AIRGUN PEOPLE DOING GREAT THINGS
CHRIS BARTLETT DESCRIBES THE BRITISH LEGION RIFLE
‘When this project started, I was the gunsmith at Ronnie Sunshines, and I thought it would be good for business to illustrate what could be done at the shop. A mechanically-sound BSA Scorpion came into my hands and I decided that it would be a great basis for the project. The alloy components were in good condition although the anodising and bluing was understandably worn. The action was fairly crisp, the power was well down and the stock was nothing to write home about.
Whilst I feel that the Scorpion is a brilliant rifle, (I own one) from certain angles it has a few drawbacks; the cylinder is on the small side, out of necessity, and it is unregulated, but for the price it is superb.
I set about the task of working out how to improve it. The shot count could be increased with a larger air cylinder, but this would not improve the power curve, so I decided to fit a regulator. This introduced a problem; the existing pressure gauge would then read the output pressure from the reg., and not the air remaining in the cylinder, so a new gauge would be needed.
REG AND GAUGE
I first fitted the longer air cylinder, which as it turned out was a little longer than the barrel. I tested the rifle and got about 70 shots in .177, better than the original, but not where I wanted it to be. So a reg. was fitted, not without some fairly serious machining on the cylinder, and the chosen regulator. Of course, now the pressure gauge wouldn’t work so I chose a front-mounted gauge and fill assembly from the BSA Goldstar. With the reg. and the longer fill probe and gauge assembly, the air cylinder was now longer than the barrel by several inches, which cosmetically was awful, so a silencer, air-stripper or shroud was in order to hide all this. My automatic go-to on the silencer front is one of Andrew Huggett’s products. However, the diameter of the silencer was too big and would push the barrel away from the cylinder, but I had some alloy tube kicking about on the bench so with that and an hour or three on the lathe, the silencer was born. In hindsight I should have made it into a full-length shroud – hindsight is just too easy!
GOING WITH THE FLOW
I then turned my attention to the airflow through the rifle and smoothed, polished and reshaped everything to make it all go that much better. I fitted a different trigger and put the safety on the left, just because I prefer it there. When it was time to test the gun, over the chrono’ it was doing give or take 11 ft.lbs. with about a 5-7fps spread with which I was happy, and accuracy wise it produced 7-8mm groups at 30 metres – very satisfactory.
I stripped it all down again and polished and chrome-plated the action and cylinder, leaving a few bits black for contrast. Ronnie Sunshines built the Platinum with BSA a year earlier, and I managed to find a new Minelli Platinum stock, which fitted the rifle perfectly and gave continuity from the platinum.
ALL FOR CHARITY
The rifle now shot really well and looked lovely too. Neil Wells, a fellow employee, suggested raffling it for charity, which was agreed. I am a British Legion member and that was the chosen cause. The rifle is engraved:
LEST WE FORGET. IN AID OF THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION and carries the serial number. RSCB1914-18. RSCB standing for Ronnie Sunshines Chris Bartlett
THE BRITISH LEGION
The British Legion as a whole is divided up into branches across the UK. Mostly in towns, Berkhamsted, Watford, Leighton Buzzard etc, each having a clubhouse and bar. The total number of these is enormous. I belong to the Riders Branch, (RBLRB) and we number over 5000. All of us are motorcyclists, but we do not have our own clubhouse to call home – instead, we visit different clubs during the course of the year. All the branches carry out vital fund raising – not just at this time – and RBLRB is no exception, we are in fairly high demand to attend functions with our bikes and badged leathers, drawing people in and helping to raise awareness to the cause. All of the funds raised go toward looking after servicemen and women who need our help.’
What a result. Magnificent effort, guys.
Duncan was already a lucky guy!