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Enfield L42A1

Manually-Actuated Bolt-Action Military / Police Sniper Rifle [ 1970 ]

The Enfield L42A1 was the primary sniper rifle of British forces for some two decades before succeeded by the newer Accuracy International L96 series in 1985.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/05/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The L42A1 is a former sniper rifle of the British Army, in service from 1970 until 1990. The design was born from the existing Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk 1(T)/No.4 Mk 1*(T) bolt-action rifles used in the sniper role during the World War 2 period (1939-1945). Requiring a successor to these sound and proven - yet aging - guns, the dedicated L42A1 was selected in their place. It went on to see considerable combat service in the period following including the Falklands War of 1982 and the Gulf War of 1991. It was eventually succeeded by the all-modern Accuracy International L96 detailed elsewhere on this site.

Unlike the World War 2-era Lee-Enfields, which were chambered in .303 British, the L42A1 shifted to the newer 7.62x51mm NATO standard rifle cartridge adopted by the West during the Cold War (1947-1991). As the original base Enfield No.4 frontline infantry rifles were already being succeeded by the 7.62mm-chambered FN FAL Battle Rifle during the latter part of the 1950s, the British sniper stock required attention to keep up with the times. This led to a decision in the 1960s to modify and adopt a revised form of the No.4 to become the "L42A1" in service for the dedicated sniper role.

The guns were reworked by the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) of Enfield from the period spanning 1970 to 1971 to which 1,080 or so of the guns were redistributed following conversion. Key to the changes were a new, heavy hammer-forged, free-floating barrel assembly (no part of its length was to touch the stock-works, leading to enhanced precision) with revised internal rifling, new optics support (the "L1A1" of 3.5x power), and a shortened forend.

The gun retained the manually-operated bolt-action system and fed from a 10-round detachable box magazine. The magazine was fitted into a well just ahead of the trigger loop. The pistol grip was integrated with the shoulder stock, the latter containing a cheekpiece for some comfort. The forend stopped near the midway point of the barrel assembly, the barrel continuing forward and capped by a forward iron sight. Over the receiver was mounted the telescopic sight in typical fashion.

The L42A1 was introduced into service as soon as 1970 and managed a career into 1990 - its last notable actions being recorded in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991. The L39A1 was devised as a target-shooting alternative, though for military-minded elements, and carried Parker-Hale iron sights and had the same hammer-forged barrel as the L42A1. The "Enfield Enforcer" was issued to police forces for ranged work and was based highly in the L39A1 target shooter though with revised butt stock and a Pecar Berlin scope. The "Enfield Envoy" was also based in the L39A1 but produced to a higher standard for marketing to civilian shooters.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United Kingdom national flag graphic
United Kingdom


Manually-Actuated Bolt-Action Military / Police Sniper Rifle

Royal Small Arms Factory (Enfield Lock) - UK
(View other Arms-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Accuracy / Precision
Long-range accuracy / precision capable; suitable for sniping, particularly when equipped with sighting aids.

Overall Length
1,071 mm
42.17 in
Barrel Length
700 mm
27.56 in
Empty Wgt
9.70 lb
4.40 kg

Adjustable Rear with Fixed Front; Optics Supported.


Manually-Actuated Bolt-Action System

Manually-actuated process of managing the bolt lever to eject spent cartridge case, clearing the breech, to introduce fresh catridge into the chamber.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


7.62x51mm NATO

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a 7.62x51mm / .308 Winchester rifle cartridge
Rounds / Feed

10-round detachable box magazine.
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Max Eff.Range
2,400 ft
(732 m | 800 yd)
Muzzle Velocity
2,750 ft/sec
(838 m/sec)

L42A1 - Base Series Designation
L39A1 - Parker-Hale sighting iron devices; same barrel assembly as in the L42A1; curved pistol grip handle; chambered for .303 British and its associated magazines.
"Enforcer" - Variant developed for police elements; chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO; Pecar Berlin telescopic sighting device; 767 examples delivered.
"Envoy" - Higher standard external finish; slight revisions to stock.

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