The Ishapore 2A1: A Budget Battle Rifle, by JIR

Friday, Jan 15, 2010

For budget preppers, I think the Enfield bolt action rifle is an excellent choice for a main battle rifle. Most of them are British weapons chambered for .303, which is an obsolete caliber. I don't recommend a .303 weapon, but it would be perfectly adequate if you could get ammunition. A better choice is the Ishapore 2A1 rifle. It's a redesigned Lee Enfield SMLE Mk III (one of the best rifles ever issued to an army) but chambered for 7.62x51 (7.62 NATO) and has a 10 or 12 round magazine. (The later production 2A1s have a 12 round magazine. Mine both do). This is a no-nonsense weapon in competent hands and fit for serious business.

A little known feature of the Enfield SMLE family of weapons is the speed sight, which also makes a pretty good night sight. These rifles have a U shaped post or frame around both the rear and front sights. If you paint these posts with white or luminous paint, you can quickly index the rifle in almost complete darkness. The posts are large and easy to see. It works as well as most night sights and it's free.

Other than painting the night posts to increase visibility, I don't suggest modifying this rifle in any way. It's a fine weapon just like it is. One of it's few faults is that mounting a scope is not very easy or neat because it was not designed for that. Most scopes also interfere with the capability to feed from clips. If you want to modify it much and "trick it out", you will probably be happier with a modern rifle. Right out of the box, the SMLE is pretty nice, but it's not easy to improve.

The 2A1 is fairly heavy at roughly 10 pounds loaded with a sling, and it kicks slightly harder than a .303 SMLE (or a M1A for that matter), but it feels and shoots almost the same as the SMLE. Here is why I love it:

So, what's the catch? Here it is, and it's a big one. You have to train with this rifle. It doesn't shoot itself. You have to manually chamber each round and then get back on target. You also have to practice reloading from charger clips to develop any kind of speed. Get some dummy rounds (at least 20 if you are serious) and dry fire it until you can do it in your sleep. Load and fire thousands of times from the standing, kneeling and prone positions. Aim your rifle at a distant target each time you dry fire it and concentrate on marksmanship and speed. Then take it to the range and do it with live rounds. This is no M16 that can be trained using only a couple of hundred live rounds. You will need a thousand at least.

I wouldn't feel under-dressed carrying a 2A1 in a gunfight unless it happens at extreme close range. Even then, it's hard to feel too outgunned carrying a SMLE. It's a very solid, reliable shooting platform that will never let you down. Having used a M16 and variants in the Army, I love the solid, feel of the SMLE. If you are on a budget and can't afford a quality automatic, scope, and lots of magazines, the 2A1 (or even a .303 SMLE or No4 rifle) gives you the ability to buy a complete weapon system for a fifth the price. The 2A1 is (IMHO) a viable choice for a survival MBR. regards, - JIR

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