The AIA No.4 Mk10 rifle in 7.62x39 Caliber
By Roger Marsh
This review concerns the No.4 Mk10A2 rifle, which is part of the No.4 Mk 10 family of rifles, designed by Australian International Arms (AIA) of Brisbane, Australia. The No.4 Mk10's use the 7.62x39 round, which became popular in Australia when the SKS semi-auto rifles were still legal in this jurisdiction.
The rifle employs a rear-locking Lee-Enfield action, but has been considerably strengthened to handle modern high-pressure cartridges. This is probably overkill on the 7.62x39 rifle, but is important on the .308 rifle that is being introduced by the same company. The trigger system is that of the No.4 Mk2, meaning that the trigger is mounted on the receiver rather than the trigger guard as in earlier marks of the Lee-Enfield rifles. As supplied the rifle is fitted with peep sight, adjustable for range and windage via the front sight. There are two peepholes, one for about 100 meters range, the other for about 300.
The A2 version of the No.4 Mk10 comes with a 410 mm, or approximately 16 inch, barrel. The other versions add 10 cm or about 4 inches to this length. Adding extra length to the barrel is a flash-eliminator/muzzle brake. The bore is hard-chromed to allow usage of corrosively primed military surplus ammunition. I am still going to avoid the use of that kind of round, given the availability of other types that are both non-corrosive and reloadable.
The Carbine uses the same safety catch as the Lee-Enfield rifles. To engage the safety, the switch on the side of the rifle is flipped backwards through about 180 degrees. To disengage it is moved forwards.
The rifle has teak woodwork, and my version No.4 Mk10A2 has a Monte Carlo style sporting butt stock. Others have a straight butt in the style of the Lee-Enfield battle rifles.
The butt plate is metal, very similar to the Lee-Enfields, complete with a storage hole for a cleaning kit. There is no checkering on either the pistol grip or the fore-end, however large finger grooves on the fore-end are quite pleasant to hold. Military style sling attachments are used rather than the quick release variety.
Overall the rifle resembles Australian .303 jungle carbine experiments from the 1940s, though not especially the No.5 jungle carbine that made it into large-scale production with the British. This rifle uses all new components, at no point are any military surplus items used to make up the rifle. The metalwork wears a Parkerised finish.
The rifle I have came with a scope rail that can be attached to the receiver, two ten round magazines, an adjustable leather sling, a tool for adjusting the windage and elevation of the foresight, and a gun bag. All up the package cost around $1000 Australian, which is quite reasonable for an all new rifle in this country.
Enough technical details, now to the fun bit--actually shooting the rifle. I have purchased this rifle for hunting feral animals at relatively close ranges, say out to 200m or so. Therefore I elected not to test the rifle from a bench rest, but instead from practical shooting positions, at a range of approximately 100m.
Shooting from a kneeling position, with Winchester factory loads, the rifle held a 5 shot group of less than two and a half inches. This would amount to one very sick pig at that range, or also wild dogs, two animals that form my hunting stock in trade. Some Australian hunters use the term 'minute of pig' to describe a level of accuracy that is sufficient to land the bullets in the vital zone of the feral pig, in which case I think that it was well under one minute of pig.
The trigger on the carbine is a military type two-stage trigger. After a long take-up (the first stage), the final pressure (the second stage) is quite reasonable and controllable.
The peep sights gave me a lot more confidence at the set range than would normal open sights. Some reviewers have said they found the size of the peephole to be too small. I found it perfectly adequate, and I experienced no difficulty in acquiring targets quickly. Perhaps this is because of my relative youth and good eyesight.
The carbine is not especially light, which is hardly surprising given the teak woodwork. However, I found it very steady from offhand, kneeling and sitting positions. Further, given its overall length of only 35.3 inches, the firearm was very fast to point.
Due to the 60 degree bolt throw and cock on close, a high rate of fire was possible, made all the more formidable by the 10 round magazines supplied with the rifle. I managed 10 aimed shots at a stationary target in under a minute without spraying bullets around the countryside.
The magazine is removed via a large lever in front of the trigger guard in the style of the AK47 assault rifle, and is very fast and easy to use. The likelihood of having to use twenty rounds in two minutes is quite low in most hunting situations, but it's nice to know it is there.
One problem I found with the magazines when testing the rifle with a brand of ammunition that was shorter than the standard military round was that it had a tendency to be spat out of the magazine before the bolt could chamber the round. I think this may be due to the very strong magazine spring, which gives the round a good whack in the tail as it is about to be chambered. This problem only occurred when cycling the action very slowly, and then not always. When the action was worked positively I experienced no problems. It is possible to shorten the length of the spring in the magazine, but I would do so incrementally so as not to make it too short.
The 7.62x39 round carved its niche in Australia as a pig hunting round, and feral animals such as goats, pigs and dogs would be well within the capabilities of both the round and the rifle. So would many of the smaller species of deer that have been introduced to this country.
Use on Buffalo in the Northern Territory is to be discouraged, 10 round magazine or no, unless your life's ambition is to be turned into a speed bump in the path of a very annoyed quadruped. However, for the kind of animals most Australian hunters pursue, and for the kind of ranges at which most of these animals are shot, the No.4 Mk10 in 7.63x39 is perfectly adequate. The terrain in which I usually hunt is quite conducive to the spot and stalk technique of hunting. Often game is encountered suddenly and without warning, making the rifle, cartridge and sights a very nice combination.
Fitting a scope to the rifle should present no problems given the rail that is supplied with the rifle. I have no intention of fitting one at this point, partly for financial reasons (I want to save up for a good one), but also because I am a big fan of peep sights. For the kind of ranges at which I will be using this rifle the advantages of a scope may not be sufficient to outweigh the sheer speed of target acquisition possible with the issue sights. This will change if I take the rifle hunting under spotlights, because a scope is a practical necessity in such circumstances. I recommend this rifle wholeheartedly, and look forward to many happy years using it.
In the pipeline from the same company are .308, and possibly .223, rifles that employ the same action style. I have seen a .308 prototype at a local gun shop, and it resembles the No.4 Mk2 Lee-Enfield, but looks a little beefier. Versions of the .308 rifle that look similar to the No.4 Mk10 are also planned. I should add that I have no commercial or other relationship with AIA, other than as a satisfied customer.
Copyright 2003 by Roger Marsh. All rights reserved.