Britain’s Last Ditch: Wartime Changes to No4 Lee Enfield

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When we think of “last-ditch” rifles, we normally think of 1945 and the very end of World War Two. For the British, however, the lowest ebb of the war was in 1941 and 42, and it is during that period that the Lee Enfield was at is crudest. British ordnance instituted a number of simplifications to maximize weapons production. In particular:

– Walnut replaced with kiln-dried birch and beech for furniture
– Two-groove barrels replacing five-groove ones
– A vastly simplified 2-position flip sight in place of the original fine micrometer style
– Simplified bolt release, designated the No4 MkI* (which was only produced in the US and Canada)
– Aluminum buttplates
– Much reduced standards of fit and finish, leading to really ugly machine marks and haphazard markings.

Most of these changes would be walked back later in the war as Britain’s footing became more solid, but they make a very interesting period of changes for the collector to study.

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