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L42A1 Sniper Rifle
Type Sniper rifle
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1970-1990
Used by  United Kingdom
Wars Dhofar Rebellion
Falklands War
Gulf War
Weight 4.4 kg (9.7 lb)
Length 1,071 mm (3 ft 6.2 in)
Barrel length 699 mm (27.5 in)

Cartridge 7.62×51mm NATO
Calibre 7.62mm
Action Bolt-Action
Muzzle velocity 838 m/s (2,750 ft/s)
Effective firing range 800 yd (730 m)
Feed system 10-round detachable box magazine
Sights Fixed front, adjustable rear sight

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 L96 in 1985. 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 to serve the British Army, which had first entered service in the Lee–Metford rifle of 1888. During its British Army service, the L42A1 saw active service during several conflicts including the Dhofar Rebellion in Oman, The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Falklands War and Gulf War.

Design details[edit]

The L42A1 was a 7.62×51mm NATO conversion of the .303 British chambered Lee–Enfield No. 4 Mk1(T) and No. 4 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 replaced the No.4 Lee–Enfield 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 British rifles, and other 7.62×51mm NATO conversions. The conversion programme was carried out at Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield from 1970 to 1971. About 1,080 rifles were converted. A new hammer-forged heavy 7.62×51mm NATO barrel was installed, with four-groove, right hand twist rifling instead of the five-groove left-hand Enfield-type rifling used in .303 British 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 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 new design upper handguard was fitted. The No. 32 3.5 power telescopic sight was refurbished and the bullet drop compensation on the elevation drum modified for the ballistic characteristics of the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge in 50 m (55 yd) increments out to 1,000 m (1,094 yd). The modified version was renamed the "Telescope, Straight Sighting, L1A1". A new magazine suitable for the 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge was attached; it is recognisable by its shape, which is more angular compared to the .303 British version. A hardened projection of the left magazine lip serves as an ejector, although the .303 ejector screw remained 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 chambering 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 British magazine, the follower of which served as a loading platform for single shot use. The barrel was the same hammer-forged, heavy 7.62×51mm NATO 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 Berlin 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 L39A1 were also fitted to the Enforcer. The 7.62×51mm NATO 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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