* ENFIELD, ENGLAND
AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE .303 BOLT-ACTION SNIPER-RIFLE, MODEL 'BAILEY'S SHARPSHOOTERS No1MKIII*', serial no. 6140, WITH ACCESSORIES,
the rifle dated for 1916, with 25 1/2in. exposed barrel, the fore-stock deliberately cut back to 'sporter' style favoured by the unit 'Bailey's South African Sharpshooters' in 1917, the fore-sight unprotected, the elevating rear-sight retained, the top of barrel near breech fitted with a telescopic sight mount (currently loose), the top-wood adapted for same, open receiver with side claw mount, no magazine cut-off or long range volley sight, oval cocking piece, side safe, walnut butt-stock, the left side of butt carved with a circular panel containing ts 'B.S.A.S' around a depiction of a springbok's head, ten-round detachable magazine and fitted with a canvas webbing sling, together with its original Aldis Bros, London telescopic sight no. 68774, also dated 1916 and marked with a matching number to rifle, the mounts applied and signed 'J. PURDEY & SONS', complete with its leather carry case and shoulder strap, the instructions for use within the lid of the case, also an issue trench periscope by R & J Beck Ltd., also dated 1916 in its leather case and a 'TEL SIG (MKIV) G.G. four-draw telescope with additional high magnification eyepiece signed Negretti & Zambra, London. and complete with its folding wooden lightweight tripod; all part of the original equipment schedule.
Provenance: This rare rifle was the property of Lt N.W. Methven, M.C., one of the serving 24 members of Abe Bailey's South African Sharpshooters unit and one of only six members who survived the war. After the conflict, Methven refused to return the rifle to the Union Defence Force, stating that as Bailey had personally bought and paid for the rifles, it was never the U.D.F's in the first place! It was the only rifle used by Methven during the war and he insisted on having the barrel replaced every 500 rounds; this work was apparently carried out four times.
By all account, Methven amassed a large collection of souvenirs from this and other previous wars, most of which he stated came from 'people who didn't need them anymore'. When he sadly passed, it was left to his nephew to dispose of his collection, including this rifle. It was purchased by a neighbour and came by descent to the current vendor. It is possibly now the only known surviving genuine rifle from Bailey's Sharpshooters.
This rifle and the history of Sir Abe's Sharpshooters is dealt with at length in a new book recently released by William Endley entitled 'South Africa At War - The Union Defence Force in World War 1'
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S1 - Sold as a Section 1 Firearm under the 1968 Firearms Act