..........  


The BSA manufactured Lee-Enfield Rifle N.9 (Navy) or "No.9" conversion

For visitors aware of the British EM-2 rifle (shown left), and perhaps expecting a piece on same, we should acknowledge that it preceded the rifle shown on this page in being afforded the nomenclature Rifle, No.9. The EM-2 was the first rifle of "bull-pup" configuration to be adopted, in 1951, into British service. Its life at the top was particularly short. Trials in 1952, and argument in the House of Commons over the direction which the British should take to help bring a common cartridge and rifle to NATO, led to a preference for adoption of the Fabrique Nationale designed FAL - SLR (Self-Loading Rifle). The EM-2 was designed for a .280-inch calibre cartridge, and less suitable for the more powerful proposed NATO calibre. Winston Churchill supported adoption of the FAL in anticipation that it might also be taken up by the U.S. Military, who were certainly not intending to invest in the British EM-2 design*. These considerations, and perhaps economics too, led to the early demise of the EM-2, which had not been brought into full production, and the introduction of the FN -SLR in 1954. There is an irony in the more than thirty year delay before British forces were finally issued, in 1985, with another new bull-pup configuration service rifle, the L85A1 (SA80 - shown right). This replacement for the long-serving FN FAL was, to all intents and purposes, that very bull-pup design in .223-inch calibre; oft credited as being the last Enfield rifle, but certainly not the last Lee-Enfield. If you accept that the .762mm calibre rifles of the family were themselves largely rebarrelled conversions of earlier .303" Lee-Enfield production, then you should consider the L42A1 sniper rifle conversion of the No.4 rifles in 1971. However you choose to view this, the Rifle N.9 more commonly, but incorrectly, described as the No.9 detailed below is certainly the last of the line of Lee-Enfield training rifles.

Had you hoped to find a little more of the EM2 Bull-pup rifle, then watch patiently through this linked video of Enfield rifles in British use.


Converted for the Royal Navy to .22in. RF by Parker - Hale from the .303 Rifle No.4

The Lee-Enfield, Rifle, N.9 ("No.9") adopted in 1956

 

The Royal Navy contracted for approximately 3,000 of these rifles, which were delivered between 1956/7 and 1960.

The Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) Design and Development Department produced drawings for the Royal Navy's Rifle N9 in 1961. These were based upon earlier Parker-Hale drawings. These R.S.A.F. drawings refer only to the conversion of the No.4 Mk.1 rifle, but the Royal Armouries at Leeds hold the Royal Air Force Equipment Vocabulary which includes details of .22"RF training rifles in service with the R.A.F. in 1963, and describes the N9 as having been converted from "Ref. No. 1481", which is in fact the reference number for the Rifle No.4 Mk.1/2. The Rifle N9 is listed in these documents as the "Rifle No.9", suggesting that theR.A.F. had chosen not to use a Royal Navy designation for the same rifle in R.A.F. service. Whatever the reasoning, it is at least evident that this rifle was known as the "No.9" in certain circles. An attempt is being made to ascertain from other records at the Royal armouries whether the Royal air Force indeed acquired "No.9" rifles converted from the No.4 Mk.1/2. Our thanks must go to the dedicated HBSA member undertaking this research.

Still being marketed by Parker-Hale in the late 'Sixties', these and their other offerings of .22RF conversions of Lee-Enfields were described in their catalogue as written below.

In the Mid 'Seventies', Parker-Hale were still converting No.4 actions into various sporting models in their original .303" calibre.


BRITISH MILITARY TRAINING RIFLES .22 calibre R.F. (1968)


For many years the Rifle No. 2 Mark IV (being the 0.22" calibre version of the S.M.L.E. or Rifle No. I Mark III) has been the main prop of " miniature range " shooting establishments at home and abroad in most parts of the Commonwealth. Following the adoption of the .303" calibre Rifle No. 4, three separate models of .22" calibre training rifle were produced of which the Rifles Nos. 7 and 8 were officially adopted and issued. Only a few of the unadopted model have so far been released into commercial channels, while the whole of the No. 7 and 8 rifles produced since the end of the war have been distributed on charge to various establishments within the Services.

Limited numbers of .22" calibre Rifle No. 7, which have a very similar outline to the larger calibre No. 4 have been acquired by us as the result of the closure of military depots.

This illustration of a No. 4 rifle has a similar detail appearance to both the No. 7 and the No. 9 .22" calibre training rifles. The latter has this official number accorded it to differentiate the weapon both in calibre and in certain essential internal details from the No. 4 and the No. 7. The No. 9 is a simple calibre conversion from the .303" No. 4. It is intended for single shot operation only, the empty rim fire cases on extraction fall into the empty magazine casing. By contrast the action of the No. 7 has been redesigned to permit its use either as a single shot or magazine fed weapon. The inserted .22" calibre five round magazine can, if required, be replaced by a magazine carrying a loading platform to avoid one minor potential danger. The chambered breech end of the barrel protrudes to facilitate loading and the bolt has a considerably shortened travel while the lock time has been speeded to match the performance of the modern marksman's requirements. The two stage pull-off is finely adjusted between 3 and 4 lbs. in weight. A revolving sling swivel is fitted in the place of the front trigger guard screw.
Both the No. 7 and No. 9 rifles as standard are fitted with military screw adjustable aperture backsights without windage movement. For the unobtainable military .22" calibre No. 8 Service issue rifle, we provide an alternative foresight and backsight, in the design of which we co-operated with the War Office. We can, therefore, furnish suitable backsights adapted to fit both the No. 7 and the No. 9 rifle which give the user the same q minute adjustment for elevation and windage as may be found on the majority of civilian smallbore target rifles. If the demand warrants, it may not be out of the question to replace the existing military foresight with one of our well-known interchangeable element foresights.

List No. 1570 (S8C) Rifle No. 7, completely renovated, tested, adjusted with individual ten shot test group and military sights.

List No. 1571 (S8Cs) As above but fitted Parker-Hale with model 5C/D click adjustable aperture sight with PH59 six-hole eyepiece.

List No 1590 (S8B) Rifle No. 9 renovated No. 4 converted to .22" calibre single shot rim fire with Parkerifled barrel, rim fire bolt and magazine casing only. Group tested with military sights.

List No. 1591 (S8Bs) As above but fitted with Parker-Hale model 5C/D aperture backsight with PH59 six-hole eyepiece.

List No. 1511 (S8A) Rifle No. 2 Mark IV renovated No. I converted to .22" calibre single shot rim fire with Parkerifled barrel, rim fire bolt and magazine casing only. Group tested with military open sights.

List No. 1512 (S8As) As above but fitted with Parker-Hale model 5A aperture backsight with PH 59 six-hole eyepiece.

We can supply most of the maintenance spares that may be required for any of the above mentioned training rifles. Quotation will be given against specific enquiry.


 Parker-Hale engraved the rifle number on some production rifles as shown above, i.e., " No. 9 MkI .22 "

with the individual serial number below carrying the obviously related prefix " PH ***** " .

The late Herb Woodend noted, in his 1981 Catalogue of the Enfield Pattern Room, that the collection's comparatively early example is marked on the left body as below

.22 R.F., N.9, Mk I

P-H 58 .........................A*** (serial number unknown)

the left lower mark indicating that the rifle was supplied by Parker Hale Ltd. in 1958, and the lower right marking being the serial number prefixed "A"

An example of this marking is shown below on Rifle S/no. A531 kindly contributed by a Dutch collector.

Production commenced in 1956, although we have yet to see a rifle dated prior to 1957, (i.e. P-H 57 as above). Of the 3,000 or so rifles apparently manufactured for the Royal Navy contract between 1956 and 1960, the serial numbers did not attain four figures until during 1958, and were marked as the Pattern Room example and the example shown above. The highest "A" prefixed number of which we are aware is A2828 - a rifle sold at Bonhams London auction in 2004. Later rifles produced by Parker-Hale had the markings engraved, as on the rifle shown higher up this page, and the serial numbers became five-figured with the prefix "PH". We have no information regarding the quantity of these rifles marketed, there being no information readily available relating to serial numbering. It is known that later 'reproductions' of the No.9 were produced by a well-known gunsmith in Birmingham in the late 1990s, using various spares. These too were produced with the usual beechwood furniture, and are very difficult to tell apart from rifles of original commercial manufacture.; indeed, even the PARKERIFLING marking was included on the barrel's crown. Whether or not the barrel carries modern proof, normally under the front section of the barrel ahead of the fore-end nose piece, could be a give-away here. Original rifles should also be fitted with the alloy butt-plate.

 

The Pattern Room collection's rifle is presumed to be a mid-production example marked "N." for Navy, whilst those later production rifles with the PH serial number prefix had this transposed to "No." and the markings, as shown on the rifle on this page, were engraved rather than stamped. That these rifles were notated "9" is something on which the reader may muse, particularly with regard to discussion above about British or Enfield rifle numbering.

It is interesting to note that the military contract rifles, as well as those of subsequent production, have the PH reference to Parker-Hale, whilst at the same time carrying the stamp for A.G. P. on the crown of the muzzle (detail is given below). This suggests that, whilst the overall conversion may have been undertaken by Parker-Hale, the sleeving of the barrel was done in the works of the family connected firm of A.G.Parker, whose expertise in this field was, at that time, probably second to none.

Any original serial number on the butt-socket of this page's main rifle example has been ground away, and the serial number engraved on the left side of the action body has been stamped  into the refinished metalwork. Quite why this rifle has "53641" engraved on the receiver, but "53647" stamped on the butt-socket is anybody's guess; but perhaps the punch for the number one had been damaged or dropped under the bench!

Immediately above the serial number stamping on the butt-socket it is just possible to detect the manufacturer's code mark for the original service rifle which has undergone the conversion. This mark is "M47C", being the code for the B.S.A. factory at Shirley, Birmingham.

The rear-sight on the Navy issue rifle used a standard No.4 sight leaf with an additional 25 yard calibration on the left-hand side of the elevation slide. Rifles of any date of production may be found retrofitted with the "harmonisation sight" used with landscape targetry. Some, along with the No.8 rifles still used by Royal Air Force Cadet units, may be found with the addition of the Parker 8/53 model windage adapter unit for target shooting.

Image below contributed by same Dutch collector - with our thanks.

The bolt and bolt-head of the Canadian C No.7 rifle were, to all intents and purposes, identical to those of the No.9 rifle, and both were similar in design to the ".22 No.2" bolt-head, with its separate offset firing-pin, for the various rimfire conversions of the S.M.L.E. rifle.

For comparison, see collective images of the bolts for the Rifles Nos. 5, 7 (British), 8 & 9.

The military contract rifles seen usually have a domed muzzle crown, whilst the commercial models are flat, as in the image to the right.

 

 

 

The Parkerifled barrel of the

No.9 is perhaps an indication

that the BSA manufactured

solid .22RF barrels were either

no longer, or perhaps simply

not, available to Parker-Hale

at the time the Royal Navy

passed their order to the

company.

The solid barrels were,

in the U.K. certainly,

very much the prerogative of

the B.S.A. Company.

 

 

 

 

 

In 1962 Parker-Hale were advertising their own commercial No.9 rifles at £15 for the standard example plus a further £5:10s:0d (£5.50) for the PH-5C target rear-sight,along with surplus No.7 rifles, which they had bought in from the War Office, at £16 for the standard rifle plus £6:10s:0d (£6.50) for the addition of a PH-5D rear-sight. Even the No.2 Mk.IV S.M.L.E. conversions were still on offer at £10:10s:0d (£10.50).

 

The 21st. Century prices for such rifles have increased by a factor of around 25, or even more for a pristine original example of the more scarce magazine-fed Royal Air Force issue No.7.

The high value has resulted in a number of rifles, of both marks, being built up from a mixture of spares and re-manufactured parts. A number of such rifles were assembled during the 1990s by Manton Arms in Birmingham. They are excellent rifles, and fine reproductions for the collector and shooter of such longarms, but not of original issue.

Caveat Emptor!

 

 

It is worthy of note that, in 1962, the then more up-to-date Enfield No.8 rifle was described as "unobtainable".


There has been an interesting recent occurrence concerning those No.9 rifles (March 2009) previously in use by New Zealand's various Cadet Forces. Their Lee-Enfield No.8 and Lee-Enfield No.9 rifles were taken out of service, and it was proposed by some NZ authorities that they should be destroyed. A campaign, by shooters and collectors of such historically significant rifles, convinced those authorities that both New Zealand's military heritage and the nation's coffers would be better served by the sale of these non-threatening firearms to collectors such as themselves. In the event, a total of 450 rifles were saved from destruction. The sale was handled by Turners Auctions, and their catalog may still be available at www.turners.co.nz

Included in the auction were 285 of the No.8 rifles, 116 of the No.9 rifles and 53 of the L59A2 -.303 No.4 Drill Purpose rifles.
To obviate the purchase of large quantities by dealers, collectors were allowed to buy a maximum of one of each type. One such purchaser has written to us to say ........."With our new acquisitions, a lot of us are now in need of information from sites such as yours. Congratulations on a great site, and thankyou for providing a great source of information."

We are grateful to this enthusiastic collector, who has provided this image of the rifles displayed at the sale. The picture is a sight for sore eyes.

For more information on the sale (and other photos) you can go to: MilitariaNZ.freeforums


TO START VIDEO - CLICK ........ '> ........ON CONTROL LINE UNDER IMAGE BELOW

 

Thank you for taking the time to view this page. We hope it has been of interest

Click here for Chronology of Enfield genre Training Rifles, Adapters & Cartridges

Contact - email: Miniature-Calibre-Rifles@rifleman.org.uk

* "EM-2 Concept and Design", 1980 by Thomas B Dugelby

 

Return to: SITE MAP or MENU PAGE or TOP of PAGE

  Get your counter