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Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

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Zeliard
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Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#1 Post by Zeliard » Thu Jun 15, 2017 12:04 am

Originally posted by Delta5 via Popeye.

From delta5

Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

Over the past several months, Enfield Rifle Research has received dozens of questions about the spate of "new" and "rare" Lee-Enfields that have been showing up lately at gun shows and in pawn shops. Many of these are quite handsome rifles with pretty decent workmanship and are probably worth the $125 to $150 that the major firearms distributors ask for them. For the most part, though, they are not recently discovered “unissued” rifles, nor are they long-lost “prototypes” that have suddenly surfaced. The overwhelming majority of these “finds” are recently-made parts guns or replicas or recent aftermarket conversions of standard No. 1, 2A/2A1, or No. 4 rifles.
Navy Arms Company is making and selling a lot of these, and they usually describe them (albeit in the fine print) as "replicas" or "constructed of original No. 4 Enfields" or some such. SARCO and SOG (among others) are also marketing these (or similar) rifles for comparable prices, again with fair--or at least technically honest--advertising.

The problem arises when these aftermarket replicas pass through several hands and wind up offered for sale at a gun show or in a pawn shop. Typically, the advertising (such as it was) gets lost, the price gets jacked up, and the seller claims (maybe because he believes it) that the piece really is a long-lost treasure. A lot of people are getting burned by these knock-offs, and an even greater number are just plain confused.

Here’s our take on the various "bargains" that have been showing up lately.

No. 1 Mk III* (Lithgow - "New")
Often advertised as “collector grade” or “mint - unfired” or “unissued” and selling for $200 and up.

Watch out for these! Quite a few “new Lithgow” rifles have been built just within the last few years from spare parts bought from the Australian government. The parts are new, and the rifles were never issued--but they aren’t Lithgow factory rifles by any stretch of the imagination! They’re recently-built parts guns.

It is possible (though not likely) that some Lithgow-manufactured rifles with late-1945 (or later) dates were kept in storage and subsequently surplused out in unfired or unissued condition. Such rifles would have 5-digit serial numbers with either an “E” or an “F” serial number prefix, and the serial number would be stamped on the rear of the bolt handle and on the bottom of the fore-end, as well as on the receiver ring. Neither the nose cap nor the bottom of the backsight leaf will carry a different serial number on these rifles. Also, legitimate factory rifles will have 1/4-inch square brass or copper recoil plates installed on the fore-ends where the sear boss bears against the wood. These plates will be attached with small brass wood screws.

If you find a “new” Lithgow with a 1943 or 1944 date, be highly suspicious. This was the height of the war, and virtually all rifles manufactured were issued. If you find the receiver marked with a “JJ CO NY NY” import stamp, assume it’s a parts gun unless you have clear evidence to the contrary. (Many “new Lithgow” parts guns appear to have been assembled on receivers imported by John Jovino & Co.) If you find a 4-digit serial number with no prefix letter and an “A” suffix, this is clear evidence that it is not a Lithgow factory rifle. If you find different serial numbers on different parts, this is clear evidence that it is a parts gun. And if the recoil plates are missing, it is not only a parts gun--it could be dangerous to shoot. There’s a possibility that the fore-end will be damaged with as few as 20 or 30 round fired.

No. 1 "Tanker Carbine"
Overall length 39-40 inches; 20-21 inch barrel, with fore-end shortened and nose cap moved back. Also called “No. 1 Shortened and Lightened” rifle or “No. 6 Tanker Carbine” or “No. 6 Shortened and Lightened” rifle.

These are probably either aftermarket modifications or outright fakes. The Australian government did experiment with a shortened and lightened No. 1 rifle, but only a hundred prototypes were made. These have grooved fore-ends, lightening flutes on the barrel knox forms, and extensive lightening cuts on the receivers. Also, the Lithgow factory prototypes all have aperture backsights mounted on the charger bridge and solid handguards. All bear “XP” serial number prefixes.

Some unofficial experimenting was done by a number of unit armourers during WWII in an attempt to create a shortened and lightened version of the No. 1 rifle, and it is possible that a few of these early experiments have survived. The barrels were shortened, and the nose caps were reset, but most retained the barrel-mounted tangent sights. These are historically interesting, but they are not “official” Lithgow factory prototypes.

The easiest way to tell a recent replica from a WWII-vintage experimental model is to remove the nose cap. If you find freshly-cut wood, you know what you have! Also, many of the recent fakes have a hex-nut rather than a standard oblong nose cap nut securing the rear nose cap screw, and the fore-end stud and stud spring are missing.

No. 2A “Tanker” Carbine
Overall length 39-1/2 inches, with a 20-1/2 inch barrel. Fore-end shortened and nose cap moved back.

There ain’t no such thing! There never was. This is strictly an aftermarket modification. Such a shortened version of the Ishapore 2A/2A1 rifle was never even considered by the Indian government--never mind adopted--or by anyone else, for that matter.

No. 4 “Tanker” Carbine
Overall length 39-1/2 inches, with a 20-1/2 inch barrel. Fore-end shortened and nose cap moved back.

As above, there ain’t no such thing. Strictly an aftermarket modification.

No. 4 Shortened and Lightened
Overall length 39-42 inches; 20-23 inch barrel, with fore-end shortened and nose cap moved back.

Probably an aftermarket modification. The Canadian government did experiment with a shortened and lightened No. 4 rifle, and a few dozen prototypes were made; however, these have one-piece stocks! Also, the barrels and receivers were lightened with extensive milling. All were conversions of Long Branch rifles only.

If you see a two-piece stock or a receiver than doesn’t have any lightening cuts, you have an aftermarket modification or replica. The British version of the shortened and lightened No. 4 rifle is the No. 5 rifle (see below).

No. 4 “Collector Grade”
Savage or Long Branch, often advertised as “new” or “unissued.”

Watch out. It is possible that a legitimate unissued No. 4 rifle will turn up, but it’s not likely. Most of these “collector grade” rifles were arsenal reconditioned somewhere along the line--but somewhere other than Canada or Great Britain (who marked their reconditioned rifles “R” or “FTR”). Look for black enamel or flat black paint on the metal parts--this is a tip-off that the work was done in Pakistan or in South Africa or in some other country. Original No. 4 rifles have an oil-blackened finish (or possibly a blued finish on 1950 or later Long Branch rifles). Also, look for non-British or non-Canadian ownership or acceptance marks.

We have reports of a number of unissued Long Branch rifles re-imported into Canada from Belgium by Districorp. The story is that CAL sold a bunch of No. 4 rifles to the Belgian government in the early 1950s, and that they were kept in storage and never issued. These all have 95L serial numbers and 1950 dates and look quite nice. They are probably the real McCoy. (We’ll look into them further and report as soon as we have additional data.)

No. 5 “Jungle Carbine”
Overall length 39-1/2 inches; 20-1/2 inch barrel with flash hider. Rubber buttplate; short fore-end.

An honest No. 5 rifle (or “Jungle Carbine”) has lightening flutes cut in the barrel knox form and extensive milling done to the receiver to lighten it. (Take the handguard off and look for the barrel flutes.) Also, an honest No. 5 will be electro-engraved “No5MKI” on the left side of the receiver and will not have “No. 4” stamped or engraved anywhere on it. In addition, an honest No. 5 will bear the proper manufacturer’s code: “(ROF)F” for Fazakerley or “M47C” for BSA-Shirley. Finally, the barrel band will be only 8 inches in front of the receiver ring--rather than 10-3/4 inches as on a No. 4 rifle.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Golden State Arms Co. of Pasadena, California modified quite a few No. 4 rifles by shortening the barrels, adding flash hiders, and shortening the fore-ends. Some were equipped with Fajen or Bishop sporter stocks, as well. These were called various names, such as “No. 4 Jungle Carbine,” or “Santa Fe Mountain Carbine,” or “Mountain Rifle,” but all have “Golden State Arms” and “Santa Fe” roll-stamped on the barrel. Nice aftermarket conversions, but strictly that.

Currently, Navy Arms is doing the same thing with No. 4 rifles and selling them as “No. 5 Jungle Carbines.” At arm’s length they look genuine, but they have standard No. 4 rifle markings and DO NOT have the lightening flutes on the barrel or the lightening cuts on the receiver. These are strictly fakes--or thinly disguised “replicas.”

No. 6 “Jungle Carbine”
Overall length 39-1/2 inches, with 20-1/2 inch barrel and flash hider; brass buttplate.

The Australian No. 6 rifle was officially adopted, but only a couple of hundred prototypes were ever built. These have grooved fore-ends and handguards, and most have receiver- mounted aperture rear sights. All have “XP” serial number prefixes, and the bayonet lug on the flash hider is squared to accept a P1907-type bayonet rather than rounded to accept a No. 4-type bayonet. The handguard is the same length as the fore-end and will be solid for its full length or have an unusual set of backsight protectors on it--sort of like the rear handguard on an SMLE Mk I rifle.

Replicas and fakes abound. Golden State Arms made replicas in the 1950s and 1960s, but these are all marked “Golden State Arms” and “Santa Fe” on the barrel. In the 1970s, Federal Ordnance Company (Fed Ord) made some No. 6 look-alikes built on WWI-vintage Lithgow actions, but these are stamped “Jungle Rifle” on the left side of the receiver. Navy Arms is currently making look-alikes with no special marking and selling them as “No. 6 Jungle Carbines.” Don’t pay a premium for these!

If you see a barrel-mounted tangent sight, the rifle is a fake. If you don’t see lightening flutes on the barrel knox form and lightening cuts in the receiver, the rifle is a fake. If it has a No. 5 flash hider, it’s a fake. If the barrel band is up within a few inches of the flash hider, it’s a fake. (Or a thinly-disguised “replica,” if you must.)

No. 7 “Jungle Carbine”
Shortened version of 2A/2A1 rifle, with flash hider installed. Like the 2A Tanker Carbine, this is strictly an aftermarket modification. There never was a carbine version of the Ishapore 2A/2A1 rifle, and there never was any such thing as a “No. 7 Jungle Carbine.” The Lee-Enfield No. 7 rifle is a .22 caliber training rifle, similar in appearance to a full-size No. 4 rifle, which was made in both Canada and Great Britain in the late 1940s. They are clearly marked as such.

A Final Word
We believe that Navy Arms and others are missing a bet by not labeling their products for what they are. Aftermarket modifications and replicas have been around since the days of Francis Bannerman, and they are an interesting part of the history of military rifles. Bannerman Krags are definitely collectable, and there is a growing interest in Golden State and Fed Ord Enfields--but mainly because they are readily identifiable for what they are.

The problem with the current crop is not just that the marketing borders on deceptive: ten or twenty years from now nobody will be able to tell an honest Navy Arms look-alike from the one-off handiwork of a basement wood butcher. We believe that the aftermarket modifications and even “replicas” would sell just as well if they were labeled as such, and we have no doubt that doing so would save a lot of grief for collectors--both now and in the years to come.
Proud alumni of Transylvanian Polygnostic University. "Know enough to be afraid."

"Vertroue in God en die Mauser".-Faith in God and the Mauser.

"Send lawyers, guns and money." -Warren Zevon

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Re: Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#2 Post by englishman_ca » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:00 pm

Wow! unissued condition LE rifles for $125 to $150?

I think that this article is a little dated. But still good reading.

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Re: Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#3 Post by garra » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:14 pm

I bought one of those Ishapore 2A1 converted rifles, made to look like a #5 Enfield. Really a nice looking rifle, well built. Only issues I have had is that it is sensitive to the load, as I had extraction issues as the brass was swelling a bit due to high pressure. I had to back off the Grs of powder till it extracted OK.

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Re: Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#4 Post by Kpcasey » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:32 pm

What's the best way to go about replacing my flash hider on my no 5 , it's all matching and sooooo nice minus that modification someone made in the years after the war.
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Re: Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#5 Post by garra » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:20 pm

Here is the only one that Numrich has left to buy. Looks like it is held on by retaining pins, does you barrel have two grooves cut on the top?

http://www.gunpartscorp.com/ad/1370590.htm

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Re: Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#6 Post by B32dominator » Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:01 am

Kpcasey wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:32 pm
What's the best way to go about replacing my flash hider on my no 5 , it's all matching and sooooo nice minus that modification someone made in the years after the war.
You have the tap the pins out. But warning each nose cap was fitted to each rifle. There are grooves in the barrel and another front sight/flash hider may not line up with the original grooves. You may have to do some work to fit them.

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Re: Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#7 Post by Kpcasey » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:05 am

Thanks guys I'll look into it and respond when I start some work.

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Re: Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#8 Post by Tommy Atkins » Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:32 am

Bear in mind there are 2 different internal diameters available, or needed. Verify you're getting the one that matched your barrels OD.

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Re: Lee-Enfield Modifications, Replicas, and Fakes

#9 Post by S.B. » Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:55 pm

I own a fake carbine(No 4 Mk 1 cut down) but, knew it when I bought it. A lot cheaper than a real one. U think from that wholesaler in Florida?
Steve

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