Basic Enfield Identification and the Facts about Serial Numbers

Enfields at a Glance

Here is a simple shadow board depicting the 4 most common Enfields.

Serial Numbers, Model, Mark and Manufacture Identification

Over the years I have received many emails regarding serial numbers. The volume of serial number inquiries has prompted me to fashion this page together and try and explain how best to identify a particular rifles manufacturer. Truth be known about Enfield serial numbers is simply, the serial number was used more for production counting than any other reason. For official references, usually the finished and issued rifle was tracked by its rack number and of course these records have long since been destroyed or lost forever. This is not to say that Enfield serial numbers provide no information or that they are not an interesting subject. For those out there that want to get deeper into the serial number issues I would suggest purchasing either Skip Stratton’s or Ian Skennerton’s books. What this page will attempt to provide is a basic overview of the serial system and where to find them along with the manufacture markings and barrel date stamp that is common on most Enfields.

SMLE rifle manufacturers were given no serial ranges to begin or end production with, so it is possible that two rifles may exist with the same serial number produced at different factories. Some SMLE’s may be found with as little as a 3 digit number and high as a 5 digit number. Once the initial range of numbers was maxed out a letter prefix was added and the numbering began again.

Serial Number and Manufacturer Information Locations

Seen in the picture above are the places where the serial number and manufacturer can be found. Along with the manufacturers name both the date of manufacture and the type and mark of the rifle is also shown. SMLE’s will have serial numbers stamped on the bolt, receiver, barrel, nose cap and the underside of the rear sight. They may or may not have the serial stamped into the front part of the fore-end and in the case of the Australian Lithgow’s it may be stamped into the butt as well. When reference is made to an “all matching” SMLE the serial numbers must all be the same.

No4 rifles were given a starting number that may be used to identify manufacturers, but again there was no set serial blocks. British No4 rifles were set up with a 5 digit serial number system with 1XXXX being allotted to Maltby, 2XXXX Fazakerley, 3XXXX BSA Shirley. Yet again, once the sequence of numbers caped out letter prefixes were used to start the sequence over. In the case of Savage Stevens the serial numbers began with a 0C1 and for Long Branch 0L1, these serials progressed in sequence directly relating the serial number to the number of rifles produced. An example would be: rifle serial number 52C2689 would be the 522,689th rifle produced by Savage Stevens.

No5 rifles (Jungle Carbines) serial numbers consisted of a sequential 4 digit number starting with 0001 running through to 9999, the numbers were preceded by a letter prefix. When the number sequence reached 9999 the next letter assigned to the factory would be substituted in place of the former. These specific letter prefixes were assigned to ROF Fazakerley and BSA Shirley, the only two manufacturers of the No5 rifle, this ensured that there would be no duplicate serials during the production run of No5’s. The prefixes were assigned as follows:

ROF Fazakerley

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, L, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T ,U, V, W, Y ,Y, Z, AA, AB, AC

BSA Shirley


Serial Number and Manufacturer Information Locations

Seen in the picture above are the normal spots to find the serial number and manufacturers’ information on the No4 and the No5 rifle. Places that will have the serial information is on the bolt, receiver and normally the barrel. They may have the numbers stamped into the front portion of the fore-end and on the bottom of the magazine. Manufacturers will be noted either on the left side of the receiver or on the left side buttsocket. The mark and type of rifle will be stamped onto the left side receiver wall. Like the SMLE an all matching No4 or No5 will have all the serial numbers matching wherever they are found on a particular rifle.

Certain serial number prefixes were reserved for trial rifles and specific rifle types. These prefixes can be used to authenticate these rifles if found in a gun shop or personal collection. The most common of these were: XP was used for the Shortened and Lightened Australian Lithgow (No6 Jungle Carbine) rifles, A was used for No1 MkVI trail rifles, BS was used on the British No7 small bore rifles, and T1 for the No5 small bore rifles. There are more but again I would suggest reading either Skip Stratton’s or Ian Skennerton’s books on the subject.

BDL Ltd.