In the tail end of World War II, the Australian military was crafting a shortened Enfield .303 for jungle warfare, but it never made it into full-scale production before the A-bomb ended the conflict.
The above beauty is a rare bird and a bit of evolving gun control history all in one.
The Lithgow Small Arms Factory, which crafted Australian Lee-Enfields and bayonets from 1912 into the 1950s when they switched to making inch-pattern semi-auto FAL (L1A1SLR) rifles, had this beautiful No 6 Mk I Lithgow Enfield recently turned over to their museum from the New South Wales Police. According to the museum, it is a super low serial (XP124) and was one of just 100 of that rare model made, 50 with brass butts and 50 with rubber.
As noted by a British site on everything Enfield, the “No. 6 Australian” was that country’s domestically-made equivalent to the British No. 5 “Jungle Carbine” designed for use in the Pacific island fighting in WWII and, “Only the capitulation by Japan, which brought the conflict there to a close, precluded the Australian No.6 rifle from going into production.”
John Walter in his book Rifles of the World, notes the No. 6 Mk I rifles were shortened and lightened guns crafted on older No 1 Mk III actions with half-stocks and handguards and used 19-inch barrels, tipping the scales at 7.5-pounds. He also says some were later altered by the Royal Australian Air Force to take 7.62x51mm NATO and use 20-round box mags in the 1950s.
Here is an unconverted prototype .303 No 6 Rifle Mk. I in the collection of the Australian War Memorial, donated by a collector from Queensland:
However, the gun turned over to Lithgow is not original.
Tragically, around 1950 it was re-chambered from standard .303 British (7.7×56mmR) to the just slightly shorter 7.7x54mmR by area gunsmith Barry Cockinos to get around the new gun law passed in NSW after 1948 banning “military caliber” firearms for civilian ownership.
NSW police recently impounded 109 firearms from a collector, including several rare pieces, that he did not have a license to possess, so this may have been one of his…
A paraphrase of Australian Minister for Defense Materiel Jason Clare would be the below quote (borrowed from Guy Ritche)
- Bacon: Right. Let’s sort the buyers from the spyers, the needy from the greedy, and those who trust me from the ones who don’t. Because if you can’t see value here today, you’re not up here shopping, you’re up here shoplifting. You see these goods? Never seen daylight, moonlight, Israelite; Fanny by the gaslight. Take a bag, come mon, take a bag. I took a bag home last night. Cost me a lot more than ten pound, I can tell you. Anyone like jewelry? Look at that one there. Handmade in Italy, hand-stolen in Stepney. It’s as long as my arm; I wish it was as long as something else. Don’t think because these boxes are sealed up, they’re empty. The only man who sells empty boxes is the undertaker, and by the look of some of you lot today, I’d make more money with me measuring tape. Here, one price. Ten pound.
- Eddie: Did you say ten pound?
- Bacon: Are you deaf?
- Eddie: That’s a bargain. I’ll take one.
- Bacon: Squeeze in if you can. Left leg, right leg, your body will follow. They call it walking. You want one as well, darling? You do? That’s it, they’re waking up! Treat the wife. Treat somebody else’s wife. It’s a lot more fun if you don’t get caught. Hold on. You want one as well? Okay, darling, show me a bit of life, then. It’s no good standing out there like one o’clock half-struck. Buy them, you better buy them. These are not stolen, they just haven’t been paid for, and we can’t get them again, they’ve changed the bloody locks. Here, one for you. It’s no good coming back later when I’ve sold out. “Too late, too late” will be the cry when the man with the bargains has passed you by. If you got no money on you now, you’ll be crying tears as big as October cabbages.
According to their website, The Australian Defence Force is about to undertake the biggest disposal of military equipment since World War II.
Over the next 15 years the Australian Defence Force will replace or upgrade up to 85 per cent of its equipment.
As part of that, over the next ten years Defence will dispose of:
- up to 24 ships;
- up to 70 combat aircraft;
- up to 110 other aircraft;
- up to 120 helicopters;
- up to 600 armoured vehicles;
- up to 12,000 other vehicles; and
- a range of communications systems, weapons and explosive ordnance.
This represents 10 per cent of the current value of the entire Australian Government’s non-financial assets.
Anybody want a good pre-owned Frigate, F-111 bomber, or slightly used APC?