RIFLE, LEE-ENFIELD NO. 5 .303” Commonly referred to as the “jungle carbine” this was developed to meet the need in the Far East for a shorter, lighter arm, because everything required to fight and survive was carried by the soldier rather than being brought forward by battalion transport, as it might have been in the West. Every ounce mattered.
The No.5 rifle was the same length as the Boer War carbine (39 and a half inches) and weighed 7.15 lbs. rather than 9.06 for the No.4 and 8.65 lbs for the S.M.L.E. The shortened barrel caused muzzle flash which resulted in the No.5 being fitted with a cone type flash hider similar to that fitted to the Bren gun.
The light weight also caused increased recoil, resulting in a rubber recoil pad being fitted, a luxury not given to the carbine users in the earlier Boer War!! A Bowie blade bayonet was developed for the “jungle carbine”.
The No. 5 performed admirably in the role for which it was designed and after the war, was considered for the replacement of the No.4 as the British service arm. However it did have a fault called “wandering zero” after careful adjustment of the sights to ensure a central hit, the rifle would “go off”
All sorts of modifications were tried, but none worked and by July, 1947, the No.5 was declared obsolete with some 50,000 being manufactured. The No.5 rifle was withdrawn after 3 years for the same fault the S.L.R. had for 30!!