British Enfields No4Mk.1(T) and L42A1


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Feb 27, 2022
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The No4Mk.1(T) was arguably the best sniper rifle of the Second World War. And it came into being, not because of some grand plan, but more what might be called "Fortuitous Happenstance". In the US, sniper rifles were rack grade rifles with an off the shelf civilian scope affixed to them and then issued out. No fitting, no accurizing, no nothing. In England, they went about it in a more methodical way as we shall see.

During WW2, No4 rifles were made by:

BSA (Birmingham Small Arms)

Which was later known for motorcycles and air rifles. The motorcycle head badge even still had stacked Martini rifles.
Of the three British makers of No4 rifles, this was the only private company. But the vast majority of the rifles selected for sniper conversion were BSA. This ought to tell you something.


Royal Small Arms Factory Maltby
You don't see near as many Maltby snipers as BSA.

Royal Small Arms Factory Fazackerly
Located near Liverpool. I don't think any snipers were built during the war on a Fazackerly rifle.

Savage (USA)
Savage had a contract for standard No4 rifles under Lend Lease. They were even marked "US Property". There are a few documented snipers built on Savages that no one can seem to explain. Possibly post war builds.

Long Branch (Canada)

The Canadians built about 1000 of their own snipers using similar, but domestic scopes.

How a candidate No4 rifle was chosen for sniper conversion:

After the completed rifle had passed all inspections, it was sent for test firing and targeting, or what we call zeroing. The No4 front sights were available in a number of different heights and the correct one to correspond with the range setting of the rear sight was made by trial and error. In the course of this firing, rifles that exhibited exceptional accuracy were hand stamped "TR" on the left socket and segregated for conversion. (See pic) In this way, the Brits avoided the need for accurizing the rifles by hand. "Fitting up" the forend on the Enfield to accurize it was a job for a skilled armourer, and was just too time consuming when you're trying to supply an Army with sniping equipment.

Here's what the markings mean.
M47C was the BSA wartime code.
1944 was the year this rifle was manufactured.
L32052 is the serial number
TR is the stamp that indicated this rifle was to be sent for sniper conversion.


The "TR" rifles were then crated and shipped to Holland and Holland, famed British gunmakers, were the conversion process began.

No4 receivers (Bodies, as the Brits call them) are notorious for lacking a square surface to index off of. The holes thru the sight ears are the most reliable place to locate off of.

The 2 aperture flip rear battle sight was removed, later to be replaced with the pre-war No.5 micrometer sight.

The rifle was then disassembled and placed in a fixture to drill and tap the holes in the side of the receiver for the scope pads.
The pads were then soldered on and the screws torqued while the solder was still liquid. Then the screws were staked.

The scope base (bracket) was then hand fitted to a no stress fit using lamp black and stones to the pads. This was so the scope would hold its zero when removed and replaced. The rifle serial number was then hand stamped on the bracket.


At this point the bracket was not finished machined. The caps were still part of the forging.
With the bracket mounted to the rifle, it was line bored to be within 5 MOA of bore centerline so the scope would be pretty well centered and not use all its internal adjustment due to misaligned mounts.
The the caps were drilled and tapped and lastly sawn in half for scope installation. The caps were numbered to prevent mismatch. After the scope was mounted, the screws were staked.

The Scope:

There were 3 "Marks", or variants of the No32 scope, with the Mark III being the latest and best.

Now get this, in WW2, the British had a sniper scope that was:

Waterproof. (Would not fog)
Had "Bloomed" lenses. (Early magnesium fluoride coated lenses)
MOA click adjustments for elevation and windage.
Elevation knob that had yardage markings calibrated to the British Mk. 7 ammo.
Would return to zero if removed/replaced.
Had a post and cross hair reticule that could be used for range estimation. Also the post was easier to see in low light than a plain cross hair.

The US scopes had none of those things in WW2.

After assembly, the scope number was hand stamped on the wrist of the stock.

A wooden cheek piece was fitted to align the shooters eye with the scope.
The rifle was then re-targeted and the front sight replaced if necessary to calibrate the new rear sight. An "S" was stamped on the right side of the receiver, just below the bolt lug, to indicate this had been done.

After all checks, tests and inspections were complete, the butt stock was stamped with H&H's wartime code.


The red "W" indicates the scope passed the submersion test in a tank of hot water without leaking or fogging, rating waterproof status.


Finally, the rifle was placed in its transit chest together with a cleaning kit, the scope can, a sling, (US WW1 M1907) and a spotting scope. A label with the contents of the chest was shellacked to the underside of the lid. British regs required that the contents of the chest be kept intact and inventoried as a unit. This prevented separating the fitted scope from the rifle.

So here is the transit chest, the storage container for the scope, and a cleaning kit.
The transit chest is almost worth a post in itself. It is hand made from planks that are dovetailed together at the corners. The rifle rests in felt lined blocks with a top block to secure the rifle so it can't move even if the chest is inverted.


The Brits thought so highly of the No4Mk1(T) that it stayed in service well into the 1970's, which made them the only major power to keep their WW2 sniper rifle in front line service that long. Surprisingly, its replacement was an apple that didn't fall far from the tree.

The L42A1

Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield came up with a replacement in the early 70's that converted the No4Mk1(T) into a 7.62X51 NATO sniper rifle.
The conversion involved a new magazine and machining the receiver to feed 7.62 NATO ammo. In a departure from the standard No4, it featured a free floated 26" hammer forged heavy barrel. Other than that, the scope got a new elevation drum calibrated to the NATO ammo and a new designation. A new transit chest rounded out the package. The Brits used this rifle well up into the 1990's, until it was replaced by the AI chassis system rifle.

In this pic we have the L42A1 chest with wooden chamber cleaning stick, bracket for the night vision scope, lens cleaning brush and container, cleaning kit, and scope can. Reproduction users manual and scope data card.

Fun facts:
All No4Mk1(T) rifles were issued with WW1 US M1907 slings. The issue British No4 sling was nothing but a carry strap, and the M1907 slings were retained because they could be used as a shooting aid. The Brits never threw anything away and repurposed whenever possible.

The spotters scope was a 3 draw old school scope most of you would think of as a "Pirate Scope". These were made from WW1 to WW2 and are a rare and expensive accessory, which is why I don't have any.

The No32 scope and bracket were originally designed for the Bren Mk1 LMG before the war. The idea to scope the Bren was eventually scrapped, but the tooling was already built and it was decided to use it on the No4Mk1(T). If you wondered why the windage knob was on the wrong side, it was because it would foul the Bren guns magazine. If you ever see a pic of a Mk. 1 Bren gun, the receiver is machined for the scope bracket.

During the war there was a famous British sniper instructor, Capt. C. Shore, author of "With British Snipers to the Reich", who opined, "The No4Mk1(T) is the perfect rifle for putting round holes in square heads". If it were not for political correctness, that might make a good tee shirt meme today.

The plastic container for the lens brush in the L42A1 chest was repurposed from the Carl Gustav recoiless rifle. These are as rare as hens teeth. I paid $50 for mine, and that's only because I bought the rifle from the dealer who had Brit connections to locate the last ones in captivity.


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Aha! So, that's the origin of your screen name. :)
Aha! So, that's the origin of your screen name. :)
I chose it due to its obscurity, so I don't have to deal with others that also use it.
And I collect Brit snipers, so it's fitting...
Great write up!

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The first rifle I ever bought when I was a teen was an Enfield NO4MK1 standard infantry rifle. Ordered it from Kleins Sporting Goods in Chicago.
I think it was like $29.00 shipped!
Kicked like thunder.
My brother bought a Martini in .310 Greener which he promply broke.
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Rifle No. 5 Mk. 1.
Bought it for $20.00 in 73 & shot some of the Cordite tracer & ball rounds.

Sold it for $20.00 3 weeks later, never missed it at all, LOL.

The first rifle I ever bought when I was a teen was an Enfield NO4MK1 standard infantry rifle. Ordered it from Kleins Sporting Goods in Chicago.
I think it was like $29.00 shipped!
Kicked like thunder.
My brother bought a Martini in .310 Greener which he promply broke.
My first was a 1950's Fazackerly No4Mk.2 in excellent condition. Paid $99 for it in the early 90's. Same rifle would be $400 today.
The post war rifles featured birch furniture.

Also have a CNo4Mk1*. Made in Canada at Longbranch, this rifle has some nice wood and was made in 1949 as foreign aid to Greece. This rifle is blued. Longbranch later changed to Parkerizing for both new and rebuilt rifles. I had the good fortune to know the guy that imported these back into the US and got to pick from a batch of several hundred.


Surplus 303 ammo is now a thing of the past. Back when the last of the boxer primed mil-surp ammo came out of Greece, I stocked up.
This was mixed headstamp loose ammo that was left behind due to lack of packaging. This was sold as grade A ammo. Later, the very last was grade B with a little tarnish here and there. But for 25 cents per round delivered, it was a deal even back then.

Fun fact:
All military 303 ammo is Berdan primed except that made in the USA during the war, and the Greek. This was because the Canadians set up their ammo plant. Probably as part of the rifle deal. Later, when the Greeks got US M1's as military aid, the same plant made boxer primed 30-06, which was the ammo CMP sold a few years back. Both the Greek 303 and 30-06 was excellent mil-surp ammo.

Rifle No. 5 Mk. 1.
Bought it for $20.00 in 73 & shot some of the Cordite tracer & ball rounds.

Sold it for $20.00 3 weeks later, never missed it at all, LOL.

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No. 5 rifles are quite pricey now. That $20 investment would have been worth keeping.
A!ways wished I had bought the "Jungle Carbine."
No. 5 rifles are quite pricey now. That $20 investment would have been worth keeping.

I was in Ohio when I bought it & you could only hunt deer with a shotgun.
Compared to my 03 A3 this thing would take a real toll on your shoulder.

Wish I still had my O3 A3 that I traded to get my first M1, but that's one that got away.
There's a thread where I restored a Drill Rifle to shooting condition. Kind of a moth to butterfly thing.
Forgot about this one. This was a "find" on Gun Broker. It was a barreled action that had been "bubbaed" with the barrel cut down and some missing parts. It's a WW2 Maltby that was modified to Mk. 2 standard after the war during overhaul. (if anyone wants to know what that means, ask) Got it for the princely sum of $35.
Had the barrel threaded, gave it some new parkerizing, ordered the missing parts from Sarco, and ordered a new Boyd's stock for it.
Ready for another 80 years service.