Dr. Skip Stratton published this warning on his Enfield rifles on his website
(Click Here to visit):The same article also appears in Greg
Young's Alaska Enfield Headquarters site. (Greg publishes the superb 'Enfield Collector's
Digest' 6 times a year.)
Replicas, and Fakes
Over the past several months, Enfield Rifle Research (Dr. Stratton) has received dozens of
questions about the spate of 'new' and 'rare' Lee-Enfields that have been showing up lately at
gun shows and in pawn shops. Many of these are quite handsome rifles with pretty decent
workmanship and are probably worth the $125 to $150 that the major firearms distributors ask
for them. For the most part, though, they are not recently discovered “unissued” rifles, nor are
they long-lost “prototypes” that have suddenly surfaced. The overwhelming majority of these
“finds” are recently-made parts guns or replicas or recent aftermarket conversions of standard
No. 1, 2A/2A1, or No. 4 rifles.
Navy Arms Company is making and selling a lot of these, and they usually describe them
(albeit in the fine print) as 'replicas' or 'constructed of original No. 4 Enfields' or some such.
SARCO and SOG (among others) are also marketing these (or similar) rifles for comparable
prices, again with fair--or at least technically honest--advertising.
The problem arises when these aftermarket replicas pass through several hands and wind up
offered for sale at a gun show or in a pawn shop. Typically, the advertising (such as it was)
gets lost, the price gets jacked up, and the seller claims (maybe because he believes it) that
the piece really is a long-lost treasure. A lot of people are getting burned by these knock-offs,
and an even greater number are just plain confused.
Here’s our take on the various 'bargains' that have been showing up lately.
No. 1 Mk III* (Lithgow - 'New')
Often advertised as “collector grade” or “mint - unfired” or “unissued” and selling for $200 and
Watch out for these! Quite a few “new Lithgow” rifles have been built just within the last few
years from spare parts bought from the Australian government. The parts are new, and the
rifles were never issued--but they aren’t Lithgow factory rifles by any stretch of the
imagination! They’re recently-built parts guns.
It is possible (though not likely) that some Lithgow-manufactured rifles with late-1945 (or later)
dates were kept in storage and subsequently surplused out in unfired or unissued condition.
Such rifles would have 5-digit serial numbers with either an “E” or an “F” serial number prefix,
and the serial number would be stamped on the rear of the bolt handle and on the bottom of
the fore-end, as well as on the receiver ring. Neither the nose cap nor the bottom of the
backsight leaf will carry a different serial number on these rifles. Also, legitimate factory rifles
will have brass or copper recoil plates installed on the fore-ends where the sear boss bears
against the wood.
If you find a “new” Lithgow with a 1943 or 1944 date, be highly suspicious. This was the
height of the war, and virtually all rifles manufactured were issued. If you find the receiver
marked with a “JJ CO NY NY” import stamp, assume it’s a parts gun unless you have clear
evidence to the contrary. (Many “new Lithgow” parts guns appear to have been assembled on
receivers imported by John Jovino & Co.) If you find a 4-digit serial number with no prefix letter
and an “A” suffix, this is clear evidence that it is not a Lithgow factory rifle. If you find different
serial numbers on different parts, this is clear evidence that it is a parts gun. And if the recoil
lugs are missing, it is not only a parts gun--it is dangerous to shoot. There’s a good chance
that the fore-end will shatter with as few as 20 or 30 round fired.
No. 1 'Tanker Carbine'
Overall length 39-40 inches; 20-21 inch barrel, with fore-end shortened and nose cap moved
back. Also called “No. 1 Shortened and Lightened” rifle or “No. 6 Tanker Carbine” or “No. 6
Shortened and Lightened” rifle.
These are probably either aftermarket modifications or outright fakes. The Australian
government did experiment with a shortened and lightened No. 1 rifle, but only a hundred
prototypes were made. These have grooved fore-ends, lightening flutes on the barrel knox
forms, and extensive lightening cuts on the receivers. Also, the Lithgow factory prototypes all
have aperture backsights mounted on the charger bridge and solid handguards. All bear “XP”
serial number prefixes.
Some unofficial experimenting was done by a number of unit armourers during WWII in an
attempt to create a shortened and lightened version of the No. 1 rifle, and it is possible that a
few of these early experiments have survived. The barrels were shortened, and the nose caps
were reset, but most retained the barrel-mounted tangent sights. These are historically
interesting, but they are not “official” Lithgow factory prototypes.
The easiest way to tell a recent replica from a WWII-vintage experimental model is to remove
the nose cap. If you find freshly-cut wood, you know what you have! Also, many of the recent
fakes have a hex-nut rather than a standard oblong nose cap nut securing the rear nose cap
screw, and the fore-end stud and stud spring are missing.
No. 2A “Tanker” Carbine
Overall length 39-1/2 inches, with a 20-1/2 inch barrel. Fore-end shortened and nose cap
There ain’t no such thing! There never was. This is strictly an aftermarket modification. Such a
shortened version of the Ishapore 2A/2A1 rifle was never even considered by the Indian
government--never mind adopted--or by anyone else, for that matter.
No. 4 “Tanker” Carbine
Overall length 39-1/2 inches, with a 20-1/2 inch barrel. Fore-end shortened and nose cap
As above, there ain’t no such thing. Strictly an aftermarket modification.
No. 4 Shortened and Lightened
Overall length 39-42 inches; 20-23 inch barrel, with fore-end shortened and nose cap moved
Probably an aftermarket modification. The Canadian government did experiment with a
shortened and lightened No. 4 rifle, and a few dozen prototypes were made; however, these
have one-piece stocks! Also, the barrels and receivers were lightened with extensive milling.
All were conversions of Long Branch rifles only.
If you see a two-piece stock or a receiver than doesn’t have any lightening cuts, you have an
aftermarket modification or replica. The British version of the shortened and lightened No. 4
rifle is the No. 5 rifle (see below).
No. 4 “Collector Grade”
Savage or Long Branch, often advertised as “new” or “unissued.”
Watch out. It is possible that a legitimate unissued No. 4 rifle will turn up, but it’s not likely.
Most of these “collector grade” rifles were arsenal reconditioned somewhere along the
line--but somewhere other than Canada or Great Britain (who marked their reconditioned rifles
“R” or “FTR”). Look for black enamel or flat black paint on the metal parts--this is a tip-off that
the work was done in Pakistan or in South Africa or in some other country. Original No. 4
rifles have an oil-blackened finish (or possibly a blued finish on 1950 or later Long Branch
rifles). Also, look for non-British or non-Canadian ownership or acceptance marks.
We have reports of a number of unissued Long Branch rifles re-imported into Canada from
Belgium by Districorp. The story is that CAL sold a bunch of No. 4 rifles to the Belgian
government in the early 1950s, and that they were kept in storage and never issued. These all
have 95L serial numbers and 1950 dates and look quite nice. They are probably the real
McCoy. (We’ll look into them further and report as soon as we have additional data.)
No. 5 “Jungle Carbine”
Overall length 39-1/2 inches; 20-1/2 inch barrel with flash hider. Rubber buttplate; short
An honest No. 5 rifle (or “Jungle Carbine”) has lightening flutes cut in the barrel knox form and
extensive milling done to the receiver to lighten it. (Take the handguard off and look for the
barrel flutes.) Also, an honest No. 5 will be electro-engraved “No5MKI” on the left side of the
receiver and will not have “No. 4” stamped or engraved anywhere on it. In addition, an honest
No. 5 will bear the proper manufacturer’s code: “(ROF)F” for Fazakerley or “M47C” for
BSA-Shirley. Finally, the barrel band will be only 8 inches in front of the receiver ring--rather
than 10-3/4 inches as on a No. 4 rifle.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Golden State Arms Co. of Pasadena, California modified quite a few
No. 4 rifles by shortening the barrels, adding flash hiders, and shortening the fore-ends. Some
were equipped with Fajen or Bishop sporter stocks, as well. These were called various
names, such as “No. 4 Jungle Carbine,” or “Santa Fe Mountain Carbine,” or “Mountain Rifle,”
but all have “Golden State Arms” and “Santa Fe” roll-stamped on the barrel. Nice aftermarket
conversions, but strictly that.
Currently, Navy Arms is doing the same thing with No. 4 rifles and selling them as “No. 5
Jungle Carbines.” At arm’s length they look genuine, but they have standard No. 4 rifle
markings and DO NOT have the lightening flutes on the barrel or the lightening cuts on the
receiver. These are strictly fakes--or thinly disguised “replicas.”
No. 6 “Jungle Carbine”
Overall length 39-1/2 inches, with 20-1/2 inch barrel and flash hider; brass buttplate.
The Australian No. 6 rifle was officially adopted, but only a couple of hundred prototypes were
ever built. These have grooved fore-ends and handguards, and most have receiver- mounted
aperture rear sights. All have “XP” serial number prefixes, and the bayonet lug on the flash
hider is squared to accept a P1907-type bayonet rather than rounded to accept a No. 4-type
bayonet. The handguard is the same length as the fore-end and will be solid for its full length
or have an unusual set of backsight protectors on it--sort of like the rear handguard on an
SMLE Mk I rifle.
Replicas and fakes abound. Golden State Arms made replicas in the 1950s and 1960s, but
these are all marked “Golden State Arms” and “Santa Fe” on the barrel. In the 1970s, Federal
Ordnance Company (Fed Ord) made some No. 6 look-alikes built on WWI-vintage Lithgow
actions, but these are stamped “Jungle Rifle” on the left side of the receiver. Navy Arms is
currently making look-alikes with no special marking and selling them as “No. 6 Jungle
Carbines.” Don’t pay a premium for these!
If you see a barrel-mounted tangent sight, the rifle is a fake. If you don’t see lightening flutes
on the barrel knox form and lightening cuts in the receiver, the rifle is a fake. If it has a No. 5
flash hider, it’s a fake. If the barrel band is up within a few inches of the flash hider, it’s a fake.
(Or a thinly-disguised “replica,” if you must.)
No. 7 “Jungle Carbine”
Shortened version of 2A/2A1 rifle, with flash hider installed. Like the 2A Tanker Carbine, this
is strictly an aftermarket modification. There never was a carbine version of the Ishapore
2A/2A1 rifle, and there never was any such thing as a “No. 7 Jungle Carbine.” The Lee-Enfield
No. 7 rifle is a .22 caliber training rifle, similar in appearance to a full-size No. 4 rifle, which
was made in both Canada and Great Britain in the late 1940s. They are clearly marked as
A Final Word
We believe that Navy Arms and others are missing a bet by not labeling their products for
what they are. Aftermarket modifications and replicas have been around since the days of
Francis Bannerman, and they are an interesting part of the history of military rifles.
Bannerman Krags are definitely collectable, and there is a growing interest in Golden State
and Fed Ord Enfields--but mainly because they are readily identifiable for what they are.
The problem with the current crop is not just that the marketing borders on deceptive: ten or
twenty years from now nobody will be able to tell an honest Navy Arms look-alike from the
one-off handiwork of a basement wood butcher. We believe that the aftermarket modifications
and even “replicas” would sell just as well if they were labeled as such, and we have no doubt
that doing so would save a lot of grief for collectors--both now and in the years to come.