The Scout Sniper Rifle was an experimental sniper rifle made in limited quantities. It was very innovative, but it was not adopted for mass production.
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 (SN ASC …) and ten were Section Sniper’s Rifles (ASE…). The detailed story of these is well told in the book WITHOUT WARNING by the late Clive Law, Service Publications.
Of these 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.
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 ‘replica’ scope base is fitted, but it is not an accurate copy and only 2 out of 4 screws line up. A rare original Long Branch mount has since been obtained.
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. At first I thought that this was an 80L8xxx serial numbered rifle. (Detail from a photo via CheesyCigar on Milsurps.com) but having now noticed the extra sniper sling swivel a couple of inches in front of the magazine, I now suspect it was one of the 10 Long Branch experimental Section Sniper’s Rifles which had a serial number beginning with ASE.
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-84-2 – Ex-Gorton Collection, New Zealand. Stock badly cracked or broken at pistol grip and repaired, but not perfectly. Scope is allegedly 5X R.E.L. serial number 0143, but auction photos show what appears to be a German made scope with a rectangular pad on the underside of the tuber where it flares out in the rear bell.
- ASC-85-2 (?) – Recorded as serial number ASC285 in “Without Warning” by the late Clive Law, pages 57 and 60 but I suspect that it is actually 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. Now fitted with a standard No. 4 Mk. I* (T) butt stock.
- Unknown SN – Fitted with a R.E.L. experimental 5X scope. “Without Warning” by the late Clive Law, page 63). Fitted with Monte Carlo butt stock as used on 80L8xxx series rifles.
My rifle is serial number ASC-85-4. This was either the second rifle from the right in the sniper class photo above, or 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, though it is not know when that was fitted. . 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 sporterized fore-end, suggesting the the hunter had nine 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 three quarters of a century ago! I have a standard No. 4 Mk. I* (T) butt with cheekrest as well as a civilian butt with the built-in “Monte Carlo” cheek rest and rubber butt pad. I am carving a fore-end out of a No. 4 fore end. I first carved up one that was in poor condition to learn the skills before I carved up a good Long Branch fore end.
|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 one model of 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 of the Scout Sniper’s Rifles.
WARNING: 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.
OTHER WEB SITES TO LOOK FOR