If there was ever a rifle deserving of being restored, this was it!
Word had got around after a while that I restored and fixed old .303′s, so when a mate of mine said ive got a old rifle and was wondering if your interested it, i was curious, it’s just that magpie curious treasure hunter coming out!
He proceeded to describe the rifle as a sporterised 303, .22 written on the side and the metal bit near the barrel had NZ stamped on it! He then simply asked would I be interested in it?
So I turned up and had a look. The first thing i noticed was the butt had been very thinned out, there was a JNT side mount welded to the left had side of the wrist. It was a bit of a rough job which even included a 10cent piece as part of the weld. It did have nice rear topwood and it was a 303 barrel, sadly the bottom wood was very much cut back.
Unfortunately who ever did the welding job, did a real good one, if you look closely you can even still see the 10 cent piece at the bottom of the weld. Now im no skilled operator but I knew my father-in-law had a spare dremel with the appropriate disks, I knew that I was going to need to borrow that. So after a lot of practice I started on trying to remove the rear sight mount without further damaging the rifle. I tried to leave as much of the weld and the rear site mount attached and then just slowly and carefully with tiny strokes remove the remaining proud surface.
Now here is something that helps me decide on a weather or not to restore a rifle, because you need to consider is it worth restoring? , is it economical, can I fix two rifles for what it’s going to cost me to fix this one? is it just too much work? does it hold a historic aspect? etc etc. However there is a small symbol that I find I can’t walk away from , N↑Z is that sign. That stamp means that she is one of ours. This rifle was made originally by BSA, the Birmingham Small Arms factory. Then converted in NZ as a .22 cal trainer, used by cadets and no doubt those who were later to be part of the Expeditionary Forces of WWII. So yes, this gets restored. Oddly thought it had been rebarreled back to a .303 and had been used possibly as a target rifle? if these old girls could talk.
In the picture to the left you can see the variation in the woods. The wood on the Left (butt) is a lot thinner that of the bottom or forewood. Now im not sure here weather that was on purpose to accommodate the smaller stature of the youth or cadet learning how to use the rifle or if later owners simply sanded it back. However the sanding is uniform?
One thing that has bugged me for some time though, and still does is a set of picture that appears on pg 291 of The Lee Enfield, Ian Skennerton, published 2007 , showing a series of photos of which Skennerton comments” the top two were surplused from new Zealand in the 1970s…..Because of the reduced configuration along with the shortened butts, first two are considered to have been used by some school or cadet units in New Zealand” I would like to show these images but as yet I do not have permission to do so , however the rear sight has a cover that loops over from one side of the receiver over the rear sight and attached below the wood onto the receiver on the other side. if my memory serves me right this rifle has holes that would be in keeping with that cover?
So at this stage the rifle is at a gun smiths and awaiting a BSA barrel to be turned down to the correct size. I managed to get the correct rear site that had the 25yrd line as well as the proper bolt and firing pin.
The next job will be to see if I can get proper matching woods. I imported a nose cap and its somewhere, as are the barrel bands, but it depends on what other bits I need.