The BSA Model 12 target rifle with extras…

This arrived amongst some English shotguns yesterday, at first glance a very average BSA Model 12 Target rifle, although it does have the BSA sight which is always nice.It was covered with surface rust and has foam stuck to the barrel from where it had been sitting in a rack for a while.




This picture is it after a bit of a tidy up and even now it is is really not a particularly great rifle which is a shame as I really like these little rifles.

The part that caught my eye was the butt plate, made from brass or bronze it was fitted upside down (My opinion) and has a logo that I would certainly not expect to see on an English target rifle.

Now I could be kind and suggest it is a good luck symbol that has been adopted by many faiths through time. Alternatively, it could have originally sat on a pre war small bore target rifle as a prized after market custom part. I will never know, however you may read this and have an opinion. If so please do let me know!

Net job is check it, along with everything else that came in from a shooter who was retiring and then take a view on what is serviceable, what they are worth as e have been asked to dispose of them and who knows, I might even get to shoot one or two of them 🙂

Take care.

The Lithgow and an Aussie sight

I was just heading to bed last night when all of a sudden I realised I had an Australian Central sight for an SMLE and an Australian SMLE so I put the two of them together (ish) this morning. The sight was sent to me many years ago from Australia, marked as an optical instrument and the sender told me these sights were used in very small numbers by Australian soldiers during ‘a’ war.

So it could have been WW2 or Korea maybe?

This particular Lithgow was built in 1920 and was re-barreled in 1952 and does look to have seen service in that conflict. It has a superb bore and chamber and I must admit the one issue for me was always getting my old eyes to work with the sight picture, the forward of receiver rear sight always leaves me struggling slightly.

One unusual feature, certainly one I have not seen on an SMLE before is the series of notches on the underside of the wrist, draw your own conclusions… What I can say is they do look to be period.

My wife says it was notched by a bored soldier on guard duty marking off the pretty girls that walked past. Personally I would have thought they were all pretty after a few days on guard duty…

The side plate is a PH version, the plus side is it fits without any modification to the woodwork which is good as I would hate to chop the stock on this lovely old rifle. It would be nice to fit an original one day if it fits without modification.


I actually have a couple of Central sights and I am sure I have a plate for a No4 somewhere and they are really superb sights to use. There is zero backlash in the elevation and windage screws and they super smooth to use.  They are also very easy to put on a vague zero as they can be co-witnessed with the existing sights, plus I am very used to dioptre type sights these days with all of the time spent on Bell Target and LSR.  Best of all they are quickly removed for transport and security and to have the original tin is lovely.

I am missing the correct over length bottom screw and the thumb screw for the sight to attach to the plate, so if anyone has or knows of such items I would be very interested. Even dimensions for the thumbscrew would help as I can readily machine one to suit.

Take care and wash your hands.

.303 Throat Gauges

We all know someone with a .303 rifle, or own one ourselves.

In fact I believe all new FAC holders should get out and shoot one at some point, just because. I have a modest collection of 303 Sporting and military rifles, including Lee Speed and postwar No1Mk3 commercial examples here in the armoury along with later ones such as the 1920 Lithgow below.

One thing I can usually say about the .303 rifle is it will have been shot, usually shot a lot and accuracy does suffer after a while. Now accuracy is not always a good reason to buy a rifle and I have rifles here that will not shoot a hand span group at a 100 yet they are keepers, equally I have worked with rifles capable of shooting tiny groups at extremely long distances that have left me cold.

For me, the majority of .303s are usually very special rifles and to find one that shoots is even better, so how to determine if the rifle in your hands is going to shoot? Well range time is the simple answer, however you can also check a few areas before taking the rifle out and bore and throat erosion are always good places to start. A careful peer up a barrel tells you a lot however a shiny bore is not always a good bore and if the throat has disappeared 3/4″ up the barrel you are always going to chase accuracy. So I made some throat gauges for just this reason and here is a prototype and an early version.

Use is very simple, just remove the bolt and drop the gauge into the chamber. The amount of the relieved section visible gives an instant indication of throat erosion. This is not an absolute measurement and just because the throat has gone does not mean the rifle should be put back in the rack, however if you gauge two identical looking rifles and one swallows the gauge you know which one to test shoot first.

So there you go, one small area to check when considering a .303 purchase. I should probably sit down and write a book of such tips however not all of them are going to interest people.

….so why am I telling you this? Because you need to know.

M54S – Paint it black

It is nigh on 4 weeks since I last mentioned the M54S project and only 5 weeks since its concept.  Sadly, many things have changed in the last 5 weeks and not all for the good. Work has slowed for us and many rifle ranges and gun clubs are now closed here in the UK which does free up some time to wrap up long term projects and the m54S-430 was near the top of the list.

One thing we realised was no matter how much I worked on the chassis it was always going to be front heavy which is not good for a rifle that is to be shot off-hand (Standing) So out came a 6,0mm carbide bull nose cutter and 7 flutes later the barrelled action has shed exactly 450 grams.

Note to self, order two cutters next time, it was certainly not as happy towards the end of the fluting as at the start. Plus, it would have been bad news if I had snapped the cutter and had to wait a couple of days for a replacement as I had no more in stock.

One issue we both noticed was the poor old 3-9×40 Hawke ‘scope would not focus at the required 20 yards for LSR so I wound the objective out by around 4,0mm to get it to focus and interestingly, it also worked quite well at 50 metres however the ‘scope is on the list of things to be binned in favour of a slightly higher magnification alternative which I am yet to decide upon.

Time for some statistics:

Excluding the ‘scope and rings: 3786 grams.
The complete chassis excluding the barrelled action: 1096 grams.
All up weight including ‘scope and rings with a standard  AR grip : 4235 grams.
Add a more vertical wooden grip: 4335 grams.

My view is I can still drop another 100 grams with ease, if not more. As well as the fluting I have changed the ‘scope rail. It was originally set at zero MOA and I knew this was going to be an issue further along the line so I sat down and machined 75MOA rail, then cut the necessary gap for the load/eject port to maintain the correct angle and screwed it into place.  The excess of tube has also been removed. I am 6’-3″ with a long neck so I reckon if it fits me it will fit anyone and the length of pull can easily be shortened with a 3,0mm Hex key.

I also added some paint, matt black for the barrel and satin black for the rest with stainless fixings other than the HT screws for the receiver.




Finally, did it shoot after the fluting? Too right it did! This group was shot at 50 metres with Eley Club resting on a squeeze bag and at 9x magnification.

So the fluting has not made any difference to the accuracy for my level of shooting. Incidentally, that 75MOA rail should get this rifle out to 400+ yards and I have every intention of trying it at some point.




So what did I learn? Well lots of course! boring the required depth of tube for the receiver was a nightmare and I will use a 30,0mm parallel reamer next time. I would also change the tube port aesthetics and the fluting as well with 8 flutes being my preference.

The secondary tube holding the Kydex cheek piece is currently 25,4mm diameter and I would reduce it to 22,0mm to bring the cheek piece down slightly. I could not actually get a decent sight picture with the original Warne rings and went to a higher set of unknown make with the extra 2,5mm ish making a huge difference.

There is always a bit of a ‘ping’ on centre fire tube chassis when shot, not so with the little .22LR.

Other than the above there are a couple of small cosmetic changes I would implement and that is about it.

It was fun.

I think I will call it a day now on this project, time for us to shoot and enjoy the rifle and  look to future projects. Did I mention I have a lovely 1920 dated Coach Wood Lithgow No1Mk3* here that I really must get out and shoot and it is only in the last couple of weeks that I have been out with the very early version Smith Corona 1903A3 we have here.

So many things to do, spring is here and summer must only be around the corner.

Take care all.



The M54S-430

Sunday was a day to get things started on the M54S-430 and before you ask, the name M54S-430 is simply because the barrelled action is a AnschĂĽtz Match 54 S stands for SHED and the 430 is the length of the tube.

The design concept is build a chassis system for a AnschĂĽtz Match 54 that weighs less than 4000 grams with the barrelled action excluding sights.

The chassis design had to be tube based as I have worked on them several times in the past, a simple design that is readily adjustable for most people/disciplines, uses off the shelf material sizes where possible and sensibly priced. Keeping the barrel low in the hand always helps as well.

With the design finalised the weight was calculated and I soon realised I would struggle to get to target with the original 580,0mm tube design, so two shorter design versions were added. This weekend we worked on the 430mm tube length which in theory gets it to 4450 grams with ‘scope and rings (Max allowed is 4500 grams) So I just scrape in.

The tube was the main part of the weekends work, it is a 40,0mm x 5,0mm wall thickness and the 54 receiver although 30,0mm OD did not quite fit so I ended up having to bore out 0,25mm x 210,0 long.This proved to be a swine of a job and next time I will use a reamer. The OD was reduced to 38,0mm with a taper to 36,0mm however I did not hit my target weight so back into the machine it went and some grooves were added. These actually give a reasonable hand grip although I may add a couple more towards the receiver as they stop short right now. More importantly, it saved an additional 38,0 grams which is where I need to be and I will use the grooves as stop points for the slots that need to be added.

The trigger guard was a scrap one from the CG days and the hand grip will be binned in favour of a lighter AR15 type.





The cheek piece will be made from Kydex on the light version and aluminium on other versions. I will try to avoid thinking about the project as I carry on with work although I may just sneak a couple of evenings in if possible.

So, not the prettiest of things however it is moving in the right direction and actually feels OK in the hands.

Yes, I know the ‘scope is on back to front, I had initially photographed it with the chassis facing the other way and turned everything over other than the ‘scope.