The British No4 Mk1 (T) was the primary sniper rifle used by the British and Canadian forces during the second world war. It was based off of the SMLE rifle and modified by Holland and Holland in preparation for sniping use. The No4 Mk1 (T) saw extensive combat use during the war on every front where there were British or Canadian troops located. The rifle has an excellent reputation and performed admirably in its role during and long after the war. There were (T) variants of other British rifles during this time, but the No4 Mk1 was the preeminent sniper rifle for the British.
The No4 Mk1 rifles were the standard issued bolt action SMLE rifles in use during the 1930s with the British army. This made it a natural fit to utilize for the basis of their sniper rifle development once the demand for a sniper rifle was recognized in the early stages of the war. Holland and Holland (H&H) was, and still is, a renowned rifle builder and they were contracted and tasked with taking good shooting No4 rifles and converting them to sniper standard by mounting the scope, adding the cheek riser and performing other additional work.
In terms of collectibility, the No4 Mk1 (T) has a strong following and they are very desirable rifles from a classic period of 20th century sniping. The down side is that they made a LOT of them, 23,177 of them to be exact. They were built from November of 1942 through April of 1946. This high number of rifles has kept the prices down to some extent, but they continue to creep up and the market remains strong for them. Some of this has to due with the increased interest from collectors for all WWII sniper rifles, and the rising tide lifts all the boats, or rifles in this case. The No4 Mk1 (T) rifles are pretty easy to verify as they were marked clearly on the wrist band, action and scope mounts. The markings were different for the different manufacturers and time periods, but they are all well documented in various books. The scope mounts were numbered to match the rifles, and of course, a matching scope brings the higher premiums on the rifles, as does the inclusion of other parts of the kit.
Our rifle in the Sniper Central Collection came from a reader a number of years ago who inherited the rifle from a family member, an uncle maybe? The new owner was an artist, not a firearms collector, so he contacted us to see if we were interested in the rifle. We came to an agreed price and we purchased it having not seen it in person. The rifle actually was in better than described condition and the scope was properly numbered and matching the rifle. An added bonus was the proper scope can, known as a No. 8 case, came with it. Though it did not have the soft case or wood No 15 Mk 1 chest which is highly sought after. That would have been amazing as they are very rare. Overall it was a very good purchase and is one of the centerpieces of the Sniper Central Collection.
By looking at the numbers and markings on the rifle we can see that it was manufactured in 1943 at the B.S.A. Shirley factory. It has a low serial number and early production date for the rifle, but it has the Mk III scope on it, which was introduced in October of 1944, toward the later half of (T) production. It was the 641st MkIII scope built. The rifle itself has the all important TR stamp which means it was converted to a Telescopic Rifle and the very clearly marked T after the designation on the left hand side of the action. These clearly indicate it is a real No 4 Mk 1 (T) rifle. Many of these rifles were later converted to Mk 1/2 (T) standards, but this one was not.
The rifle is not in perfect condition and we need to do a little bit more cleanup and oiling on it for preservation, but it is in nice condition and everything is in working order. We intend to fire the rifle but when we checked the head spacing, the bolt dropped on the no-go gauge, though with some resistance. So until we can get a “field gauge” to determine if it is truly safe to fire or not, we will refrain from firing it. Hopefully it is good to go as we would love to test it out at distance and write about it on the No4 Mk1 (T) page. Firing a few more rounds through this old war dog is not going to hurt its value any. We are proud to own such a unique part of UK Sniping history.
Estimated Value: $3700