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1944 BSA No4Mk1T Sportster Rehab - The "CompeTitor"

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Bought from a local "1000 table" gun show in May 2014 for the few distinguishable features on its receiver, this former British sniper rifle had been heavily sporterized in private hands and has undergone restoration (work in progress).  The good clear markings on its left wrist for  manufacture in 1944 at BSA Shirley (M47C) a corresponding and suitable serial number (also on the barrel), a TR stamp on its lower edge indicating selection for precision for Telescopic Rifle conversion at BSA.  On its left receiver wall a small "T" stamp to indicate it had completed telescopic conversion at Holland and Holland, along with the footprints of the two scope bracket mounting pads - still with solder evident.  The correct inspectors mark on the receiver body adjacent to the cocking piece to indicate acceptance as a converted rifle and an "S" stamp on the right receiver boss to indicate that the ladder sight was zeroed and did not need re-adjusting.  The butt showed the contractors mark for Holland and Holland on its heel - a stamped "S51", along with a suitable stamped scope serial number behind the cocking piece.  These were evident at the show and enough to secure its purchase.  At home the butt stock was retracted from its socket to reveal the stamped serial number that was applied during the H&H conversion.  The bad:  The barrel was cut just ahead of the sight block - removing the bayonet lug, the lower fore-wood was cut and the rest missing,  a scope rail had been drilled and tapped onto the receiver top, the original scope pads were stripped and missing, there were spurious other letters and numbers stamped onto the receiver.  At home it was discovered that the leather lace-on cheek riser covered the original cheek piece screws that were sheared off.   Its resurrection started with a suitable new beech fore-end and bands, which were bedded per EMER standards. the bolt group component and function were all checked as good, along with headspace.  the scope mount was removed, along with the leather cheek riser - an original pattern wood cheek piece was returned to the rifle using the correct steel slot head screws.   Original war-time take off scope pads were sourced from the UK and await reassembly/ re-fabrication.  A suitable No32mk3 scope and tin was found on a popular online auction site.  A micrometer rear sight was modified to "T" spec and added to the rifle.  The beech forewood has been progressively stained to match the existing wood.  A donor piece of barrel was sourced from a gunsmith that threw nothing away!  This rifle when reassembled in the beech wood for the first time shot very well at a local CMP target shooting clinic, it actually came in first out of the group of 6 more modern rifles.  Next steps:   restore the barrel length with a with a "tubed" section of the cut-off donor barrel - hidden under the front sight mount -then  re-assess its precision, before contemplating a complete re-barreling.  Fill and finish the scope mounts and the surplus receiver stamps then bead blast, parkerize and paint with a suncorite facsimile to reproduce a post war Factory Thorough Repair look.  Stay tuned!

In early 2020 I happened across a small lot of genuine T converted rear micrometer sights that were stripped and stored, probably whilst in Indian / Pakistan service and sold as surplus. There were a few rare versions and marks, but all were WW2 period and showed the war effort blackening (applied after removing the battle peep sight). In my spares box I also had incomplete Parker Hale M84 micrometer sights with the 1MOA click elevations (PH did this by adding 6 more clicker slots / drill points in between the existing standard six). So with the intent still being to use this rifle as a CMP competitor with iron sights, a hybrid genuine BSA marked T format sight ladder received M84 1 MOA elevation and a cursor tapped for the PH midget 6 hole diopter.

I was lucky enough to win an online auction for a Alfred J Parker 8/53 windage adaptor that bolts onto the standard milled sight cursor - this allows windage clicks of 2 MOA to be adjusted as needed. This also takes standard Parker Hale eyepieces, so I added a tubular peep, with 6 aperture disk and a modern scientific polaroid lens to keep the target contrast high under all weather conditions. I also added a reproduction prototype mills web sniper sling - I put the long end through both forward swivels to create a loop that wraps my hand and then exists the swivels for a loop around my arm.

A quick tuning session in this guise and it was off to the local CMP match. The zero was roughly right and a few more adjustments were required to perfect the point of impact from the 100 yard target sight picture. A very good group of 3MOA in rapid sitting (still needed to adjust for center - which was finally achieved for slow prone.

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