Rare and custom vintage BSA/Lincoln Jeffries airguns
BSA 1913 Patent lever action air rifle
The lever action rifle pictured below was patented by BSA in 1913 but sadly never made it into production. A talented British craftsman, Mac Evans, built this example from the patent drawings.
With thanks to Mac for supplying this pic and the drawings that follow.
BSA Standard "T" series patent repeater
This curious custom .22 cal self-loading repeater is in the collection of a UK friend and he kindly agreed to the pics here being posted. The mechanism was patented in 1944 by John Maxwell Ball.
It's the sort of thing that gives rise to mixed emotions. On the one hand you have to admire the ingenuity of its repeating mechanism, the fantastic quality of the workmanship and presumably - I wasn't able to verify this, unfortunately - its capacity to fire several shots without reloading.
On the other hand, it seems to be a high price to pay for a slightly higher rate of fire and perhaps the advantage of not having to reload in very cold conditions. The clean lines of the production model have been lost and a strange, alien device grafted onto its back. The added weight is considerable.
There are two strange holes (tapped?) drilled into each side of the lower part of the cylinder just above the cocking link slot. Could there have once been a wood forestock attached here?
The patent is here, as described by the late Dennis Commins:
"Home Made" BSA Light/Junior rifle
With thanks to Eddie.
As Lakey wrote in his article about BSA history, Many guns in the past were assembled using "obsolete" parts to use up stocks of spares...ie. when an "improved" model was announced, there was a transition period where guns would have parts or features of both the new and replaced version (this happened with the Mk1 and Mk2 Airsporters as well).
Now basically, If you exclude the Military pattern and Juvenile pattern guns, there were only three sizes of action (by action in this case I mean air cylinder / barrel assy....Actually, being pedantic there are four if you include the "junior" (not to be confused with the "juvenile")...The "junior" is actually a cut down Light or Ladies model!
The names of these guns (especially the largest) changed slightly over the years, so let me keep it simple and concentrate on pre WW1 guns.
The four sizes were;
45.5 inches (sporting model), 43.25 inches (standard model), 39 inches (light/ladies model)...and finally, the "junior"...at 34.25 inches....this last model was actually a light model action with 2 inches chopped off the barrel, and a shorter stock...the air cylinder and all else were essentially a light model.
Anyway.....I came by a 43.25 size Improved model D that was in very poor condition, and that had muzzle damage and a ding in the cylinder...It sat at home destined to be broken for spares until I thought I would try and make my own version of a "junior".
As usual, I made it a bit harder for myself than I needed...I wanted to keep the original stampings and markings, and this obsession caused my some headaches!
First job was to strip down as normal, then separate the air cylinder from the barrel. This is secured by soft solder, and either a commercial heat gun or propane can be used, in conjunction with a strap wrench to separate the parts in moments.
The next job was to shorten the cylinder and lose the part which was dinged....this was simply parted off in a lathe, and a new internal thread cut...the end was then faced off until the cylinder screwed home against the breech in the correct orientation.If I had been taking more care here...the job would have been much easier (more on this aspect of the job later!).
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Then I cut off the end of the barrel, and set this up in a lathe as it looked a bit "heavy" to my eyes...so I reduced the size all along, but maintained the taper.(lots of filing and emery cloth work wonders!) It was re-crowned at the new length of 15 .5 inches.
next...I wanted a shorter cocking lever, but wanted to keep the Lincoln patent stamps, so this meant cutting it into 5 pieces, removing the "side fences", then re-welding 3 of them to get the appearance I wanted;
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You can see in the above photo that the cocking lever latch position in the barrel is now wrong!....so that was filled with weld carefully, and new dovetails cut for this, and for the fore sight.
With some careful hand finishing,I was quite pleased with the finished lever;
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O.K...remember the cylinder....well it was longer than a light one!...so after some head scratching, I came up with using a light piston...with a modified 43" piston rod. The rod had to be shortened, and a new notch machined, as it needed to be in between the length of the two I had (because of not paying attention with the cylinder length...I was more concerned with retaining the rolled, impressed markings on the cylinder to look central, instead of thinking ahead to cocking lever ratios etc.)
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Anyway, as luck would have it...the slightly longer cylinder gave an unexpected result when combined with a light model cocking arm...the extra swept volume has made it quite a potent little gun, it runs smoothly at 630 fps with hobbies!
Here is the gun next to a 1920's light model...the difference in cylinder length is not immediately obvious (it is 8mm longer);
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And here it is showing a 43" action above, the same as I started with...you can now see the result of all the work changing the barrel profile...compare the diameters at the same distance from the breech....it took hours, but I think it paid off in the finished job.
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Re-assembly was as for a normal gun, with the exception of using a bearing fit locktite to hold the cylinder to the barrel...I am 100% convinced that BSA would have used this method if these engineering adhesives had been available at the time...they are widely used in modern gun assembly, by the likes of Air Arms and others. Instead of a re-blue, I went for Birchwood "plum brown", which has proved very durable, and has made the whole thing appear to have a better look IMHO, than a bright, new finish.
I also had a spare BSA number 19 combination foresight at the time, so I treated the little fellow to an upgrade. The actual project was for my girlfriend, who is quite small, and she finds it much easier to handle than a Light model, as well as being a bit more powerful;
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The stock is an un-modified 13.25" inch one from the same period (the shorter than normal one was suggested for prone shooting at the time, and was a factory option).
It was not done with any attempt to deceive, as it is different in size to any BSA ever made by the factory....although when shown to one very, very well known expert on BSA guns, he initially thought is was a genuine factory "junior" from around 1910! (the serial is the original that the gun left the factory with in 1910/12...No.32717.
So, there you go....a un-usable gun saved, but an original 43" Improved model D lost...did I do the right thing???...my missus thinks so...she loves it!
BSA 1906 Patent drum repeater prototype
With thanks to Lawrie for these pics of Mike Sharp's extraordinary prototype.
"This is a BSA Air Rifle Patent 4622 circa 1906, Patent taken out by Arthur Harry Butler and Frederick George Clark, (Information:- Commins Patents of Guns Review August 1978).
Length of gun is 45" barrel length is 20" .177 cal. rifled rotating drum magazine, it rotates when the underlever is returned, pellets are loaded waisted end first.
Although the BSA / Lincoln design has been copied, very little of the gun is either, the front sight and rear sight are of unknown origin, the same as the air chamber and underlever , barrel and trigger block.
The stock and butt plate might be Lincoln Jeffries. The trigger guard is early Lincoln / BSA. The jewel in the crown is the massive long flat section spring stamped on the end G.L.J. (George Lincoln Jeffries) this is the only genuine spring of his design seen by me (Mike Sharp) The whole gun is beautifully engineered and is in full working order. Only known example."
BSA Gun Laying Teacher
Here are some pics and info about the gun laying teacher - a device based on a pre-1919 .177 cal BSA Standard and used to help teach correct targeting of naval and field artillery. According to John Knibbs, who wrote extensively on this subject in <i>BSA and Lincoln Jeffries Air Rifles</i>, 212 were made altogether between late 1913 and 1915, with full production taking place from June 1915. The were supplied to both the Admiralty and the Royal Field Artillery and fitted to both light and heavy field guns.
Mr Knibbs says a version of the GLT was used during WW2 and was still in use by the New Zealand armed forces in 1953, where it was used to train crews for the Valentine tank.
Big thanks go to Chris (from the <a href="http://www.melbournemarksmen.co.uk/index.html">Melbourne Marksmen</a>) in the UK and Leonard J in Canada for the following.
First off are Chris's GLTs (of which one might have been originally exported by the airgun collector and writer Dr Trevor Adams from New Zealand to the author Dennis Hiller in the UK?) It is marked "NZ".
Secondly is an article by Leonard J written for the US Airgun Magazine dating from 1995. Pics then follow of Len's Admiralty Pattern GLT, mounted in an oak base that he made for it. The gun is now said to be in the Beeman airgun collection.
Dr Trevor Adams in NZ described how the gun layer was used: "The BSA Gun Laying Trainer Outfit-in New Zealand
The layer came in a sizable green painted steel trunk which also contained a motor,pulleys and flexible steel wires. Also included was a set of targets.Miniature,tanks,trucks and telegraph poles! All made from black rubber and nicely marked with the NZ Defence logo and the date.
The whole set-up was laid out on a field in a triangular shape.The wire traversing the base of the triangle had the targets attached to it. A tank-a Valentine,with gun laying trainer fitted , was at the apex of the triangle. A chap, manning the vehicle's two-pounder gun with a pellet-shooting insert, endeavoured to hit the rubber targets as the motorised base wire paraded them before the muzzle of his gun.
I was in the army at the time(1955) but didn't ever see any cavalry playing with this quaint BSA-made gadget."
Leonard J's article:
These pics copyright Holts Auctioneers (it's the same teacher as serial no.87 pictured above):
These pics from Phil:
And these from Chris:
BSA target rifle prototype (1925 Patent)
With many thanks to Mac Evans for kindly supplying the attached images of his extraodinary reproduction prototype and the patent scans featured below.
Here is some information on this very interesting rifle - a precis of an article by John Knibbs:
In the December 2010 issue of Airgun Shooter magazine John Knibbs described being loaned a .177 cal prototype rifle by the great grandsons of George Lincoln Jeffries. It had a fixed barrel and was based on a design by GLJ’s son, Lincoln Parkes Jeffries and was made in the early 1920s.
Mr Knibbs restored the rifle, which had been stored in a damp place and had seriously rusted up. Almost miraculously, given what a poor condition it was in, he was able to put it back together using the original parts.
The purpose of the design, according to Mr Knibbs, was to produce a “short, lightweight sporting or target rifle”. It would have a fixed barrel mounted above the cylinder. The prototype was an underlever with an overall length of just 34.5 inches, the barrel at 20.5 inches long, and weighing 4.5 lbs altogether.
The trigger on the prototype was simple and non-adjustable, although Mr Knibbs said an adjustment screw could have been added easily. A rotating tap on the breech, in line with the barrel, exposed a hole into which the pellet was dropped.
When fired, the piston moves rearwards and the air travels up into the breech in much the same way as the pre-War Webley pistols and rifles, which this prototype quite closely resembles.
The sights were missing on the prototype. Mr Knibbs suggested an aperture sight fitted to the stock would have been the most practical.
He speculated that economic depression was a key reason the rifle was never put into production, a situation made worse by the fact that cheap air rifles were coming in from Germany at the time.
Here are the materials supplied by Mac:
BSA Standard-type revolving repeater
Another of Mike Sharp's rarities. This one is modelled on a pre-WW2 Standard, apparently made in Germany, perhaps by Haenel. With thanks to Mike and to Lawrie for facilitating.
Here are some extraordinary adverts (thanks to Tantomurata) showing what purports to be a "BSA" repeater on sale in Japan, although you can clearly see the German-style front trigger guard extension. Tantomarata says it was "listed in 1930 by the Tokiwa-Go Arms Co. in Japan".
Home Modified BSA Improved Model D
With thanks to Eddie.
This project was to fit a vintage BSA with an up to date multi link trigger / sear assembly to see how these guns perform without a trigger pull equivalent to nearly half the overall weight of the rifle itself. Anyone who shoots these guns on a regular basis soon adjusts their technique to the crisp let off and will get good results with practise, but when I lend my guns to people who have not shot older weapons, they struggle and dismiss them as inaccurate, despite being told to persevere and see what happens.I suppose people have just got used to match quality triggers on even fairly cheap guns over the last 20 years or so. I had to wait a while until a badly pitted action with a good bore came into my possession, (the pitting being so deep on the cylinder that all impressions were removed when preparing for bluing).
The trigger unit chosen was the well known Air Arms CD unit, I had originally thought about a Rekord unit, but the Airs Arms is better engineered, much more robust, and above all British
The first thing to do was to fit an Air Arms Piston rod into a BSA piston, quite straight forward, just a 10mm thread and secure with locktite (as Air Arms do on the TX). I then made a set up jig to determine the offset of the CD unit in relationship with the cylinder to get the positions for the trigger unit mounting holes in the trigger block;
The trigger was made from a BSA Long Lee Enfield unit attached to a fabricated copy of the Air Arms pivot / adjustment area;
Obviously the CD unit is designed to be fitted to a full stocked rifle, so protruded alarmingly from the trigger block;
The trigger block was created by filing and shaping a curved block of steel with a cut out to match the stock I had chosen, this was from a BSA martini rimfire rifle. At this time I was intending to also use the wooden forend to shroud the trigger.The block was slotted for the trigger unit, and the mounting holes drilled and tapped and screws made.
I decided to go for a trigger guard to keep the half stocked appearance, but this was to prove to be time consuming, I sourced a Long Lee trigger guard and set to work making panels and pieces to fill in the magazine slot and for the mounting bolts, it is made of seven components;
Sides extended, front mount on;
Trial fit (notice the cocking lever cut out in the BSA stock);
Much filing and polishing later;
On the internal side, I reduced the diameter of the piston, and milled seats for large delrin buttons,and fitted a Maccari seal and home made guide;
Then polished all parts ready for the tank;
The gun is dead smooth and silent to cock and runs at about 675 fps, and is a joy to use. The overall look is something that draws strong opposing reactions, but was a necessity due to the trigger design. It is still all BSA in the main, which is what I wanted!
even the butt;
BSA Light Pattern (engraved presentation example)
With thanks to Eddie. He says:
A recent acquisition, This gun is hard to show in all it's detail, but hopefully you can see the craftsmanship. It is signed "engr. P.J.Spode", the work of Westley Richards master engraver Peter Spode. I was told it was presented to a BSA manager on retirement, but if anyone out there has encountered this gun, or knows more, please get in touch. I will just add some photos...I have shot it already (it has signs of light use) and it goes well!
Not a gun for the shy and retiring, that's for certain.
Vintage BSA converted to PCP
Video frame captures copyright Dave 'Ratz', the creator of this modern take on the vintage BSA, which seems remarkably accurate (good shooting!) and harnesses the quality of the superb BSA barrel, plus the fine sighting.
Hopefully Dave will provide detailed pics in due course that will show how he made it.
You can see the video he took of a field trial of his rifle
An outstanding (the ultimate?) BSA Light Model
With thanks to Eddie. Engraving by Peter Spode.
I had the privilege of being able to inspect this stunning gun today. It is a one-off special job engraved and inlaid with Gold and other precious metals.
I don't know what else to say...the photos will hopefully explain.
(I have taken many more, but here is an appetizer);
Left hand side;
Cocking lever detail;
Gold barrel inlay;
Left hand side;
Trigger block carving;
Cocking lever pivot area;
Pistol grip chequering;
Colour cased tap;
Colour cased and inlaid trigger block/guard;
Lincoln Jeffries prototype pop-up breach
With many thanks to Mick for supplying these photos of an extraordinary rifle. (BSA revived the pop-up breach concept six decades or so later in the BSA Merlin youth rifle). Here is the 1905 patent:
Early Lincoln air rifle in SMLE stock
Built by a talented metalwork teacher in the 1970s. SMLE stock but with a butt from a No.4.
With thanks to John M for these pics. He says about the rifle: "The rifle shoots at a consistent 6 ft lbs and other than a new spring, the only modification I have made is to the sights. The maker had made a replica tangent rearsight but it was not as precise as an original BSA turret sight, so I simply replaced it with a BSA. The rifle actually weighs slightly more than an unloaded SMLE and accepts the standard 1907 pattern bayonet."
BSA Norman air pistol
A second copy of this pistol, which was never made, constructed from patent drawings by Mac Evans.
See this article for details:
With thanks to Mac for this pic:
Thanks to Mac for these images:
BSA 'A' series with ether injector (David Swan collection)
With thanks to Rod Meek of Anderson & Garland Auctioneers (www.andersonandgarland.com) for permission to post these pics of a gun auctioned in 2015.
"A BSA A series .177 cal. under lever rifle, with end button latch, tap loader and applied ether injection fitting, serial no. A1511, the stock carved BSA within trellis motif, c.1936/7, 39 3/4in. long.
Hammer Price: £110.00"
BSA Light with sliding magazine (David Swan collection)
This rifle, serial no. L610, sold at auction in 2015 for £130 hammer price.
With thanks to Rod Meek of Anderson & Garland Auctioneers (www.andersonandgarland.com) for permission to post the first two pics.
The following 8 pics copyright Holts Auctioneers.
The final 6 pics were used when it was advertised unsuccessfully on Gunstar.
At the time of posting, this rifle was scheduled for auction at Holts.
BSA Custom Take-Down Rifle
Courtesy of Leonardj.
I posted a few pics of this unique old BSA a while ago, with permission of the owner at that time, in an effort to learn more about it. I was only able to offer a limited amount of information based on the owners thoughts, and a brief hands-on session with the gun myself.
Sadly, no information as to whom the skilled craftsman may have been who did the modification work, nor the circumstances surrounding its creation have yet come to light.
This unique specimen was recently offered for sale, and it now resides in my collection.
In the process of tearing the gun down to freshen up the obviously dried out lubricants, I had to admire the creativity and skill evident in the modifications carried out.
The rifle began life as a “L” pattern BSA underlever. The original trigger block was replaced with an extension to the main tube which contains a linearly operating hammer, and a hammer tripped sear. The end cover for this extension has a locating pin protruding rearward, which locates into a corresponding pocket in the new trigger block. The hammer engages with a slide unit that travels within a set of rails located in the trigger block. It is this slide unit that is engaged by the trigger sear when cocked. The sliding bar that protrudes from the front of the trigger block is used to cock the hammer, and set the trigger. The bar is operated by the intermediate link of the cocking lever. The whole system operates very smoothly, and the trigger is very crisp and predictable.
The trigger block also incorporates a built in rear peep sight base, and a cross-bolt safety for the trigger.
The gun is very easily taken down by removal of a large bolt located at the underside of the trigger block, forward of the trigger guard. When the bolt is fully removed, the slide that cocks the hammer moves forward, allowing the rear portion of the compression tube to also move forward to disengage its locating pin at the rear, and then up and clear of the slide unit for the hammer. When taken down, the barrel/breech/compression tube assembly is the longest part, approximately 29 inches (73.7 cm) long. Compare this to the length of the OEM barrel on a Webley Service Mk II, at approximately 25.5 inches (64.8 cm). Thus, this BSA Custom is only about 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) longer when taken down.
If anyone can possibly provide any further information with regard to the history of this uniquely modified BSA, I would very much like to hear from them.
Enfield-made conversion of BSA/LJ air rifle
This curious prototype military anti-aircraft training air rifle, which closely follows the pattern of the Lee Enfield SMLE No.1 Mk.III, is described in detail on the rifleman.org.uk website, including exploded drawings held by the Royal Armoury.
It was designed by the Royal Ordnance Factory in Enfield, north London, between 1932 and 1934. It was known as the Rifle, Air, No.2 Mk.1 ; "D.D. (E) 1358"
Key data is as follows:
Calibre : .177 inch
Weight : 9 lbs. 7½ ozs.
Length - Overall : 44½ inches
Length - Barrel : 19 inches
Pull : 13½ inches
Rifling - No. of Grooves & type: 12 near square lands
Rifling - Twist & Direction : approx 1 turn in 18 inches - RH
Rifling - Groove width : 0.024 inches
Sight - Fore : standard S.M.L.E. blade
Sight - Rear : vertically adjustable elevation plate with "U"-notch
These images are copyright rifleman.org.uk and Royal Armouries, reproduced here in the interests of scholarly enquiry.
BSA Improved Mod 'D' with raised sights (David Swan collection)
This appears to have the partial remains of a John Maxwell Ball-patented repeater mechanism fitted (see HERE for complete example). Thanks to Morgan for the heads up.
With thanks to Rod Meek of Anderson & Garland Auctioneers (www.andersonandgarland.com) for permission to post these pics of a rifle auctioned in 2015.
Auction blurb: "A BSA Improved Model D .177 cal. under lever rifle 'Hybrid', with Maxnite raised sight, tap loader, folding aperture rear sight, serial no. 65174, c.1913/14, 39in. long."
Modified 1930s BSA Standard
This rifle was advertised on Freeads in the UK for £350. It was claimed to be a prewar military training model made by or for the government. The sales blurb was:
"BSA pre war Standard model training rifle. From my private collection. Very rare British military training rifle Circa pre 1939 with British army markings. Grade B condition with great metal work original military finish. Cocks and shoots really well. Stock is in nice condition with original British army sling. Still has original factory iron sights."
Asked about provenance, the seller said: "This is pre 1939 with correct army markings, I have discussed this with an ex BSA R &D friend and he has told me the home office had prototype rifles and pistols many that never went into production some finding there way in to private ownership and this he said would be a small number production model."
Comments on the airgunbbs.com subsequently suggested this information was quite false, that it was simply a standard model fitted in an adapted military-style stock and that the markings were not out of the ordinary for a BSA of this age. The relatively low asking price seemed to confirm this impression.
BSA push barrel rifle Patent no. 1988 (1914)
Engraved US import pre-WW1 BSA Light Pattern
With thanks to Karl.
Serial number 22336...
Has Piled arms [trade mark] behind the rearsight and on the stock...
Seems to be a promotional item for Ovington Motor Company, 2234 Broadway, New York, trade mark Ovico as engraved on the barrel.
Apparently the owner of Ovington Motor Co was Earl L Ovington , an interesting character. He was an engineer and innovator whose business sold FN motorbikes; he was the first US air mail flyer, and used his own modified Bleriot monoplane - all before the first War.
I wonder if that rifle was one intended to be given away to as a "Come-on" to purchasers of the very expensive bikes.
BSA prewar air rifle converted to PCP
Similar to the one by Dave Ratz here: