Updated: Oct 18
History of the bracket.
Unconventional Rose Brothers example
Identifying Original Bracket Forms
Service in Other Countries
Indonesian Bracket Reproductions
Sante-Fe Delux Sporter Brackets (Made in Japan)
Related Blog Subjects
History of the bracket.
With WW2 well underway there was a need to create a "modern" sniper rifle to replace the few and failing SMLEs and No3Ts (re-designated scoped P14s) that were created and held over from WW1 (and its technology). A very good scope was already available - all be it intended for the BREN LMG - this was a nicety now as there was a war on. The No4 rifle had just been accepted for use and deployment with contracts being given to dispersed factories in the UK and to Savage and Longbranch in the Americas. What the new rifle needed was a modern and robust interface with the No32 scope from the BREN project. It came together rather quickly with its simple features, cast of "black heart iron", basic and minimally machined and finished. During the war two British manufacturers (Rose Brothers and Dalgleish) were contracted to do the best they could for around 30,000 total units to be delivered to (in the majority after trials and other runs) to Holland and Holland who were to do the rifle conversion. It is possible to recognize these original brackets and even distinguish the makers from their marks and even the casting and machining shapes, textures and techniques used. At the machining stage of the brackets the caps were machined to be a perfectly round and concentric one inch bores defining an axis that would be taken up by the No32 scope which was to be tightly held by the bracket. To ensure the caps were oriented and dedicated as a pair to the correct bracket the end caps were stamped with a serial that matched between bracket body and cap in each position. No two cap serials were reproduced during each of the manufacturing contracts.
Shown above is an original Rose Brothers manufactured bracket (as identified by its casting form), with unusual (probably out of service) gloss black finish. The cap serialization is also unusual in the use of letters (J and JJ), also no rifle serial.
The scope bracket was dedicated to both the scope and the rifle by their respective serial numbers and were intended to never be separated until rebuilt if required by appointed armorers . In British service these would typically be cross referenced with serial numbers throughout the chest, scope tin, tags and components. The rifle serial number was stamped on the face of the bracket on its flat side above the rear thumb screw. It is possible to find a bracket that has been on more than one rifle in British service and one or more old rifle serial numbers are crossed out (barred out) and the new / current / last one added.
Here are an early Rose Brothers bracket with a later Dalgleish for comparison - note the N92 manufacturer code for Dalgleish (partially struck "N") and the original sniper rifle Serial number.
Identifying Original Bracket forms (cast and machined features):
The first clue to original brackets are the codes for the two casting and machining manufacturers. Dalgleish used "N92" in a 3/8" stamp font - typically at the mid point of the front tower. Rose Brothers would stamp a small 1/8" "JG" in the middle upper region of the beam (typically upside down as installed).
Rose brothers used much larger cast radiuses and fillets with a thicker casting - apparent on the rear leg and the bulk of the rings. These radiuses caused "lozenges" to form on the cap sides and the top surface of the rings to be machined and hand finished into a flat spot. The Dalgleish castings have much smaller cast radiuses and fillets - barely needing machine clean up - the new lines from which would blend very cleanly into the cast surfaces after blasting and parkerising - which is typical of post-war rebuilds.
The Rose Brothers casting has more material in the rear leg form - an increased taper angle in its form when viewed from the rear - the face of the leg was a vent point for the casting and would result in a "sprue" that was roughly removed and finished by hand - this area can look quite rough. This thick leg was typically fully machined to thickness on the inside surface and a distinct machines line and step can be formed before the blend of the bottom of the beam. Dalgleish castings used less material and have a subtle radius point in the leg transition. This needed less overall machining and the inside of the leg may be lightly machine skimmed only - leaving a feint machine line that blends into the bottom of the beam.
Other clues are found on the cross sections of the beams, the casting form for the leg to meet the rear ring body and the front face (Rose Brothers has a continuous arc made by the radiuses through the cap and down the tower to the base of the body - typically the front thumb screw boss is also machined to a taper - where the Dalglish has cast radiuses.
Service in other countries:
Of course there were other services that used the No4Mk1T on loan or sale from the UK, especially commonwealth or allies. These countries or services would then control and number the rifles, brackets and scopes to their conventions and finishes, and possibly have to make their own replacement or upgraded brackets. This equipment has been sold out of service around the world since the late 1940's, typically the rifle and the scope are controlled separately when heading to disposals, so matched sets become separated in the potential changes of brokerage. Or if successfully imported and readied for sale en masse, there have been instances of selling the best looking rifle, with the best looking scope and bracket with no heed to matching and cross referenced serial numbers. A couple of factors then combine in the modern hobby, trade and interest of pursuing No4T rifle sets and their relatively useful and accurate brackets. Around 2000 "scope-less" ' No4T;s were completed by Holland and Holland in late 1945 as their contract ended (they were paid by the rifle). Scopes and brackets were not provisioned for these rifles and they were kept in store until needed for replacement programs. Some of these scope-less rifles were sold as surplus and the new private owners have sought brackets to add scopes. The L42 program converted No4T rifles and scopes with their brackets and rebuilt them to 1970's specifications for the NATO 7.62 x 51mm round. The extension program for the L42 recognized a shortage of brackets and sought external private help to secure new manufactured brackets, which are still in private production now. Canada experienced a shortage of scopes during WW2 and so created rifles using various approved commercial derivatives and their required custom brackets.
Canadian brackets have been sampled to the Pacific rim manufacturers to reproduce for private collectors and commercial sales as the price of originals has soared (a function of supply and demand).
Indonesian Bracket Reproductions
It is not known how many of these Pacific rim manufacturers and patterns there are now - they seem to derived a metric thread for the locking taper screws but produced the correct thread on the bracket thumb nuts.
Scoped rifles sold to allies such as Israel, India and perhaps Pakistan have experienced the need to produce their own brackets for the No32 scope and sometimes for more modern equivalents / upgrades. These rifles, scope and brackets have filtered back into the military surplus sales and re-ales markets and represent another set of history and collection interests and their own marks, finishes and conventions.
Sante Fe - Delux Sporter Bracket - Made in Japan.
In the early days of military surplus deals, companies like Sante Fe in California took military rifles and created formula to rebuild and refinish them into attractive, sleek hunting and sporting rifles
The top of the range rifle at Sante Fe was based on a No4mkT and featured a custom designed and manufactured Japanese bracket to hold contemporary hunting scopes.
Roger Payne Reproduction (second series castings)
During the L42 life continuity program in the late 1980's the MOD needed some "new" brackets in stock to replace those damaged or otherwise compromised. Things had changed drastically for British industry and qualified / registered suppliers since the Second World War and the most renown WW1 era sniper rig brackets in their various forms were being produced in small numbers by an enthusiast and expert with a small supply chain (he was also a Doctor). So it came to be that new Blackheart Iron casting were made with the required machining and finishing steps through various vendors in small lots as organized by the newly authorized supplier. These were to original drawings and specifications and fitted in nicely with the original brackets for inspection, form fit and function. These brackets have been produced in small runs since and can still be attained in the market place - there is a price to pay for this "authenticity", but it is well worth the effort for a trouble free fit-up. They come in a Suncorite painted finish (hard enough to come by these days) and even feature the serial numbering of each cradle cap to indicate fit and orientation as peer the originals.
Bracket Comparison Collage
Here is a side by side comparison of a genuine WW2 bracket (top) the modern UK manufacture and a Pacific Rim reproduction.
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