Enfield rifles again finding favor in Afghanistan

Steve Johnson
by Steve Johnson

StrategyPage has a article about the resurgence of Lee-Enfield rifles in Afghanistan and use against NATO troops:

Afghan traditionalists are changing the way the Taliban fight. This can be seen by the increase in the use of sniping by the Taliban. In the last year, NATO units in southern Afghanistan estimate there has been a 25 percent increase in sniping incidents.

Then some of the young guys remembered grandpa decrying the decline in marksmanship years ago. Back before the Russians showed up, in the 1980s, the best an Afghan could hope to have was a World War II, or World War I, era bolt action rifle. These weapons were eclipsed in the 1980s by full automatic AK-47s and the RPG rocket launcher. The young guys took to the AK, and the thrill of emptying a 30 round magazine on full automatic. Not bad for a brief firefight, and suddenly hardly anyone, except a few old timers, wanted to use the old bolt action rifle.

Read the entire article here.

Lee-Enfield rifle No. 4 Mk I (From Wikipedia)

According to the book Charlie Wilson’s War, supplying .303 ammunition was initially a priority of the CIA during the 1980s. The Afghans were already armed with Lee-Enfield rifles of WWI and WWI vintage and there was greater deniability supplying then obsolete ammunition. Once the CIA gained more funding and political support they shifted thier startergy to supplying AK-47, heavy weapons and ultimately the Singer surface-to-air missile system.

This war is often incorrectly compared to the Soviet invasion. The Taliban do not represent the Afghan people nor are they as well supplied as the Afghan freedom fighter were by the US, Pakistan and Arab countries. The Taliban, while presumably well supplied, are fighting with less advanced weapons than they did back in the 1980’s. NATO forces on the other hand have come a long way. It is not surprise that sniping is on the increase. Force on force confrontations with NATO troops almost always end with high Taliban casualties.

Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson

I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!

More by Steve Johnson

Join the conversation
2 of 21 comments
  • Walker Walker on Apr 01, 2011


    3minutes 30 seconds onwards

  • Josua Josua on Jul 30, 2011

    well, the enfield is an accurate weapon during WW1, I think its still the same oday