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.

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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.

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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.

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If enjoyed this piece 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 some of our complete products via Etsy

Enfield No.5 Mk 1 Build: Part 1

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

The buttstock I am using for the No.5 is a damaged SMLE stock, as a result I don’t feel guilty about the chopping I’ll be doing to it!

I make the rear band unit in the same way as in all the other Enfield builds: ERW beaten to shape and welded to the trigger guard.

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The No.5 trigger guard/magwell housing is slightly different to the other Enfields, being thinner and lighter. This makes it an even more awkward shape to cut out!

 

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The VSR gets its special parts added. The standard Vintage Airsoft quick-load VSR magazine well and the Enfield trigger that takes the trigger back into the correct location. I’ll also be using the TDC mod for this rifle of course, along with the Enfield bolt mod.

 

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In place in the roughed out stock, the gun already starts to take shape.

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I smooth out the shape and improve it a little. I still have to finish the back end where the receiver fits and around the rear band.

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At the front I need to create space around the outer barrel as it is free floating on the original. The top guard also needs rounding off at the front.

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Working on the receiver now, no standard typeface is quite right for the markings. I find some clear images to work from and create a file I can work from and tidy up in Qcad.

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Once the basics of the typeface have been finished up, I transfer them onto the side of the receiver to be 3D printed.

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I got the muzzle brake/foresight unit 3D printed. As well as looking the part it also holds the inner barrel centred nicely. It’s held in place with two screws that lock it in place through grooves in the top of the barrel.

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The outer barrel is secured in the ‘traditional’ way for my VSR builds.

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I’ll have to spin up the barrel on the lathe to clean it and get a consistent polish, then I can oil finish it which will be nice and wear-resistant.

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Polished up and oil finished, the only problem is the muzzle brake doesn’t look as good now! You will also notice that the inner barrel has been cut down and re-crowned on the lathe by this point.

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At the back end, I start the modifications to the butt.

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The buttpad and cage have been 3D printed and are fitted by hand to the wood.

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I’m fairly pleased with the standard of the fit. The buttpad cage is a little more fragile than I would ideally like so some tinkering may be needed.

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I carved out the recess needed for the sling loop in the buttstock. 

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The assembly so far. The receiver needs fitting, plus there are some finishing bits to do. Inevitably there will be a bunch more things that I can’t think of right now. I am very excited to finish this build and get her in the field!

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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. 

 

Webley MkVI Buttstock Complete

Add-on kits, carbine, Complete builds, pistol, Products, Weapons, webley, WWI, WWII

You can see the build post for this product HERE if you’re interested!

This buttstock is strongly based on the model available for the original Webley MkVI.

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The stock is made entirely of steel and real, solid walnut.

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The steel is oil blued and the wood has been finished with danish oil, followed by a protective layer of hardwax oil.

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The only real aesthetic improvement would be to make the remaining standard grip a brass colour, which it was with the original when the buttstock was attached.

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If you would like a stock like this for your own or you have a great idea for an accessory, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss or get in touch on Facebook!

You can also buy many of our finished products in our Etsy store.

Webley MkVI Buttstock (build)

Add-on kits, carbine, Imperial Era, pistol, Products, Weapons, webley, WWI, WWII

Those of you who have been following Vintage Airsoft for a while know that the Webley MkVI is a firm favourite. So far, we’ve made replacement shells, shotgun shells and added a hop unit.

There are still a few accessories to complete however, namely the removable butt stock which allowed the pistol to be used as a carbine and the Pritchard-Greener bayonet. The latter of these are rare, with no recorded use in combat, the former however was common enough.

The practice of producing a butt stock to fit pistols was commonplace among manufacturers from the introduction of revolvers. It allowed the shooter to make the most of a pistol cartridge out to ranges that would be quite difficult to achieve useful accuracy by hand only. A more commonly recognised use of this idea is the Artillery Lugers, issued by Germany to troops not wanting the bulk of a full rifle but needing something easier to use than a pistol. Essentially, this is the fore-runner to what in current Western parlance is called the PDW or Personal Defence Weapon.

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Firstly, a digital design to work out what needed to go where. This could then be printed out to check the proportions were correct.

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This would then be converted into steel in a batch of laser cuttings.
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It is made up of three layers to make the shape without having to perform milling operations. The thickest inner layer (4mm) is chamfered on both sides around most of the length to allow deep penetration of the joining weld.

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You can see in the photograph below the two screws full-length protruding from the grip. These run through two corresponding holes drilled in the butt of the pistol itself, which is the only modification required to fit this unit.

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These, along with the excess weld can be ground down to a smooth finish. It can then be laid out on the wood for the stock and drawn round, using the screws at the back as reference points. The excess material can then be removed.

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Once the parts were all in place, they could be separated and finished. The surface of the metalwork was gone over with a sanding drum for a smooth finish, then slightly oil blued to achieve a similar finish to the original.
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The walnut stock itself took a thick coat of danish oil. Several more will be applied before it is complete along with a coat of hardwax oil to give it a tough, wear-resistant finish.

 

Photos of the finished product to follow!

 

If this post has inspired you to want a custom gun of your own or has given you a great idea for an accessory, drop us a line on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to discuss or get in touch on Facebook!

You can also buy many of our finished products in our Etsy store.

The Sten MkI/MkI*

Add-on kits, History, Sten, Sub Machine-guns, Weapons, WWII

History

After the swift and brutal defeat of the British Expeditionary Force and their allies in the Battle of France and the retreat from Dunkirk across the channel, Britain was desperate for equipment and armament. All heavy weapons, vehicles and most small arms were left behind.

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As a result there was a huge push to re-arm as quickly as possible. As well as all of Britain’s manufacturing being turned to the war effort, the War Office bought every Thompson sub-machine gun the USA could build. The US couldn’t keep up with demand however and with losses to U-boats in the Atlantic Britain needed to produce their own sub-machine gun.

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The result of this was the Sten Machine Carbine. The prototype was a complex piece of engineering, requiring a multitude of machining actions to produce. When handed over to the Singer company to produce, a host of improvements were made to make the gun suitable for mass production.

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I wanted to develop a kit to temporarily modify the AGM Sten MkII to a MkI/MkI* for early war impressions and, frankly, for an interesting regular game gun.

The build

Step one was to build the flash hider/muzzle rise compensator. This large scoop is formed from a piece of steel cut to shape and beaten on a former.

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This could then be welded shut and a short piece of tube welded on the back to mount it. The sling loop is a piece of thick wire, welded shut. I turned a piece of nylon bar to size to fit round the mounting tube and inside the heat sleeve.

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This can then be slid into the heat sleeve. The photograph below shows the front sight mounted. This is mild steel, laser cut to shape and bent by hand.

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To create the buttstock, I needed to bend steel tube to shape. As I don’t have a tube bending jig and a spring bending system would produce too shallow a bend. Cutting out a section like this, bending to shape and welding closed makes for a neat, controlled bend.

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This could be welded onto the backplate and buttplate. The top tube also functions as the battery tube and the plan is to have the battery accessed from the back.

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At this point, this is pretty well what the MkI* looked like (as far as one can tell, photographic evidence is limited) as it has all the woodwork removed for simpler manufacture.

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Woodwork is needed to complete the MkI of course, the foregrip being an important part of the design that was sadly deleted on later models until the introduction of the MkV.

I made this woodwork right back at the beginning on Vintage Airsoft at the end of 2014, it has been sitting waiting for me to finish this project all this time!

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There are a few last bits to finish, namely removing the MkII fore-sight and stamping the magazine well with the correct information. The only major inaccuracy will be the safety catch location. On the MkI Sten this was actually below the operating handle slot but was moved to the top on all later models.

More photographs to follow with the completion of the build!

Like the look of this build? Why not email us on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com to find out more. While you’re in a gun mood, check out our Etsy page where we have ready-made kits and accessories.

P.S.: I am looking for any original images of the Sten MkI or MkI* in use by soldiers. These seem to be almost non-existent so if any readers have such images please do send them in.

P.P.S.: For more information on the development of the Sten Machine Carbine and some beautiful pictures of an original Sten MkI, see here.