The L42A1 was a British Army sniper rifle chambered for the 7.62mm NATO cartridge which entered service in 1970. It served until replacement by the Accuracy International
Accuracy International
Accuracy International is a specialist British firearms manufacturer based in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England and best known for producing the Accuracy International Arctic Warfare series of precision sniper rifles...

 L96 in the early 1990s. It was the last model in a long and famous line of Lee bolt action rifles using the rear-locking action designed by James Paris Lee
James Paris Lee
James Paris Lee was a Scottish-Canadian and later American inventor and arms designer, best known for inventing the bolt action that led to the Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield series of rifles.-Early Life and Career:...

 to serve the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, which had first entered service in the Lee-Metford
The Lee-Metford rifle was a bolt action British army service rifle, combining James Paris Lee's rear-locking bolt system and ten-round magazine with a seven groove rifled barrel designed by William Ellis Metford...

 rifle of 1888. During its British Army service, the L42A1 saw active service during several conflicts including the Dhofar Rebellion
Dhofar Rebellion
The Dhofar Rebellion was launched in the province of Dhofar against the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, which had British support, from 1962 to 1976. It ended with the defeat of the rebels, but the state of Oman had to be radically reformed and modernised to cope with the campaign.-Background:In...

 in Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

, The Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

 in Northern Ireland and the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...


Design Details

The L42A1 was a 7.62x51mm conversion of Lee-Enfield
The Lee-Enfield bolt-action, magazine-fed, repeating rifle was the main firearm used by the military forces of the British Empire and Commonwealth during the first half of the 20th century...

 .303" (known in the US as .303 British
.303 British
.303 British, or 7.7x56mmR, is a .311 inch calibre rifle and machine gun cartridge first developed in Britain as a blackpowder round put into service in December 1888 for the Lee-Metford rifle, later adapted to use smokeless powders...

) No. 4 Mk1(T) and Mk1*(T) WWII-era British sniper rifles, which had remained in service for some time after the L1A1 variant of the 7.62mm FN FAL
The Fusil Automatique Léger or FAL is a self-loading, selective fire battle rifle produced by the Belgian armaments manufacturer Fabrique Nationale de Herstal . During the Cold War it was adopted by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries, with the notable exception of the United States...

 replaced the No.4 Lee Enfield .303" as the standard service rifle in 1957. It differed from other post-war No4 based variants in that the trigger remained hinged on the trigger guard as on the No4 Mk1 and 1*, not hung from the receiver as in the later No4 Mk 2, Mk 1/2 and Mk 1/3 .303" rifles, and other 7.62mm conversions. The conversion programme was carried out at Royal Small Arms Factory
Royal Small Arms Factory
The Royal Small Arms Factory was a UK government-owned rifle factory in the London Borough of Enfield in an area generally known as the Lea Valley. The factory produced British military rifles, muskets and swords from 1816...

 Enfield from 1970 to 1971. About 1,080 rifles were converted. A new hammer-forged heavy 7.62x51mm NATO barrel was installed, with four-groove, right hand twist rifling instead of the five-groove left-hand Enfield-type rifling used in .303 barrels. The heavier barrel was free-floating, which meant that the required accuracy standard could be achieved without the barrel bearing against the wooden fore-end, as had been the case with the .303" No.4 MkI(T). Therefore the woodwork was modified by shortening the fore-end to 1/2" in front of the middle band, and a No. 8 .22 upper handguard was fitted. The No. 32 scope was refurbished and the elevation drum modified for the ballistic characteristics of the 7.62mm cartridge. The modified version was re-named the "Telescope, Straight Sighting, L1A1". A new magazine suitable for the 7.62mm cartridge was attached; it is recognisable by its shape, which is more angular compared to the .303 version. A hardened projection of the left magazine lip serves as an ejector, although the .303 ejector screw remains in place. The butt with its screwed-on cheekpiece was retained, however the scope number on the wrist of the stock, was obliterated with "X"-outs, and new numbers applied. The markings on the left side of the receiver were obliterated and new markings reflecting the new rifle's designation and calibre were applied. The original markings are sometimes partially visible underneath. A new, larger transit case was made for the L42A1.


The L39A1 was a target-shooting variant produced for military full-bore shooting teams. It was similar to the L42A1, except it was fitted with Parker-Hale target tunnel front and micrometer-adjustable rear sights in lieu of the telescopic sight, and the butt had a curved pistol grip similar to the butt used on the No.8 .22 rifle. Since magazine loading was not required, the L39A1 had a .303" magazine, the follower of which served as a loading platform for single shot use. The barrel was the same hammer-forged, heavy 7.62mm version fitted to the L42A1.

The Enfield Enforcer was a police-specific sniper variant used by various British police forces from the early 1970s. It was similar to the L39A1, with a sporter style butt. It was provided with a high-quality East German-made Pecar telescopic sight. The telescope mounts were of commercial pattern; they did not resemble the No.4 Mk1(T) type screw-on mounts used on the L42A1. Target sights similar to those used on the L39Al were also fitted to the Enforcer. The 7.62mm magazine was fitted, and 767 were made.

The Enfield Envoy was similar to the L39A1, but was produced with a higher standard of external finish for sale on the civilian market. It had a fore-end of broader cross section and a sporter style butt.
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