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The B.S.A. Model No. 15 and Centurion Match Rifles


The Model 15 in particular seems to have undergone more changes than almost any other B.S.A. target rifle.

There are many variants from the original standards and we would therefore be grateful to anyone

that can help fill in the gaps by letting us know of rifles with unusual specifications.

 

 


There is no mention of the model 15 in the A.G.Parker catalogue no.10G.

The publication was revised and used again in 1931 still without mention,

but a line drawing of The BSA Model 15 with unusual scrolled underlever

early version appears in catalogue no. 10H June 1932 priced at £7-10s-0p.

An American publication made mention of the Model 15 in 1931.

It appears in catalogue no. 10H June 1932 priced at £7-10s-0p.

 

Below: the original fitment BSA rear-sight ( see No.30 )

The barrel and action are similar to the "famous 12", the overall and barrel lengths are identical,but the rifles differ in that:
i) The fore-end is longer than the earlier models and has both sling swivels screwed into it as opposed to one affixed to the barrel.
ii) The fore end on the early models was chequered and fitted with two bedding bolts. This had changed to one bolt by 1933, and the chequered panel was omitted, no doubt in the interests of economy.
iii) The rear of the action body was manufactured with a vertical dovetail to accept the new integral rear-sight.

The "15" was the first B.S.A. of the range with a pistol grip butt stock. As just mentioned, in 1932 this was chequered and the shape was reminiscent of the early Lincoln Jeffries air rifles. By 1933 the chequered pattern had been discontinued and the shape changed. This is the stock design that was to continue on to the Model 12/15.
The main problem with the Model 15 was with the new design of B.S.A. rear-sight. This worked in a dovetail machined on the back of the action, and damage or excessive wear to this dovetail caused the

Model 15

with retro-fitted PH15A rear-sight

sight to become loose to the point where it was rendered all but useless since it could not easily be repaired or replaced, as was possible with the Parker Hale No.7 rear-sight of the Models 12 and 12/15. Although Parker's did produce a No.PH15 rear-sight adapter that could be clamped on to replace the original, the price of this item was 32/6p in 1939; about a fifth of the cost of a complete new rifle. A further drawback was the lack of a quick release on the B.S.A. sight, which made rather tedious any quick elevation adjustment or removal to allow maintenance or, for example, the use of a scope-sight.


The early model 15 action was fitted with a cocking indicator that worked in a cut-out in the side of the loading platform, and a block on the barrel to take the small flip over B.S.A. No 19 foresight, later to be fitted with the B.S.A. No 20 (These can easily be identified by the elements which only have one locating lug on the bottom; unlike the Parker-Hale elements and all that followed which have a lug on each side). Parker-Hale offered their No 2 foresight as an option at an extra charge of two shillings and six pence.
The cost of the "15" was initially set at £7-10s-0p in 1932. In 1936, the final version was still offered at the same price. This later increased to £8-5s-0p in 1939. In the Army and Navy Catalogue of 1939/40, a line drawing of the earlier Model 15 appears, but the price is at the then current £8-5s-0p; (were they still using old copy?).

 

Below, left to right: the Parker-Hale FS22 tube fore-sight that succeeded the similar Model 2.

The standard BSA rear-sight from the front right, also showing the scrolled under-lever.

The familiar ribbed rubber butt-plate, moulded on a steel plate, with the usual BSA Piled Arms' motif.

...................


 


 

Subsequent modifications to the 15 led to the production of the "Centurion". This had a selected barrel guaranteed to group to 1½" at 100 yds. The barrel was fitted with a file-cut top rib and upgraded trigger, the price in 1936 was £9-0s-0p and advertised in 1939 by the S.M.R.C. at what was then a discounted price of £10-0s-0p.

 

Below: the action removed, as it would be for cleaning,

It is secured in the body by just the one flat-headed, plain slotted, machine screw pin.

 

To the right of the 2" webbing sling is the screw cap for the under-forend foresight element container,

with ring and post elements, plus one that provides a horizon.

 

 

The BSA Centurion with PH15A rear-sight

 

Here is an opportunity to view every aspect of the rifle.

The next two images can be rotated and zoomed, either as initially loaded or full-screen for higher definition.

Slide cursor < > to rotate, and Click to zoom.

 

 

Below: some close-up Centurion views.

This rifle is fitted with the after-market Model 15A rearsight ,

with six-hole aperture and eye-shield, andhere showing its proof and calibre marks, and serial number.

 

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The muzzle

with the Parker-Hale Model 2 fore-sight

having a large ring element fitted.

 

The sight-line ...

with the Parker-Hale Model 15A rear-sight

and a plain "Dead Centre" 6-hole iris eye-piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

We have also come across an unusual special barrelled Model 15,

its barrel being two inches longer than standard, and being file-cut, but without a raised rib.

 

 

The under-lever has been curled back onto itself,

and the fore-sight is an earlier small tunnel BSA No.19 with tip- over ring and post elements.

 


The barrel marks:

" Made By "

" The Birmingham Small Arms Co. Ltd. "

" England "

" Cartridge .220 Long Rifle "

Much as it was stamped onto the War Office Pattern Miniature Rifle as far back as 1906.

 

 

The sight-line ...

with plain six-hole "Dead Centre" aperture.

The original BSAdovetailed rear-sight,

and plain post in the BSA No.19 small tube fore-sight.

The anti-glare file-cut strip runs each side of the barrel marks.

The original BSAdovetailed rear-sight.

The action body LHS carries the BSA cartouche,

the pistol-grip is chequered,

and the modification to the under-lever is evident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Model 15 action was also used for several models of the "Dewar" rifle. These were custom built by Parker-Hale to customers' own requirements. Fitted with a heavy Parker Rifled barrel, special woodwork, etc., the "Dewar" would have set you back a significant £15-15s-0p in 1936, rising to £18-0s-0p in 1941 for the standard version. Optional extras were available, which could increase the price by anything up to an additional £7-0s-0d

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The Model 15 action was also used for several models of the "Dewar" rifle. These were custom built by Parker-Hale to customers' own requirements. Fitted with a heavy Parker Rifled barrel, special woodwork, etc., the "Dewar" would have set you back a significant £15-15s-0p in 1936, rising to £18-0s-0p in 1941 for the standard version. Optional extras were available, which could increase the price by anything up to an additional £7-0s-0d

.................

 

 

One of the Model 15 rifles, and the Centurion illustrated, carry the modification of the Parker-Hale 15A rear-sight designed to compensate for wear in the original dovetail. The early model 15 has the pistol grip stock which has necessitated the chamfering of the base of the sight block at the rear. The elevation graduations on the LHS of the rear of the action body are now redundant, and are superseded by another set on the new dovetail at the rear of the sight body. (An image of the original rear-sight will be added shortly). The 6-hole rear aperture is fitted with a "C" spring clip to hold a filter or prescription lens. Neither of these actions are by this time fitted with the cocking indicator lever that was let into the RHS of the breech-block of the earlier of the Models 8 and 12. We believe there were other variations of rifle and sights and would welcome any further information or copies of literature.

PH15A on Model 15

The image alongside, of the action of the Model 15, shows it fitted with a Parker-Hale "Glint Eliminator" in front of the receiver. This was a comparatively cheap item to cut out reflections from the barrel. It purported to do the same task as the considerably more expensive option of the Centurion's top rib; however, it can be seen from the images below, that the unit left a great deal to be desired in the resultant sight picture. In bright sun down range, though, it was no doubt the lesser of two evils!

 

 


 


The BSA No.30 rear-sight
Shown are two BSA advertisements for the 'new' no.30 rear-sight, which seems to have been introduced at about the same time as the BSA Model 15 rifle in 1931-32. As has been discussed above, the Model 15 rifle had a machined integral dovetail, at the rear of the action body, which carried the same calibration scale on the LHS (viewable on the website) and used the same windage/elevation rear/upper component as that of the illustrated No.30 sight with its vernier scale. The No.30 sight was no doubt produced by BSA as an alternative retro-fit option for the many 12/15 and earlier rifles for which Parker-Hale had not long been offering their Model No.7 rear-sight, used successfully by the British Dewar teams and supplied by Parker-Hale with their custom built Dewar TARGET RIFLES .

A problem with the No.30 type sight, as integrally fitted to the BSA Mod. 15 and Centurion rifles, was that, when the dovetail wore and slackened with use, it particularly affected windage - allowing the sight to rock on the rifle, and was impossible to repair or replace without renewing, or effecting major engineering on, the action body!

Parker-Hale were quickly onto this and, by the late Thirties, had introduced the Model 15A backsight, which was effectively a Model 7A that clamped, with a static dovetail, onto the dovetail on the action of the worn rifle. BSA subsequently appear to have largely left the manufacture of such sights to Parker-Hale. All the post 1939-45 war rifles, including the 12/15 and Martini Internationals, came with Parker-Hale sights as their main standard original options. Even the pre-war Centurion had been advertised (see previous rifle advertisement above), by Parker-Hale, with an extra-cost option of having the No.7 sights fitted from new. Whether this was actually to be the PH No.15 model, or simply the No.7 screwed to the butt above the wrist, is not made clear. The latter alternative would certainly not have been a particularly aesthetic improvement to the rifle!

Parker-Hale were anyway, by now, probably the largest selling agent for BSA TARGET RIFLES .


Finally, as was later the case with the BSA Martini International rifles, many of the BSA Model 12/15and Model15 rifles

were re-purposed as competition shooting equipment progressed but many shooters could not afford the newer target rifles.

 

The rifle below is such an example, having been fitted with the butt-stock from a Model 12/15

modified with an adjustable butt-plate, mounts for a telescopic sight, and the rather unusual

electric bedding system occasionally contemporarily employed.

 

 

....

 

The electric-bedding arrangement involved engineering a semi free-floating barrel that was supported near the front of the fore-end

by a ring carrying three 120-degree spaced threaded screws with pointed ends that bore on the barrel's surface.

These upper rings were adjusted to just bear on the barrel, and the lower one was connected electrically to a small bulb.

Thus a circuit was completed through the "bedding" screws to the barrel.

The screws were carefully adjusted to the point where the bulb was only just alight, almost flickering,

showing that the bearing points were loaded to the "lightest" possible level. (Pardon the pun).

 

Below: the channel providing the necessary free-floating support for the barrel,

along the lines of the arrangement first employed on the Martini International Mark III rifle.

 

Viewed from below ..........

 

....... and from the side

 

And, lastly, the adjusting system.

 

It will have been noticed by any self-respecting gunsmith that the engineering

tends towards the agricultural, as does the inletting of the accessory rail,

and that the original hole remains where the wood-screw front sling-eye was once fitted.

The design has obvious drawbacks; however, needs must when the devil drives,

and the set-up could just possibly have improved accuracy.

 

 

 


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