Updated: Jun 23
Wrist Markings - BSA
Triangular Sling Swivel
Inspection Marks & Scope Serial
Rear Micrometer Sight
BSA / M47C
Other Wood & Metal Marks
Wood types and marks
Cheek Piece & Screws
X mark on the receiver wood
"S" for rear sight replaced (at Hollands)- "needs re-sighting"
Serial Numbers - other than the receiver wrist and bolt
Other Nations Service & Maintenance
Other Components and Marks
1907 USA Leather Sling
"Hoyt / MT&B Co 1918 REW"
Prototype Mills Web Sling (Reproduction)
If you are lucky enough to have an unmolested No4 mk1T, then you could have a rifle, scope and accessories that represent one of the 4 years of production at Holland and Holland, or as it was updated and repaired by British Armorers or other installments of service history. If you are slightly less lucky you may have a rifle, scope and accessories that have been used and "improved" by private owners and tinkerers, Here is how to spot original features, errant ones and simple techniques to step towards your chosen rifle impression - original factory - war years service - post war British service and post war International service - organized by parts group:
Wrist markings: I was talking with a fellow enthusiast about BSA Shirley using electro-penciled serial numbers in production and so took some photos to explore this:
Here we have a scopeless and virtually unfired 1945 No4T on the left and an "active service" No4T on the right that had its last service with India, other than the metal being painted with lumpy glossy black paint it is predominantly unchanged, On the left, the scopeless one exhibits all marks as freehand stamps through the blackened surface. The M47C is typical, as is the date and TR mark. The safety latch style and M47C mark are of note as is the rear pad, flush slotted screw and interestingly the screw being staked at the top. The rear sights were also switched out for Singer Machine marked and made parts (interestingly not marked S67 yet even this late in production and supply). On the right the "England" stamp was a required format for origin to be imported into the US after @1965 and is clearly stamped through all of the finish layers.
Here we have a scopeless and virtually unfired 1944 No4T on the left and two heavily reworked "sportster" T's (the middle professionally done by Sante Fe) and an American surplus "bubba" on the right. On the left, the scopeless one exhibits all marks as freehand stamps under the blackened surface - except the serial which may be a light stamp or a very precise electro-pencil. The M47C is typical, as is the date and TR mark. The safety latch style and M47C mark and the SM marked rear sight as as the 1945 examples above. The Sante Fe in the center was completely polished and blued by them to make a premium scoped sporter - they removed the original serial from the wrist and added their own by stamping through the bluing (original barrel serial is still present) this rifle may have picked up the fabricated safety spring at Santa Fe. On the right the M47C, date and TR are as they should be - all else is modified, retouched or swapped out The serial would be correct for early 1944 if it started with a "3" - was the "1" added somewhere else?
An additional 1944 Wrist / Action stamping group - an excellent condition example.
Triangular Sling Swivel.
Feedback from the initial service performance at the front (often from prior experienced target shooters) indicated that longer slings with a central mount at the front of the magazine would be preferred. After collating needs and the shooting thoughts of the time, a triangular sling swivel was designed to replace the front trigger guard screw on all No4Ts built after November 1944. There are almost 2 years of rifle production that did not receive this triangular sling swivel at the factory and would have it added in service - especially prolonged Cold War British service - it is still possible to encounter a rifle that was an early discharge / loss that never received the triangular swivel update. The swivel was to be "low turret" in design so that the sling body would be stopped by the existing magazine loop - this allowed the sling to be "locked" in a diagonal exit path off the fore end at an ideal angle to wrap the bicep and provide sling position options for better steadying in all positions. These war time sling swivels were made by Hollands and are typically browned steel. Hollands were contracted to produce enough swivels to retro fit all arms found in service and they were provided as an armourer spare part. The example shown is marked M47C for BSA Shirley and is also browned. I have encountered some post-war (commercial?) examples with "E", "F" and "S" marks in a bright blued finish (often with a triangle that is a little too tight for the leather 1907 sling). Other than the war time Hollands originals, some of these commercial sling swivels have been retrofitted onto Npo4Ts - probably in private hands. The Parker HAle PH215 series triangular sling swivel is "High Tower" and will have the triangle clear the trigger housing loop to spin 360 degrees - these are also typically bright blued or blacked.
S51 was already the war time production code for Holland and Holland - there were to make components under this code as well as convert No4 rifles tot he new T specification beginning in early 1942. They would apply this mark to th butt heel - running along the axis of the rifle - red with the muzzle on the left. This is one of the most frequently (attempted) reproduced / forged marks of all the No4T marks. The size, position and style of font are particular to the Hollands application. Hollands would mark all rifles that they converted, not spare parts. British Armourers would change the butt stock out for damage and sniper preference reasons - so true rifles often have different butt stock features other than the presence of a cheek piece - in the cold war era they were allegedly ordered to add all missing marks. Armourers would not make a buttstock with S51 for spare parts. So it figures that the right S51 is almost always from Hollands and there are less of them due to service attrition than there are real No4Ts that can evidence them.
Inspection Marks & Scope Serial
Rear micrometer sight. These were originated for the No4 rifle design by Singer Machine Co, hence they are often referred to as a "singer sight". Early No4 rifles were produced with the micrometer sight by the rifle manufacturer (Enfield Lock - "E over D" for the Trials rifles).
The very first Maltbys and BSA's produced their own and used the associated early marks for each (large B for BSA, stylized M for Maltby). Genuine early BSA marked T rear sight (reconditioned / polished scale face):
When the war expedient models were produced (initially with the "L" flip sight, then those selected for conversion to T status had to have the rear sight replaced with a modified micrometer sight (H&H indicated this had been done by stamping the "S" on the front of the right receiver wall ( this happened to most, but not all!) Where did the replacement Micrometer sights come from? Singer and other producers (Savage has been observed). In the British war time contract scheme there were 2 phases of demarcation - early / pre-war marks, and later regionalized contractor codes, For mid 1943 and down you are seeking the early war markings from Singer (SM), after that seek the regional producer code (S69 - for Southern region, 69th contractor). Here are 2 genuine early Singer produced sights - the SM 41 example was more correct to apply to my 1941 MalTby:
Note the all blackened finish - dark and matt - typical of war time efforts at H&H. The item on the left has been rebuilt, but features other components marked "SM" for consistency. The last year observed on these sights using the SM mark is 1943 as per the right hand example, then the S69 code is used - again on major components (sight ladder (top left of the face), cursor (left side), elevation screw (top) and elevations screw nut (back).
BSA experienced a third level of maker coding change - each of its factories were given an "A,B,C" location definition. So BSA Shirley, that produced the No4 rifles was designated "M47C" (Midlands region, sequential supplier No 47 - BSA , factory C - Shirley - producing rifles)
The very early contracts at Holland and Holland for T conversion included selected rifles from Savage, Longbranch, Maltby and BSA (a single Fazakerley example has been documented @ 2020) - this was too much variation for the conversion process to be efficient and by early 1942 only BSA rifles were to be converted. So if you have a genuine Maltby T - it was converted in 1941 and a little into 1942 at H&H while stocks lasted - typically Maltby "Ts" are nearly always 1941 dated - a 1942 example that is genuine has yet to be documented.
Similarly Savage rifles that are genuine and completed to a fully scoped "T" are rare and early. Some of these rifles seemed to have laid in stores until the end of the war and then they and and the remains of the BSA marks were furiously converted to "T" status by H&H while the contract lasted. These later T's often went into stock as "Scopeless" - a rifle in a transit chest as a spare part - awaiting a need and the addition of a scope and bracket - plus all the other CES. Most of these seem to have been released / imported in the 1980s. So a genuine Savage rear sight converted to T format by H&H is possible on an early 1941 converted and war time used rifle and on a late 1945 scopeless rifles and in between when added to BSA rifles that had the L flip sight from the factory - Savage provided a lot of micrometer sights for this purpose. Savage rear micrometer sights have some unique machining features in the battle peep - which will be missing on the T format versions. Here is a Savage T format sight - with a 'squared S" on all 4 major parts as above:
Of other interest - Wood and other Metal marks / stamps.
It has been observed that only on No4T rifles, there can be found an "X" mark on the upper left flat on top of the left fore end that holds the receiver wall. It has been consistently observed but no reason or original documentation found to support it. It is found on early rifles that saw full service (1941 Maltby - un-peened pad screws evident), It is on unissued "scopeless" rifles from 1944 and on later "scopeless" and service experienced 1945 rifles.
In the expert write ups, there is reference to the H&H contract use of an "S" on the would-be "single round cut off" mounting ear section of the right receiver wall. Per the contract and description Hollands were to remove the L / "flip" battle sight when present from the sending factory and replace it with one of their provided milled micrometer sights (either Singer Machine or Savage made and marked) - this would leave the rifle needing a new "zero" - a pass through an "Enfield Rest" test. The "S" was added to indicate the need for this re-zeroing as a subsequent step. Of the rifles I have examined this appears 1 in 10 or so times on real rifles - applicable to 1943 to 1946 production. So I would say the "S" mark can be used for verification of a real rifle but it is not the main course of study.
Typical wood makers and marks.
BSA from 1943 to 1945 was receiving fore wood and buttstock sets from Sykes Limited in walnut - these were marked S.L. and N74 - sometimes both in the same instance (pus inspection / receiving marks).
Cheek Piece and Screws - The birch / beech / walnut cheek piece design and material specification were first developed for the No3T - the scoped Pattern '14 rifles. When the No4T was conceived the cheek piece was transferred / continued. Any stock of the P14 cheek pieces would have been transferred to the 4T program - first built by Enfield Lock and then by Hollands - it is not clear when these transitioned to new made cheek pieces. Hollands being the hand made shotgun and rifle masters took the specified "high street" sourced screws and blued the heads. Brass is said to have been an alternative screw material, but I have yet to see them installed - even in Ts from other nations. The first photo below is of a Hollands installed cheek piece on a 1944 scopeless rifle - its position, form and fit is per the as-new standard. In practice and service, the size, position and shape of the cheekpiece was altered to suite the needs of the snipe that the rifle was designated for - these are an interesting study within themselves. The front curved shape of the cheek piece was prone to splitting so finger inserts and repairs are often seen hear to keep the rifle working. The British MoD was running short of scope brackets and cheek pieces as it started the L42 service extension program so new surplus examples are rare on the ground. The wood shop feeding Longbranch in Canada did yield some orignal NOS Canadian Destined cheek pieces in the last decade.
Rifle Serial Numbers were put on the box that all the parts of a subject rifle were taken from and stored in while it was being converted. Hollands also wrote the serial number of the rifle in pencil on the inside of the barrel channel on wooden fore end sections - just the serial number and not the letters have been observed. Hollands also stamped the rifle serial number into the hidden edge of the top of the butt that fits into the wrist socket and at the underside tip of the lower fore wood - along the barrel bore axis (other factory serials are seen here wrapped around the fore wood - around the barrel axis).
Other Nations Service and Replacement - Differing Nations have taken equipment from Great Britain and her colonies over the decades for frontline, secondary and domestic / internal service - Such as Italy and Holland immediately after WW2 - Israel and South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s India and Pakistan have kept their Lee Enfield's up and in reserve until a few years ago. Many of these countries had No4Ts as well. Along with parts replacement and service programs. Israeli domestic made scope brackets are unique. Pakistan and India added the "Ishapore" screw to reinforce the front wood forward of the knox (more likely job creation for armourers). One of the recent Pakistani surplus releases featured a range of No4T and their replacement parts - now circulating in European, Australian and USA markets.
The butt stock above was taken from a real BSA No4T - it is clearly a service replacement - but not by a British armorer - the serial number for the rifle is stamped with 2 sets of numbers - on 3/8" and the other 1/4" - rather crookedly. They did not add the serial number of the rifle to the second butt stock edge, nor the S51 mark to the wrist - this Hollands work is not recognized as required for continued service in those parts. The butt stock itself is a n early war Sykes Limited Normal length piece - much like the original it replaced.
Other Components - By studying the few untouched (scopeless) No4Ts we can see which other No4T components came from other supplies to the BSA factory from 1941 to 1945.
Mid Band - This fabricated example is marked for S126 (C.E. Westland of Croyden - an alternative to their "C.E.W. mark) on a scopeless 1944 BSA.
1907 USA Leather Sling
These were purchased from the USA as supplies in the great war (WW1) along with the Pattern 14 rifle (amongst other materials). While the Winchester made P14s were recognized as designated man / sniper rifles and developed the remainder, included the 1907 leather slings were relegated to storage and second tier supplies / arms / materials. So they languished deep in the Weedon bunkers.
Here is a Hoyt marked MT&B Co made USA 1907 leather sling produced in 1918 which are thought to have made up the contingent of these WW1 supply / shipments. There must have been a lot of them to survive 2 world wars and all the action and attrition they were exposed to. These are now hard to find in any condition, but this example is near pristine.
They remained in use with select weapon platforms - the P14T / No3T as its name was changed) through to WW2. Then after the lessons and material losses of the BEF in Europe, the No4T was hurried into existence and the 1907 USA leather slings were applied to it as standard equipment. The sling worked well enough in dry / sunny climates like Africa and Italy, but in the UK training camps and northern Europe they were found to be "slippy" to use and needing lots of preservative (Dubbin) to survive the wet conditions. The schools were also populated by inter-bellum target shooters who had already experienced the Parker Hale and other specialist center / front trigger guard screw replacement sling swivels and various format canvas / webbing slings. Snipers in the field (Europe) were prove to take a Bren length webbing sling and leave the 1907 Leather behind. As the war drew to a close the field feedback resulted in a prototype webbing target style sling being trialed (made by MECo). After hostilities the No4T parts and CES lists were re-standardized with the 1907 USA Leather Sling as a standard (despite the progress and learning). This condition remained until the end of the No4T life and the introduction of its replacement - the L42.
Mills Webbing Prototype (Reproduction) Sling.
I was recently asked to demo how to attach the web sling and its cousin the 1907 leather sling to an No4T for use in the field or range. There were basic diagrams and instructions in the various Sniping training pamphlets, however I wanted to add a little more description and variation (with photos. Essentially both types of sling present 3 loops, to form a better control on the stance with the firearm to hold and return to a sighting zero (natural point of aim) - I have personally experienced this in CMP competitions, where sling use during rapid fire is essential.
Each loop does its own job - the middle loop of each is for the biceps - typically retaining at least one keeper to synch down around the middle of the upper arm when in position. The front loop is for the forward hand - I like to use it to press the hand against the fore stock to enhance that firm fore-end grip that Enfield like - this front loop can also be adjusted for length to allow the right tautness from biceps to rifle body when in position. The real loop is similarly for adjusting tautness from the biceps to the butt sling of the rifle when in the firing shoulder "pocket". WIth the No4T there are still a couple of ways to do this - long length of either sling forward or rearward - depending on your stature and preference for adjustment.
Another dimension is whether to use (or if it is fitted) to include the front trigger guard triangular sling swivel (included in the factory build from Nov 1944 onwards and added by armourers as found after). I like using the triangular sling swivel to deliberately tighten the sling around my hand to grip the fore-end when using a shooting glove,