Charles R. Stratton
Enfield Research Associates
Golden 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:
GOLDEN STATE ARMS CORP PASADENA CALIF
SANTA FE JUNGLE CARBINE
SANTA FE MODEL 1944
PRODUCED BY THE SANTA FE DIVISION OF
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 around.)
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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