Central Sights - of Australia for the No1 and No4 Lee Enfield
Updated: Jan 20
In the early days of 303 and sub caliber target shooting, the most prolific and expensive items available in the commonwealth were from Britain - typically from the gun district of Birmingham which fed the high price / quality markets of the world. Australia also had its share of renown 303 shooters and innovation - nothing typifies this better than the innovative Central Sight. A competitor for a reasonable price compared to the Parker Hale offerings and like for being compact, robust and precise.
Here we see two major assemblies. On the left the No1 action mounting plate and the removable elevation / windage assembly, this features an integral aperture slide of 5 incrementally sized apertures - needing just a touch to increase or decrease depending on conditions. On the right the universal mounting plate with both No1 and No4 action features. A similar elevation / windage assembly this time with a large diameter threaded hole to receive Central and compatible screw in diopter assemblies - I have to research this thread size and look for adapters to drop in Parker Hale and Anschutz equivalents.
On the back edge of the elevation slide there are series of Australian Patent numbers - indicating the design innovation of its time. The main patents are for the assembly rail with its linear array of vee grooves. Each groove is a different spacing and size - so the resulting effect of presenting the mating elevation arm is that it produces a very positive location and lock - in addition there is a linear array of screw holes which allow the sight position to be adjusted for eye relief. The equivalent Parker Hale devices required hand finished slides and threads and the main body of the sight had to remain attached under all conditions - resolved only by the Alfred Parker TZ series. The Central sight allows the main body to removed and replaced with acceptable precision and maintenance of a zero - it also allows parts to interchange between example sight systems - where Parker Hale mated and numbered the parts together due to the hand finishing and fits.
Central sights do show up in the world wide marketplace, often as components which can be reconstituted to a whole. The assembly screws are often missing, but are 10-32 thread form - so I have been able to source a variety of wing nuts and thumb screws to act on studs.
These sights are ideal to add to a Lithgow made SMLE and are practical to use for target, plinking or hunting. The same or similar sight design features are also available marked as "Lane" or "Australia" makes - this is typical of designers moving from company to company identification and the nature of patents and their expiry.
I recently acquired (Winter2022) this Central No4 sight - with the 7.62 (x51 nato) calibrated elevation scale - this time complete with the distinctive locking lever and a central marked eyecup included. It is on a base that I am not yet familiar with - but it uses the same unique dovetail linear array so would transfer to the No1 / No4 / universal Lee Enfield base.