Silenced Enfield Obrez…? Uh, no.

Hey, what’s this? We found it on a Russian forum, and it almost looks like a suppressed version of one of those cut-down Mosin “Obrez” sawn-offs used by various  Russian mischief makers. But that can’t be what it really is. Where would Russians get a Lee Enfield (well, apart from any left behind by the Allied intervention in Archangelsk 1918-19)?

Enfield GL

A pre-World War I vintage “Sht. L.E. III” which breaks out to “Short Lee Enfield Mk III,” it says here:

Enfield GL 3

It has a King’s Crown and the cartouche ER, of Edward VII, who was King and Emperor in the first decade of the 20th Century. (He was succeeded by George V, King during the First World War).

It even looks a little like a suppressor if you take it down:

Enfield GL 4

But we’ll let you in on a secret — the muzzle end is wide open, like the X Products “Can Cannon.” That’s a clue. Know what it is yet?

Here it is in place, wrapped up:

Enfield GL 5

…and unwrapped. Got it yet?Enfield GL 6

It’s a grenade launcher for the light Universal Carrier, aka Bren-Gun Carrier, a tiny armored vehicle much used by British and Commonwealth forces and descended from the flimsy Carden-Lloyd light tanks of the 1920s. The launchers were meant to be used with blanks only to fire (as far as we know, only smoke) grenades. Depending on the Mark of the Carrier and where it was built, this launcher might have been built on any available .303 action — Enfield, Ross, or even Martini. Here’s a Martini one in context:

Carrier 010

Yes, the Bren gunner or TC served this launcher from the left seat, whilst the driver jockeyed the vehicle from the right (even in the Canadian models, made in vast quantities by Ford of Canada and still occasionally turning up rusty in a Saskatchewan wheatfield). This sketch shows you where it all goes in the Mark II carrier (this one set up for a Boys 0.55″ Anti-Tank Rifle crew).

carrier mk 2

It was a tight fit for several men and all their kit in this tiny armored fighting vehicle, and it was at the mercy of nearly anything the Germans or Italians chose to fire at it. But you go to war with the Army you have.

Puts British and Commonwealth nerve in a bit of perspective, to think of calling this “armor.” It’s at the very bottom of the mechanized war food chain.

Here are a couple of pictures of restored carriers. The firearms and helmets should give you some idea of the scale of these toy poodles of the tank world:

Enfield GL 7 enfield GL 8

After the jump, two videos of running carriers: one enthusiastically driven (he actually drifts a curve), and the New Zealanders Motor Vehicles Collectors Club in 2015, breaking an Aussie record for most running carriers at a display!

Start up and drive around:

Universal Carrier Running Display Record — 27 running carriers (and two under tow!)

Did you notice any of them with the Grenade Projector?

18 thoughts on “Silenced Enfield Obrez…? Uh, no.

    1. Air

      Me too, but the pistol grip threw me on that one… I’ve seen a Springfield Trapdoor carbine made into a line thrower. My guys used a M14 to launch the initial line for UNREP. What do they use now?

      1. DSM

        I don’t know what they use now if anything. My guess would be something compressed air driven maybe.

        And on second thought didn’t the jawas in the first Star Wars carry a little Enfield like that to stun R2D2? Nerd alert!

        1. Brad

          Holy Moly you’re right! I thought the prop people had heavily modified some SMLE for the Jawa weapon, but maybe it was actually in original form.

  1. TRX

    > Where would Russians get a Lee Enfield?

    Well, actually… same place they got a bunch of WWI-era Western hardware. The British and Americans supported the White Army after the October Revolution, and shipped weapons, clothing, and food to the anti-Communist forces, as well as soldiers and heavy equipment.

    I never did find out exactly why the Western supporters gave up on the Whites; the immediate post-WWI politics were complicated by a megalomaniac in the White House, the Influenza, worldwide economic collapse, and other minor issues…

    BTW, I’ve seen pictures of line-throwing variants of the Trapdoor Springfield. They were in service in that role long after they were replaced as service rifles.

  2. Brad

    I never realized the 6 pdr AT gun was so small! But seeing one towed behind a BREN gun carrier looked just right in proportion. I can see the logic now of a BREN gun carrier as a small armored prime mover for smaller crew served weapons, like an armored fully tracked jeep. Wouldn’t it make a splendid platform for mounting a .50 M2 or a 106mm RCL gun?

    1. archy

      They made a very nice prime mover for the 37mm/40mm Bofers AA gun as well. And of course anything with tracks still moves in mud or snow long after the wheelies are in ditches by the side of the road. If there is a road.

  3. Bonifacio Echeverria

    At first glance I thought a rope thrower or similar salty implement.

    About the Bren Carrier, as one gentleman who had the chance to ride one to actual battle told me once, I was putting it wrong, it was not the weakest APC around, it was the thoughest jeep around. After hearing him talk for a while I was quite amazed at the degree of love their crews had for the little things for my first thought when first reading about the Bren Carrier was, now there is something I don’t quite understand why they kept producing. It is certainly more than just what the specs say.

    And the Vickers tanks were not precisely “flimsy” (unless you compare them to T-54, that’s it).

  4. archy

    ***But we’ll let you in on a secret — the muzzle end is wide open, like the X Products “Can Cannon.” That’s a clue. Know what it is yet?***

    Also along the line of the NC Star golf ball launcher that fits on the 1/2×28 threads of an AR15/M16 muzzle. The things are made of steel [they’re obviously concerned about someone without blanks on hand letting fly with a live M193 or M855 ball round] and are hell for stout. And make a ’16 kinds of muzzle heavy.

    Far as the Bren Carrier [actually Universal Carrier if I recall correctly, a pal of mine has one of the ones built by Ford. He’s fond of taking it to antique and classic auto shows because it’ll fit in the back of his GMC deuce-and-a-half. a lot easier to run back and forth to events than some of his toys.

  5. John M.

    Now you’ve reminded me that I’d love to have one of those Can Cannons.

    -John M.

    1. Hognose Post author

      I had corrected it but then didn’t update the file before it published. Busy day full of analog activity.

  6. Greg

    There’s a quote from a Commonwealth Company Quarter Master Sergeant (CQMS) in one of the D-day books that describes how the carrier was perfect for driving around through the ‘bullet drizzle’ between A & F echelon. Not direct fire, but the overs that still could do damage or wound.

  7. Cap'n Mike

    Uncle Mic standing next to a Bren Carrier in Palestine circa 1948.
    2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.
    So many questions I wish I had asked him when he was still around.

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