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Joes mystery rifle




This article relates to a BSA Military Miniature target rifle formerly owned by HMRC club member, Joe. The provenance of this rifle has made for some in depth research work with surprising results….

Charles Riggs makes for interesting examination as he is the commercial origin of this rifle. Riggs was very much a salesman rather than a gunmaker where some retailers customised their offerings which would be applicable in this case.

A hybrid BSA?

C. Riggs, the name is stamped on the side of the Martini action, were a sporting outfitters that sold "Everything for Sport and the Sportsman" as well as motors and motorcycles. Charles Riggs were main dealers for everything BSAand Riggs did a lot of business in the early days with BSA air rifles but the big move was acquiring an interest in E M Reilly and Co - gunmaker. In 1917 that company was bought by Charles Riggs & Co. to eventually cease trading in 1966.

John Russell, a local lad, observed….”when I left school back in the late 50s, I got a job in Bishopsgate and often used to have a look in Charlie Riggs's shop in my lunch hour. As I remember it, the place was really a sports shop although they did have some BSA Air rifles. I do remember seeing motor bikes though. The best shop in the area was Ogden Smiths of the Royal Exchange. They sold all sorts of guns. They had airguns, shotguns, rifles, pistols, the lot. They even had Webley revolvers on display in the window!! If our current Home secretary had been about back in those days they would have had forty fits!!”…..

Joe’s Quasi-Military type 10a BSA Hybrid

To be brief, it is believed that this rifle is a custom order as it has not been possible to track down another exact example! It is a heavy barrel target rifle and clearly complete as it left the BSA factory.

Establishing the year of manufacture is very difficult however it is more than 100 years old and possibly manufactured before the start of the Great War.

It was not possible to specifically identify this rifle as a Model 10, let alone a 10a, but the earliest catalogue entry found for these rifles is 1912, and they no longer appear in the mid 1920s post-Great War advertising. Manufacture probably ceased with the advent of WW1, and never resumed; the similarly weighted Model 12 having proved highly successful, and purer target rifles seemingly becoming more popular than quasi-military models. What we possibly have is a model 10a with a barrel band and a forend that has been shortened a little; Riggs retailed a number of these in that period based upon a hybrid BSA 9/10. The barrel dimensions are those of a Model 12 or Model 10, but the fore-end appears to derive from of a Model 9.

A "Military Miniature" Model No.10 with leaf sight

The Mod.No.10 was usually fitted with a metal nose-cap to the fore-end, but not the No.9 which had just a plain-nosed longer fore-end, probably with a band, but thus-far unconfirmed by contemporary literature. The fore-end on the Hybrid rifle does not appear to extend as far forward as a No.10, the band for which is only ca. 9" from the muzzle.

The Hybrid rifle was manufactured in basic form with a weight of 8lbs., compared with the approximate 6½ to 7lbs. of the standard Models Nos.8 & 9 rifles respectively.

NOTE: There were 20/- shillings to the pound therefore 83/6 was £4/3/6 - pounds/shillings/pennies and less than a Fiver

A BSA Model No.10 with folding rear-sight and blade front sight. When fitted with a No.19 tunnel fore-sight for interchangeable blade or ring element, the rifle would be a Model 10a

The No.10 has overall length of 44 inches, barrel length of 28½ inches with a breech diameter of 1inch and a muzzle diameter of ¾ inch. The three-quarter length fore-end and single barrel band afforded the rifle the required quasi-military appearance originally associated with the Model No.4 or Cadet rifles.

BSA rifle comparisons top, Model No.12, centre Model No.13 and bottom Model No.8

The Hybrid action is the standard 1" small-frame as used on Mod's 8, 10 and 12, with the cocking indicator at the rear RHS of the falling breech-block in a machined recess. Research suggests the tunnel fore-sight is possibly a later fitment, perhaps when the folding No.8 aperture sight was added, this however is by no means clear. It was a 10a Hybrid from the outset, but it lacks the metal nose-cap - which was advertised as standard but may not have been present on all Model 10s sold anyway. There is no telling…perhaps after all it is a Quasi Military No.8?

Whatever, it is a fine gun, shoots very well and is a pleasure to use.

According to a pre-1920 BSA catalogue,

“B.S.A. rifles are consistently capable, in the hands of a good shot, of grouping within a 2-inch circle at 100 yards, or a 4-inch circle at 200 yards.

B.S.A. .22 Target Rifles are not allowed to leave the factory unless they conform to a very high standard based upon these performances.”

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