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    Senior Member Gingercat's Avatar
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    BSA sporting rifle no.1 Naval stamped

    Hi

    I have just purchased the above commercial sporting rifle manufactured by BSA and it is stamped on the left side of the butt socket with ‘N’ over NO.1.S.R. with a broad arrow stamp underneath. As this looks to me like ‘service’ markings, do you possibily have any information on the Britishicon navy having purchased any .303 calibre commercial sporting rifles?

    It’s a factory made sporter, with flat, engine turned rib, express sights and scroll engraving on the action, trigger guard and butt plate. It is fitted with a No.2 10 shot magazine, rather than the usual sporting type.

    I’ll hopefully add a few images when the light is better for photography. Many thanks.

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    Really Senior Member Sunray's Avatar
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    I seem to recall seeing the RN did buy some. Where I saw it is another question. Might have been for the Real Marines.
    Have a look at this. Lots of info given.
    ** Extremely Rare Royal Navy Marked Lee-Speed No.4 Sporting Carbine | Cowan's Auction House: The Midwest's Most Trusted Auction House / Antiques / Fine Art / Art Appraisals
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    Contributing Member NORTHOF60's Avatar
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    I believe I saw it on http://www.rifleman.org.uk, but the site has been down for some time now.
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    I doubt the navy bought civvie rifles when the M O D controlled all that. My thoughts are it was a hand in when called for by the Government when supplies were short.

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    In World War One, the War Office did not overlook any means of supply, no matter how small. In 1914-15, they purchased anything they could get, including a large number of Arisakas; they also ended up purchasing over 1,000 commercial rifles from B.S.A. alone---of all types (see Official History of the Ministry of Munitions, Volume XI). In addition to the War Office effort, the Admiralty purchased 970 sporting rifles in .303 from the trade (various companies). See Skennertonicon (2007), page 176, and the works of Tony Edwards.

    Now, the details of these 970 rifles is something I'm working hard to sort out, with help from a fellow in Australiaicon, and I will provide as much detail as possible in the Lee-Speed book, including a few surviving specimens like the one that Sunray linked to above (that particular rifle will be in the book). In the meantime, the info I have so far is that only 79 of these were of the No.1 (sporting) Pattern--this number may change as I learn more. These purchases were all marked with "N" for Navy, along with some other distinct markings that I will discuss more fully in the book. The short story here is that these marked sporting rifles are quite rare, but they were purchased, and were not handed in or confiscated. There may well have been others that were acquired by other means (such as hand-ins, donations, etc) but the ones referenced in this thread seem to be from the 970 purchased by the Admiralty in 1915.

    In Sunray's link above, the rifle on auction is genuine (I have inspected it), and the description is accurate, with one small correction to its pocket history of these purchased sporting rifles. The original Admiralty records say that it was the purchased .303 Martini-Enfields (yes, Martinis, about 2,500 of them) that were issued "to trawlers," while the L.E. Sporting Rifles were issued to "miscellaneous craft" (which may have included trawlers), and used primarily to shoot derelict mines.

    So far, I have seen only a handful of these Navy-purchased LE Sporting rifles (of all patterns, 1, 2, 3, 4)... enough to know they exist, but very rare. I have never seen a Trade Pattern carbine so marked---maybe they didn't want them, or maybe I just haven't found them, but more likely that BSA and LSA didn't have any in stock in 1915, because officers had purchased them all before shipping out. Might also be that the War Office purchase included any stocks of TPCs, so there were none to buy when the Admiralty went looking.

    Maybe we should crowdsource funding for a WWI movie and the script can go like this: "Exterior: English Channel, March 1915. Fog and choppy seas. Intrepid civilian sailors on Jaws-type trawler, on the lookout for predatory U-Boats, BSA sporters in hand."
    Last edited by Jc5; 01-12-2020 at 03:20 AM.
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    Senior Member Gingercat's Avatar
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    Thread Starter

    BSA sporting rifle no.1 Naval stamped

    Many thanks for your feedback, I was just looking for a .303 sporting rifle and the seller hadn’t mentioned the extra stamps, so it was a very nice extra to have and swung the deal.
    Last edited by Gingercat; 01-12-2020 at 01:20 PM.

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    I hope that you bought a lottery ticket! That is quite an acquisition - congratulations!

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    Surprising that it survived naval service in that good a condition. Someone must have taken care of it; perhaps it stayed in the lockup as a result.

    "Fish belly mag" needed, they no doubt put the standard one in when taken into service.

    The two holes in the left wall look old?
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surpmil View Post
    Surprising that it survived naval service in that good a condition. Someone must have taken care of it; perhaps it stayed in the lockup as a result.

    "Fish belly mag" needed, they no doubt put the standard one in when taken into service.

    The two holes in the left wall look old?
    The bore is pretty well rounded and worn - must have had a fair few rounds through it and gauges at .306. I’d like to find a ‘fish belly mag’, but they seem unobtainium. The tapped holes do look pretty old - not sure if it would have been fitted with a scope in service.

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    The protrusion of the guard from the wood suggests the latter is very dry indeed. A soak in linseed oilicon perhaps?
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

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