The Vickers"Walker" Presentation Rifle
The Vickers Armstrongs Company were so pleased with the successes in competition
gained by Tom Walker with one of their rifles during 1935,
that they commissioned Parker-Hale to build him a presentation rifle to his own design.
The result, and much associated literature, is here for all to see.
Return to the main Vickers Martini Rifles page
The hand engraving along the right hand side of the barrel declares
" TO COMMEMORATE WORLD'S RECORD (600 EX 600) MADE BY MR. T. WALKER IN 1935
USING PARKERIFLED BARREL AND I.C.I. AMMUNITION "
It is interesting to note that the word 'commemorate' has been scored or barred out,
perhaps suggesting that it was deemed by someone to be an unsuitable choice of word for a celebrative occasion.
Tom Walker was a particularly expert Scottish rifle shot, and a nationally highly respected shooting coach,
who was for many years the N.S.R.A. representative for Scotland.
His shooting career spanned, from its early youthful days when he joined the Territorial Army in 1913 to learn to shoot, through service in France at the Battle of Ypres, his starting to shoot small-bore competition in 1920 after 'demob', to appointment as Depot Agent to the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs in Stirling in 1933, on to his time as National Coach for the National Small-bore Rifle Association from 1965 to his retirment from shooting in 1975. He bore a remarkable and long term dedication to the sport.
The Vickers-based rifle, the subject of this piece, was built by Parker-Hale in a configuration that Tom Walker had had in mind for some time. It was the physical representation of many combined ideas he had formed after fifteen years of experience in small-bore rifle shooting.
We have been granted access to so much archived literature covering Tom Walker's many years of significant involvement and success in the sport, that there is little point in our reiterating it all in the text of this page. It is more straight-forward to show the papers in their original form as facsimile documents. These are therefore shown as such on the page.
Tom wrote a comprehensive history of his shooting days, with the help of many friends who provided additional records and photographs of their time with him in the sport. That too is present further down the page for your perusal.
The rifle in the 3D image below can be rotated through both axes by dragging your cursor left to right.
It can be zoomed and panned by clicking with the magnifier, and viewed full screen using the arrows top right.
The design of this custom-built target rifle incorporated a number of Tom's theories
of how the perfect target rifle ought to be built.
These included a particularly heavy barrel, with a significant taper towards the muzzle,
keeping the centre of gravity of the rifle well back.
The pistol-grip stock was formed in a style semblant of a more modern 'thumb-hole' stock, without actually being such.
The Martini's under-lever is forward curled in the style of the Vickers Champion models, and Parker-Hale's own "Dewar" rifles. These levers assist much in rapid-fire events such as the Skirmisher, when the forward motion of the hand opens the action and ejects the fired cartridge-case in one movement, leading to the speedier pick-up of the next round for loading.
It is not necessary to remove the hand from the pistol grip and return the thumb
behind the under-lever to open the action before re-loading.
The barrel was bedded at three points, each pulled down on a malleable compound in a very similar manner to the pads often used on modern small-bore target rifles; albeit this is not a floating-barrel design.
The usual two bedding points of a standard type Vickers .22 rifle, the two barrel bolts, have been supplemented by a large angled bolt running up through the pistol grip to the very rear of the body of the one-piece barrelled action.
The barrel, 27 inches from breech to muzzle, is 13⁄8" diameter from the receiver all the way to 3 inches short of the nose of the fore-end, and then tapers in a curve to 5/8" at the crown.
The standard rifles are 13⁄16" at the receiver, reducing to 1" in front of the "reinforce", and tapering to 3⁄4" at the muzzle.
The angled threaded hole in the tail of the body for the rear bedding bolt is shown below.
The rear-sight is the later "Perfection" model with the quick release button for the elevation slide.
Usually, on production rifles, these were only marked
on the right-hand-side with the registered design number 729116 - dating to 1927-28.
This identical sight is there stamped for Parker-Hale, and is perhaps a giveaway that the sights
for all Vickers small-bore rifles were made by Parker-Hale but not so marked.
A large washer, under the horn trim plate beneath the pistol-grip,
bears the load of the large slotted head of the rear bedding bolt. The horn plate is purely for decoration.
The bolt runs through a hole in the wood rather larger than its diameter,
and through the bedding compound into the rear of the barrel's receiver body.
This is presumably to permit tensioning of the bolt with fore and aft
accommodation of movement introduced by the angle of the load-line.
The finish applied to the rifle by Parker-Hale's gunsmiths was superb, and still shows well eighty-five years later.
The barrel is topped with an unusual anti-reflection file-cut type band, which affords a wonderful finely-swirled matt finish.
The comb of the butt was presumably shaped specifically to fit Tom's chin, and presents an excellent appearance.
The fore-end too was no doubt shaped to his preference for hold,
and the deep curvature forward of the hand-hold precludes any necessity for a hand-stop fitting.
Thus, presuming a good non-slip glove was in use,
it would not be necessary to adjust a handstop whenever a differently sloped firing point was encountered.
The "V" prefixed serial number 4136, only stamped on the action, suggests an earlier unit than 1935 has been used,
or that it was especially produced at the time. The "1" suffix indicates that the rifle was considered to be of first quality.
The addition of an adjustable trigger stop-screw can be seen in the rear of the trigger-guard.
The butterfly-key action-locking screw has an eye that acts as a sling-swivel point.
The gunsmiths who built this rifle would be furious to discover the carelesseness
of someone who has subsequently worked on the action.
The heavy marks cause by the action being clamped in the unprotected
knurled jaws of a vice would dishearten any self-respecting engineer.
From above, the action shows the recessing of the falling-block,
and the relieving of the receiver sides to ease loading;
the greater than standard width and depth of these being
necessary because of the significant increase in the diameter of the heavy barrel.
Note that this has led to a continuous taper-line from breech to muzzle,
compared with the usual Vickers profile that affords an effective reinforce in front of the action,
leading to the traditional shoulder that reduces the diameter to what would be
the breech-end of the barrel were these rifles not built as a one-piece barrel and receiver body.
With the falling block lowered to the loading position,
it can be seen that the barrel is in one piece with the receiver,
and that it is a solid barrel not using a Parkerifled sleeve;
although the rifling is very likely of the same form as that of a Parkerifled tube.
We have, on the main Vickers Martini rifles page, discussed the subject of dating a rifle by the code letter on the proof mark.
The codes are given on the page for Dating your Rifle.
The only markings on this rifle, apart from the presentation engraving and the receiver's proof and calibre stamps,
are under the barrel, being the number "31" and the date mark shown below bearing the letter "P",
as used for the period 1935-1936.
Here we replicate Tom Walker's self-published biography of his shooting days -
entitled " Tom Walker Remembers"
"RECOLLECTIONS OF A SMALL-BORE SHOOTER (as told to his wife)"
This is in the form of a text-searchable flip-page document that may take a few moments to load.
Tom Walker was a prolific writer of articles on the subject of rifle shooting.
He took the trouble to pass on his considerable knowledge and experience for the benefit of shooters everywhere.
The editor of the S.M.R.C. (and later the N.S.R.A.) monthly journal much valued Tom's contributed articles,
and they appeared regularly over the years between 1933 and 1955.
One enthusiast historian compiled, and hand typed, a record of these articles, which we are able to here reproduce.
This is the searchable flip-page document of Tom's articles, which may take a few moments to display.
Tom Walker's 1986 Obituary in the Rifleman - journal of the then N.S.R.A. - after his death aged 89 years.