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Old December 23, 2010, 10:47 PM   #1
xMINORxTHREATx
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Import Markings

I just had a quick question that I couldn't really find the answer to anywhere. If you wanted to own a weapon for historical purposes, and it was a foreign weapon, say a Lee-Enfield, is there a way to get one with out the importing company putting their name on it some where?


The reason I'm asking is that I would really like to get my grubby little hands on an Irish contract Lee-Enfield, but don't want any other markings on it other than what it was originally intended for.
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Old December 23, 2010, 11:14 PM   #2
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I am assuming you are referring to those new in the wrap No4's from Irish army storage that have been imported in the past decade. If so by law they will all have had import markings applied. If some got to canada before they managed to find their way somehow unoficailly they of course would not be import marked.
Long time collectors of collector grade arms always look/ask about any import markings... to some like myself they make it less valuable to a collector but yet a good deal for shooting.
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Old December 23, 2010, 11:27 PM   #3
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I'm not sure if they are unwrapped or wrapped or what, but I know I have read about Lee-Enfield's that were made for a contract that the Irish had with GB after the split. There were (if I remember correct) 70,000 made.

I want one purely for having one. I'm the second generation of my family to be born in the US, all my other relatives are from Ireland, and I really want an "Irish heritage" gun. I've thought about getting an Irish Constable revolver, but they are out of my price range for now. So I figured the next best bet would be the Lee-Enfield's Irish contract rifles.

Any other suggestions? I know they use AUG's now, and during the Uprising they started with WWI surplus, and through out the most recent fighting they used AKs and AR-18s.
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Old December 24, 2010, 01:02 AM   #4
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Maybe at "Joesalter.com". You might like the selections, up in his NH business. He is Canadian.
My first Enfield #5 came from there in May '09. Although I'm not a true collector, it is all-matching with no import marks.

The only reason I now buy only FTF is to avoid shipping+FFL costs.
If I suddenly had $2,000 just for guns, would quickly buy some #5s and #4s from Joe. We almost never have the non-sporterized items in this area, at shops or shows.
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Old December 24, 2010, 01:22 AM   #5
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Some of the better quality arms shows are probably your best bet..I bought a Lithgow #3 SMLE stamped 1915 on action, 1943 on stock..looked brand new..must have been refurbished by arsenal & never issued. This had no import markings.
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Old December 24, 2010, 09:25 AM   #6
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As I understand it, imported surplus guns were required to have importer marking after the gun control act of 1968. Prior to this guns werent required to be markrd. I have had military guns that were unmarked as well as marked. The particular gun you are asking about I am unsure of. Did they become surplus before 1968?
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Old December 24, 2010, 10:07 AM   #7
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xMINORxTHREATx,

Fortunately, you live but a short drive from one of the best collectible arms shows in the world: National Gun Day in Louisville, KY.

Seriously, it's the only gun show I've ever been at where I could say "Wow, that's a really nice Volcanic pistol you've got there, but the two on that table across the aisle are nicer."
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Old December 24, 2010, 11:18 AM   #8
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If you are in 'Nappyolis' you are only about 3.5 hours from L'ville. I'm only 60 miles from the expo center.
Last time I worked in Nappyolis it must have been the bad side of town as the "locals" were pretty clear about their feelings toward white people.


PS ; a 1917 mismatch SMLE just sold on the gunboards trader for way under $300.
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Old December 24, 2010, 12:43 PM   #9
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gew98,

Never used online want ads or auctions myself. It always feels too much like a canned hunt.

(Yup, I've been down to a few gun shows there in L'ville; it's a good source for my other passion: antique Smiths. And when you live in Indy, it takes a pretty good-sized show to impress you! Fortunately the 1500, while smaller than the Great Easter, is twice as frequent...)
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Old December 24, 2010, 07:53 PM   #10
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Prior to 1968, firearms (and any other imported product) had to be marked with the Country of Origin (COO) under a law passed around 1906. The 1968 law changed the rule for firearms to require the importer to put on his name, the now familiar "import stamp". The change grew out of the difficulty, in November 1963, of determining which company imported the infamous Carcano used by Oswald, so it could be traced to a buyer.

AFIAK, that applies only to commercial, licensed importers. A 'one-off" import by an individual would not have to be marked, but would also be costly and difficult to set up. That kind of import is usually for rare and valuable guns; it probably would not be allowed for a common rifle. Guns coming in through Canada would also have to be marked; last I heard, it is a foreign country (and the Canadians want to keep it that way).

I guess I just don't see the problem, especially since those guns were never issued and most were never held by an Irish hand. True, some collectors won't accept any gun with an import stamp, but at the same time will be overjoyed by a plethora of proof marks, property marks, inspection stamps, etc., etc. That import mark is just part of the history of the gun.

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Old December 25, 2010, 09:39 AM   #11
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The Irish Contract No4 MkII, serial number PF309348-PF359347 were imported after 1968 so it well be import marked. Everyone I have handled the import mark is very small and near the bayonet lug on the barrel.

Don't pay any extra for a Irish Contract rifle, it was the largest (50,000) of all the contract series of MkII's. The Zambia, Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Zanzibar or Hong Kong contracts were under 100 builds. Those may be worth a premium.
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Old December 25, 2010, 09:50 AM   #12
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Importing weapons takes paperwork but it's not too tricky. Easier set up and cheaper than getting an NFA weapon. So before you have that unissued G43 with original scope stamped by some big importer, find yourself a local guy with the right license and do it yourself.
One thing to add, it's handled like a normal FFL transfer, so you will have to do a background check even if you already own the guns overseas.
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Old December 25, 2010, 06:55 PM   #13
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I have never done this myself, but from what I hear it is not quite that simple. The main problem some folks have encountered is not getting an OK to import the gun, but getting the foreign government to allow its export. The UK is especially bad and I understand the Irish Republic is now almost as paranoid about guns, banning export or import of even items like empty cartridge belts as "war materiel."

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Old December 25, 2010, 10:06 PM   #14
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That's odd, After reading the above posts I took my no 4 down and looked it over. bouugh it in the late 1980's, I've never paid much attention to it before, haven't even shot it. It's in very good condition from being in storage all those years, ( SN 325299 ). It doesn't have import markings any where visible on the rifle, now to satisfy my curiosity I'll have to take it apart tomorrow to see if the marking are some where out of sight.Something else I never noticed, the magazine is serial numbered to the gun, never paid it no mind before.
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Old December 26, 2010, 06:40 AM   #15
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Quote:
It doesn't have import markings any where visible on the rifle, now to satisfy my curiosity I'll have to take it apart tomorrow to see if the marking are some where out of sight.Something else I never noticed, the magazine is serial numbered to the gun, never paid it no mind before.
The import marking has to be visible with out removing the furniture. Normally found on the barrel, some times on the receiver. Can be very small and lightly engraved.
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Old December 26, 2010, 07:41 AM   #16
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I've owned a lot of foreign military guns and never had one with an import mark. I guess they were all bring backs.
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Old December 26, 2010, 09:13 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawg Haggen
I guess they were all bring backs.
Far more likely that they were imported commercially before GCA 1968, during the Golden Age of Surplus in the Fifties and early Sixties.

Relatively few long guns actually came home with GIs.
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Old December 26, 2010, 12:39 PM   #18
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I'm not a novice at this, there are no import marking visible on my No 4. Either big or small and hard to read. That's why I stated it was odd. I purchased it from J&G (Late 80's-early 90's ) when that had a shop for a couple of years in Tempe,AZ I almost cried when they closed and only the main shop in Prescott remained. It was wrapped, heavy greased. I've of course had it apart but as it was of no consequence to me I never looked for Import marking before. Once again, there are no import markings visible on my No 4 Mk 2. Odd.

Last edited by RJay; December 26, 2010 at 03:37 PM.
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Old December 26, 2010, 01:48 PM   #19
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30 + years ago in NJ and PA it was not uncommon to find non import marked rifles , in fact that was the norm. Odd finds were very early imports - early that is in soon after the GCA 68. I found enfields and some 98k's that had a polished bright spot on the barrels under the handguards and that's where the importer marked was stamped using something akin to an ink stamp but more or less like a acid blueing solution. We used to polish that off and touch up blue those spots.
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Old December 26, 2010, 11:08 PM   #20
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Those guns were brought in literally by the ton and the markings (either the COO or the post-68 import mark) were put on in bond in the US, not in the foreign country. In one importer's bonded warehouse that I was in, hundreds of guns were scattered all over the floor, and people with stamps went around marking them, then they were replaced with more. The people doing the marking were not gun experts, so it is not surprising that there were errors (I have seen a Savage-made No.4 marked "ENGLAND") or that some were missed. Pre-68, US made guns required no import marking, as the COO was the US.

But there were no SMLE or No. 4 "vet bringbacks"; US and British forces did not merge and swap weapons, and bringing back US or Allied weapons was prohibited. (Yes, I know your grandfather brought back his .45 pistol; it is called theft.)

FWIW, after reading RJay's post, I checked my "mummy wrap" No. 4 (PF 332515) and after scrubbing at the cosmoline, I found the import stamp ".303 UK/CAI ST ALB VT" (Century Arms International, St. Albans, Vermont) on the right side of the barrel between the bayonet lug and the muzzle. Maybe look again, RJay.

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Old December 26, 2010, 11:22 PM   #21
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The marks vary by importer and when they were marked. I have seen some that I almost needed a magnifying glass to read and there were hidden as best as they could be. I had one that it was tiny and under the bolt handle so you had to open the bolt to see it, even then it was very small.

Now, they have gotten stricter about them being larger and more visible.
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Old December 26, 2010, 11:22 PM   #22
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When you're wrong you're wrong, if you will excuse me for a few minutes I need to take my foot out of my mouth. I took it down again, took a flash light ( to reflect shadows ) and a glass and sure enough, the markings are there. So unobtrusive I don't see how they could hurt the value. But they are there, and I thought I had looked it over thoroughly. Damn, these senior minutes are getting longer and longer. Sorry about that, maybe I should take it out and shoot it some., seeing I all ready shot myself in the foot
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Old December 26, 2010, 11:27 PM   #23
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RJ,
Don't let it worry you. I'm usually wrong 2-3 times before I get out of bed in the morning.

As I said in my post, some of the older markings are tough to see/find. Not like the ones today which are horrible electric penciled billboards put on by what seems to be drunk violent rhinos.
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Old December 27, 2010, 08:28 PM   #24
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Not really a senior moment, RJay. I had to use gasoline and really scrub at that cosmoline, and I knew the marking was there. Had I not been sure, I would probably have thought as you did.

BTW, mine has a No. 5 trigger guard, which I thought interesting.

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Old December 28, 2010, 12:49 AM   #25
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The "Irish" No. 4s are all in the stratosphere now as far as prices go. I have seen several of them sell for $600+ on Gunbroker.

You might be better off looking for an old Lee-Enfield RIC carbine for about the same money.
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