Real Lee-Enfields in the Stan

Just noticed this comment over on an article I wrote for Shooting Illustrated’s web site about the Guns of the Enemy in Afghanistan:

One type of rifle you didn’t discuss, that is frequently encountered: actual Lee-Enfield rifles (generally the No 1 Mk III type) made at the Ishapore arsenal, leavings of the British Empire. The .303 is another cartridge in the .30-06/7.62x54R class and vintage, and in the hands of a trained marksman, will easily outrange anything in 5.56

It was left by Heartless Libertarian, a very knowledgeable and experienced guy who frequently comments here and over at GunPundit. I have been under the impression that there were very few real Lee-Enfields in use, with the overwhelming majority of them being “Khyber Pass Copies.”

Well-built and not-ancient Lee-Enfields are definitely firearms to take seriously. I didn’t realize that there were more than a handful of them out in circulation.

How common are they?


  1. When I was at Cambridge in the ’70s, most of the rifles used by the university rifle association were Lee-Enfields, typically of Boer War vintage, that had been rebored to take NATO 7.62 millimetre rounds.

  2. According to Wikipedia’s sources, 17 MILLION Lee-Enfields were manufactured;

    Also, the same page has some VERY interesting insight into the origin of some of these rifles;

    Apparently, a lot of weapons in A-stan have a similar origin;

    I wonder if those guys could build a Desert Eagle, chambered in .45ACP? (I’d be afraid to fire it, though!) XD

  3. i didn’t realize that there were more than a handful of them out in circulation.

    How common are they?

    To clarify, I mean how common are they among the insurgents/terrorists/criminals/whatever in Afghanistan.

    1. Weren’t they the main weapon of the Mujahadeen when the Soviets first invaded Afghanistan? They gradually acquired AK’s during the war.

  4. Ex British colony, so as common as ex ww1 and ww2 rifles in the US is my guess.

    I guess they would be commonish in Canada? I bet a few old farmers would have one.

    I heard they used blackpowder upto the war against the Soviet Union.

  5. You see them available in the Bazaars on the military bases, but few of the enemy carry Enfields anymore. They prefer AKs using the “spray and pray” method. The few snipers encountered usually carry Dragunovs these days, which are apparently readily available to the Talibs.

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