• L59A1 DP Rifle (by Peter Laidler)

    The following article is published with the kind permission of Advisory Panel Member, Peter Laidler. Capt. Peter Laidler is the senior Armourer in the UK Military, now retired, but based as a Technical Officer at the UK Military Small Arms School. On behalf of MILSURPS.COM members, we'd like to publicly thank him for his support of this forum, as well the broader Lee Enfield collector community in general.

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    L59A1 DP Rifle

    By Peter Laidler


    That was a timely picture by tlvaughn (click here) of his selection of No4 rifles which included a shot of an official No4 DP rifle, known to us in the UK Military as the RIFLE, DRILL PURPOSE, L59A1. I expect that some of the wild and untamed colonials and antipodeans among the forumers have been at their wits end trying to decipher what we unwashed Brits have been chuntering on about during our recent discussions about an Enfield rifle that is incapable of firing anything, but is still a rifle…….called ‘……..an L59!’ The L59 was a downgraded rifle converted to a non firing, totally inert rifle for training use with Cadets (and not only Cadets I should add). Incidentally, numerically this is the last Lee Enfield. While there were 6 L59A2's, that should be looked upon as a sample run. That fact makes a genuine L59 a cheap but important item in any collection of Lee Enfields.

    Putting my old teaching hat on and remembering the phrase that one picture describes a thousand words, here are a series of pictures showing the important points of what one of these mysterious ‘rifles’ embodies.

    Prior to the introduction of the L59 rifle in the 70’s, there were many different methods of neutering the No4 (and No1) rifle to Drill Purpose for training. Some simply had the striker cut short with the bolt head welded up and were liberally marked with the letters DP stamped into the wood. Others had a vertical hole bored right through the barrel, just forward of the chamber. Others just had a combination of these. However, the L59 regulalated the situation to an official safe and secure format.

    Approx 3,000+ of these rifles were said to have been converted but this is clearly wrong because from my experience, this was a lengthy project that took place over several years. A similar project was instigated for those remaining No1 rifles in use with Cadet Forces (usually those privately owned within the public school system). We know that only 6 of these were ‘successfully’ converted before the idea was abandoned. Thereafter, they were all withdrawn and No4/L59 DP rifles issued as replacements.


    The left side of a typical L59A1 Drill Rifle. Notice the distinct, wide white bands on the butt and fore-end/handguard. This particular rifle had a blunted/rounded tip DP marked bayonet fitted too. There doesn’t appear to be any official EMER reference to DP No4 bayonets in the relevant EMER SA&MG V150 but this bayonet bears a label with the distinct red ‘S’ for serviceable which is lined through and now reads ‘…to EMER DP spec’. On the basis that if it is DP, it cannot be truly serviceable.


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    A close up of the first part of the conversion. This shows the right hand side of the hardened locking shoulder machined right through for a minimum width of 3mm to the full depth of the locking lug of the bolt. This proved very hard on the milling cutters and an amendment suggested that it could be angle ground away initially and then finished with a milling cutter. Nobody told them that on some rifles, the induction hardening was indeed hard and sometimes deep too!


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    Another view of the right hand slot in the body. This slot effectively ensures that the action body is totally incapable of supporting the load of discharge. As a result, it would certainly fail proof. In real terms, it wouldn’t fail proof because they would refuse to subject it to proof in any case!


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    The left hand body side. Here, a window has been machined out of the left side and then a further window has been taken out to completely open up the left hand body locking shoulder. Once again, this has taken away the structural integrity of the locking lug. But there’s more to come…………….. Notice that the fore-end has been cut away to show the full extent of the work.


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    This is pretty well self explanatory. Just forward of the chamber and leed, about 3.5” forward of the breech face, an approx 1” long half section has been machined through the barrel. When a drill round is loaded into the chamber, the bullet part is visible in this window. At the front of this sectioned area, a hard steel plug is set into and hydraulically pressed into the barrel forwards. The plug was made from a steel standard that equated to the L1A1 rifle piston rod. So GUESS what we used? It is then welded in place so as to form an angle OUTWARDS. If anyone were so stupid as to fire a live round, it was proved that the nose of the bullet would deflect to the left and the propellant gas would immediately vent to the left to atmosphere, out of harms way. As the propellant gasses have vented out so early, they will have had insufficient time to build up to full pressure. (While I was not involved in this matter, I have a feeling that the pressure would vent at 18 percent of maximum). Many of the fore-ends and handguards offered as spares have been patched in this area. Now you know why!


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    Have a very careful look at this rather grainy photograph and notice the small, hard steel pin, just in front of the clearance slot in the boltway. This pin effectively prevents a normal service bolt head from moving forward of that point. Clever eh! It is level with the top edge of the boltway track guide and an interference fit into the corresponding hole. Its position would make it impossible (?) to remove.


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    Ah, here is the heart of the L59. The bolt. Another picture that is pretty well self explanatory. The short and long locking lugs of the bolt are machined across the rear by approx 5mm to totally destroy the structural integrity of the bolt. Quite clearly, the locking lugs would simply fold up under the load. Additionally, this area of the DP bolt has been heated to annealing temperature and allowed to cool taking the tempering away, destroying it forever.


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    Another view of the bolt, showing (not clearly in the photographs) the heat marks from the annealing process. Be advised that some bolts have been copper plated to a depth of up to .004” as an additional precaution. However, this process was stopped due to the fact that the extra thickness (.008” over the diameter of a bolt) made some bolts oversize for the body. But you might encounter dull copper bolts.


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    A modified DP bolt head showing the recess machined out in order that it will clear the hard steel pin pressed into the trackway. Notice that this bolt head is a copper plated one and that the clearance slot area has been cut away again, presumable to fit the bolt head to another DP rifle. Or maybe the copper plating made it oversize! Not quite clear is the welded up hole in the bolt face. In many of these, the bolt is also welded up from the rear, over the remains of the cut off striker. Like the bolts, the bolt heads have been subject to annealing temperature head and left to cool naturally, softening them. Not a lot of people know that……………..


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    The DP markings around the fore-end and top handguard. Also shown is the No4DP bayonet referred to above.


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    TAnother bolt head. This time showing the tungsten weld to the bolt face and the slot machined out so that the bolt head will clear the stop pin. Notice the words DP engraved to the rear of the slot. You wouldn’t engrave this as deep as this with a standard hardness bolt head!


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    Copyright ©2006 - 2010 by Peter Laidler and MILSURPS.COM


    Collector's Comments and Feedback:

    1. Capt. Peter Laidler is the senior Armourer in the UK Military, now retired, but based as a Technical Officer at the UK Military Small Arms School. In addition to being a trained and highly experienced military "Armourer", he has authored two excellent books about the No.4(T) sniper rifles and their No.32 scopes. They are titled "An Armourer's Perspective: .303 No.4(T) Sniper Rifle", which he co-authored with Ian Skennerton and his own dedicated work, "Telescope Sighting No.32".

    If you're really interested in some in-depth learning about the No.4(T) sniper rifles and the No.32 series of scopes, their history, evolution, repair and adjustments for shooting, I'd highly recommend those two books, which are pictured below.
    ....... (Feedback by "Badger")


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    Note: The opinions expressed herein or statements made in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Military Surplus Collectors Forums, or the ownership and moderation group of this site. MILSURPS.COM accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein. Also, please note that neither the author nor MILSURPS.COM recommends that any member of these forums, or a reader of this article, try this type of experimentation without the proper knowledge, equipment and training.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: L59A1 DP Rifle (by Peter Laidler) started by Badger View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Maple_Leaf_Eh's Avatar
      The Canadian Firearms Centre acting on behalf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced the revised deactivation standards and certification in 2006. The elements relevant to an L59A1 DP Rifle for Canadians are included. nonsponsor w w w.firearmstraining.ca/deactivation.pdf (retrieved 13/11/11)

      CANADIAN FIREARMS REGISTRY
      DEACTIVATION GUIDE
      Deactivation involves the removal of parts or portions of parts from a firearm, and the addition of
      pins and welds so that the firearm can no longer chamber or fire ammunition.
      1. DEACTIVATION OF SMALL ARMS OF CALIBRE 20MM OR LESS
      a. Semi-automatic, Full Automatic, Selective Fire, and Converted Firearms
      1. A hardened steel blind pin of bore diameter or larger must be force fit through the
      barrel at the chamber, and where practical, simultaneously through the frame or
      receiver, to prevent chambering of ammunition. Furthermore, the blind pin must be
      welded in place so that the exposed end of the pin is completely covered by weld. This
      strength and hardness of the weld must be similar to that of the metal used in the
      construction of the firearm. ...
      ...
      b. Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns Other Than Revolvers
      1. The barrel, bolt and frame or receiver must be modified as in 1.a.
      2. The bolt, if present as a separate piece, must be welded to the frame or receiver to
      prevent replacement.
      ...
      e. Magazines
      1. The magazine follower must be welded to the interior of the magazine to prevent
      loading of ammunition.
      2. The body of the magazine must be welded to the frame or receiver to prevent removal
      or replacement.
      ...

      And then follows the text of a certificate to be completed by an authorized gunsmith
      certifying compliance with the above.
    1. vinver's Avatar
      Did Long Branch ever produce an equivalent DP Rifle? I have a 1944 Long Branch, no serial number, only DP on the receiver and bolt. The bolt face is ground down, as is the firing pin. A plug is visible crosswise in the chamber(looks and I am told, was drilled through the barrel and welded, then barrel installed and welded to the receiver at the bottom to make it impossible to remove, or re-activate. ) Possibly a factory deactivated Long Branch? Originally had really nice firniture (not modified, so was removed.) I bought it as a barreled receiver, and built it up as a DP rifle for drill/display. Almost looks as new, it also has a CWA stamp (Canadian War Assets I'm told).
      Vincent
    1. Badger's Avatar
      These comments sections are not designed for interactive feedback, only comments about the articles. Try posting your question in the The Lee Enfield Knowledge Library Collectors Forum (click here). I think you'll get better information from Peter Laidler and others there.

      Regards,
      Doug
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