Gun of the Month

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Woftam
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Gun of the Month

Postby Woftam » Sun Nov 30, 2008 5:53 pm

Decembers GOTM takes a slightly different flavour to November. This is a more personal account rather than an historical perspective. Why ? Mainly because in perusing the options I kept coming back to this rifle. Couldn't help myself. I'm sure we all have one of these in the safe. It will be different rifles for each of us but we all have THE ONE. Yes the one that started us down the track we now travel, the one that awakened our interest, the one that led us to a fascination with the military rifle.

For me it's a very common 1918 BSA No 1 MkIII*.



How did it happen ? Well, at that time, I had about two rimfires and a .222 Winchester. Then I made a decision, I would acquire a rifle so I could shoot the 'Military as issued' competition at the local club. Just for fun and to have a bit more shooting on club days. Never planned to go any further than that. It would only be one and then I would further my plans to acquire a .308 for target shooting and hunting. Thats where the action was, modern weaponry shooting a real calibre.

A quick trip to the gunshop, bit of a yarn with Fred -

"Fred, I want a three-oh so I can shoot the Military match"

"No worries, anything in particular ?"

"Naw, there all pretty much the same aren't they ?"

"Well there's No1's and No4's basically but you'll be wanting a No1 'cause we used 'em for years. From WW1 up to Korea. Got one here now, it's a pommie rifle but it's no different to an aussie one."



Easy as that. Never knew then exactly what I had but by God I had one, a genuine ex-military rifle. After a few club competitions days and talking to a few blokes I came to the conclusion I needed a heavy barrel. That was the ducks guts, a heavy barrel for my smellie and I would have it made. No more 6 inch groups, with a heavy barrel these babies could shoot.



Funnily enough there was no miraculous improvement in my scores. There was a slight improvement but nothing spectacular. Then a mate clued me in. Get a proper target sight he said, once you've got that you can set it up properly and then just pop the sight off for competition days. OK, gotta find me a target sight. Done.



Parker Hale, best there is. Now watch this baby shoot. Of course vanity plays a part in everybodies personality and I am no different. So I also wanted to tart the old girl up a bit. Brass barrel band and rear sling swivel - that'll sharpen the package up a bit. Now a sling, but not just any sling. Don't want a modern one but what about a repro sling of the one used on the No4T ? Yeah, reckon I'll get a Pattern 1907 (Knox) sling. And a sniper sling swivel for the front of the trigger guard (Lithgow made of course), yeah that will be flash!









I also added a front sight cover in keeping with the target rifle theme. In my (then) ignorance I also used Tung oil rather than straight BLO to finish the stock.



So, what do I know or can surmise about it ? Well it was refurbished and sent to store post war. Possibly it was a cadet rifle at one stage. The forearm is numbered but it appears to be a rack number rather than a serial number and there are remnants of yellow paint on the nosecap.







The nosecap could be pre- or post- '43. The rear boss is drilled and tapped for a piling swivel a step that was omitted for a period in '43 when it was just left solid. It has the late war/post war modification to the sight ears and is not stamped with a serial number as was appropriate for the period.





The rear sight is not numbered to the rifle, again appropriate for the period, but the old number has not been lined out. Don't know if this is correct or not. The rebuild was fairly comprehensive with most parts now being aussie rather than pommie. One english speaking part is present although not BSA made.















Although the bolt handle has the same serial it lacks the alpha prefix and I suspect is not original to the receiver. The receiver carries a random broad arrow which is the only one I've seen in this area, is it a British thing ?







Magazine is a standard No3 follower in No4 shell.





It would be remise of me not to give a bit of detail on the barrel. Lithgow made, the only manufacturers of heavy barrels, in the mid fifties. Inspection marks are interesting in that they change from Roman Numerals to standard numbers after the third mark. There is, of course, no HV or SC marking but some random letters are stamped on the underside. I have no idea what they signify. Barrel is heavily stepped at the front to enable the fitting of the front sight and to fit the standard nosecap.











One feature of the heavy barrels is that they did not use the inner band. In service the hole in the forearm was plugged, so naturally I've done that as well.



A fair amount of wood has to be removed from the barrel channel to accommodate the heavy barrel. Note the thinness of the front handguard under the front cap. A unmodified forearm (left) compared to the modified one (right).





So until I got hold of it this was a fairly standard post war refurb with possibly the receiver being the only original part. The barrel (before I intervened) was a take off from a Lithgow with a B prefix. Later it was probably issued to the Cadets. Eventually it was surplused and ended up with me and who knows how many owners in between. Am I happy with what I've turned it into ? Yes, although trying to attain an acceptable degree of accuracy has been an on & off proposition over the years as other rifles have come into the fold and my interests have changed. Would I do it again ? No, would have left it as is and looked for a proper range rifle.
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Postby DuncaninFrance » Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:03 pm

Smashing post G, thanks :razz:
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Postby Brass Rat » Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:35 pm

Very nice rifle!

If you get a chance how about a picture of a nekkid heavy barrel next to a regular one.
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Postby 24626151 » Mon Dec 01, 2008 5:47 am

I have seen close up a Fulton Regulated one, stamped thus on the nose cap but the barrel aperture through the nose cap was prominently relieved.

It looked queer to say the least!
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Postby Woftam » Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:51 am

The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it.
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Postby Woftam » Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:08 pm

Here is the barrel comparision. Not my best photography but I found that having the heavy barrel still in the action meant I needed a third hand to operate the camera once I had the barrels held in position. The bottom barrel is 2 groove No4 barrel.

The business end -







The other end -





Longer views -





Somewhere I have the actual weight of a heavy barrel but I can't find it right now. For comparison Skennerton states a standard MkIII* weighs 8 lb 15oz with unloaded magazine. Weighed one of mine with oil bottle, pull through and sling and got the same weight.

My range rifle (in the same configuration) weighs in at 10 lbs 9.5oz, a 1 lb 10.5oz gain. Assuming a couple of extra ounces in the PH5A and another couple for the sling there still seems to be a fair amount of extra weight in the heavy barrel.

The standard No1 barrel weighed in at 1 lb 6oz and the No4 at 1 lb 9.5 oz.

Interestingly the SMLE in .22 Hornet (with scope & Mount) weighs in at 8 lb 15oz.
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Postby DuncaninFrance » Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:47 am

Thought this 'tweek' might help a bit G.:)



Duncan

What contemptible scoundrel has stolen the cork to my lunch? -- W.C. Fields
"Many of those who enjoy freedom know little of its price."
You can't fix Stupid, but you can occasionally head it off before it hurts something.

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