EM2 Video

I offer our Facebook fans the choice of which video they would like to see today, and the result was overwhelmingly the British EM2 rifle. These were made in both .280/30 and 7.62 NATO calibers, and the one we had the chance to play with was in  7.62. I apologize in advance for the brief amount of shooting in the video – I thought we had gotten more on film. In full auto, the rifle was really a handful – it would have been a much more effective design with its original .280/30 cartridge.

You can find more information and photos of the EM2 on the EM2 page in the Vault.


  1. thank you. so, an EM3 would have had polymer in the back and a stamped receiver? or is the receiver to complicated for that? what is your opinion on the rifle? a missed opportunity (in the .280 configuration) or too much hype?

    • “EM2” stands for “Experimental Model 2”. There were four competing designs at Enfield (EM1 through EM4), and the EM2 was the one they chose for production. There was also a prototype of the EM1 built, while the EM3 & EM4 were rejected before even reaching prototype stage. The service designation was going to be “Rifle No.9 Mk1”, so an improved version would’ve been either “No.9 Mk1*” or “No.9 Mk2” depending on how significant the changes would be.

  2. Thanks for posting this video, Ian. It is an excellent insight on the EM-2. I am with Keith regarding the ‘cheek piece’. And wood veneer!? That’s weird to say the least, even for a rifle built back in the 1950s. Was it glued? I’d really like to know what sort of adhesive did they use to bond veneer to metal.

  3. I handled one of these in the old Pattern room collection ( UK ) a beutifully machined and finished masterpeice, solid and well balanced.

    I didn’t know it was all milled from solid though, that is a big drawback, but that was the way Enfield did everything in those days. In hindsight it was far too high tolerance, and well made to manufacture, even in the 50’s. Definitly needed some Klashnikov-ication.

    • I would say the recoil was slightly less severe than other .308 semiautos. Muzzle climb doesn’t look too bad on the footage, but it’s a real handful. One of my rounds hit the inside of the shooting tunnel before the 25-yard line. I think the straight-line stock helps with recoil, and the bullpup configuration gives you a bit more leverage to hold the gun down. But it’s still not suitable for aimed automatic fire in .308 (the .280 might have been).

      • I am curious on how does it compares to the run-of-the-mill FAL in semiauto mode. Regarding aimed automatic fire, I think it must be similar to other battle rifles from the same era, but I would like to hear your opinion, especially reg. the G3 and FAL. Thanks in advance!

        • Compared to the FAL it would be a bit of a tough choice (ignoring the fact that I’m left-handed). For use strictly on the range, I would probably take the EM2 – it’s definitely handier to use. However, in hypothetical combat I don’t really like how bullpups in general are trickier to reload quickly than standard rifles. I like the FAL mechanism better, too – it’s a lot more idiot-proof. I can’t give much useful feedback on the G3, because I really dislike that design with its cocking handle and horrible trigger. Not a huge fan of what really seem to be undersized operating parts for a .308 rifle.

          Given all the choices, my first pick would be an FAL in .280.

          • Thanks! I’ve spoken to people who had the chance to compare the FAL and the G3 under real combat conditions and most do prefer the former, for mechanical and ergonomic reasons. I too dislike the G3 design quirks you mentioned… Besides, from a purely aesthetic standpoint the FAL wins hands down.

            And yes, a FAL in .280 would certainly be a good thing or, possibly, in 7×49 FN/Venezuelan (interestingly, I just learned that a few FN Mausers were converted to shoot the 7×49 cartridge).

  4. Thanks for the video really interesting! By the way, were are you shoting this I noticed it´s the same place as with the VG1-5.

  5. I’ve always been completely fascinated by the EM-2. It was quite a bit ahead of its time and was yet another victim of the US insistence that whatever they advocated must be adopted. I remember when I was younger piecing together the scant information available on the net at the time about the rifle. I ended up mostly figuring out how the thing must work including the fact that it had a pretty non-standard trigger/firing mechanism which is one reason some people have said it has a much better trigger than other bullpups. It’s not surprising that Kel-Tec’s RFB seems to use a similar firing system for the same reasons.

  6. Amazing video.

    Ian, what is your view about the sights? Something innovative at the time or something that needed to be refined?

    • I really like the idea, but it would need some tinkering. The biggest issue is that the actual optic (under the metal guard) is only about a quarter inch in diameter, so it lets in very little light by today’s standards. They did use them experimentally on the FAL as well, FWIW.

  7. First off, where did you get that EM-2. Hard to find is an understatement. With it being 7.62 NATO it must be one of the Canada built guns. There seems to be a misnomer about the .280/30 round as its bounded around the internet as being the defacto cartridge for the EM-2. The Army accepted Rifle No9 Mk1 was chambered for the original .280 with the FN developed 140 gr bullet. .280/30 was the base widened version redesign to appease the US trialers. This had the base that matched the .30’06, being 1 of 5 redesigns as a continued appeasement. The 7.65 NATO version was the last attempt to get the rifle into service post the NATO trial and Churchhills decision. The numbers of pre-production .280 rifles are still in storage at a MOD site in England along with fair amount of ammo, however with the current round of defence cuts, if the site closes, its likely that the rifles will end up in the crusher. I’m surprised with your comment that you found the automatic bolt closer unnerving, it is something I’m including in a paper submmission for the L85 replacement in 2016.
    The EM-2 was possibly too complex for a long term service rifle. The arrangement of the trigger group/firing pin assembly would have let it down in combat. The idea of its layout is easily understood, mainly to give the trigger a good feel and pull consistancy and the have the selector close to the firing hand. The big loss was the cartridge, it may make a return in a technical sense rather thatn an actual one

  8. I’ve just watched the video and had a bit of a chuckle. You didn’t need to put your finger into the mag well to release the bolt. The mag catch release lever pivots both ways, press to release the mag, pull to release the bolt. Also not sure if your aware, the gas piston tube can be rotated counter-clockwise to allow the cocking handle to be actioned on the left side. Your comment on the difficult to machine reciever was justified as all the prototypes and pre-production where carved from solid. The productionized version would have have stampings and just the central reciever and trunnion would be from billet. Jansen was a talent in the same vein as Browning and Stoner and many of his brilliant Polish collegues never survived the war.

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