Sporterized Lee-Enfields


I must open this page with a disclaimer. I do not advocate the altering or modifying of these rifles from their original military configuration, to do so is destroying history. However, if sporting up an Enfield, for hunting purposes is what you want to do, I would strongly suggest you find one that has already been sported up. There are many of these rifles to be found, it was quite vogue in the years after WWII to chop one up for hunting purposes. Actually, there was a number of businesses that sporterized them for commercial re-sale, hence the large number of them out there to be found. The options available for putting those racing stripes on your Lee-Enfield are limited only by your imagination. But please, before you do, always consult your local gunsmith, for obvious safety concerns. Variations include, but are not limited to: *Re-shaping existing military stocks, glass-bedding, fitting commercial nylon or wood stocks, even machining off the buttsocket for a one-piece sporter stock, *Mounting scopes, both screw attached and no-drill types or replacing military sights with high quality commercial competition sights (Parker-Hale etc.) *Machining off the charger bridge, bayonet lugs or cutting down and re-crowning the barrel, *Changing caliber (45-70, 410 shotgun etc.) *Chamber reaming (.303 Epps Improved etc.) As I stated, the options are almost unlimited. I do not however, endorse any of these listed modifications (that must be decided between you and your gunsmith), I just wanted to detail some of the more common alterations to be found.

Parker-Hale


1943 BSA (Shirley) No4 MkI Parker-Hale Conversion Rifle


Perhaps the most widely known and best regarded of the commercial sporterizing companies was Parker-Hale. Parker-Hale would custom build to suit a particular customer or you could simply buy "off-the-rack", so to speak. Generally, these rifles are well put together with tight tolerances with good barrels and are quite sharp looking and accurate.



Maltby No4 MkI Sporter


Pictured is a Maltby manufactured rifle that went through a FTR in ROF Fazakerley. The only sporterizing done was to cut and re-shape the military fore-end and remove the front sight protector, replacing it with a sheet metal ramp. The rifle still has it's bayonet lugs forward of the sight ramp and has retained it's Mk3 stamped rear sight. The furniture is beech wood.



1915 BSA No1 MkIII


The extent of the sporterizing to this one merely includes removal of the upper rear and front handguards and re-shaping of the fore-end. The original sights, magazine and the charger bridge are still intact.



BSA Commercial Sporter

Images courtesy of Andrew Mychalus



This rifle was made by Birmingham Small Arms using the SMLE MkI action, but was built as a commercial sport-hunting rifle. As such, it came from the factory with a shortened fore-end, express type rear sights and a folding front blade sight. As a commercial firearm it lacked the usual stampings found on military arms and was simply stamped with BSA Co. on the buttsocket and the BSA logo (three stacked rifles) on the barrel knox form. Also present would be the necessary Nitro Proof markings, but again these would be the civilian type markings. Another clear give away that the rifle was intended for commercial sale, would be its more polished appearance. In its day, the .303 British cartridge was considered very powerful and quite appropriate for big (and dangerous) game. No doubt that this rifle would have been a prized possession in someone's safari hunting arsenal.



The BSA's MkI receiver. Note the lack of military stampings on the buttsocket, no crown, date or mark number. Just the BSA Co. stamping


Top view of the barrel knox form showing the Nitro Proof stampings, the BSA Inspection and Proof markings and slightly hidden from the cameras flash is the BSA stacked rifles logo. This picture also illustrates the express rear sights.


This image clearly shows off the express type rear sight complete with the forward folding ladder for more precise range shots. Again, Nitro Proof and BSA Insp & Proof stampings can be seen on the Knox form. This picture also illustrates the fine quality wood stock.


A nice picture of the folding front sight in the raised position.


The front sight in the lowered position.


Magazines

One of the simple things that can be obtained to slim up the contour of the sporterized Enfield, or to conform to local hunting regulations is replacing the 10 round magazine with a 5 round capacity one. Enfield's were never issued with these magazines, just to keep the record straight. They are an after-market product that can be found in the larger gun stores or available from at least one source I know of personally. The normal make up of these magazines involves cutting the bottom off of an issued 10 rounder, at a certain angle and then welding/silver soldering the bottom back on.



A "Santa Fe" 5 round magazine.






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