BSA Improved Model "B"
BSA Improved Model "B"
Improved Mod B (1907-8) serial no. 18720
John Knibbs says this rifle was part of a batch made between September 1907 and January 1908
and despatched between September 1907 and November 1908. He reports that the batch included
Standard and Light pattern Improved Mod 'B's and the first mod 'D'.
At a glance the inscription on the cylinder appears to read 'D' but a closer look shows it to
be a 'B' (well, I'm 99% sure it does, anyway!).
Improved Model B (1907) serial no. 17741
With thanks to Eddie.
A gun in very good mechanical order, and retaining the original spring steel rear sight tensioner which is so often missing. Also has a period sight protector. Original BSA stamped spring set was in the gun when acquired. (this was a flea market find).
The finish was original in parts with minimal pitting,but had gone grey in areas, and this has been treated with Tetra bluing solution soaked in wire wool which was applied over all areas and has the effect of darkening light areas whilst leaving original areas pretty much alone.
Crisp trade mark stamping;
mproved Model B (1907) serial no. 16936
With thanks to Kevin for these pics of this very interesting (.177 cal) air rifle.
It bears the stamps of C Company of the Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment, which was officially formed in 1881 when the 100th [Prince of Wales's Royal Canadian] and the 109th Regiments of Foot [Bombay Infantry] were amalgamated... The Leinsters were disbanded in 1922 once the Irish Free State was established.
What do we know for certain about this air rifle? We know the rifle was made in July-September 1907 (according to John Knibbs) and despatched from the factory soon afterwards.
From the pictures we know it was sold in Calcutta. We know that the 2nd battalion of the Leinster regiment was sent to Calcutta in 1907, where it remained for some considerable time.
The small '2' stamped on the butt before 'Lein Regt' could well refer to this 2nd battalion.
There is mention of a 'C Company' of the regiment's 2nd battalion, which was sent to the West Indies in 1898, on this website:
Also (thanks to Google Books), in The History of the Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment - Volume 1 By Lieut-Col Frederick Whitton, the author mentions that after the deployment in the West Indies, followed by the Boer War in South Africa, the 2nd battalion returned, via Madras, to Calcutta in 1907.
From 1907, apart from some light duty preventing civil unrest (by striking white engine drivers at Asansol, north of Calcutta - most of them ex-servicemen), the battalion remained in India and (in 1909?) they were deployed to the Punjab for two years, before returning to Ireland before WW1.
Whitton describes snipe shooting, race meetings and other activities in some detail after the return to Calcutta, but unfortunately doesn't mention air rifle shooting (at least in the selected pages viewable in Google Books). He mentions that the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Kitchener, was in Calcutta at the same time.
During this period of relative leisure, it seems entirely plausible that the BSA air rifle formed part of the battalion's R&R. Or perhaps, as John M has suggested, it was used for pest control.
Given the craze for bell target shooting ongoing in England at the time (although many of the soldiers would have been recruited in Ireland), it perhaps wouldn't be surprising if officers posted to India were aware of the popularity of the sport and thought it healthy to encourage it in the ranks.
The 1st battalion of the Leinster Regiment was in Ireland and England, after returning for nine years from South Africa in 1902. In 1911 it was deployed to India and at the same time, the 2nd battalion returned to Cork in Ireland.
The 1st battalion also had a C Company, pictured here in about 1909:
Taken from the website of The Leinster Regiment Association
The retailer: Walter Locke and Co. was a well known gunmaker, based in Calcutta and with branches in other cities in what was then India.
A quick internet search throws up these pics of its premises at 4 Esplanade Row, Calcutta:
and Lahore (now Pakistan):
Here are scans from a 1923 Walter Locke catalogue (thanks to John M) which show the company continued to import BSAs between the wars (and bizarrely offered them in 'straight-hand' or 'pistol-hand' stocks, although these patterns were discontinued before WW1!):
Improved Model B (1908) serial no. 16775
With thanks to Tim of www.timdysonairguns.co.uk for these pics. His blurb for this rifle follows.
A rare BSA “Improved Model B” No 1 Bore (.177 Calibre) Air Rifle.
Serial Number 16775 which dates it to circa 1908.
This model has the straight hand stock which is hand checkered with the BSA piled arms trade mark to the left of the stock. The top of the cylinder is stamped “The BSA Air Rifle (improved model B, The Birmingham small arms company limited. sole manufacturers” The tap port plate is stamped “P.Pat 8246/06?. The underside of the under lever is stamped “Lincoln Jeffries Patent”. The under lever is the earlier pattern without the side fences.
This particular rifle is in very good original condition and retains most of its original blueing. It has worn in areas to a brown smooth patina but is mainly still dark grey/black colour. The stock which features a metal butt plate is also original with no splits or cracks. The rear sight looks to be non original but is a period one with a flip down element for differing distance shooting. The foresight is original. The rifle is fully functioning cocks and fires with no issues.
A good example of a scarce BSA Air Rifle