Charles R. Stratton
Enfield Research Associates
State Arms Corp. was a sizeable gun store located at 386 W. Green Street
in Pasadena, California. They did a land-office business in the '50s and
'60s importing and selling surplus military firearms; their 1958 catalog
lists thousands of firearms, many of them one-of-a-kind items. Golden State
Arm's "Santa Fe" division sporterized military rifles--Lee-Enfields, Mausers,
and a number of others.
Golden State Arms went out of business in the late '60s, but several of their employees founded Federal Ordnance (Fed Ord), which did much of the same kind of work. Fed Ord fell by the wayside in the '80s and was succeeded by the Brinkle Trading Co.
The Santa Fe Enfields from Golden State are an interesting group of rifles. The workmanship on all of them is quite nice--much better, in my opinion, than the current run of fakes and knock-offs being sold by Navy Arms' Gibbs Rifle Co. More importantly for the collector, the Santa Fe rifles are all identified as to model and firm by roll-stamping on the barrel.
I had hoped for some consistency in the configuration of various models, but such was not the case. We have identical models with different furniture, different magazines, and different sights. Now, many rifles I am sure were modified over the years. Commercial sporter stocks were installed, magazines were lost and replaced, and new sights were installed. On the other hand, it may well be the case that Golden State was none too consistent when they built Santa Fe Enfields.
Reported overall lengths vary from 36 to 45 inches, with most falling in the 39-1/4 to 42 inch range. Reported barrel lengths range from 17 to 24 inches, with most being 21 or 22 inches. It is not clear whether this reflects different ways of measuring lengths or variations in production.
At lease one source credits Golden State Arms for coining the phrase "Jungle Carbine." That could well be, since the British never used the term to refer to the Lee-Enfield No. 5 rifle.
Some Santa Fe conversions keep the original oil-blackened finish, while other models have lathe-turned barrels, bright polishing on the metal parts, and a deep, high-luster re-blue.
All but one of the rifles in the survey had their barrels roll-stamped with the model designation and a line or two identifying Golden State Arms as having done the conversion (figure). The stamped letters are 1/8-inch high, sans-serif, all caps. The exact wording varies from model to model, however. Here are some examples:
SANTA FE MOUNTAINEER
SANTA FE JUNGLE
SANTA FE MODEL
PRODUCED BY THE
SANTA FE DIVISION OF
Special "Santa Fe" Components
Perhaps the most conspicuous special component is the red rubber recoil pad marked "Santa Fe." Close inspection reveals that they also carry a Pachmayr logo. One assumes that Golden State contracted with Pachmayr to make the recoil pads.
Another characteristic item is the 5-round magazine marked "Santa Fe Magazine." As these are also stamped "Made In Japan," it is reasonable to assume that Golden State contracted for them as well.
It is not clear whether
or not all Santa Fe Enfields came with 5-round "Santa Fe" magazines--many
rifles are reported as having them, but many are reported as having standard
military 10-round magazines. (But, of course, magazines do get swapped
Also characteristic of many of the Santa Fe Enfields are commercial ramp front sights and folding-leaf rear sights. The ones I have seen have not been marked as to manufacturer but appear to be Williams products, although they could be Marble sights. At any rate, they are quite handsome and nice additions to the more finely finished models.
This model is the Cadillac of the Santa Fe Enfields. There were three in the survey, all with 5-round magazines, nice commercial sporter furniture (probably Bishop)--a checkered fore-end and a buttstock with checkered full pistol grip, monte carlo cheekpiece, and Pachmayr recoil pad. The receiver has the charger bridge and rear sight bracket milled off, and the barrel is lathe-turned. All metal is refinished with a high luster blue. Sights are Williams-type ramp front and folding leaf rear. Overall length is 41-1/2 inches, with a 19-1/2 inch barrel.
Model 1943 Standard
These are, as you might have guessed by the name, rather plain-jane rifles. The metal components are not refinished, retaining their original oil-blackened finish. The fore-ends are shortened military. Barrels are shortened to 20 inches and fitted with a No. 5 flash hider, yielding an overall length of 40 inches. The rear sight is standard military, and the receiver is not modified in any way. Of the three rifles in the survey, two were fitted with "Santa Fe" 5-round magazines.
Santa Fe Jungle Carbine
With six of these conversions in the survey, this model seems to be the most widely circulated of the Santa Fe Enfields. The Jungle Carbine came originally with a No. 5 rifle buttstock, shortened military fore-end, "Santa Fe" 5-round magazine, and flash hider. Original No. 4 rifle rear sight. One of the six was outfitted with Bishop sporter furniture--probably added after purchase. Overall length is 39 inches, with an 18-1/2 or 19-inch barrel.
Santa Fe Jungle Carbine Mk I
These little rascals are built on SMLE Mk III* actions rather than No. 4 rifle actions and look like Australian No. 6 rifles. Barrels are marked "MD 20211" in addition to the usual Golden State Arms and Santa Fe Jungle Carbine roll stamping. The barrels are shortened to 19 inches and fitted with No. 5 rifle flash hiders. The fore-end is shortened military, and the buttstock is standard SMLE, with brass buttplate and brass marking disk. One rifle in this set is from Fed Ord and is engraved "Jungle Rifle" on the left rear of the receiver. No other markings on the barrel.
Santa Fe Mountaineer
The Mountaineer is a longer rifle, with an overall length of 41-1/2 inches and a 22-inch barrel. The two rifles in the survey had commercial sporter furniture and commercial ramp front sights and folding leaf rear sights. The charger bridges and excess metal have been milled off the receivers, and the metal components are polished and blued. Both had military 10-round magazines.
Santa Fe Special
The Special model seems to represent minimal gunsmithing. The barrel is full-length, and the sights are standard military. The furniture is sporterized military, with the fore-end shortened and the buttstock retaining the military buttplate. About the only thing "special" about it is the 5-round magazine.
Santa Fe Model 1944
The Model 1944 exhibits the barrel and receiver gunsmithing of the 1941 Supreme but is fitted with sporterized military furniture. The receiver has the charger bridge and rear sight bracket milled off, and the barrel is lathe-turned. All metal re-finished with a high luster blue. Sights are Williams-type ramp front and folding leaf rear. The buttstock is military but is fitted with a "Santa Fe" red rubber recoil pad. The fore-end is shortened and has the tip painted black to simulate a contrasting fore-end tip. Overall length is 40 inches, and the barrel is 22 inches long. One Model 1944 was reported as having commercial sporter furniture, however.
Santa Fe Model 1945
One Model 1945 was reported
in the survey. It was identical to the Model 1944 rifles.
Santa Fe Model 1949
The Model 1949 has a No. 5 rifle buttstock, a shortened military fore-end, and a No. 5 rifle flash hider assembly with front sight. The original oil-blackened metal finish is retained, and the receiver is not modified. The receiver has an original No. 4 rifle rear sight. The rifle is quite a bit shorter than others--36 inches overall, with a 17-inch barrel.
Scope-Sighted (T) Model
This is an interesting specimen that I found a couple of years ago. It has no barrel markings to identify it as Santa Fe rifle from Golden State Arms, but the buttstock is fitted with a "Santa Fe" red rubber recoil pad, and the receiver is milled and machined in exactly the same way as the 1941 Supreme and Model 1944. The rifle was converted from a 1943 BSA-Shirley that has a stamped "T" following the "No. 4 Mk I" electro-engraved on the left side of the receiver. The scope mounting pads appear to be original Holland & Holland and are staked in place, while the scope mount is identical to the H&H mount but is marked "Japan". The barrel is lathe-turned and has no sights mounted on it. The furniture is sporterized military, and the metal is polished and blued.
Santa Fe Deluxe Sporter
Nobody has actually reported on one of these rifles, but one kindly reader sent in a copy of the instruction manual that accompanied them. The Deluxe Sporters appear to have been fitted with sporterized military furniture, rubber "Santa Fe" recoil pads, and "Santa Fe" 5-round magazines.
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