Updated: Dec 14, 2021
In 2013 one of my acquisitions was a late production "Eddystone" P14 which I wanted to shoot at local Civilian Marksmanship Program meets in 2014 and 2015 - to mark its 100th year since manufacture. The rifle chosen was a nicely priced all numbers matching, all Eddystone parts, , 95%ish original metal finish still with cosmoline in the details example with dings and dents in the correct “fat boy” model stock. It retained its front volley sight disk and more importantly the original threaded boss (missing the pointer and screw). This was by virtue of being converted to "Weedon" standard by subcontractor 'X" for the home guard in WW2 Britain. It also has a characterful patch to its right action housing. No late century export / import marks.
I procured the TZ sight complete with fasteners and diopter, the model I selected was designed for use with the Model 17 "bolt stop button" (it was also range graduated for the US 30-06 round). This has a base featuring an open machined slot, rather than a pin as per the P14 format. PH had also catalogued a "t shaped" pin option to remedy this - which I found and fitted it all together with.
The Alfred Parker "TZ" version of the PH5B sits so low on a P14 is so low that only a midget diopter will clear the bolt - this was remedied by fitting a taller front sight which allowed me to elevate the sight and diopter off the bolt. An SMLE datum sight is calibrated 0.030" higher than the P14 / Model 17 datum - So a P14 "0" is an SMLE "-0.30" equivalent - there being a proliferation of the SMLE sizes to a greater increment height (+0.120").
The stock ladder sight has been tested - need to drop the zero (it fulfills the "aim for the belt buckle stories of WW1 vets). I have reduced the peep diameter with the "trimmed 16 gauge wire insulation bushing trick" (see photo), also ground off the battle sight to allow the PH to zero and be unobstructed (the original sight is in the safe, a good condition substitute was acquired for surgery).
Originally I had a Model 17 ejector installed, the P14 version has a longer neck and head to reach the shorter 303 round.
I also acquired the P14 / Model of 1917 front trigger guard triangular swivel screw to give more sling position options. For single loading I have the P14 magazine follower depressor which allows the bolt to ride closed on an empty magazine.
For a little fun and to complete a talking point, I wanted to restore the volley sight. I found a great deal on an auction site for a rear arm which may be NOS – it was deep in grease and marked with the Eddystone E (will not fit with the TZ in place though). I also received a front dial pointer “in the white” along with screw and washer.
My first run of hand loads – in a roughly established sweet spot – HXP cases – weight graded to 185 grain plus / minus 2 grain, Sierra 0.311” 180g FBSP, 39 grains Varget. Weight sorting the annealed and trimmed cases was very impactful to group size.
So with the rifle acceptable to all rules and regulations, it was typically scoring 400/500 overall during the centenary season - not too shabby! The best score of the season was 428 / 500 a personal best and with the P14. It typically draws lots of kudos, attention from other competition and day shooters.
I slugged the barrel and got a reading of 0.3121” and established that the bullet jump was max 3.210". The photo below showing how much rim contact would be presented to a Flat Base and Boat Tail bullet design at this point of projection.
Load research led to tests with various projectiles:
Sierra 174 grain match kings, Barnes 150grain
Woodleigh 0.312" 174grain with small variations noted over 39 grains Varget.
Interestingly the lowest size test groups (just over 2 MoA with 5 rounds) are observed with Hornady 0.308" 150grain BTSP.
Ultimately finding that Sierra’s 308” 150g SPFB did the trick over 40g Varget initiated by an S&B primer. This had a reduction of 25% in mean group radius over previous combos to about 2MOA groups of 5.