MAS 36: Introduction

Cold War, History, MAS 36, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

During the 1920s and 30s, the French Military undertook an extensive project of re-organising and updating their small arms. Although this seems rather contrary to the Treaty of Versailles, the French had a real hodge-podge of weapons after WWI.

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The Infantry rifle program had three tiers: Firstly to convert all of their existing rifles to a new cartridge 7.5mm rimless, a semi-auto rifle for frontline combat troops to follow up on the largely successful experience of the RSC1917 during the Great War and finally, when these developments took longer than expected, a new bolt-action in the new cartridge.

This bolt-action was designed to be a simple, cheap second line rifle to equip those not needing a semi-auto.

In spite of development starting in the 20s, the new rifle was adopted, as the name suggests, in 1936.

This rifle is an integral magazine, stripper clip fed rifle of epic simplicity, with 65 parts only. This was designed to have minimal user-operable and modifiable parts (what today may be called ‘soldier proof’), with most of these being the bolt and its components for cleaning.

The sights were armourer adjustable, with a simple elevation adjustment for range for use by the soldier. These were a rear mounted aperture and chunky front post protected by wings. Later versions had a fully encircled foresight.

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The bolt handle is bent forward  to be above the trigger for faster cycling, reminiscent of the Metford and Lee Speed series of rifles.

The locking lugs are at the back of the bolt, in the hope that they would be less prone to mud fouling and the bolt itself could be removed and stripped without tools.

An interesting feature carried over from previous French small arms: the MAS36 lacked a manual safety. The French taught soldiers to carry the rifle with an empty chamber, full magazine, so a manual safety was unnecessary.

MAS40

The MAS40, France’s intended frontline rifle.

French rifle manufacture accelerated in the lead up to the German invasion in 1939/40, and a good number of MAS 36s were in solder’s hands by this time. The MAS 40 semi automatic being just ready for adoption but not for production, the MAS 36 was the most modern rifle available.

French WW2
With the capitulation of France, the MAS 36’s future looked bleak. The Vichy French kept theirs, Germany captured some and some made their way out of Dunkirk. A handful even ended up with the Resistance.

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In use with Axis forces, here Latvian SS.

They saw service in some remaining French Colonies and some very limited use by the Germans. Postwar, the French picked up production again very quickly, producing the standard rifle, paratroop version as well as versions to fire French 50mm or 22mm NATO standard rifle grenades. The ’36 was sent out to Indochina from 1946 with French forces where it was used against Viet-Minh forces effectively until their war aid from the Soviets improved from bolt-actions to SKS self-loading rifles and AK47s. The ’36 was passed over to local forces and captured in reasonably large numbers by Viet-Minh.

Indochine-196

The paratroop version, shortened, lightened and with a folding aluminium buttstock.

The French were not finished with the rifle however. In Algeria and Morocco, it saw extensive use with French forces throughout the conflict even after the self loading MAS 49/56 started to be made available. It still took until the 1970s before this prewar rifle was relegated to its proper (and originally intended) place in the reserves.

49.56

A MAS49/56, the replacement

The penultimate version of the ’36 was developed by the Navy for line throwing, these were still in use during Desert Storm and are likely still in storage, with the last being a .22 conversion for training.

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Senegalese soldiers with US Officer Cadets on exercise, 2009.

The MAS 36 ended up being distributed to and used by former French colonies in the main, with the highly unstable Central African Republic being the last to use it as a frontline combat rifle officially. It still serves in a number of countries as a second line or unofficial arm for militia units.

 

Or it did, until the Syrian Civil War. It was still in use as late as 2015 there with use only tapering off due to ammunition sourcing issues.
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I am of course working on an airsoft MAS-36. It is VSR based and will use the MkII magwell, 3D printed parts and original woodwork.

I would very much like to recommend these articles 1 and 2 if you want to read more about MAS 36 use.

You will be able to follow the build progress here as it is published.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

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MAS 36: Build

Cold War, MAS 36, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

The first step was to fit the woodwork as far as possible. Due to the split woodwork I have to estimate it to some extent as I’ll have to fill the gap with a receiver.

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I’m using the MkII magwell, a much easier design to fit than the previous version.

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Rough fitted, I can design the receiver.

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Three days and many cups of tea later…

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This has been done in two parts, the trigger guard tang is being done separately, which gives me a bit more flexibility if a dimension is out slightly.

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And on the other side, markings. I’ve really got into doing these lately, they are satisfying to reproduce and add an air of authenticity to the replica.

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The rear sight is the early pattern one to go with the rest of the gun. Finding photographs of this variant to work from was very tricky, but the end result works just like the originals.
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The receiver, now printed, arrives!

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And amazingly, this fits first time. As does the rear sight unit.

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The underside looks a bit rough now, but a bit of filing down will smooth it off nicely.

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The rear sight is adjusted by pushing the leaf down and adjusting the slider forwards and back, a pretty unusual system.

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Once I’d cleaned out the peep hole it’s quite a nice light sight.

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The top hand guard was a bit of a puzzle. The wood of the original stock was a mystery, certainly not like anything I’ve worked on before, it has the appearance of beech but is much easier to work. I’ve decided it must be something tropical, given the French had Colonies in Africa and the Far East it’s not beyond the pail to think they may have shipped in some durable, rot-resistant timber that would be perfect for gunstocks.

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The timber I have used is also a mystery wood. Given to me by a friend its previous life was as some window frames, but this use is much better. Nothing else matched the original wood quite as well in grain structure and once stained or oiled to match it should blend in nicely.

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Unfortunately due to having to house the VSR I couldn’t be completely true to the original shape of the rifle. Once the middle band is in position it should break up that slight slope quite nicely though.

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And the nose cap or, as the French call it: Mouthpiece. This is the late type as the early type (when they are available) are about £50 at the time of writing. Understandable as they were only used on the first two/three batches of guns or so compared to the six or seven runs that came later. I’ll be modifying it to look correct for this early model.

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The next step was the bolt handle, as I was making a batch of Enfield bolts already I added this to the parts list. The main shank was turned on the lathe, left just a smidgen longer than an Enfield bolt. The haft is 8mm steel bar bent to the correct shape.

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This was a really tricky one to do, most bent bolt handles  have one bend in them and are then straight down or slanted back. This one is not only slanted forward, but has a kink outwards from the rifle as well, this with bolt operating speed in mind as the rifle was designed at a time where the replacement of bolt actions with self-loading rifles was imminent.

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From this angle you can see the outwards kink. I feel I’ve got this pretty darn close to the original though I say so myself.

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The back cap made, I’m going to have to add some detailing to this to make it look right.

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The new middle band/sling swivel arrangement. This had to be 3D printed as there were absolutely none to be found.

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The mouthpiece and front sight guard has finally been modified. I cut the top of the hood off, straightened the steel and added the lips to the wings with the MIG welder.

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The back cap details added, I put the straight lines in with the hacksaw, the letters with stamps. If I did this again I’d probably soften the metal before doing these as it turned out to be a little harder than expected resulting in stampings that weren’t as deep as I’d like.

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Fitting the trigger guard permanently in place. You may also notice I’ve done the first paint coat on the receiver, oil finished the bolt and added a finish to the top guard.

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This is pretty much the job done. There are a few bits of detailing and last touches to complete the rifle but I’ll let you enjoy the overall effect of the finished item.

 

If you want to see the finished item, you can see it here when it’s posted.

Don’t forget you can buy many of our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here

If you have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

The DeLisle Commando Carbine: Introduction

Cold War, Delisle, History, Rifles, Suppressed, Weapons, WWII

The DeLisle carbine was born of a need, usually by special forces units, to dispatch enemy soldiers quietly. This came from the rise of raiding tactics used by British forces against Fortress Europe, the only way that precision strikes could be made against German targets.

Although large-scale raids did occur, many were smaller scale and undertaken by the newly formed Commandos and Parachute units. Taking out one or two sentries discretely before moving up to the target would allow soldiers to get much closer to their objective before the main, noisy assault. 3-1

The carbine itself was the lovechild of an SMLE, (receiver and furniture) a 1911 (magazine) and a Maxim style suppressor. The reason for its near legendary status as one of the quietest arms ever made is that every aspect of it was either chosen for its quietness or modified to achieve it:

  1. The ammunition: .45ACP is a subsonic cartridge. This means that, never breaking the sound barrier, it does not have a sonic ‘crack’. A quiet ‘whizz’ is easily drowned out by ambient noise.
  2. The SMLE has very few ‘clicky’ parts already. The safety is already silent, the cock on close action means there is a fairly quiet slide into battery. The bolt was baffled so that when opened it would not make a loud clack. For when it was being closed the bolt handle had a baffle so it wouldn’t clack against the receiver band.
  3. The suppressor is huge. Much, much bigger than you could reasonably carry on a pistol. It also proved very effective at catching and slowing gasses down before getting rid of them at a low enough pressure to reduce the noise massively.

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It is known that the DeLisle was issued to and tested by Combined Operations (who ran the Commando type raids) in the field, but finding solid accounts of their use during WWII in Europe is pretty tricky. The only account I have found so far is one by a Jedburgh Commander who says that one was used to successfully dispatch two German officers (1944). D1-4

Other more substantial accounts outlining more specific details of their use have been recorded in the Far East against the Japanese and during the Malayan Emergency. They point to it being used very much as a psychological weapon, taking out individuals during ambushes at night or on roads during the day, killing one or two men in a lorry. Being almost silent, the Japanese involved struggled to know they had been fired upon and even more-so where from.

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Similarly it was deployed against bandits and terrorists in Malaya, allegedly by plantation operators. One man caught out alone in the fields had a significant advantage when he could fire on a group of hostile enemy without giving his position away. Just a couple of men so armed would have a significant force multiplying effect. 

 

Just before I wrap up, the folding stock ‘Para’ version does deserve a mention. Originally, these were supposed to make up 50 items of the order, but it looks as though they were left until last. As a result, when the order was cancelled there was only this sample produced as far as we know.

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And in case you are not familiar with the Vintage Airsoft format by now… I will be building a De Lisle carbine! This build will be VSR based, using my new MkII magwell and almost certainly making use of my lovely ‘new’ mill (more to follow on that when it arrives!).

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You will be able to follow the build progress here as it is published.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

 

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

Enfield No.4: Introduction

Cold War, History, Lee-Enfield, No. 4 L-E, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

The British had been looking at replacing the Short, Magazine Lee-Enfield No.1 MkIII for some time. In fact from the adoption of the Lee-Metford, the general design had been replaced in general service at least twice and with dozens of minor modifications to boot.

Lee-Enfield_Mk_III_(No_1_Mk_3)_-_AM.032056

Trials had even taken place to find its complete replacement before 1914, though the outbreak of the Great War (along with some problems with the .276 Enfield cartridge) prevented the Pattern 1913 Rifle from being adopted and issued. For those not familiar with the P13, it was very much a departure from the Lee design.

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  • It used a Mauser type bolt, front locking rather than rear locking (greater potential for accuracy)
  • It had a rear-mounted aperture sight, rather than a notch mounted halfway down the barrel. This longer sight radius improved accuracy potential and the aperture is a much more natural sight for acquiring mobile targets
  • A 5-round built-in magazine well rather than 10 round detachable. Given the Lee design was put up against Mausers of the 5 round built in magazine type during the Boer Wars and been found drastically wanting it clearly wasn’t seen as much of a disadvantage

These concepts did see some use in the form of the P14 rifle which was almost a .303 version of the P13 and later in the M1917, a version produced by the US in .30-06.

After the end of the Great War, once armies had begun their conversion back to a peacetime footing it was clear that there would be more SMLEs and P14 rifles than they had any use for and the idea of replacing such a plentiful inventory with yet another rifle built from scratch did not hold much water with the Brass. Doing so would also require political motivation and this was lacking in a war-weary country, member of the disarmament-prone League of Nations.

Lee-Enfield-Mk.V-sides

 

There were some attempts to bring in the valuable aperture sight, with the added benefit of cheaper manufacturing (the SMLE is an expensive design to produce), though the No.1 MkV of the 1920s proved to actually be more expensive than its predecessor with the rear mounted aperture being quite fragile, though the No.1 MkVI of the 1930s is the predecessor of the No.4, even though it wasn’t adopted (well, sort-of).

As a result, Great Britain and the Empire began WWII with exactly the same rifle as they began WWI. Not an alteration, updated or refined version. Exactly the same. They had even put the magazine cutoff back in place to spite that bit of efficiency saving made during the last war.

However as before, the rifle was still expensive to manufacture and a replacement had to be found. While there were some reserves of SMLEs and P14s (and the US shipping over their unloved M1917s for use with the Home Guard) after the fall of France, Britain needed lots of rifles, fast.

 

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The No.4 MkI was the answer. Adopted in 1941, this design ditched a lot of unnecessary machining on the left side of the receiver and charger bridge and had a simpler stock design. The barrel was heavier and free-floating, meaning greater potential accuracy and last but not least: the aperture sight was mounted on the receiver and was here to stay.

Savage Enfield No. 4 Mk I

 

Further modifications were made during the war for efficiency resulting in the MkI* and postwar the No.4 Mk2 (note the change from Roman Numerals to Arabic in 1944) made improvements to the trigger by attaching it to the action itself rather than suspending it from the trigger guard. A number of MkIs and MkI*s were modernised in this way and the buttplates swapped back to brass after the war efficiency saving of zinc alloy models.

 

The No.4 didn’t make it to the Far East during the War. India and Australia just kept making the SMLE and these were used throughout the campaigns against the Japanese. Postwar No.4s were used in Korea, but by the Malayan Emergency in the late 50s British soldiers were at worst carrying the No.5 Mk1 and much more likely to be seen with the SLR L1A1.

 

This was a long introduction, but the Rifle No.4 was a long time in coming and it seemed a shame to not cover its long and rich design history. If you want to see the very sexy No.1 MkVI trials rifles you can see them here at Forgotten Weapons.

 

I am currently building a No.4 MkI from a VSR for a customer, you will be able to follow the build progress here as it is published.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

 

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

Vz.24: Introduction

Inter-War (1918-1939), Rifles, Vz.24, Weapons, WWII

The Vz.24 rifle was produced from 1924 and was part of the generation of universal short rifles that followed the Great War, where long rifles proved unnecessary at best and an inconvenience or danger at worst. The hassle of issuing different arms to different unit types was more hassle than it was worth: the short rifle format as used by the British and US proved its worth up to any expected combat range in the way warfare turned out to be fought, with the extra length of the long rifle no longer needed for fighting in line. 

Czechs1939

Czech soldiers on exercise in 1939.

The Czechs had been using a domestically produced version of the G98 previously with a few of their own preferred tweaks, but presumably wanted something handier and lighter.

The Vz.24 was originally produced in 7.92 Mauser (8mm Mauser to most people), but were also produced in calibers to suit users other than just the Czech military (it was originally manufactured for) which were many: China, Spain, nearly a dozen Latin American countries, Iran, Romania and even Germany.

photo ecuador officers 1924

Ecuadorian Officers in the 1920s with their pristine Vz.24s. Ecuador was one of many Latin American countries to adopt this rifle.

After Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Brno’s production was turned to German use. A version of the Vz.24 was produced for the occupiers (renamed the G24(t)) with some small modifications, until the production line was turned over to K98k production.

SS Vz 24 in training

SS training with a Vz24. These rifles were mainly second line use but the SS, being outside of the normal military procurement system, seem to have ended up with them. 

The G24(t), the Germanised version of the Vz.24, features some nods to the K98k; including the disassembly tool in the butt and the alternate sling arrangement, with the deletion of the wrist-mounted swivel.
 

G24t-tiltI have a VSR-based Vz.24 in the works at the moment for a customer. It’s using an original stock and as many original parts as possible.

 

You will be able to see the build process here as it is published.

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

 

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

Vz. 24: Build 1

Inter-War (1918-1939), Rifles, Vz.24, Weapons, WWII

The printed parts for this arrived first. The design is based on the K98k I produced previously. 27710779_10156349726138623_307322835_o

The main difference is in the back of the sight, different in shape and in the profile of the notch. The sight base is less the scope mount on the K98k.

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The bolt back cap is the same as the other Mausers. Shown here is a bent bolt handle, though I’ll be fitting this rifle with a straight one as per the early Vz24s.

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At the front end, I’m using a short section of tube as a place holder for the full length barrel I’ll be putting in later. The top guard has to be custom made to accommodate the VSR and will be quite thin when finished to try and keep the shape as close as possible.

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The rear sight base screws into place and should be reasonably solid, given its being surrounded by wood.

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The wood around it had to be lowered slightly to give access to the sight. I’ll shape the wood around it.

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The foresight, 3D printed and then cast in resin from a silicone mould. The barrel crown holds the front of the inner barrel.

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With the addition of the faux cleaning rod this build is coming together very nicely!

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The next step is to make modifications to the receiver to make it look right, plus a few details like the wrist sling mount and buttplate.

If you are interested in this project you can see the introduction here. If you have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

 

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

 

Enfield No.5 Mk 1: Complete

Cold War, Complete builds, Custom builds, Lee-Enfield, No. 5 Enfield, Rifles, Weapons, WWII

Well, the No.5 Enfield is complete! And she ain’t a bad looker though I say so myself. Not to mention as far as I know the world’s first Airsoft Enfield No.5.

Let’s talk through her from back to front.

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The buttpad is hard rubber, in an ABS 3D printed cage re-enforced with Polymorph.

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The 3D printed receiver covers the VSR internals for the most part. The trigger is a little square, I’ll probably round it off more for a comfort.

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The rear sight. A bit of tinkering and I may even make it so that I can use the ladder sight for longer range use. For my purposes at present however (a 1 Joule rifle for close, quiet use) the battle sight is just what I need.

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When testing, the windage adjustment in the foresight was very useful. I’ll have to add some elevation adjustment as well as that would come in handy.

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The hop adjustment the most discrete I’ve done on an Enfield yet. That little hole in the top guard is the TDC hop adjustment.

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The magazine well is my standard VSR quick-load magwell. Ideal for the close work I intend to use it for.

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Last but not least, the rear sling bracket. Distinct and unique to the No.5 carbine, this makes an odd pairing with the conventional forward sling swivel. That said I have found it quite comfortable in use, with the gun swinging around less than with conventional swivels.

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If you have enjoyed this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles.

You can see the build for this rifle here.

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

 

Enfield No.5 Mk 1 Build: Part 2

Cold War, Custom builds, No. 5 Enfield, Weapons, WWII

Part two starts with the receiver which has been 3D printed. I’m very pleased with the way the markings have come out on this, especially after painting up.

_DSC7433 The rear sight fits in quite well, just needing a little filing down in the mountings for a snug fit.

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Fitted in the stock, the receiver sits in a cutout on the left, the right is concealed in the stock itself.

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It took a little tinkering to get the top guard to fit, but it is now secured under the front of the receiver and at the front by the front band.

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Once I checked all the parts fitted well, I stripped the wood away. I applied my red-brown stain blend that I use for my Sten Mk5 kits. 

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Once this had settled in, I applied a coat of slightly thinned hardwax oil, for a fairly hardwearing semi-gloss finish. 

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Finally, the resin faux magazine is expoxied into place. Once set, I’ll paint it up and she’ll basically be done!

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Pics of the completed rifle to follow soon.

 

If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Don’t forget you can buy our smaller items via Etsy. Our larger items can be found here.

 

L42A1: Build 4

Cold War, Custom builds, L42A1/Enfield Enforcer, Rifles, Weapons

It has been quite a while since my last L42 post, which I finished with the famous last words: “There’s really not much more to do on this now.”

Well, there wasn’t on that one, it was alright when finished and I used it a few times in games but there were a few ways it could be improved, so I’ll share the improvements here taking over from the last build with my second model.

 

Most of the build so far has been very similar to the last L42 model. Where it differs mainly is around the receiver area. Previous models have been quite skinny and lightweight, but I’ve found them a little unsatisfactory so have beefed up the latest design and built it around the rail that is mounted on the standard VSR I use. This should help to pin it down and keep it solidly mounted, which will improve accuracy with iron sights and provide a more solid mounting for scopes.

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The side plate in place, this will need permanently affixing.

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The side plate protrudes slightly further forward than the rest of the faux receiver, a minor mistake I will correct in a future version of this.

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The top guard now slots in under a securing bracket that is part of the receiver. I’m hoping to do away with the securing screws used in the previous rendition so that the only hole will be for the hop unit adjustment.

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The new rear sight in place. This is a slightly nicer one than my previous sight with some milled parts rather than being entirely pressed steel.

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The inner barrel cut to length and re-crowned on the lathe. I made a barrel support and spacer plug in plastic.

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A dry assembly of nearly everything. I need to get the scope mount finished and fit the foresight guard.

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The receiver isn’t lined up perfectly, this is the sort of thing the dry assembly is to pick up. I can make these tweaks before applying the metal and wood finishes.

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If you are interested in this project or have an idea of your own, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss. ‘Like’ our Facebook page or follow the blog to get regular updates on projects and interesting videos and articles. 

Enfield No.5 Mk 1, the ‘Jungle Carbine’: Introduction

Cold War, Lee-Enfield, No. 5 Enfield, Weapons, WWII

Mention the No.5 Lee-Enfield rifle and you will always get a reaction. It is one of the most controversial British small arms, beaten only by the SA80 system and the EM-2.

 

 

The idea of the No.5 was to create a shorter, handier and lighter version of the British service rifle, the Enfield No.4. This had already seen some upgrades from its predecessor the No.1 MkIII. Contrary to popular belief, this effort to lighten and shorten the Enfield design was not specifically to aid in jungle fighting (though this was clearly on the Empire’s radar) it was, in fact to provide Airborne troops with a rifle less awkward to carry in the confines of an aircraft.

PARATROOP TRAINING AT NETHERAVON,WILTSHIRE, NOVEMBER 1942

Climbing into a Hotspur glider during training. Although glider design improved on this compact format you can see where the desire for a handier weapon came from.

 

This it certainly achieved, it is around 2lbs (0.9kg) lighter and nearly 5″ (125mm) shorter. Most of this saving was achieved by shortening the barrel, though also through lightening cuts around the receiver to remove excess material and lightened versions of certain components (such as the bolt handle and trigger guard/magwell).

 

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As a result of this shortened barrel, a flash hider was added. The length of the standard rifles meant that most of the .303 cartridge load was effectively used and produced only a (relatively) usable muzzle flash. The No.5 however has a significant muzzle flash, which could be blinding to the shooter in low-light conditions. The flash hider is not actually there to hide the flash from the enemy, it’s to hide it from the user.

 

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As a result of the lightening, perceived recoil is also greater. To counteract this, the designers added a rubber butt-pad in place of the traditional brass or steel plate. A good idea, except that they made it very small, a bulging pad missing out a lot of the butt’s surface area. So that increased perceived recoil was forced into an even smaller part of the shoulder. Thank goodness it was comfy, soft rubber right? Err, well concerns around durability meant that a pretty hard rubber compound was used. Not great at the time and 70 years on they have only grown harder.

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The controversy was that these rifles allegedly suffered from a ‘wondering zero’. This means that once sighted in, the rifle would not hit the same aimed point consistently. This was the reason the War Office gave for discontinuation of No.5 production in 1947, only three years after is was introduced. This makes it one of the only military service rifles to be outlived by its predecessor.

Several aspects of the rifle design have been suggested as causes including:

-The lightening cuts causing the receiver to flex when fired. This could cause headspace issues or inconsistency between shots over time

-The flash hider if fitted incorrectly or damaged may cause gas imbalances around the projectile, allowing shots to wonder of their typical course

 

Modern No.5 MkI owners have been unable to reproduce this wondering zero effect, which makes it look likely that this was only given as an excuse to shift bolt-actions to the rear echelons and give them in aid to allies to speed up introduction of the self-loading rifle that every other major power was adopting or had already.

9db539a5577d0f41031b93101f5b3a92--lee-enfield-commonwealth

Nevertheless, the No.5 saw limited service in Northern Europe, notably during the liberation of Norway, but most of its service life was post WWII, in Korea and Malaya, where they were not only used by British troops but also local forces.

malayan-emergency-no-5-jungle-commando-short-magazine-lee-enfield-smle-dayak-tracker

For an outline on the No.5 MkI, see Ian’s video at Forgotten Weapons.

For some in-depth information, see C&Rsenal’s article on the rifle, including how to spot the many fakes available.

When the build posts go up, you can see the progress here.

8ff67f7d5e1b5af4c1ae461625c83b0f--malayan-emergency-british-soldier

 

 

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