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Reference Library – Line Infantry – Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment

The 303 Jungle Carbine: Enfield's Puzzling No. 5 Mk I

Posted Dec 27th 2015 | By:

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From 1907 to current production (by Ishapore), there have been an estimated 20 million or so Short Magazine Lee Enfield bolt action rifles produced, and one of the more sought after, short-lived and peculiar of the breed has been the No. 5 Mk I, more popularly known as the Jungle Carbine.

The 303 Jungle Carbine: Enfield's Puzzling No. 5 Mk I
A 1943-made SMLE Rifle No. 4 Mk I, the Jungle Carbine was based on this gun,

This gun was a simplified rifle designed for wartime production and used metal stampings for stock bands, North American birch rather than imported European walnut for the stocks, a heavier free-floating barrel for increased accuracy and a slightly redesigned receiver that could be made faster. This coughed up a rifle that was some 45-inches overall in length and tipped the scales (unloaded and without bayonet or strap) at 9-9.5 pounds depending on the weight of the wood. With His Majesty’s Tommies jumping out of airplanes and fighting in far off jungles against the Japanese in Burma and elsewhere, a lighter and more compact Enfield was needed. Enter…

The No. 5 in design

The downright chubby No. 4 was put on a weight loss program. First, the barrel was shortened to just 18.5-inches. Then, to save more weight, the heavy barrel was scalloped just ahead of the chamber as was the receiver itself near the bolt. Speaking of the bolt, the knob was hollowed out and the sights were replaced with a simplified slider type rear (only graduated to 800 yards) with a reduced aperture. The stock was shortened on the forend, leaving an exposed “sporter” type look to the barrel while a thick rubber butt plate (novel for 1943 when the gun was being developed) replaced the steel one while adding some recoil mitigation.

The 303 Jungle Carbine: Enfield's Puzzling No. 5 Mk I
“Sergeant R Beaumont of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI), attached to the Malay Regiment, instructs a Dyak tracker in the use of modern firearms.” Via IWM[5]. Triva: ‘The Koylis’ date back to 1755 and in 1968 were amalgamated to form The Light Infantry Regiment which in turn was merged with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and the Royal Green Jackets to become The Rifles in 2007. As further trivia, 80s television character Jonathan Quayle Higgins III of Magnum P.I. fame was a member of the West Yorkshire Regiment.

The 303 Jungle Carbine: Enfield's Puzzling No. 5 Mk I
Back in the day…Also note the price comparison between a No.1 Mk I and the Jungle Carbine.

Fjestad[8] lists value on these from $300-$850 with a 20 percent deduction for Indian service rifles with the forend screw and a premium running as high as $2500 for exceedingly rare but super cool looking .22 caliber trainer models[9] and BSA-made grenade launcher models with BB serials.

Aim Surplus[10] and Gibbs/OWS[11] among others sold these guns most recently for $329+ but they seem to be sold out, leaving prices climbing ever higher on sites like Gunbroker[12] and Armslist where prices seem to run north of $350, especially for guns that have resisted bubbification. One thing to be very aware of is that these guns are very often faked with less valuable Enfields No. 4s often turned into No. 5s as if by magic (after all, the Jungle Carbine was a development of the No. 4). Reproduction parts for this rifle abound, making such conversions easy. Gibbs even made a series of very well done repros[13].