L42A1 Sniper Overview: The Last Lee-Enfield

The L42A1 sniper rifle was England’s last Enfield. James Paris Lee’s action served the United Kingdom for over 100 years, and the famously quick rear-locking action was retired in the 1990s when the L42A1 was deemed obsolete.
So what would a British sniper during the Cold War have received in his transit chest? In this episode of TFBTV, we take a look to find out just that!

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Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.


  • Riot

    It should not be called a Lee Enfield since it does not have Enfield-pattern rifling.

    • Lee designed elements of the action.

      • Twilight sparkle

        I think what riot is saying is at it’s a lee rifle just not a lee enfield because the rifling isn’t the same type designed at the rsaf enfield, which is how the lee-metford became the lee-enfield.

      • Riot

        Twilight is correct, the rifles have two part names.
        Lee pattern rifle Enfield pattern rifling
        Lee pattern rifle Metford pattern rifling

        • Tom

          Its like the previous Martini Henry rifle, a Martini action (basically a hammer less Peabody) mated to Henry rifling. Or the Snider Enfield, a Snider action and Enfield rifling.

        • Joey JoJo Jr.

          So, by this torturous roundabout gun-nerd flyspecking, we could object to referring to many current production AR-pattern rifles as AR-15’s, or M-16’s, since many don’t possess the same chamber, rifling, materials, features, or weren’t manufactured by Colt or the original Armalite… or we could just acknowledge that weapons families are often referred to by their common denominator terms, based on design, function, and lineage.

        • This is an absolutely ridiculous line of reasoning. Not only had the designation system you are referring to been out of use for almost half a century by the time the L42A1 was developed and the term “Lee-Enfield” been long since vulgarized into a general term for that pattern of rifle*, not only did early production L42A1s use the exact same rifling pattern as the No. 4, but the late variant L42A1’s rifling was developed at RSAF Enfield! Therefore, if we’re going to make the patently silly connection between the designation system used prior to 1926 and the L42A1, it would still technically be a “Lee-Enfield”.

          All of this is moot because even the roughest tumbliest British RSAF officer almost certainly would have been just peachy calling the L42A1 a “Lee-Enfield” because they’re not trying to score Internet points. It’s a feature, not a bug, of English that names are transitive, that’s why when the President’s press secretary makes an announcement, every news outlet on the planet writes it up like “the White House announced today…”

          *Commonly used for the Rifle No. 4, which while still a Lee action was never so far as I know officially designated as a “Lee-Enfield”.

          • Dual sport

            Here we have an excellent display of why so many commenters deliver less than mature replies no matter the discussion.

            The leadership of the blog leads by example.

    • Devil_Doc

      You know, on other websites people get into arguments over “magazine” vs “clip”.

    • MrEllis

      We recognize it for what it is. When you become used to the jargon and are around weapons enough common themes and the like will shine through easier for you. It’s implied, we picked it up and agreed on pedigree without having to carry on discourse about it. Keep pegging away and one day you will enjoy something for what it is.

      In the mean time you get 214xp, you’re almost a 4th level Comment Warrior! Grats! (That’s short for “congratulations.”)

      • Damn, I almost spit my coffee all over my computer screen.

  • TVOrZ6dw

    What is the story behind that spotting scope?

    • codfilet

      That’s the “Sir Francis Drake” pattern, Mk I

      • BattleshipGrey

        What power?

        • I honestly don’t know, but it is pretty damn high actually, and very clear

    • Anton Gray Basson

      Its a deer stalking spotting scope, made by JH Steward I think. WW1 and WW2 there was a significant cross over between hunting and sniping.

  • Colin S

    It doesn’t count as the last Enfield either, that “honour” goes to the SA80 family

    • TJbrena

      Pretty sure Alex C. meant it was the last in the line of the Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles. Hence why he mentioned James Paris Lee in the text.

  • M.M.D.C.

    That is cool. Very cool. Looking forward to the shooting video.

    Ugh. I just looked one up on gunbroker. Out of reach for this po boy.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Nice video. Are you looking to do the usual run and gun, or some kind of longer range test?

    • A proper test of course.

      • MrEllis

        Were those “kill marks” on the scope? The ones painted over with new markings and numbers?

        • Naw. The British used an electro pencil or something to cross out the old serial number and stamped a new one.

          • MrEllis

            Gotcha. Sweet piece of history, I radiate envy in your general direction.

  • Fruitbat44

    Interesting little bit of British Military history. Thanks for posting it.

  • MrEllis

    You marvelous bastard, you.

  • Core

    My family came from Scotland in 1608. I’m still trying to figure out why they named my great grandfather Lee, because we have always been New England Yanks.