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
- ASC-43-3 – Shown in great detail on Milsurps.com
- ASC-43-7 (?) – Dan Fabok Collection as shown in “The Lee-Enfield” by Ian Skennerton, 2007 pages 317-318
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 ASC-85-4 RESTORATION PROGRESS
|Windmill backsight. it rotates and has ranges 2,3,4 and 6 hundred yards.|
|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.|
|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.
Return to my Lee-Enfield No. 4 MK. I (T) Sniper Rifle page.