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Thread: any advice on buying pre war rifles.

  1. #1

    any advice on buying pre war rifles.

    Hi guys seasons greetings

    There is a possibility of a pre ww1 stalking rifle being available to me in .275 Rigby. My question is not about the calibre but things to look at when buying an old gun. Obviously I expect the woodwork will be tired after so many years but what about the rest.

    Do you know of anybody that offers a service to look at older guns to check condition of barrel etc. The gun is not worth a fortune but I would want to keep any old rifle original apart from refurbishment to bring it back to life I do not want to undetake a major rebuild so I am not afte a gun that is totally shot out. (hope that makes sense).

    Any advice welcome

    Regards sbm

  2. #2
    Depends on how it has been cared for really. The wood should not be tired as you put it and a Pre WW2 rifle will more than likely have an oiled finish which is not so hard to restore. As for the bore you will need to find someone with a bore scope n am sorry but I do not know who has one but suspect the usual gunsmiths like Norman Clark of Rugby, Brock & Norris and maybe Jaeger off these forums. None of those are down your way though.

    Check the bolt face around the firing pin hole for pitting and the bolt lugs for peening. A paper clip straightened out then bent into a hook a bit tighter than 90 degrees may be used to feel for bolt lug set back in the actions locking ring. Check trigger function and that the safety works. The only bit you cannot really check your self is the bore for wear. If they will allow it clean the bore before looking at it as at that age it is probable that at some point it has had mercuric primers fired in the ammunition and cupro nickle jacketed bullets both known for causing fouling and possibly pitting.

    Basically you doing checks we used to do when looking at WW1 vintage SMLE Enfields. So anyone used to dealing with tose should be able to help you out checking it over. Rigby's were built on Mausers normally so the action should be worth something and if the bore is had it then a new barrel would be the idea "fix". Sorry cannot be more help than that and have no idea as the worth of such a rifle..

  3. #3
    Thanks for the reply, price is reasonable it just depends on the condition. I have been given a verbal condition over the phone and will be receiving a fuller report by email inc pictures so will know more when I get them. Your reply gives me a start of what and were to look if I go and see it. Many thanks sbm

  4. #4
    Shoot it with the ammo the seller uses

  5. #5
    The chap at Blue Fox Glade has a bore scope. He will inspect the bore for you for not a lot of cash & give you an honest apraisal.


  6. #6
    If you can shoot it first, do so. Don't let a less-than-perfect bore scare you off. Even with some mild pitting, it may outshoot you and outlast you.

    I have shot No.1 MKIII Enfields with bores black as a stove pipe from going ashore in salt water and years of wet war, which would still put all the shots into a checker at 100 yards with open sights.

  7. #7
    SD Regular
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    East Midlands M1/M69 Junction 21
    First check the OBVIOUS things that don't need gauges and measures. There is a set way to check and that's not a bad idea. Start at one "end" as it were and work to the other.

    1) Check the whole stock. Are there any cracks, does the area around the grip "torque" if you twist the butt whilst holding the area around the receiver with you other hand. Are there are cracks around the receiver area. Splits where the rear of the magazine housing and the rear of the upper receiver bed against the stock? Then move on to the forepart of the stock. Again any cracks, the stock even gapped around the barrel, the end of the forepart is that cracked?

    2) Maybe next check all visible screws (pins). Are these all matching and are the slots un-mangled? Are any missing? Then check the sights. Again any discrepansies or missing bits and are the sights...especially...truly vertical on the barrel or canted?

    3) Bolt. Well again bolt face and does the safety work. Put in on. Pull the trigger. Put it off. Pull the trigger as normal. Next put it on and pull the triggger hard but as normal. Then see if the gun fires if the safety is released.

    4) Cock the gun. Leave the safety off and let the gun drop butt first (whilst you hold it so it doesn't fall over) three of four inches onto a carpeted floor. It should NOT fire!

    5) Check the bore the rifling should be well evident even if it isn't sharp edged.

    That's pretty much all you can do without gauges or measures or stripping on a Mauser.

    As to bore.

    Well I've known "new" guns that wouldn't shoot very well and OTOH I had a Colt 1911 .45 ACP pistol made in about 1913, so an early one, where the bore looked like a gutter spout inside. Brown, discoloured, with the rifling being almost as if it were drawn on with a brown wax crayon on a piece of black paper. The sharpness long gone. It would shoot two inch groups, off hand (one handed) at twenty yards all day and everyday. The most accurate 1911 I ever owned. So bore condition isn't in every case an indication of accuracy.

    But as SOUTHERN says shoot it. If you can't then you takes the risk! Lastly and what many does the stock fit you? If it is short it will hurt!
    Last edited by enfieldspares; 30-12-2015 at 19:24.

  8. #8
    Southern/ enfieldspares, thanks for your replies. I now feel a little more confident about what I should be looking for and I will be shooting it before I buy.

    Yorric thanks for the heads up about blue fox glade I may make use of their services.

    kind regards sbm

  9. #9
    SD Regular
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    East Midlands M1/M69 Junction 21
    Oh...and of course check that the serial numbers match! So that the original bolt sold with the rifle is the bolt that now resides in it!

    Oops! That drop test should read "it should NOT fire".

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by enfieldspares View Post
    Oh...and of course check that the serial numbers match! So that the original bolt sold with the rifle is the bolt that now resides in it!

    Oops! That drop test should read "it should NOT fire".

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