What Happened to the AIA Enfields?

    In the comments section of my recent article on the YouTube Channel Bloke on the Range, the subject arose of the AIA M10 Enfield series, one of which is used by Bloke in one of his videos. These were Australian-built rifles made roughly to the extremely venerable Lee-Enfield pattern, and chambered for .308 Winchester and 7.62×39 (like Bloke’s gun).

    To many, myself included, the Lee-Enfield is one of the best actions ever designed, and moreover offers a substantial ergonomic improvement over even modern rifles. Naturally, fans of the Lee-Enfield cottoned to the idea of new production Lees mating the excellent action finally to modern ammunition like the versatile .308 Winchester. The AIA M10A1 and M10A2 rifles in 7.62×39 further combined the stock profile of the No. 5 “Jungle” Carbine with the softer-shooting ammunition and high capacity detachable magazines of the Kalashnikov. To many an Enfield fan, this promised to make their dreams come true – finally, a softer-shooting carbine Enfield that used plentiful and cheap magazines to boot!

    The reality of these rifles seems to fall short of the expectations, however. A thread on AR15.com has several AIA rifle owners recounting their disappointment in the firearms, many of whom claimed the guns didn’t shoot well and had poor barreling jobs. The company, Australian International Arms, too, was difficult to contact to the point of being downright reclusive, to those who tried, like Steve Redgwell of 303british.com, who investigated the failed importation of the AIA guns to Canada. Despite significant interest, only a few hundred AIA rifles were every imported to the United States, too, and the reasons for this are as mysterious as the company itself. Rumors of everything from their importation being banned due to the wood furniture being made in communist Vietnam to the importers dropping the ball, to AIA dropping the ball on the importers can be found online; the real reason though remains unknown to me.

    As of 2011, AIA appears to have gone out of business.

    It really is a crying shame that the AIA guns weren’t better made and more successful. The Lee action is beloved for a reason, and the No. 4 in particular could be the basis for a whole family of economically-made rifles with the fast operating action and great ergos that the Lee-Enfield family has become famous for.

    Well, one can dream, at least!

    Last minute edit, Bloke on the Range released a video detailing his experiences with (and modifications to) the AIA 7.62x39mm carbine he owns. For those wondering about some of the details of and problems with those rifles, take a look:

    Nathaniel F

    Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. He can be reached via email at [email protected]