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  1. #1
    Really Senior Member amadeus76's Avatar
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    Front sight clarification...

    I got into a conversation last night which has led me to question what I thought I knew about Lee Enfield front sights... Can someone clarify, outside of the makers stamp is their any real difference in front sights for any given size? And can split and solid bases both be used on any No4 rifle?

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    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    There are four types of front sight blades in eight different heights. Mk.1, Mk.1*, Mk.2 and Mk.3. Both split, Mk.2 and solid, Mk.1 front sight bases will interchange but you need the split front sight blades, Mk.1* and Mk.2, for proper tension in the solid, Mk.2, front sight base.

    Buy a copy of Skennertonicon's S.A.I.S. No.2 which has the Illustrated Parts list and shows all of the differences. EVERYONE who owns a No.4 should have this booklet!

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    Really Senior Member amadeus76's Avatar
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    Thread Starter
    Now I’m really confused... Will split base sights work on all No4’s then?

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    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    Are you asking about the bases or the blades? The split blades are designed for the solid bases. The solid blades are designed for the split bases with the screw. Sure, you can interchange them all but that doesn't mean it's correct. Hammering a solid front sight blade into a solid front sight base could be problematic.

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    Really Senior Member amadeus76's Avatar
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    I'm asking about the blades...

    I have an opportunity to buy a set of Fazakerly stamped front sights with split bases. I don't particularly need the sights for two of my current rifles, but the third will probably need a new and correct sight in the future. Beyond that I thought it would be good to have a full set on hand for any rifle I acquire in the future. However, before I buy the set I want to be sure that they can be used across the different makes or it's pointless.
    Last edited by amadeus76; 01-24-2019 at 04:45 PM.

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    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    The bases will interchange on any No.4 barrel. They weren't manufacturer specific if that's what you're asking.

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    Really Senior Member amadeus76's Avatar
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    I apologize for the confusion... What I'm asking about is the base of each individual front sight blade, not the front sight base that attaches directly to the barrel. Each blade either has a solid or split dovetail base and I'm asking if the split dovetail bases will work with all no4 rifles?

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    Advisory Panel Brian Dick's Avatar
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    I answered your question above, twice I think! Split blades on solid bases. Solid blades on split bases with the screw. I have to reiterate that you should buy the book. That way, you use the correct parts nomenclature and hopefully eliminate confusion. These reference materials are good and cheap.

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    There were also TWO variations of each type. Angled or undercut. I wrote a lengthy article on the why's, wherefores and reasons for each specific type some time ago. Best get the books and read the back articles to save a LOT of repetition I say!

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    Really Senior Member Alan de Enfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Laidlericon View Post
    There were also TWO variations of each type. Angled or undercut. I wrote a lengthy article on the why's, wherefores and reasons for each specific type some time ago. Best get the books and read the back articles to save a LOT of repetition I say!
    Sights and the No4 rifle.
    A bit of heavy weekend reading for you.......................

    There has recently been some too-ing and fro-ing correspondence about the sights used on the No4 rifles. Maybe it’s time to open up a few little previously unknown or certainly not fully understood points.

    Let’s take the foresights first. For the No4 rifle, there were 4 distinct TYPES of foresight blade. The very FIRST was, naturally enough, designated the
    BLADE, foresight. It came in eight sizes, from -.030”, -.015, 0, +.015”, +.030”, +.045”, +.060” and +.075”. These sizes (and I’m sure you all know this by heart…..) indicate the tip of the blade height below or above 1” of the exact centerline of the bore while the blade size ‘0’ is exactly 1” above the centre line of the bore ……, phew! Now for another misunderstood point. All of the actual BLADE heights are the same of approx .140” but it’s the .38” wide blade BASE (or stool) height that differs to make up the sizes. I know that some of you will say that this isn’t correct because ……… I know this and that’s because some of the commercial companies, including Parker Hale made their own variants including thinner widths, blow-up tyres and wind-up windows etc. BUT I’m talking about the Ministry of Supply/Army issue blades

    This blade was followed by a later blade style so as a result, the first original blade was redesignated the BLADE, foresight, Mk1. The Mk1 blade is easily identifiable by having a SOLID base. This is because it was retained firmly in position, gripped by the split BLOCK, band, foresight. The split foresight block is closed, to grip the solid blade, by a reverse headed screwdriver. It is the REAR of the Mk1 blade that we ought to be aware of now, where the undercut/inward sloping blade part meets up with the block, which then slopes outwards towards the base of the block. So, the side elevation of the blade forms a side-on ‘V’ shape.

    This rearwards and upwards sloping base could and did allow a line of reflected light to shine straight back into the shooters eye. Maybe not on the manicured ranges at Bisley but it certainly did in the bleak sunshine of Tunisia and Italyicon from where the complaints came

    The next foresight blade was introduced as a result of efforts to cheapen the cost of the No4 rifle in 1941. This time, instead of using a split block, band, foresight and the reverse headed 4BAscrew, the block, band was left solid. But in accordance with good engineering practice and to maintain the required friction to hold the blade secure within the block band foresight, the BLADE base was manufactured with a split block. This split block blade was called the BLADE, foresight, Mk1*

    The sizes remained the same as did the zeroing procedure, as did the side-on ‘V’ side elevation of the rear of the blade. It’s just that the block was easier and cheaper to manufacture. The new slot made very little difference to the cost of the blades because a), they were manufactured ‘biscuit-block (some call it chocolate block) fashion anyway and b), the addition of a simple slitting saw operation along the base was an almost academic addition and c), the original blades were still being produced anyway!

    So there you have the earliest Mk1and Mk1* blades.

    Now here is where we get a little more complicated. The Mk2 blade…………. The Mk2 blade was very similar to the Mk1 blade with its 8 sizes and its solid block base only this time, where the undercut/outward sloping blade part meets the base part, the base extends rearwards a small amount, then the BASE takes on an undercut inward sloping angle too. This immediately solved the reflected light problem because now, both the blade and the base reflected downwards. This blade was introduced as the BLADE, foresight, Mk2

    If things were simple, the next blade would be designated the Mk2* but we don’t do simple…., we do complicated! So, the next blade became the BLADE, foresight, Mk3. As you might expect, the Mk3 blade was identical to the double undercut Mk2 but this time came with a split base to use in the solid block band foresight.

    The earlier Mk1 and Mk1* blades were thereafter, obsolescent. Obsolescent but not obsolete so there are thousands of thousands still in service……………



    THE No5 RIFLE
    If you have a No5 rifle, then a similar situation arose there too but the situation was even more dire as the reflected line of shine certainly DID cause problems. So while the No5 blades were all split blocks, the;
    Mk1 split block blade for the No5 equates to the Mk1* blade for a No4 rifle
    and the
    Mk 2 split block blade for the No5 equates to the Mk3 blade for a No4 rifle.
    There were different part numbers for the blades indicating that there were subtle differences between the No4 and No5 types. Quite what the differences between the blades were on paper didn’t manifest its way to us as young Armourers in Malaya! We used split block ‘double undercut’ blades on every No5 we zeroed of course, but they all came from the same tubs, regardless of whether it was a No4 or 5 blade. They all looked the same to us and we treated them the same too!

    But back to No4 rifles and the BLOCK band, foresight. Are you in for the long haul? Soon after the large late 40’s FTR programmes, it was established at Fazakerley that a large percentage of fully refurbished rifles were impossible to zero due to them shooting too high. Fazakerley sought to obtain a relaxation in order to use the +.090” and +.105” STEN gun foresight blades but already there were problems relating to the final inspection standards that I won’t go into. But the same problems were apparent outside the factories and Base Workshops, in service too so while the factories, FTR programme contractors and the large REME Base workshops were NOT permitted to use the higher Sten foresight blades, a relaxation was sought that they could be used at unit level (both high sizes) and Field workshop level (just the .090 size). But this was palliative and not a cure by any means. The answer was that where a rifle was perfect in every other way, then a Mk2 BLOCK Band foresight was available.

    The ‘new’ BLOCK, band, foresight was .030” taller, at .490” than the original Mk1 block band, at .460” tall. This immediately, but invisibly, allowed for a further 2 increases in blade height (……. think about it!). The new blocks can be identified by the figure 1H for the Mk1 split block or a 2H for the Mk2 solid block, marked on the rear sloping surface. But even these didn’t last long because they only allowed for a further two ‘invisible’ increases of foresight. The problem was more acute than that with thousands otherwise perfect No4 rifles stacking up in Ordnance depots unable to be zeroed So in an act of almost desperation in January 1954, two FURTHER foresight block bands blocks were introduced. These blocks were heightened by a further .030” to .520”. So we have the original block band height of .460”, the 1949 increased height to .490” then the 1954 block band with a height of .520”. At a stroke, we now have a block band foresight that allows the highest blade ( the .075”…., don’t forget that anything higher was for the Sten gun) to be, in effect .135”……… which is 1.135” above the centre line of the bore

    So now we have a total of SIX BLOCK, band foresights.
    The Mk1 and Mk2 original, the
    Mk1H and 2H modified both .030” higher than the original, and the
    Mk1 and 2 SECOND modified, now .060” higher than the original!
    You’re not quite believing this are you? But help was at hand. The second block was pure duplication so was declared obsolescent. So that after 1954, only the first, original blocks and the third pattern, .060” taller were available from Ordnance stores. While the second pattern was obsolescent, you HAD to have the original, lower block of course in order to cater for those rifles firing LOW!

    Jeeeees, we had to learn, know and put into practice all of this rubbish! The most astute of you will now be looking at your ‘original, untouched since the factory’ rifles to see if it has the higher foresight block band fitted. Only a post 1949 made rifle will have a block marked 1H or 2H and only a post 1954 made rifle will have a block marked 1 or 2 on the rear surface as original. Before that, they were bare!

    But there’s a little more……………. Our acceptable zeroing standards state after zeroing, the blade of the foresight will overhang or be level with the edge of the foresight block. If the edge is inboard of the edge of the block, then it indicates that something is wrong with the rifle. BUT, it was discovered that while the UKicon made foresight blade bases were .38” wide, due to a tolerance error, the Canadianicon bases were .43” wide. Without going into the technicalities, a rifle fitted with a Canadian .43” wide base could fail the zeroing criteria unnecessarily. So these Canadian .43” wide blades were all declared obsolete and withdrawn.

    There, a little bit about a previously unknown feature of the No4 rifle! Not a lot of people know that!
    Mine are not the best, but they are not too bad. I can think of lots of Enfields I'd rather have but instead of constantly striving for more, sometimes it's good to be satisfied with what one has...

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