In Cyprus, the Greek defense
forces (the Cyprus National Guard is the armed forces of the Greek portion of
the divided island of Cyprus) is selling off some 9,000 of its oldest (as in
very old) weapons to collectors. These World War II era weapons include over
7,000 Lee-Enfield No 4 rifles, 1,000 Sten submachine guns and 90 Bren
machine-guns. A set of guns (one of each) is going for $1,700. The Stens, which
are quite rare these days, go for nearly $650 each. All these weapons will be
demilitarized (firing pins removed and a metal plug inserted inside the
barrel.) The weapons would sell for more if they were sold in firing condition,
but there was fear that terrorists or other criminals would buy and use them.
portion of the island is inhabited by Turks, and garrisoned by 30,000 Turkish
troops. The National Guard is smaller than the Turkish force, but has over
50,000 reservists available. The Cyprus National Guard is now equipped with
much more modern weapons. The Turkish troops arrived in 1974, to prevent the
Greek majority from becoming part of Greece, and, it was feared, abusing, or
even expelling, the Turkish minority.
Lee-Enfield is one of the oldest, and still widely used, rifles on the planet.
Over 17 million were manufactured between 1895 and the 1980s. While there are
more AK-47s out there (over 20 million in private hands), these are looked down
on by those who use their rifles for hunting, or killing with a minimum
expenditure of ammunition. The 8.8 pound Lee-Enfield is a bolt-action rifle
(with a ten round magazine) noted for its accuracy and sturdiness. The
inaccurate AK-47 has a hard time hitting anything more than a hundred meters
away, while the Lee-Enfield can drop an animal, or a man, at over 400 meters.
millions of Lee-Enfields still in use throughout the Middle East, India,
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and even Iraq and other Persian Gulf nations. These are
largely World War II leftovers. In the early half of the 20th century, the
British gave out millions of these weapons to allies, or those being courted.
Noting the accuracy of the Lee-Enfield (.303 caliber, or 7.7mm), the locals
came to prize the rifle for hunting, and self-defense. There are still many
gunsmiths throughout the region (and at least one factory in India) that will
refurbish century old Lee-Enfields to "like new" condition. These
craftsmen can "remilitarize" a demilitarized one. Ammunition is still
manufactured, with the high quality stuff going for a dollar a round, and
lesser quality for 25 cents a round. These rifles sell in the west for
$500-1,000. Non-firing replicas can be had for a few hundred bucks, and for
about twice that you can buy deactivated (cannot be fired) originals.
pound Sten gun was a cheap 9mm submachine gun produced by Britain during World
War II. Over four million were produced, and was widely used through the 1980s.
But at the end, it was found mainly in the hands of irregulars.
The 23 pound
Bren light machine-gun was one of the more successful 7.62mm machine-guns to
come out of World War II. It remained in use until the 1990s. Only a few
hundred thousand were built, mainly by the British (who licensed it from the