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Thread: BSA Lee Speed info' please.

  1. #1

    BSA Lee Speed info' please.

    Hi Chaps

    I hope you might be able to help me find some information onthe above rifle my brother has just brought (before I got my hands on it).

    On the side it is stamped “lee speed patents, B.S.A C2 D 401”.I guess it is a commercial rifle made by BSA, but any more info’ would be nice,it has a 10 shot mag’ but I think it should have a 5?






    ATB

    Tahr

  2. #2
    A lovely classy rifle! The Lee Speed was the precursor to the SMLE series & was ok as a battle weapon in its day. I think they are considered to be a bit weak in the action area when compared to the SMLE & No4 actions which superceded it. I assume it is chambered in 303. They were designed for use with cordite loaded cartridges rather than the nitro powders we use today.
    It looks like a commercial barrel with the military rear sight fitted. Probably built for the colonies when the maps were nearly all pink.
    I wouldn't recommend the use full power modern cartridges in it, rather find some soft low pressure recipe & load your own.(It'll be a joy to shoot & still more than capable of grassing anything in Europe).
    I may be wrong but weren't all the 303 military origin rifles supplied with the issue 10 shot magazines as it was a battle weapon in its initial incarnation.
    Nice to see! Thanks for the photos.

    Ian

    p.s. My mate has my book about these rifles so I can't tell you more at the moment but if he gives it back I'll look up about it & let you know.
    Last edited by Yorric; 06-03-2013 at 22:48.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Yorric View Post
    A lovely classy rifle! The Lee Speed was the precursor to the SMLE series & was ok as a battle weapon in its day. I think they are considered to be a bit weak in the action area when compared to the SMLE & No4 actions which superceded it. I assume it is chambered in 303. They were designed for use with cordite loaded cartridges rather than the nitro powders we use today.
    It looks like a commercial barrel with the military rear sight fitted. Probably built for the colonies when the maps were nearly all pink.
    I wouldn't recommend the use full power modern cartridges in it, rather find some soft low pressure recipe & load your own.(It'll be a joy to shoot & still more than capable of grassing anything in Europe).
    I may be wrong but weren't all the 303 military origin rifles supplied with the issue 10 shot magazines as it was a battle weapon in its initial incarnation.

    Nice to see! Thanks for the photos.

    Ian

    p.s. My mate has my book about these rifles so I can't tell you more at the moment but if he gives it back I'll look up about it & let you know.
    First gun club I joined had an old 303 Lee with a full military stock as a club rifle. It was fitted with the original magazine, IIRC it was either a 5 or 6 shot, not the latter 10-rd design.

    Will check my Skennerton & other books tomorrow for more info

    Nice rifle. Bet it's got a tale to tell...

  4. #4
    Very nice. I wouldn't worry about the ammo. Commercial 303 hunting rounds will be good.~Muir

  5. #5
    There is a whole forum dedicated to them here:- Forums.NitroExpress.com

    Most of these were made and sold through all the various makers and the likes of the Army & Navy for officers, civil servants and others going to the colonies and did double duty both for hunting and for use when the locals got a bit uppity. After WWI and then WWII many service Smle and no4 were cut down to make something similar. In the Edwardian era I don't think officers were issued or carried the standard infantry weapons of the day - they had to provide their own.

    More info on the BSA here. Forums.NitroExpress.com

  6. #6
    [QUOTE=Muir;538358]Very nice. I wouldn't worry about the ammo. Commercial 303 hunting rounds will be good.~Muir[/QUOTE Correct Muir, I had one about 30 years ago, bought from a retired Captain who was in Commandoes, it was in .303, and loads from the top, with a clip of 4 bullets as I recall, it had been used as a big game gun, with a flat 10mm rib on top of the barrel. I actually shot a Roebuck with mine, open sights at about 80 yards. I paid about £100 for it, but I think they are worth arounf £300-400 thes days, enjoy it!!

  7. #7
    BSA made a range of these and one could order them with either a 5 or 10 round magazine. In fact some of the earlier ones that used the Metford carbine magazine could hold 6 rounds.

    Now according to a price list from about 1931 I have here BSA offered three models of sporting .303 bolt actions. Yours would appear to be the No4 model. No that is not the No4 Lee Enfield as BSA had their own model numbers. if it is thir No4 Modle then in 1931 it cost £10 and could be had for 12 monthly payments of 18s 9d.

    Accordign to Knibbs book the Sporting Lee Enfield based rifles were introduced in 1911 in both .303 and .315" bore (the 8x50R Austrian cartridge to get round the prohibition in India on .303 arms) this was due to lack of support and orders from the Government so BSA had to go more into the sales of sporting arms to keep the work force employed.

    Knibbs book describes the BSA Model 2 as such:-

    A rifel for big game was introduced in 1911 called the Lee Enfield Sportign Rifle No 2 pattern. based o the Lee Enfield Mark1* action, the rifle had a pistol grip sporting style stock with a thumb operated, shotgun style, safety catch button on top of the wrist of the stock. The stock and fore end were chequered and the fore end was fitted with a rose-wood tip. The rifle had a multi-leaf folding rearsight and bead foresight. Sling eyes were fitted to teh stock and barrel. The rifle had a detatchable 10-shot magazine with cut-off and was produced in .303, .315 (8mm) and .374 calibre.

    A cheaper version of this rifle in .303 and .315 (8mm) calibres was built using unmodified Lee Enfield Mark 1* actions with cocking piece safety, military issue stocks and plain sportign fore ends made by "sporterising" military handguards. A five shot magazine was fitted. This model was advertised as the No.4 Sporting carbine.
    I believe that they also made a No.5 model which is the one with the full length cape rib however finding documentary proof is the key and with BSA that is not always easy. BSA also made these to order for the gun trade who could pick from a list of options which further complicates matters.

    OH BTW the original Metfords had a single stack Eight shot magazine. This was changed with the introduction to "Charger Loading" to the ten shot magazine. The carbines had a Six shot magazine which is bellied or curved and rounded at the bottom and not slanted like the later ones.

    Lee Enfleid chargers hold Five rounds although in this case it's moot as the rifle has not charger guides .

    Out of interest I just recently sold through an RFD this one:-









    I received £450 after commission was paid on the sale.

    Hope that helps.

  8. #8
    lovely rifle

    greenshoots

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Brithunter View Post
    BSA made a range of these and one could order them with either a 5 or 10 round magazine. In fact some of the earlier ones that used the Metford carbine magazine could hold 6 rounds.

    Now according to a price list from about 1931 I have here BSA offered three models of sporting .303 bolt actions. Yours would appear to be the No4 model. No that is not the No4 Lee Enfield as BSA had their own model numbers. if it is thir No4 Modle then in 1931 it cost £10 and could be had for 12 monthly payments of 18s 9d.

    Accordign to Knibbs book the Sporting Lee Enfield based rifles were introduced in 1911 in both .303 and .315" bore (the 8x50R Austrian cartridge to get round the prohibition in India on .303 arms) this was due to lack of support and orders from the Government so BSA had to go more into the sales of sporting arms to keep the work force employed.

    Knibbs book describes the BSA Model 2 as such:-



    I believe that they also made a No.5 model which is the one with the full length cape rib however finding documentary proof is the key and with BSA that is not always easy. BSA also made these to order for the gun trade who could pick from a list of options which further complicates matters.

    OH BTW the original Metfords had a single stack Eight shot magazine. This was changed with the introduction to "Charger Loading" to the ten shot magazine. The carbines had a Six shot magazine which is bellied or curved and rounded at the bottom and not slanted like the later ones.

    Lee Enfleid chargers hold Five rounds although in this case it's moot as the rifle has not charger guides .

    Out of interest I just recently sold through an RFD this one:-









    I received £450 after commission was paid on the sale.

    Hope that helps.
    It's funny but if that was a Rigby or Westly Richards 275 on a mauser action of similar vintage and condition you would be looking at least three times that amount. I have looked at similar to yours a few times and what does amaze me is how smooth and silky the action is - much nicer than the mauser actioned rifles.

  10. #10
    From the markings, is this a .410" rifle or is it still in .303" ?

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