTube about a No. 4 Mk. I (T) Rifle serial number C37776 ? and scope 18218. (There are minor errors e.g. showing a cased L42A1 whilst talking about the No. 15 Mk. I chest.)
YouTube video ” Enfield Rifle No4Mk1T 1945 M47C CFC 2018″ in which “Riflechair” fires his BSA No. 4 Mk. I (T) without scope and bracket.
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, October 1951 (Direct link not shown as their web site is not secure)