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.
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.