Rare WWII Australian ‘jungle carbine’ surfaces, with gun control battle scars (PHOTOS)

01/16/18 11:00 AM | by

Rare WWII Australian 'jungle carbine' surfaces, with gun control battle scars (PHOTOS)

This rare No 6 Mk I Lithgow Enfield was recently returned to the museum of the factory it was born in during the last days of WWII. (Photo: Lithgow Small Arms Museum)

This rare No 6 Mk I Lithgow Enfield was recently returned to the museum of the factory it was born in during the last days of WWII. (Photo: Lithgow Small Arms Museum)

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:

Prototype Short Magazine Lee-Enfield No 6 Rifle.However, the gun turned over to Lithgow is not original. 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.

No 6 Mk I Lithgow Enfield 2These days, even with the caliber change, is a target for lawmakers and regulators due to its magazine capacity and was likely handed in during the recent National Amnesty, or seized. NSW police recently impounded 109 firearms from a collector, including several rare pieces, that he did not have a license to possess.

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