Long Branch Scout Sniper’s Rifle 1943-1944

Left side of a sniper rifle
1943 – 1944 Small Arms Limited, Long Branch, “Scout Sniper’s Rifle” serial number ASC285 (I suspect that it is ASC-85-2) – Al Fraser-Fred Van Sickle picture shown in WITHOUT WARNING p.60 (edited slightly) This rifle is almost identical to the way mine would have looked during WWII.
Scout Sniper's Rifle serial number ASC-85-4 as found - Left side. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Scout Sniper’s Rifle serial number ASC-85-4 as found – Left side. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Left side of sniper rifle.
Scout Sniper’s Rifle ASC-85-4 left side during restoration July 2017. R.E.L. experimental 3.5X scope EXP.0144 in slide ASC-85-3, Civilian butt and an old ex-India No. 4 fore-end roughly carved to shape as a practice piece. An Italian made ‘repilica’ scope base is fitted, but only 2 out of 4 screws line up, so a custom replica one will likely be needed.
3rd Snipers course - Camp Borden Jan 12 1945. The second rifle from the right is a Scout Sniper's Rifle.
3rd Snipers course – Camp Borden Jan 12 1945. The second rifle from the right is a Scout Sniper’s Rifle.
DETAIL showing two different model Lee-Enfield No. 4 sniper rifles - 1945-01-12 Third Snipers' Course at Camp Borden, Ontario, Canada. Note the variety of No. 4 (T) rifles. (Private collection)
1945-01-12 Third Snipers’ Course at Camp Borden, Ontario, Canada. The rifle on the left is a “Scout” Sniper Experimental Long Branch with C No. 32 MK. 4 (later called a C No. 67 MK. I ) scope and Monte Carlo butt. The one on the right is a No. 4 MK. I* (T) with C No. 32 Mk. 4 (aka C No. 67 MK.I ) scope. This would be an 80L8xxx serial numbered rifle. (Detail from a photo via CheesyCigar on Milsurps.com)

Link to the above photo and the discussion that ensured on Milsurps.com

In 1943-1944, Small Arms Limited (S.A.L.) at Long Branch in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Research Enterprises Limited (R.E.L.) in Leaside, Toronto, Ontario were co-operating in the design of new sniper rifles at the request of the British. Twenty such rifles were made. Ten were Scout Sniper’s Rifles and ten were Section Sniper’s Rifles. The detailed story of these is well told in the book WITHOUT WARNING by the late Clive Law, Service Publications.

Of the 20 experimental sniper rifles made, 2 were destroyed in action and 1 was captured by the Germans. The one captured by the Germans was likely destroyed. That leaves no more than 18, and likely 17, possible survivors. It looks like three or four intact rifles survive in collections and I have acquired one in 2017.  I would be delighted to hear about any other surviving examples and I would especially like to hear from other owners so as to learn more about these rare rifles and scopes so that I can make this restoration as accurate as possible. 

SURVIVING SCOUT SNIPER’S RIFLES

  1. ASC-43-3 – Shown in great detail on Milsurps.com 
  2. ASC-43-7 (?) – Dan Fabok Collection as shown in “The Lee-Enfield” by Ian Skennerton, 2007 pages 317-318
  3. ASC-85-2 (?) – Recorded as serial number ASC285 in “Without Warning” by the late Clive Law, pages 57 and 60 but I strongly suspect that it was ASC-85-2.
  4. ASC-85-4 with slide from ASC-85-3  and experimental R.E.L. 3.5X Gimbal scope EXP.0144 – Colin MacGregor Stevens. Under restoration. 
  5. Unknown SN – Fitted with a R.E.L. experimental 5X scope. “Without Warning” by the late Clive Law, page 63)

My rifle is serial number ASC-85-4. Was either identical to the second rifle from the right in the sniper class photo above, or almost identical. It is one of the 10 Scout Sniper’s Rifle and of those, only three, including this one, were made without a bayonet fitting. Thus the chances are 1 in 3 that my rifle is the one in the photo.

When found, ASC-85-4 had a “sniper” sling swivel just in front of the magazine. These became standard on No. 4 (T) sniper rifles in 1945 and many rifles were retrofitted. This is the only evidence that I have seen so far of such a swivel on a Scout Sniper’s Rifle. It may have been an very early 1944 test example before standardization in early 1945 or the rifle might have remained in service post-WWII and might have had it added at some point or possibly a civilian owner added. it.   My rifle had been sporterized for hunting after being sold surplus, but fortunately it is restorable. Nine notches were found on the underside of the sporter fore-end, suggesting the the hunter had 9 deer, moose or bear kills. I have acquired an experimental R.E.L. 3.5X Gimbal scope, a pilot model for the C No. 32 MK. 4 / C No. 67 Mk. I scope, serial number EXP.0144, in slide (upper mount) # 9 which is numbered to Scout Sniper Rifle ASC-85-3, the rifle immediately preceding mine. It is not a matching serial number but it is not bad considering that only 10 Scout Sniper’s Rifles were made about 74 years ago!  I have a civilian butt with the built-in cheek rest and rubber butt pad and I am carving a fore-end out of a No. 4 fore end. I am first carving up one that was in poor condition to learn the skills before I carve up a good fore end.  

SCOUT SNIPER’S RIFLE ASC-85-4 AS FOUND

 
Scout Sniper's Rifle serial number ASC-85-4 as found - Left side. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Scout Sniper's Rifle serial number ASC-85-4 as found - Left side. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Scout Sniper's Rifle serial number ASC-85-4 as found - Serial number on the butt socket. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Scout Sniper's Rifle serial number ASC-85-4 as found - Serial number on the butt socket. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Left side of rifle body.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4 left side of body as found. Note the lightening cuts. The windmill rear sight was missing. The small silver coloured block on top was a spacer for fitting a civilian scope. It was removed and saved.
Scout Sniper's Rifle serial number ASC-85-4 as found - Swing out front sight. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Scout Sniper's Rifle serial number ASC-85-4 as found - Swing out front sight. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4's original hand guard - left side showing the upper half of the finger groove..
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4's original hand guard - left side showing the upper half of the finger groove..
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4's original hand guard - underside showing Long Branch markings.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4's original hand guard - underside showing Long Branch markings.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4's original hand guard - underside showing Long Branch markings.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4's original hand guard - underside showing Long Branch markings.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4 - Original handguard. (T.J. Pisani photo)
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4 - Original handguard. (T.J. Pisani photo)

SCOUT SNIPER’S RIFLE ASC-85-4 RESTORATION PROGRESS

 
 
ASC-85-4  - A scope is obtained and placed for photo (no base) and hand guard temporarily held in place.
ASC-85-4 - A scope is obtained and placed for photo (no base) and hand guard temporarily held in place.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4  - The "Ring, Retaining, rear handguard", if turned 90 degrees, will slide easily over the front sight guard.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4 - The "Ring, Retaining, rear handguard", if turned 90 degrees, will slide easily over the front sight guard.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4  - The "Ring, Retaining, rear handguard", if turned 90 degrees, will slide easily over the front sight guard.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4 - The "Ring, Retaining, rear handguard", if turned 90 degrees, will slide easily over the front sight guard.
Right side of rifle.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4 right side during restoration July 2017. R.E.L. experimental 3.5X scope EXP.0144 in slide ASC-85-3, Civilian butt and an old ex-India No. 4 fore-end roughly carved to shape as a practice piece.
LEft side of sniper rifle.
Scout Sniper's Rifle ASC-85-4 left side during restoration July 2017. R.E.L. experimental 3.5X scope EXP.0144 in slide ASC-85-3, Civilian butt and an old ex-India No. 4 fore-end roughly carved to shape as a practice piece.

WANT LIST 

PHOTODESCRIPTION
Windmill sight for a Scout Sniper's Rifle. This is on serial number ASC285 (which I believe is ASC-85-2) - Al Fraser - Frad Van Sickle picure shown in WITHOUT WARNING p 60 (slightly edited)
Windmill sight for a Scout Sniper's Rifle. This is on serial number ASC285 (which I believe is ASC-85-2) - Al Fraser - Frad Van Sickle picure shown in WITHOUT WARNING p 60 (slightly edited)
Windmill backsight. it rotates and has ranges 2,3,4 and 6 hundred yards.
"Scout Sniper's Rifle" serial number ASC285 butt. I suspect that it is ASC-85-2) - Al Fraser-Fred Van Sickle picture shown in WTHOUT WARNING p.60 (edited slightly) This rifle is almost identical to the way mine would have looked during WWII.
"Scout Sniper's Rifle" serial number ASC285 butt and fore-end. I suspect that it is ASC-85-2) - Alf Fraser-Fred Van Sickle picture shown in WTHOUT WARNING p.60 (edited slightly) This rifle is almost identical to the way mine would have looked during WWII.
Fore-end and butt. They look like post-war civilian hunting rifle stocks, but these are war-time manufactured. The butt likely has a scope serial number stamped on top at the front (below cocking piece of rifle) and may well have Canadian Long Branch marks stamped into the underside of the grip and fore-arm.
Bracket Telescope C MK I for telescope C No 67 MK I
Bracket Telescope C MK I for telescope C No 67 MK I
Scope mount base. Griffin & Howe pattern. Ideally Canadian made for best fit.

COMPARISON BETWEEN SCOUT SNIPER RIFLE AND E.A.L. MILITARY SURVIVAL RIFLE

There are many similarities between the 1943-1944 Scout Sniper’s Rifle and the 1950s Essential Agencies Limited (E.A.L.) Military (R.C.A.F. and Canadian Rangers) Survival Rifle. Both have similar extensive removal of metal on the body, and sporter style furniture.  The two rifles are very similar in appearance but picking them up shows that the Scout Sniper’s Rifle is much heavier, in spite of the lightening cuts on the left side of the body which are present on ASC-85-4 but not on all Scout Sniper’s Rifles. 

Collectors should be aware that someone may try to fake a Scout Sniper’s Rifle someday using an E.A.L. military or a No. 4 Mk. I* rifle body, so do look at details carefully.

Return to  my Lee-Enfield No. 4 MK. I (T) Sniper Rifle page.