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A tale of 2 BSA "sporting" models

April 29 2011 at 7:48 PM
eddie  (Login edbear2)
Vintage BSA forum moderator

Many of the guns featured on this site are in remarkably good original condition, and are both a credit to their various owners over the years, and a testament to the design, build quality and high grade materials used in the original build. As many collectors will know, often unfortunately, other guns are seen that have suffered badly over the years, either through miss-use by younger shooters, or simply years of neglect or hard use.

I thought I would post some pictures of a gun which is sadly in the condition that many seen in, when out and about. This gives an indication of how rare it is to see guns like the stunning light model elsewhere on here, and shows why the value of two identical guns can vary by a factor of up to 10 times, (or even more). Many collectors would not entertain a gun in this sad condition, but for someone who wanted a cheap, accurate and powerful rifle that would still give years of service, yet be different and more characterful than a modern offering, then this would fit the bill perfectly.

I recently came across this very well used example at a flea market.......The asking price was very fair, so I took pity on it and brought it home. The owner (a real countryside character) assured me that it had 'done for' many a rabbit over the years, and still had some 'oomph'!

Anyway, Improved Model D 'sporting' serial no. 32091 left the BSA works at some time between October 1910 and December 1911, and had, on closer examination, one or two interesting features. It was fitted with a number 12 aperture sight, and in all probability a sling, as the trigger-guard is drilled, and the barrel dovetailed for attachments. One other feature I have never seen before is that the underneath of the barrel, and the secondary cocking arm are stamped with the full gun serial number, as well as the usual place on the trigger block.

I was informed the gun had been very rusty, and had been 'cleaned up' many years ago......This seems to have consisted of attacking the whole thing with a file!!.......There is zero finish, and most markings have been made indistinct by this treatment. The stock had not seen any oil for decades, and the hand cut checkering was worn down and full of crud from much use. The normal sights are long gone, the foresight being a piece of brass filed up and soft soldered on, and the rear sight looking suspiciously like it has come off a Cadet Major.......but not recently, as it has the appearance of being fitted for many a year.

Interestingly, there are also some signs of care, some screws look fairly new and correct, no threads are stripped anywhere, and on disassembly prior to shooting (always a wise precaution), although there were signs of being fired without a pellet causing the piston washer to have a witness mark from the transfer port, and a spring with a coil broken off, there was no scoring, and everything was lubricated. The rear sight blade had been carefully filed to a square 'U' profile, complimenting perfectly the foresight shape.......This was obviously a 'working' gun ie. one that had earned a living, and looks to have lived in an outside barn or building when not being used to get supper.

At the other end of the spectrum, and for comparison, is another example of the same gun.......40013 left the BSA factory probably between February and May of 1911.......So it is entirely possible that they were despatched to their respective new proud owners perhaps on the very same day.......

This one has seen an easier life......the only history I have is that it was stored unused for at least 15-20 years before the previous owner obtained it, and hardly used in the period when he owned it......The difference is obvious to the eye even of a complete novice.

Amazingly, the bore still looked good and bright, with no obvious damage or shadows, and the loading tap was still in perfect alignment, and more importantly, leak free after all this time.....I have seen much more modern guns, where this part is mass produced, (instead of being individually hand fitted as on these).....give problems within 10-15 years of use!

Anyway, after I re-assembled 32091 I thought I would try it out for accuracy........My initial intention was to salvage any usable parts for spares.......I think the old girl had got a bit jealous of her better looking stable-mate during the photo shoot, and thought to herself.......... "all finished am I ????......I'll show you!"

First off, chrono........560 f.p.s. with RWS Superdomes........Then a rested 5 shot group with both old stock Wasp pellets, and then Superdomes.......She seems to prefer the latter , and on seeing the results below I really had to smile.....Still powerful and accurate after near 100 years of rough treatment!

I may just leave her as she is........Wearing her battle scars with pride, and with her honour intact.

32091 and 40013;

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Foresight 'mod';

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serial numbers everywhere;

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rearsight 'mod';

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sling dovetail;

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wear of markings;

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Sling mtg. hole in Trigger Guard;

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Still capable!;

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This message has been edited by edbearthree on Jul 1, 2012 4:17 PM

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