Early in 1926, 6 prototypes of the MkVI rifle were set up for trials.
In these trials there were several critical elements that were being paid very close attention to. These included the strengthening and streamlining of the body of the receiver, allowing a faster more efficiently produced rifle to be made . The stiffening of the barrel construction, (the barrel weighing slightly more with the addition of bayonet lugs and the effects of this). The bolt design even got the once over. The front and rear sights were also the focus of some very clever re-working, it saw the foresight housed and protected within its own block, whilst the rear sight being well moved rearward to increase the sight plane. The rear sight being housed in a similar fashion to that of the No3 or Pattern 14.
However, as with all trial rifles there were teething issues. These ranged from the oiler bottles falling out of the butts when the rifle experienced vigorous movement, through to problems with accuracy and the change in POI when a bayonet was attached and then concerns around the rear site.
These matters were reworked and largely overcome and in the following years saw further barrel tests, as well as other changes made. By 1931 around 1000 rifles were being trialled by an Infantry Battalion and a Cavalry Regiment. The overall response and result was that of a higher standard of marksmanship was being achieved, it was looking like a success.
A further set of tests were carried out again in 1935 and again the resulting heavier barrels and stocking had further enhanced the accuracy of the rifle. The one down side was a nagging issue with the bayonet, however these accuracy issues were far less comparable than those of the No1MkIII.
On the 15th November 1939 official approval was given for the manufacture and production of the No4Mk1 rifle.
The No4 represented years of trials and upgrades, it was both an attempt at upon improving the SMLE with the ability to mass produce. It was to become the main service rifle for British forces of World War two, ironically however, not to be made at the great Enfield factory.
As to the trials rifle, they were re serialed, restocked and issued.
In the following pages under the No4 banner, I will outline and disribe the other variations and ensure that there are plenty of images in which to compare and reference from.
Interesting fact, that larger numbers of the No4 were made overseas rather than in England! Mind you with the ability to purchase lend lease items from the USA and having factories far removed from the bombing raids in Canada it made perfectly good sence.
With World War Two on the horizon, two new factories were built to manufacture the No4, These Royal Ordnance Factories were established at Fazakerley and Maltby.
Specifications of the No4
Rifling and Twist 5 and 2 Groove left hand
Barrel Lenght 25.2 inch or 640mm
Total Length 44.5 inch or 1130mm
Weight 8lb 11oz or 3.9kg
Magazine 10 round
No4 Manufacturing and Production
Enfield Fazakerly Maltby Shirley Long Branch Savage
No4 Mk1 619900 737000 665000
No4 Mk1 &1* 910730 1,236706
No4 Mk2 450000
No4 Mk1/2 & 1/3 10000 350000 Minor