Lee Enfield "T" Rifle Scope Brackets - Real (In Service) and Reproduction

Updated: Oct 25, 2019

With WW2 well underway, there was a need to create a "modern" sniper rifle to replace the few and failing SMLEs and No3Ts (re-designated scoped P14s) that were created and held  over from WW1 (and its technology).  A very good scope was already available - all be it intended for the BREN LMG - this was a nicety now as there was a war on.  The No4 rifle had just been accepted for use and deployment with contracts being given to dispersed factories in the UK and to Savage and Longbranch in the Americas.  What the new rifle needed was a modern and robust interface with the No32 scope from the BREN project.  It came together rather quickly with its simple features, cast of "black heart iron", basic and minimally machined and finished.  During the war two British manufacturers (Rose Brothers and Dalgleish) were contracted to do the best they could for around 30,000 total units to be delivered to (in the majority after trials and other runs) to Holland and Holland who were to do the rifle conversion.  It is possible to recognize these original brackets and even distinguish the makers from their marks and even the casting and machining shapes, textures and techniques used.  At the machining stage of the brackets the caps were machined to be a perfectly round and concentric one inch bores defining an axis that would be taken up by the No32 scope which was to be tightly held by the bracket. To ensure the caps were oriented and dedicated as a pair to the correct bracket the end caps were stamped with a serial that matched between bracket body and cap in each position.  No two cap serials were reproduced during each of the manufacturing contracts.

Shown above is an original Rose Brothers manufactured bracket (as identified by its casting form), with unusual (probably out of service) gloss black finish.  The cap serialization is also unusual in the use of letters (J and JJ), also no rifle serial.

The scope bracket was dedicated to both the scope and the rifle by their respective serial numbers and were intended to never be separated until rebuilt if required by appointed armorers . In British service these would typically be cross referenced with serial numbers throughout the chest, scope tin, tags and components.  The rifle serial number was stamped on the face of the bracket on its flat side above the rear thumb screw.  It is possible to find a bracket that has been on more than one rifle in British service and one or more old rifle serial numbers are crossed out (barred out) and the new / current / last one added.

Here are an early Rose Brothers bracket with a later Dalgleish for comparison - note the N92 manufacturer code for Dalgleish (partially struck "N") and the original sniper rifle Serial number.

Of course there were other services that used the No4Mk1T on loan or sale from the UK, especially commonwealth or allies.  These countries or services would then control and number the rifles, brackets and scopes to their conventions and finishes, and possibly have to make their own replacement or upgraded brackets.  This equipment has been sold out of service around the world since the late 1940's, typically the rifle and the scope are controlled separately when heading to disposals, so matched sets become separated in the potential changes of brokerage.  Or if successfully imported and readied for sale en masse, there have been instances of selling the best looking rifle, with the best looking scope and bracket with no heed to matching and cross referenced serial numbers.  A couple of factors then combine in the modern hobby, trade and interest of pursuing No4T rifle sets and their relatively useful and accurate brackets.  Around 2000 "scope-less" ' No4T;s were completed by Holland and Holland in late 1945 as their contract ended (they were paid by the rifle).  Scopes and brackets were not provisioned for these rifles and they were kept in store until needed for replacement programs.  Some of these scope-less rifles were sold as surplus and the new private owners have sought brackets to add scopes.  The L42 program converted No4T rifles and scopes with their brackets and rebuilt them to 1970's specifications for the NATO 7.62 x 51mm round.  The extension program for the L42 recognized a shortage of brackets and sought external private help to secure new manufactured brackets, which are still in private production now.  Canada experienced a shortage of scopes during WW2 and so created rifles using various approved commercial derivatives and their required custom brackets.

Canadian brackets have been sampled to the Pacific rim manufacturers to reproduce for private collectors and commercial sales as the price of originals has soared (a function of supply and demand).

It is not known how many of these Pacific rim manufacturers and patterns there are now - they seem to derived a metric thread for the locking taper screws but produced the correct thread on the bracket thumb nuts.

Scoped rifles sold to allies such as Israel, India and perhaps Pakistan have experienced the need to produce their own brackets for the No32 scope and sometimes for more modern equivalents / upgrades.  These rifles, scope and brackets have filtered back into the military surplus sales and re-ales markets and represent another set of history and collection interests and their own marks, finishes and conventions.

In the early days of military surplus deals, companies like Sante Fe in California took military rifles and created formula to rebuild and refinish them into attractive, sleek hunting and sporting rifles

The top of the range rifle at Sante Fe was based on a No4mkT and featured a custom designed and manufactured Japanese bracket to hold contemporary hunting scopes.

During the L42 life continuity program in the late 1980's the MOD needed some "new" brackets in stock to replace those damaged or otherwise compromised. Things had changed drastically for British industry and qualified / registered suppliers since the Second World War and the most renown WW1 era sniper rig brackets in their various forms were being produced in small numbers by an enthusiast and expert with a small supply chain (he was also a Doctor). So it came to be that new Blackheart Iron casting were made with the required machining and finishing steps through various vendors in small lots as organized by the newly authorized supplier. These were to original drawings and specifications and fitted in nicely with the original brackets for inspection, form fit and function. These brackets have been produced in small runs since and can still be attained in the market place - there is a price to pay for this "authenticity", but it is well worth the effort for a trouble free fit-up. They come in a Suncorite painted finish (hard enough to come by these days) and even feature the serial numbering of each cradle cap to indicate fit and orientation as peer the originals.

I am continuing to study the accuracy of each bracket type "as the come" on a variety of original H&H converted rifles - as well as document the differences in form fit and function - more to come..

Here is a side by side comparison of a genuine WW2 bracket (top) the modern UM manufacture and a Pacific Rim reproduction.

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