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Thread: Sportco target rifle

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Sportco target rifle

    Went to a gun show in Wichita this past weekend, lots of interesting stuff, though I didn't buy much.

    A guy had a table full of various vintage target rifles. One I had never seen one of before, a single shot bolt action rifle in .308, looked a lot like this one, but the sights were considerably more elaborate and I didn't see a medallion in the stock; https://www.gunbroker.com/item/845749080

    He was asking in the $1500 range as well, so I had to pass, but it was an interesting conversation, not much at gun shows I haven't seen before.

    Anyone with any experience with one of these? Looked like a fun plinker.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Sportco is a Commonwealth Target Rifle optimized to shoot NATO ball ammunition in the matches normally shot in Canada, UK, Australia, NZ, etc. Bores run tight, because military issue ammo in those countries is normally 144-grain FMJBT with bullet diameter .307ish. Twist is slow, probably 1:14" or thereabouts in metric. These rifles were very accurate to 1000 yards with the ammo which they were designed to shoot.

    Sierra 155 MK with 39 grains of IMR3031 is a good load for those. Accurate 31-160H sized .309" with 30 grs. of RL7 or IMR4198 is also good. Forget bullets heavier than 160 grains or larger than .309" as throats are tight also.

    Seller of the GunBroker listing you linked to is a former Palma Team shooter and may be able to give more info. While specialized, these are very good rifles and better than just "plinkers."
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master


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    No offense meant with the plinker name, just seems most of my shooting anymore is just that, informal shooting on my front porch range.

    Interesting information, though they don't sound like real good for a cast shooter with that specialized barrel.

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub
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    It may be an Omark or Sportco 44.
    Told originally designed as a Vietnam era sniper rifle but never adopted.
    Used extensively in Oz for Full bore and now being used for F class and Fly shoots.
    Usually have a tight barrel at 306 to 307.
    As mentioned designed to use military ammo.
    Have a real beefy single shot action with a 60 degree bolt throw and short bolt travel.
    Usually shoot real well.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by LawrenceA View Post
    It may be an Omark or Sportco 44.
    Told originally designed as a Vietnam era sniper rifle but never adopted.
    Used extensively in Oz for Full bore and now being used for F class and Fly shoots.
    Usually have a tight barrel at 306 to 307.
    As mentioned designed to use military ammo.
    Have a real beefy single shot action with a 60 degree bolt throw and short bolt travel.
    Usually shoot real well.
    The one I handled was an intriguing rifle, sure looked like it would be fun to shoot. I had never heard of or seen one and I've been a gun nut my whole life.

    Are these still being made?

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy blackbahart's Avatar
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    they are an interesting rifle .
    the barrel contains the locking lugs for the 3 lug bolt and they are single shot as the action is basically a pipe and easy to produce.
    A friend had one and he liked it and it has the target sights .The accuracy was suffering and he wanted to clean up the chamber /throat and learned it was not really possible because of the lugs mating in the barrel and not possible to move the barrel back
    Ernie said pretty well the same as Lawrence wrote .
    Up here in Canada they are not common ,but not rare and they sell in the 400 to 800 CDN with the sights in place and take a long time to sell

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackbahart View Post
    they are an interesting rifle .
    the barrel contains the locking lugs for the 3 lug bolt and they are single shot as the action is basically a pipe and easy to produce.
    A friend had one and he liked it and it has the target sights .The accuracy was suffering and he wanted to clean up the chamber /throat and learned it was not really possible because of the lugs mating in the barrel and not possible to move the barrel back
    Ernie said pretty well the same as Lawrence wrote .
    Up here in Canada they are not common ,but not rare and they sell in the 400 to 800 CDN with the sights in place and take a long time to sell
    There was an adaptor being sold here in Oz so that they could fitted with a barrel in a more conventional manner. Nelson or Neilson adaptor I think they were called. They are often for sale on the Oz gunsales site, and I have never seen one over $1000.00. But they are common down under.
    WHEN IN DOUBT, USE MORE CLOUT!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Here is one that came up on Used Guns this morning. If you look at the bottom actions, there is one of the adaptors.

    https://www.usedguns.com.au/Product.aspx?p=163251
    WHEN IN DOUBT, USE MORE CLOUT!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Had a good friend who owned two gun shops. had a decent collection of high powered match rifles. After the sportco I believe another model took its place. Was called the Angel. Supposedly it took off where the sportco stopped being in production. Don't remember what the advantages were over the sportco versus the Angel. A lot of them were both pre'64's and post '64's chambered in both 308 and 30-06 some had factory bbls and others had aftermarket barrels. Most had the long slide Lyman 48 rear target sights and Redfield globe front sights as well as Redfield international and Redfield globe target front sights. Redfield made 3-4 rear target sights as far as I can remember. Redfield Olympic, International, Palma and another one after the Palma. When I received my H&R model 12 from the CMP it came with the Palma rear sight. Warner target rear sights have taken over from Lyman,Redfield as both are no longer being made and haven't been for some years..And they ain't cheap. Frank

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Reverend Al's Avatar
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    The Sportco and Parker Hale 950T were both quite popular with the BCRA / DCRA (British Columbia Rifle Association / Dominion of Canada Rifle Association) members up here in Canada. In the '60's and '70's Victoria (and Vancouver Island) were very active in long range military style target rifle shooting. Here in Victoria we have the Heals Military Rifle Range which was a 1,000 yard range and military matches were held there regularly. In the '80's the military commander at the time caved in to demands by neighbours to restrict the amount of shooting and the distances shot on Heals range. It was reduced to 400 yards only and interest by the dyed in the wool target shooters declined steadily to the point where it is nearly non-existent today. Used Sportco and Parker Hale 7.62 target rifles showed up for sale fairly steadily for several years from local shooters that gave up the sport after the range restrictions were put in place. I had a Sportco 44 for a while and it shot very well ...
    I may have passed my "Best Before" date, but I haven't reached my "Expiry" date!

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check