Saturday, December 20, 2008

Complying with "one gun a month" laws

As many of you know. several sates now have a "one gun per month" law pertaining to purchasing of firearms.

Well as a law-abiding guy, I do my best to comply. I try to buy one gun a month.

However money's been tight lately, and I confess that I've been unable to fully comply for some time now. However December of 2008 is covered thanks to a nifty trade deal wherein I swapped a quantity of ammunition that I no longer needed (It pays to inventory the ammo locker every now and again) even up for this rather nice Enfield #5 Mk1 rifle, aka the "Jungle Carbine".(click on the pictures to enlarge them.)
I turned this one up in a fairly new local gun shop that specializes in military surplus gear and guns. The shop owner is a real gun guy too, and after we talked for a while, I proposed this trade deal and after some haggling, he accepted. The gun is not without a few flaws, specifically a few minor parts that are missing, but I'd already noted those and located them before making the trade offer. Anyone who has ever had a #5 knows how difficult it can be to find the correct parts since there really weren't too many of these rifles made during their short three-year production run from 1944 until 1947.Now as to this one, it was made in June of 1945 at the British arms factory in Fazakerley, England. The idea was to reduce the weight and length of the #4 Mk1 Enfield to make them handier for use in the Far East. About 4 inches and two pounds were knocked off via removal of every bit of excess wood and metal, but the resulting rifle, while sporty and handy to carry, had such a ferocious recoil and muzzle flash that the troops came to hate it in short order. Of course the sun was setting on the day of the bolt-action rifle just as fast as it was on the British Empire's claims on it's Far Eastern colonies in places like Burma, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong. The #5's were declared obsolete and surplussed out, many winding up in India and other places but some, like this one, being sold and exported commercially and winding up in the United States sometime before the American Gun Control Act of 1968 closed the door to such imports. This rifle bears the British nitro-proof stamp required on all firearms exported from that country but no importer stamps such as have been required on all firearms imported into this country since the ban was lifted in the 1990's. It follows that it had to have come in before 1968 unless it somehow slipped across the border from Canada, as Enfield rifles--quite numerous and popular there--are sometimes wont to do.

Looking this one over, it's been refinished at some time but it's an arsenal-grade job which utilized the proper baked-on black enamel paint. The wood is in excellent shape but bears stamps from BSA Shirley, the other plant that produced these rifles in England. The wood is not serial-numbered to the rifle, nor is the magazine, but the bolt is, and that's the important thing to me.

My collection has been missing one of these for a long time. I had one briefly this past year, but it turned out to be in worse shape than I thought and it had to go. Meanwhile, Aaron over at The Shekel picked up a really nice one that he should blog about, and that got me to start seriously looking for one. Alas, funds have been tight and these aren't the cheapest Enfields by any means, so I was both surprised and delighted to find this one in a shop just a few miles from the Lair. The fact that I was able to acquire it merely by trading just put the icing on the cake. Now I can't wait to get it out and start shooting it.


  1. If the thing doesn't shoot well; according to the guys who shoot these a lot, over at castboolits, the accuracy problems (notorious 'wandering zero' reported from the field) these machines had is due to a combination of factors:

    1. poor stock-to-action fit and loosening stock bolts. The action heats up, moves around in the stock which lacks proper muzzle securing, and the pressure points change. Some people have solved this with glass bedding, which I wouldn't do to an original rifle.

    2. buttpad riding up on the shoulder, resulting in difficulty maintaining a consistent hold from shot to shot. Some people tighten up on the sling and take extra care to develop a proper hold for it.

    3. (probably not applicable here in the US) tremendous humidity and dryness problems in the theaters in which it was originally used: jungles, deserts, etc. resulting in wild changes in wood dimensions, which affected the No. 5 more than other Lee-Enfield designs due to the stock design.

    4. the usual shocking range of tolerances in bore dimensions. Apparently they can slug anywhere from .310 to .324!

    5. the lightening cuts on the receiver, which do allow more 'flex' than a standard action, especially when heated.

    Anyway, the people who use it in rural Canada (Alberta, BC, etc.) for day-to-day stuff seem to like it immensely, and pooh-pooh reports of stiff recoil and bad accuracy.

    Have fun!

  2. I'll be interested to hear if you encounter the "wandering zero" these carbines are supposed to be infamous for.

  3. I've heard different things about the "wandering zero", including the claim that no civilian owner of these rifles has been able to duplicate it, giving credence to the idea that the British military just wanted these things gone.

    But I reload .303 for my rifles, and I've found large bore discrepancies across the board with all of them. My thought on Enfields at this point is: If I get an accurate one--fantastic. If not, I just enjoy the history of the firearm. If it holds "minute-of-pie-plate" at 200M, I'm satisfied.

  4. Lagniappe's Guy scores again! Outstanding.

    And if it slugs out oversized, you could just tell everyone that you have a rare Enfield Jungle Carbine in .324 Lagniappe!