View Full Version : What have I got???

05-16-2005, 01:54 PM
Like any good gun nut, I can't turn down a deal. Sometimes, it dosen't even have to be a good deal...just "a deal", and we are known to jump in with both feet.....even when I don't know for sure what I'm buying!

And that is where I am now.....I bought a "pig-in-a-poke". A real "project rifle" for sure, and I need your help in identifying this thing, so I can get some parts to put it in working order.

The barrel is 33" long with no front sight. The first 5" is Octogan, and an adjustable sight is dove tailed into this part. It is "tapered" from .960 to .712. it has a thickness at the muzzle of .162.

The lock is 5.5" long.
It has one sling swivel on the rear of the trigger, and the front barrel band is missing. The stock has a "slot" in front of where the barrel band fits that is 9' long, and .060" wide....I assumed this was for the bayonet blade when it was folded down...I also assumed this bayonet lug is where the front sight should be.
The sight is adjustable and has the numbers 200 to 800. with lines between the 200, 300, 400, 500, etc.

The only markings on the gun is a Crown over the letters BF, located on the lock, the bbl, and the steel butt plate. There is the number 45 located on the bottom of the barrel in fancy English print.

This is the rifle in it's component parts.


This the back of the lock...notice no "Half-cock" and the barrel w/sight.


Another view.


And finally the face of the lock......The flash washed out the crown and letters BF.


Any help would be appreciated.....I'm "thinking"....Gawd! that's dangerous...but. I'm thinking Whitworth.

I am also thinking it was made in Birmingham....I have found several "proof marks" with the same "identical crown" from England with other lettering, but I have not found the BF....or BE....
(Maybe I'm just full of hope that it could be an original Whitworth...But, at the same time, I have never read of Whitworth having such a small caliber)

Oh, BTW....The gun was shipped from Europe in 1948, along with several other goodies, and I have seen the military paperwork that had this rifle, and several more listed on the military orders.

One of the rifles he brought back was this beautiful custom made, 8mm rimmed, Aydt.

It is something of a "reversed" lever action...the lever drops the block, and the trigger from the front. :-? (It is very nice.)


Thanks folks, Russ

45 2.1
05-16-2005, 06:54 PM
The rear sight looks like it is of Swiss heritage. The swiss were great target shooters from the gitgo.

Wayne Smith
05-17-2005, 07:45 AM
If it is a Witworth it will not have conventional rifling, the bore will be an octagonal cross section with a twist. That should be distinctive.

05-17-2005, 10:22 PM
RussB, I think 45 2.1 is correct. How does a Jagergewehr modell 1853 or 1856 They look real close except over all length and center band arrangment
Any way yours has had the stock for arm cut down It was a 3 band configuration. What bore does it have? Rifled? Book shows it as 10.5 mm.
A friend just last week gave me a zerox copy of a book he got through the inter-libary loan. Titled, Hand-und Faustfeuerwaffen
Schweizerische Ordonnanz 1817 bis 1967
Author Verlag Huber Frauenfeld
Russ hit your public libary and make the request.My guess the copy he had was the only one around and he just returned it.
I made a scan of my scaned copy here


05-18-2005, 09:42 AM
Thanks a bunch for all the good information.

I had wondered about that forearm being cut down. :???:
I also suspect that 10.5mm to be about right for the bore, although I haven't slugged it yet.
A tight patch on a rod has not told me much about the rifling twist.... yet, but I can tell it certainly isn't cut very deep, and the best I can tell.... there are 5 lands & grooves that appear shallow, yet fairly wide.

I will fill out a request for my library to get that book.

We have a pretty good library system here in the Pacific Northwest, It is called "Timberland Library". This will be a good chance to see just well they can come through for all the tax money I have paid them over the years. ;-)

Thanks Again.

Respectfully, Russ

05-19-2005, 03:30 AM
.............My first impression was of a British stalking rifle until I saw that sight. It looks like a few used on rifles during the muzzle loading-cartridge transition period and a bit beyond. I've seen early Austrian rifles with a similar setup and also Italian Vetterlis. Looks like a nosecap may also be missing.

"..........It is "tapered" from .960 to .712. it has a thickness at the muzzle of .162."

The barrel is .712" at the muzzle minus .162 x 2 = .388"? I'm not following here, I guess :-).

I see it has a break off breech which points to a civilian make, yet the band has a spring retainer which seems martial to me as do the sling swivel locations (end of triggerguard, and guard bow).

If it was a Whitworth, or even someone playing on the well known Whitworth name it would be marked "Whitworth" or Whitworth's Pat'd. Neither Whitworth himself nor any of his rifle companies which went through 3 iterations made all the Whitworth marked arms. According to sources as widespread as those researching the long range match rifles to those of Civil War production rifles, it's been well shown that Whitworth marked arms had been made by several different outfits. A look in the muzzle would confirm it anyway.

Checking "The Official Guide to Gunmarks" 1st edition by David Byron there are a couple proofs which might fit.

First is a "Definative Black Powder Proof (Birmingham)" c. 1868 - 1925. This is a crown over a fancy script VBP, which if struck with the die slightly tilted might show only the BP. If so, the crown would be more over the 'B' then centered over the 'BP'. Or on the other hand the V might be taken as part of the 'B' as the script is rather fancy and flowing.

If it's the above it places the rifle in the later years of muzzle loading useage, althought the Irish team competing against the US team at Creedmore in 1874 used muzzle loaders. To be sure everyone didn't just toss their muzzle loaders at the first hint of cartridge rifles, either.

A second possibility is a crown over what appears to be an 'RP' but must be a 'BP'. These 2 letters are a script type although not as fancy as the first and is definately only 2 letters. The first, if it is a B has the bottom of the 'B' not closing completly with the back vertical of the letter, but rather curving back as normal but then forming an inside curl. The 'P' is defiante as to what letter it is. This mark is the "English Provisional Blackpowder Proof (Birmingham) since 1856.

Third is a Crown over a very definative and block type lettering "BP". This is a "British Definative Black Powder Proof (Birmingham)" and no date is given.

If the mark is a crown over a definative block type BF and it's not actually a BP then there are no matching Birmingham or English proofs shown in this book.

There are 3 marks with crowns over an 'AF' which are not proofs but the Auguste Francotte trademarke of Liege Belgium. If struck with worn dies possibly it might appear as BF? If so, there would also have to be Belgium firing proofs.

Not always, but quite often inside the lock there will be some type of markings to denote the maker as at the time some outfits that assembled rifles would buy their locks from outside venders, ditto the barrels and merely fit 3rd party parts together into their wood.

To me the entire rifle just doesn't seem to 'fit'. The lock doesn't have any martial type markings yet the stock has barrel bands with spring keepers (common military, much less so civilian) and a place for a bayonet (?) maybe. Yet the breakoff breech is civilian, and why in the heck have a breakoff breech with barrel bands? Seems to negate the easy barrel removal.

The rear sight also doesn't fit, especially marked up to 800 yards unless this rifle has a fast pitch. Possibly it was added to replace a much simpler one? To me the rifle appears to be a 'Put together'. A nice looking piece but I'd think impossible to prove it's provinence.


05-19-2005, 11:27 AM
Wow! Lot of "stuff" there Buckshot.

After considerable reading, I suspect I'm in agreement on a couple of things.

I think it is a bum job by someone, somewhere, to do something!

I also think it was originally a military weapon that has been butchered just a bit, or perhaps a project not completed. Who knows!
Or maybe they didn't know where they were going when they started, just chopping to be chopping. I don't have a clue.

I also feel sure it was made in Leige, Belguim in the mid/late 1850's.

And, I think I may be able to shoot it once I get it all cleaned up, and get a mould for it.

At this point I have not been able to remove the breach plug, determined the twist rate, or made a cast of the bore to determine the size mould I need......hopefully today.

I did read an interesting treatise on "small bore" rifles that were made in Belguim, and shipped to North Africa. It seemed that type of sight was common on all of them, and several looked similar to what I've got, except 3 band w/full stock...if you could imagine mine before it was "chopped & channeled", it may have been very similar.

At this point, my reading has been interesting, but I can't say I have put my finger on anything definate......yet.

Many thanks for all the good input. BTW....It was on this forum, a few years back, that I got an original .256 Newton Buffalo Rifle up and running...So, if anyone would know, it would be you folks IMHO.

Respectfully, Russ

05-25-2005, 08:47 AM
Russ, Just got back from our nationals.Anyway one of the used arms vendors had a Swiss rifle like yours. It had the cresent butplate of a earler model.Same lock and sight though. It was cut down stock with a soldered on thimbel. I asked the guy if he ran across many parts for the Swiss M/L. He said not much.Mostly from parts guns.I will keep looking

05-25-2005, 11:06 AM
Thanks a bunch Jim.
I still haven't been able to remove the Breech plug. Got it soaking in Kroil right now, seems the Kerosene didn't want to work too well.
I have got most of the cosmoline off of it, and the lock is in fine shape. Everything cleaned up very nice. Surprise, surprise!

However, after cleaning it real good I have found another mark on it.

In the Twenty-First edition of Gun Values, pg.1534...... I found a proof mark that matches one I found in the lock.
It is a crown over the initials E, over LG, over a small star.....all within a small oval no larger than a very small pencil erasser.

This reference in the book tells me.....Circa: since 1893....."definative Black Powder proof mark for breech loading guns, small bore guns, and Handguns" . The "Proof House" is not listed, but Leige Belgium is the mark.

This agrees very much with what Buckshot said.

Another reference tells me some of the marks on the gun indicate it was made between 1848 and 1856, for trade with the Boers in North Africa. How can that be true when the mark in the lock indicates "since 1893"........????

Heck, I still don't have a clue! But, it has all made for some interesting reading. I will be shooting this rifle....someday.


05-25-2005, 12:57 PM
Russ, During the mid 1800's Liege would make muskets and rifles for anyone,any pattern. They made copies of Enfields,Built Russian models.They also updated flintlocks to precussion.Many of the German and Austrian muskets imported during the C/W were purchased in Belgium. They also did a big business converting M/L to breech loaders post 1865.
The Boers were the Dutch that settled in what is now South Africia.They had a couple wars with the English.1899-1902 and 1880-81. Also had a bunch of wars with the Zulus. They were a real tough nut for the Britts to crack. They were using 93 Mausers to good effect in the last war. Boers were allways well armed so using old reworked rifles dosent make sence???