Good Guns Gone

Britain used to have a thriving trade in gun making, but no more.

It’s hard to believe now, but there was once a thriving gunmaking industry in Britain. Of course those wonderful custom firearms from famous names such as Purdey or Holland & Holland are still in production. I’m thinking of companies offering sporting firearms people like me could afford. One such company was Birmingham Small Arms (BSA).

Shortly after WWII ended, BSA shipped a prototype bolt-action sporting rifle to US representative Jack Warwick, who asked for input from rifle enthusiasts. Based on their input, BSA made a number of changes. The first production model was shipped in 1954.

At the time, the .222 Rem cartridge was tremendously popular. It made sense to make the first models on a short action, offered in either .22 Hornet or .222 Rem. Later, medium and long actions were added.

The rifle shown here was made in 1955. The action is short, just 7-1/8″ long, but is not particularly small or light. The receiver ring measures 1.350″ in diameter, the size falling in between the Mauser small and large ring actions. Apparently the idea was a short action, but with a receiver strong and rigid enough to support a varmint-weight barrel. The receiver is flat-bottomed with a thick integral recoil lug.

The operating design is based on the Mauser 98, with two forward locking lugs, non-rotating claw extractor, staggered 4-round capacity double-column magazine, fixed ejector and controlled-round feeding. The bolt face is slotted for the ejector below the top/left lug, and the locking lugs are solid.

The trigger mechanism is a well-designed and well-made 3-lever system. It lets the designers use a strong mainspring to shorten lock time, in conjunction with a crisp, clean trigger break. An extension of the sear serves as the bolt stop.
Story By: Dave Anderson

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