Is that “Jungle Carbine” Real or Fake?

Fake No.5

With the US firmly in the fight of WWII and Russia turning the tide on the Eastern Front, the British finally had a chance to properly reinforce their former holdings in the Far East.  Part of this effort was the lightening and shortening of the Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk I rifle.  The new carbine was intended for combat in the dense jungles of Burma, Malaya, and China and would only need to be accurate up to 400 yards.  A simple shortening of the barrel and fitting of a more sporting stock got the length down.  Some additional milling shed still more weight.  Other features of the No.5 can be found here, so let’s continue on to spotting a real one.

British-Lee-Enfield-No

The nickname “Jungle Carbine” seems to have come from the Malayan Emergency.  This was never an official designation for the No.5 Mk I.  It was, however, picked up by importers in the U.S. and the handy little .303 proved popular.  The long No.1 Mk III* rifles were the Mosin-Nagants of their day and could be had for as little as $20 at the hardware store.  Many were “upgraded” by importers to imitate the No.5 and improve sales.  These were marketed as British “Jungle Carbines” and began to cause a fair amount of confusion.  When the No.4 rifles came over the same treatment awaited them and conversion kits can still be bought today.

So how can you tell if your rifle is real or fake?  Well, the easy ones to spot are the converted No.1 Mk III* rifles as they have generally round features and lack the receiver-mounted rear aperture sight.  Instead the original barrel-mounted leaf sight is still present.  No special attention needed.  But what about the No.4 conversions?  The No.5 is a direct variant of this firearm.

Well here is a list of easy tells:

  • No.5 rifles should be marked as such on the receiver wall.  Electro-penciling is common so don’t be afraid of that.  Some have worn out markings but you’ll never see “No.4″ written on them.
  • No.5 rifles were made exclusively at two arsenals: BSA and Fazakerley
  • No.5 rifles always have hollowed bolt handles and a fuller carved out of the visible right side lug.  No.4 rifles may or may not.
  • No.5 rifles have additional metal shaved away from the barrel, the underside, left, and right sides of the receiver.  This additional milling is the gold standard of identification for a true No.5 carbine.  Review the image below to see comparisons of these areas on both a No.4 and No.5 rifle.

No4-and-No5-Comparison




Othais

Othais is practically useless with modern firearms. That’s OK though, because he specializes in Curio and Relic military pieces and has agreed to decorate The Firearm Blog with a little history. He maintains his own site, C&Rsenal, with the help of his friends and the collector community.


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  • Geoff a well-known Skeptic

    There are or were new Enfields built in Australia including the Mk 5 or a variant. Some outfit said they were bringing them in, but failed with all sorts of internet rumors about parts from Viet Nam etc. Anyone have current information? Is a MK 5 without the receiver cuts more accurate? Geoff Who is a curious fellow.

    • Eric S

      A few made it in. The company was Australian International Arms. The rumor was that they had parts made in Nam and were thus banned from import for whatever reason. And they no longer exist. Gibbs Rifle Company seems to have made a series of Jungle Carbines, but they are no longer made as of ’04 it seems. Tis a pity, I love Enfields.

      • chris b

        Banned import because it used Vietnamese parts and the USA harbors a grudge for loosing that last war they had, and making them look like fools. ooops.

        • schizuki

          You know what else makes you look like a fool? Spelling “losing” wrong.

    • chris b

      parts were being made in Vietnam, including the teak wood. lovely stuff, Damn heavy though. The 7.62x39mm variant was the closest to look like a no5.

  • David

    The link to C&Rsenal is not working.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”
    • Othais

      Should be fixed now. Thanks!

  • gunslinger

    at first i thought the rifle was a break-away. like the 10/22 takedown.

    silly photos/photoshop

  • chris b

    Just be aware that the Indians received many No 5’s and re furbished many. A typical example will have what looks like a slotted wood screw in the forestock to prevent cracking. The Indians make new parts for this rifles: a front sight /flash hider and various parts. A dead give away is the 800 yard sight is a no4. … the No5 used a solid Singer rear sight out to 500yards. Never pressed steel.
    On a brighter note quite a few No4’s were converted by British units after they had issues with the over lightened No5’s being inaccurate and simply stripped the parts off the No.5 and put them onto the solid non bendy. no4 action. Worked for them.
    Don’t get all flighty about a hollow bolt – plenty hollow bolts were used on standard No4’s. Mk2’s . The bolt serial numbers always matched the rifle, even if the original bolt serial buggered they always re stamped the new bolt to match.
    Dont be suprised either if the marking are so faint you cant read them or its covered in black paint – the Brit’s were doing that right up to the 70’s.

    Good luck ! I think I sold 15+ no.5 barrels this weekend alone.

    • Othais

      Thanks for contributing these valid points! I believe the No.4 receiver swaps were armourers in Malaya. I will say, however, there is a pressed steel Mk.2, rear sight similar to the No.4’s Mk III and Mk IV, graduated to 800 yards. They were quickly declared obsolete and can be hard to find.

    • me

      On the originals, the No. 4’s rear sight–well, there were different variations, but most went up to a maximum elevation marked 13, for 1300 yards. No. 5s had a rear sight that only went up to 800 yards, which was rather optimistic for a lightweight iron-sighted carbine.

      I was at a recent gun show in Michigan where one dealer had a number of badly beat-up No. 1s and No. 4s, all in the $350-$400 range, plus one counterfeit Jungle Carbine that not only had the commercial repro stock on it, but also had refinished metal (polished bright blue, ugh) and bright shiny commercial varnish on the commercial repro stock. It also apparently had been shot enough to stretch the receiver badly, as it also had a #2 bolt head (the only Enfield bolt head I’ve ever seen in my life that wasn’t a #0 or #1) And he wanted $500 for it. I asked about it, and he said that it merited the extra money due to its condition! It was all I could do not to laugh at him. I figure that, as a shooter, it might, MIGHT be worth $200 badly inflated 2013 US dollars, if, IF, the bore and crown are decent–and there was no way of telling that.

  • chris b

    Numerich / Gunparts sells kits for converting a no.4 to no.5

    http://www.gunpartscorp.com/Search.htm?s=no5+smle&cat=NO+5+JUNGLE+CARBINE

  • Zius Patagus

    I had one back in the day with Indian arsenal markings on it. Bought it through Southern Ohio Guns (SOG) distributor.

  • Rick

    I sent this to a buddy this morning who thought he got a screaming deal on a #5 Jungle Carbine at a gun show a couple months ago. Based on these photos, well, he’s not quite as happy. The machining gave it away. The price he got it for shoulda been the giveaway. Nevertheless it’s still a great rifle, and a learning experience to boot. :)

  • CdnPhil

    Very nice article, thanks. The trigger guard on your N0 5 should be shaved down in places as well. As Chris mentioned the lighter bolt handles and also the lightened trigger guards show up on No 4s quite often if you need on to replace parts on a proper No 5.

    Very nice site C&Rsenal too.

    Phil

    • Othais

      That’s very true! I guess I focused more on the receiver/bolt.

      Also, thanks for the compliment!

  • Frosty_The_White_Man

    Is it true that Jungle Carbines don’t hold a zero well? If so, why?

    • Othais

      This is a matter of great debate. Most owners say they haven’t had a problem with the carbine’s sights. But, the British military certainly did have a problem and it wasn’t a simple dismissive one. They put the No.5 through a great many tests on the subject. The first point of focus was the stock and bedding of the action and some improvement was found there. Some suggestion was given to the lightening process which may have made the receiver more flexible during firing (remember this is a rear locking bolt). Some armourers in the Pacific theater did hodgepodge some No.4 receivers into No.5 clones and reported good performance. A grenade ready No.5 Mk 2 was being developed so it saw most of the further tests involving the flash hider, which was definitely affecting accuracy. All in all one cause was never solidly marked, but a number of smaller issues added up and they just declared the fault to be inherent to the design.

      • Frosty_The_White_Man

        Thanks for the informative response!

    • David Sharpe

      Yes, this was due to the wood absorbing water and warping. Keep it clean and dry and it won’t wander.

      • me

        One never, ever hears of Jungle Carbines in civilian hands demonstrating any “wandering zero” problem, regardless of whether they are original or conversions.

        Many of us suspect that the UK’s military had wanted a modern semiauto, detachable box magazine fed rifle to replace the Victorian Era bolt-action Enfield design badly enough to make spurious complaints about a nonexistent “wandering zero” problem. These complaints were a large portion of what nudged the notoriously stingy (at least when it came to military spending) postwar Attlee and Eden governments to accept that the Royal Army might conceivably have a legitimate need for something a bit more modern, which turned out to be the L1A1/FN FAL… which, in a bit of cosmic irony, DID for its entire 30+ year service life have severe problems with loosely fitted, wobbling rear sights not holding zero.

  • jdmcomp

    I think the original intention for this rifle was as a lighter smaller rifle to jump out of airplanes with. It just did not happen in time for D Day. Jungle carbine is a total mistake.

  • Brandon

    Interesting write up. I’d be in favor of more informative articles like this, instead of product announcements for ‘special editions’
    Thumbs up if you agree, thumbs down if you don’t.

    • Samuel Suggs

      I am good with the healthy mix thing dood

    • Samuel Suggs

      you realize they cant do 5 “informative articles” a day right its just not gonna happen

  • MaxP

    I think perhaps a little more research into the facts might have been advised here. This is fine to an extent for the newb collector/ shooter of Enfield rifles, but by the time they get to a little more serious level someone has to teach them the difference between the truth and the fallacies often found in www land.

    Looking through the comments, an overall lack of understanding is apparent. Don’t sit there googling and absorbing everything you read as being gospel. Go out and buy a book, one by Ian Skennerton, not somebody who copied some of his work and made the rest up. For under a hundred dollars on the right print material now, you will save many times that in your first few years buying the right rifles.

    “Not everything you read on the internet can be believed”… Abraham Lincoln

  • jamezb

    If any collectors got stuck with a fake jungle carbine and are embarrassed to take it to the gunshop or gunshow…. being an honest collector and not wanting to unload faked merchandise that may again be resold as genuine.., I understand completely and would be glad to give your rifle a good home where it will be accepted for what it actually is and loved nonetheless. You may even electro-pencil “fake” above the SN before you drop it off. I promise I will love it and pet it and hug it and oil it and feed it surplus ammo. (I can dream, can’t I?)

  • Paul Hacker

    I preferred the ‘tanker’ anyway. It was a No. 4 with just a shortened
    barrel. The wood stock and fittings were shortened accordingly for a 18
    inch barrel. Sure it was fake but a fun gun to shoot.

    To me it was what the No. 4 should have been to begin with. Each Tommy should have been issued one and a good fighting knife (skip the bayonet.)

  • Nate Culbertson

    picked one of these up at a local gun show last year. she was made in 1944 at ROF. after i got her cleaned up she works like a dream

  • Johanee

    I have also seen one Ishapore 2A1 rifle made into the “jungle carbine” configuration by an importer who’s name escapes me. It was in fact marketed as a No. 5 Mk 1, despite being in 7.62x51mm caliber and other telling signs. Beware of that to!