In this video by Forgotten Weapons, Ian features an old Enfield Carbine that is up for auction at the Rock Island Auction Company. He notes that the Enfield Carbines are particularly rare, as many didn’t survive to make it to the present day.
Ian describes Enfield Carbines are marvellous little guns that ooze history. The particular gun he is handling is a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) carbine. Around 10,000 RIC Carbines were converted from obsolete British military Lee Enfield and Lee Metford carbines in 1903 and 1904. While the British Carbines were designed with full-length stocks, the RIC Carbines were designed to be able to mount bayonets – specifically, the 1888 pattern Metford bayonets.
In order to accommodate the bayonets, the RIC Carbines were modified with a sleeve to increase the muzzle to the proper diameter. A spliced wood section was also added at the end of the stock to allow a bayonet lug nose cap, which had to be mounted lower than the carbine stock would normally fit.
The Enfield Carbines and Metford Carbines were deemed obsolete after the Boer War when the British army standardized on the new short rifle – the SMLE – to replace both long rifles and carbines. The SMLE included many other changes from the carbine pattern guns. Some of these changes were different safeties, dust covers on the bolts, 6-round magazines, no stripped clip guides, and sights similar to the earlier Martini-Henry pattern rifles. Because of these numerous variations, finding intact carbines in the United States is difficult, as guns with long military careers were often updated and modified multiple times.
Ian states that the RIC Carbine is very similar to the New Zealand contract military carbine. The two types of carbines are best differentiated by the wood at the nose cap – the RIC Carbines have a spliced-in larger section, while the New Zealand guns have a smooth taper to the nose.