The Enfield Rifle No. 4

The Lee-Enfield family of rifles are well known around the world for having served in some from the 1890s up until today. The No. 4s are regarded by many to be the best of the generally issued guns, and in this installment of TFBTV we take a look at, and do some shooting with a lovely example.


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“Enfield rifles certainly are fast, and even faster in the hands of a more well acquainted man. This is a number 4, which is much different than the old style SMLE rifles for a number of reasons. While these are a bit heavier than the older guns, the addition in weight nets the user a stronger action, much better sights, and a thicker barrel. Also from a production standpoint the number 4 was a much better rifle as they were cheaper and easier to make. Less milling was required to complete a receiver, and bits of the SMLE like the nosecap were discarded altogether. The rifle is of course famous for having served with the British troops through World War II, and still is technically in service with the Canadian Rangers at least until they are all equipped with their recently selected new rifles in the next few years. This means that the rifle has an incredibly long service history, and a fine rifle it is, but lets take a look at a few of its features.

One thing that immediately jumps out at me personally is the charger bridge. It’s not like the old SMLE’s rounded charger bridge at all. Not that this is bad necessarily but it is easier to machine.

It does of course have that lightning fast Lee-Enfield action and optimally placed bolt handle. Also the bolt throw is still the very short throw that it was on the old SMLEs meaning that a user can cycle these very quickly, especially if you place your thumb and forefinger on the bolt handle and middle finger on the trigger. The rifle can be manually cocked by grabbing the cocking piece, and of course it is cock-on-close just like the old rifles. The safety is also actuated by the user’s right thumb and the British were insistent that all users, like today, learn to shoot right handed if you’re left handed. To me that seems like a pretty good solution to the ambidexterity problems that so many designers have to face today.

The rifles feature a zinc alloy butt-plate or a brass butt-plate for storing your rifle’s cleaning kit. Also the most distinguishing feature of the Number 4 is the rear sight with a peep zeroed to 300 yards of you can flip it up to reveal a ladder with sighting up to 1,300 yards… although I do suppose there is a bit of optimism in actually hitting something at 1,300 yards.

Now of course as mentioned the nosecap of the SMLE was eliminated and you do see a bit of barrel extending beyond the front sight post. Magazines do hold 10 rounds and are detachable for cleaning, but of course you are intended to load them via charger clips through the top of the rifle. This can be a bit tricky and you can get rimlock despite the presence of design features intended to prevent this. But, let’s shoot the rifle a little bit.

(Rifle Firing)

And here just for the hell of it I thought I might try and shoot of 10 rounds as fast as I could.

(Rifle Firing)

That never ceases to amaze or entertain. But really a day at the range with an Enfield rifle is always a pleasure. You can find them for decent prices as the pretty much all wound up on the surplus market. They do pop up on proxibid quite often for a few hundred bucks and you can have yourself a very fun, very historically significant long gun that is sure to bring you years of enjoyment and shooting pleasure.

(Rifle Firing)

Special thank you the Ventura Munitions for helping us out with the cost of ammo, and we hope to see you all next time!”

Alex C.

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


  • Jim N Jenna SK

    More modern rifle videos! Nonetheless good video Alex.

    • noamsaying

      I liked the vid. Nice to see something more than just your average, garden variety black rifle. A little history.

  • Martin M

    The only shortcoming of the SMLE is that rimmed cartridge.

    • M

      SMLE is also bolt gun with the most Headspace problems

    • Bob

      And not a very accurate design either. Getting anywhere near an MOA is difficult.

      • Major Tom

        It’s easy on a Mosin. Get 7N1 ammunition, make sure your barrel and shroud are both unwarped and undamaged and not very worn and there ya go.

        • Bob

          Let’s see, I have a Mosin Nagant 91/30, I have a Lee Enfield No3 AND No4… Yeah, I’m good.

      • Heretical Politik

        The Lee Enfield is a combat rifle; built for rugged durability, speed, and ease of manufacture. No, it’s not a target rifle, but it is plenty accurate enough for its intended purpose.

    • cwp

      So logically, the Ishapore 2A1 must be a perfect rifle.

      • Martin M

        Are they? It’s odd I’ve never handled one. I have no idea if the 2A1 is any good.

  • codfilet

    Savage Arms made some of them in WW2 for Lend-Lease-They are marked “US Property”

    • Martin M

      Interestingly enough, they only have two groves in the bore on the Savage SMLEs.

  • Lee Enfield

    So some light reading in the past about enfield seems to say that the #4 mk2 is one of the better models to seek out. Any counter arguments? My objective is to get a decent sample of the major WW2 rifles and not terribly interested in expensive sniper models or collector grade.

    • Burst

      The snout of a #3 is highly iconic and distinctive. I like them better, purely from an appearance standpoint.

    • Adam

      I agree. I have a #3 mk 1/2 the only thing is that the eariler models have a more iconic look to them.

      I love my #3.

  • Raginzerker

    My uncle has one of these, It’s so much fun to shoot, and this is coming from someone who thinks bolt guns are as dull as dish water

  • Chris

    Mag dump from a bolt gun!
    ‘Nuf said.

    • Doug King

      Funny…I had the same thought…but you said it first!

  • gusto

    good solution?

    yeah you are forcing a dude to face almost certain death storming the trenches at verdun or the beaches of normandy, shooting from the wrong shoulder, which would take countless of hours to do comfortably, hours probalby not given adequatly, most likely using his non dominant hand and eye. you require of him to do his duty in a suboptimal way
    atleast they should have been given the chance to have lever actions, or equipped the lefties with smgs or carbines, or gotten garands for them.

    Alex is this attitude a schtick? I have read/heard much similar from you before, you have a heard time with empathy

    • Tom

      The British Army maintain that lefties can be taught to shoot just as well from the right. Remember this is not three gun or target shooting but combat and accuracy is going to suffer, its more about ‘Minute of Man’ than ‘Minute of Angle’. Also in the UK most soldiers have never actually fired a rifle before they join up so you are starting with a blank slate so to speak. Whilst not optimal its a compromise that has to be made with bolt guns and (most) bullpups. As with any other compromise its about the big picture.

  • mlk18

    Everytime I watch one of Alex’s videos, I end up spending money.

  • Minuteman

    Thanks for covering the No4, Alex. It’s my favorite rifle ever and I love it more than any other long gun. Although the ammo cost is just too prohibitive for me to actually own one.