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.
Ventura Munitions – Retailer of quality ammunition.
“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.
And here just for the hell of it I thought I might try and shoot of 10 rounds as fast as I could.
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.
Special thank you the Ventura Munitions for helping us out with the cost of ammo, and we hope to see you all next time!”