this is my rifle.

This is my rifle.

Note the choice of words–not “one of my rifles” (which is also true), but “my rifle”–the one that was made for my shoulder, even though it left the factory the year before my father was born.

It’s nothing rare, or valuable. It’s a No.4 Mk.I* Enfield, made in Canada at the Long Branch arsenal in 1943, when my grandfather was driving a train in the employment of the Wehrmacht somewhere on the Russian front. They made hundreds of thousands of them, and this one doesn’t even have any collector’s value, because at some point in its life it was shortened by four inches and sold as a “Tanker Enfield”.

The finish is sub-par; they used up whatever black spray-on paint they had rolling around over at Navy Arms after they did the chop-job conversion.

I bought this rifle for a hundred and change in Lawrenceville, Georgia, at a place called Bullseye Sports. It has seen much ammo through the barrel since I brought it home, and most of it has been corrosively-primed Canadian surplus. It’s not much to look at, worthless to a collector, and completely devoid of flash and glitz and tacticality. It has no optics, just aperture iron sights. It has no accessory rails, vertical foregrip, fancy sling swivels, laser, or flashlight. Its only accessory is an eight-dollar leather sling.

But.

I can put ten rounds into a target the size of a shoebox at a hundred yards as fast as I can work the bolt, and perforate the same target at two hundred with more deliberate aim all day long. It puts the bullets exactly where I want them to go, and the bolt works so smoothly that it almost loads itself when you work that bolt handle. It has the short stock on it, and by all rights should be kicking like a mule, but it has the lowest recoil of any .30-caliber battle rifle I’ve ever shot. Something about this rifle makes it work exceptionally well with my shoulder, and hands, and arms, and eyes, to the point where putting bullets on target feels as natural as breathing and walking.

This is the rifle I’ll grab if I ever have need of a longarm in a place other than a rifle range. This is the rifle that stands by to defend me and mine if necessary. This is the rifle that marks my personal line in the sand, the line that none who come looking for trouble shall pass with impunity. This is the rifle that will never be traded, or sold, or surrendered, to anyone, at any price, for any reason.

This is my rifle.

And the only way it will ever leave my possession is when I pass it down to my children.

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13 thoughts on “this is my rifle.

  1. T.Stahl says:

    Enfields seem to be like that.
    I have similar feelings for mine. 🙂

  2. Tam says:

    I likes me an Enfield, but I have three words for you:

    Emm.

    One.

    Garand.

    :p

  3. Jonathan says:

    I do like it when you write about firearms.

  4. pdb says:

    Bah! Garands have too many moving parts and you have to wait for gas to cycle the action. The #4 Enfield is the best damn bolt action fighting rifle in the history of ever.

    I will caution you to keep an eye on the bolt-head liftout notch on the receiver rail. Too much vigorous use can wear down the edges of the notch and let the bolt head to lift out prematurely. This can cause annoying failures and cost you time when you’re trying to uphold the Dominion’s honour during a service rifle match. *sigh* That’s why I prefer the earlier #4mk1s and 2s and not the asterisk models.

    And you need to get a bayonet for that thing! I love the good ‘ol tent-peg sticker. Simple and cheap!

  5. Marko says:

    No can do on the bayonet thing.

    I have the tent peg type for the No.4s, but it won’t fit this particular rifle because the bayonet lugs on the barrel were on the four inches that were lopped off during the “tanker” conversion.

    You can stick that bayonet on there, but it won’t stay on…you’d leave it behind in the first thing you stick with it, like a bee leaving its stinger.

  6. Anonymous says:

    That’s a bad thing? Just get some plastic tags and put your name and address on the tags. Attach tags to bayonet so you can claim it later! 🙂 Al T.

  7. Marko says:

    “If found in lifeless perpetrator, please return via postal service to: […]”

    Yeah, that would work, I guess.

  8. Anonymous says:

    🙂 Just to jog your planning calender – you need TWO such rifles.. And as I’m childless, you and R. feel free to have my allocated share of kids. Al T.

  9. Gary says:

    I have a No4 Mk1* made by Savage, and No4 Mk2, and a GENUINE No5. I’ve yet to fire any of the, shame on me.

    However, the action on all of them is so buttery smooth, it should be illegal.

    Much smoother than either of my Mosins or my K31.

    What a rifle.

  10. Conan The Librarian says:

    I own a No. 4 Mk 1 too. Lovely rifle. Accurate as hell even with my older eyes. I too will never part with mine, just wish the ammo was cheaper.

    Good writing!

  11. Flintlock Tom says:

    Just reading your post I feel like I’ve had a religeous experience.
    None of my rifles affect me that way, maybe “my rifle” is still out there somewhere.

  12. Motor-T says:

    This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
    It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
    Without me my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless.
    I must fire my rifle true.
    I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me.
    I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will.
    My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count.
    We will hit.

    My rifle is human, even as I am human, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother.
    I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel.
    I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other.

    Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

    So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy.

    MGen. William H. Rupertus, USMC

  13. Doc Burgess says:

    “My Rifle” The Creed of a United States Marine, was published in the “American Rifleman, January 1944 p.3.
    Robert Burgess, M.D.
    Former Corpsman, 3rd Marine Division
    Still, rule .303 from “Breaker Morant”
    That’s a fine looking Enfield

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