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March 16th, 2019

A Beauty of a Beast — .50 BMG Falling Block Rifle (Amazing)

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle
.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

This is one amazing .50-caliber rifle. Along with the lever-actuated falling block, it has a massive swing-out breech block like you’d find on a field artillery piece. The action is so wide that the sights and scope are offset. You’ve heard of the “Beauty and the Beast”? Well here the Beast IS a Beauty….

View looking down at the action from above. Note the hinged Breech-Block.
.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

This extraordinary example of gunsmithing art was crafted by the late J.T. (Jack) Smith of Sudbury, Massachusetts. This unique .50-caliber rifle features an aircraft machine gun barrel cut down to 38-1/4″, and turned octagon to round (in the style of Schuetzen rifles). The round portion of the barrel is tapered with a heavy boss at the muzzle. The barrel is inlaid in gold on both left and right side top flats. Custom scope bases are fitted to the receiver and to the top of the barrel. These hold an externally adjusting Unertl 15X target scope in offset scope mounts.

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle

Huge Falling Block Receiver
The massive receiver (8″ long x 2-3/4″ wide x 3″ deep) is remarkable in design and construction. Machined from solid steel, the action incorporates several unique features. Note the hinged Howitzer-style breech block which swings to the right and mortises into the back of the receiver in the loading slot, providing a back-up for the falling block. We’ve never seen anything like that on any rifle. The one-piece floorplate/lever incorporates a Ruger No. 1-style latch which locks into the bottom of the trigger guard. The entire floorplate and lever retract downward. Firing is accomplished by means of a striker mounted in the hinged (swing-out) breech block. This is manually cocked with another lever on top of the breech block. Dropping the falling block activates the extractor which removes the spent case.

Offset Sights
This rifle features a custom-built, windage-adjustable offset front sight plus a custom-built vernier tang sight with aperture offset to the left side. The sights are offset to the left for a right-handed shooter, to correct for the extreme width of the receiver, allowing a more comfortable head position.

.50 BMG J.T. 50-caliber Smith breech block falling block custom rifle


Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
July 14th, 2016

Black Powder Target Rifle Championship Next Week in Raton, NM

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championship Raton NM
NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

Next week the NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championship will be held at the Whittington Center in Raton, NM. From July 19-24, top Black Powder Cartridge Rifle (BPCR) shooters from around the country will test their skills during a week-long event with targets set from 200 to 1000 yards. On the firing line you’ll see many handsome, custom-built BPCRs (Sharps, Ballards, Browning High Walls, Rolling Blocks) with exquisite wood, hand-checkering, and color-case-hardened receivers.

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

The Black Powder Championship starts with mid-range matches from 200 to 600 yards. Then competitors set their sights for long range, with 800-1000 yard Creedmoor matches at the end of the week. Interestingly, for safety reasons, there are minimum bullet weight and muzzle velocity requirements for the Creedmoor matches. These BPCR shooters launch some seriously heavy projectiles downrange:

Caliber Minimum Bullet Weight (Grains) Minimum Bullet Velocity (FPS)
.38 Cal 408 (375) 1300 (1375)
.40 Cal 408 1280
.44 Cal 450 1240
.45 Cal 510 1200
.50 Cal 600 1200

NRA Black Powder Target Rifle Championships Raton NM

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July 2nd, 2010

Anschütz and BSA Martini Benchrest Rigs from MT Guns

We recently tested some interesting “club benchrest” rifles created by MT Guns. Recognizing the demand for highly accurate “club-level” smallbore BR guns, Mac Tilton and his crew at MT Guns have started producing two new types of affordable rimfire benchrest rifles. One line of rifles employs Anschütz actions refitted with modern SS barrels and benchrest stocks. As its second line of rimfire BR guns, MT Guns is offering highly-modified BSA Martinis, tricked out with bag-riders and premium barrels fitted with tuners. With the hot-rod Anschütz running about $2000.00 and the modified BSA costing about $1500.00, these guns should provide an affordable alternative for club-level rimfire benchrest shooters. Plus you won’t have to wait months or years to get a “big-name” smith to build you a rifle.

Anschütz 54 Benchrest MT Guns

Anschütz Modified for Serious Accuracy
For Anschütz fans, MT Guns has fitted high grade Benchmark barrels to the legendary Model 54-type action. These re-barreled Anschütz actions are placed in Don Stith laminated benchrest stocks. With a modern low-profile, wide-forearm stock, MT Gun’s Anschütz BR guns track beautifully. So far, MT Guns has created two of these Anschütz-based bench guns, both built from model 19XX donor rifles — which also provided superb 5018 triggers. Barrels on both guns are Benchmark — one a 2-groove, the other a 3-groove. In the Stith stocks, complete with aluminum butt plates and weighted tuners, both rifles tip the scales at about 10 pounds. Price for the Anschütz bench guns is $1995.00 with unfinished Stith stock. A fitted Hoehn barrel tuner adds $200 to the price, while a Picatinny rail is a $125.00 option.

Anschütz 54 Benchrest MT Guns

BSA MartiniBSA Martini — Classic Design with 21st Century Upgrades
If you want to get noticed at your club’s next smallbore rimfire match, then a modified BSA Martini may be the gun for you. These rifles, originally built for prone target shooting, earned a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. MT Guns has done some basic modifications allowing the unique BSA Martinis to be surprisingly competitive in the benchrest game. The factory barrels were “retired” in favor of a 2-groove or 3-groove reverse taper Benchmark barrel — the type of tube that has won big matches and set records. To improve the rifle’s “bench manners” MT Guns fits a custom-made low-friction polymer sled in the front. Fitted with this 3″-wide bag-rider, the gun is extremely stable. An optional Hoehn tuner allows you to tune barrel harmonics for maximum accuracy.

Speaking of which, readers may be asking “How accurate can this BSA Frankengun really be?” Amazingly accurate. Watch the slide show below. In the last frame you’ll see two very impressive 5-shot groups shot by the BSA Martini Int’l Mark III at 50 yards. The ammo was Lapua X-Act.

In the video below, Bruce Duncan of MT Guns explains the distinctive mechanical design of the lever-activated, tilting-block BSA Martini. Bruce also discusses the history of the BSA Martini marque, reviewing the many BSA Martini models produced in the last century. The BSA Martini International MK III is perhaps the most desirable in the long evolution of target Martinis built by BSA from the Great War era to the early 80s. These MK IIIs, dating from the 1960s, feature Benchmark 28 3/4″ reverse-taper barrels, Hoehn barrel tuners, and special bolt-on Picatinny rails fabricated by MT Guns. Bruce noted: “The MT Guns bag rider attaches to the rifle’s fore-end rail. During testing, we noted that the fore-and-aft position of the bag rider on the rail affected the rifle’s tune.” For more info, visit or call the shop at (805) 720-7720.

Permalink - Articles, Gear Review 11 Comments »
May 10th, 2009

E. Arthur Brown 6 PPC Falling Block Auction

There’s a very nice E. Arthur Brown model 97 falling block on Gunbroker right now (Auction Item 1278790919), with a few more hours left before close of auction. This “custom grade” rifle features many nice upgrades, including a heavy barrel with muzzle brake, scope rail, brass stock wrist-piece, french gray finish, and select wood. What caught our eye was the fact that this particular rifle is chambered in 6 PPC — plus the gun’s in great condition.

model 97 6PPC

Memories of a 6PPC Falling Block
A friend of this Editor acquired a very similar model 97 some years ago, also chambered in 6 PPC. It proved to be superbly accurate. My friend wanted a slim, lightweight rifle for backcountry coyote hunts. He would often trek long distances during his hunts, so the rifle had to be easy on the shoulder but still capable of half-MOA (or better) accuracy. We both loved that little falling block (and it took its share of ‘yotes). Here’s your chance to save hundreds over the cost of buying a deluxe model 97 from the factory. Note, this auction will end today, May 10th, unless the item is relisted.

model 97 6PPC

model 97 6PPC

CLICK HERE for Model 97 Features Video | CLICK HERE for Model 97 Varmint Hunting Video

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting No Comments »
November 29th, 2008

Sweet Browning Falling Block For Sale in Forum

We believe that every serious gun collector should have at least one falling block rifle in his or her collection. This classic design allows a very short, compact action. Falling blocks can be extremely accurate. Remember that the finest, long-range target rifles of the 19th Century were falling blocks. And the more modern BSA Martini designs were very successful rimfire target rifles in their heydey.

Compared to shooting a semi-automatic rifle, or even a modern bolt gun, using a falling block is a very different experience. It seems old-fashioned, but in a reassuring kind of way. The pace is slower, and there is something calm and purposeful about working the smooth under-lever and loading the case by hand. You “work” a bolt gun… but you “caress” a falling block.

Browning High Wall 1885

Right now there is a very nice Browning B-78 High Wall falling block for sale in our Shooters’ Forum Classifieds. Chambered in 22-250, it features a full octagon barrel and superbly-figured wood. The seller reports this rifle: “Is in 99% condition [and] shoots under 1” at 100 yards with factory ammo.” The $1,100 asking price includes a 6-12×44 Simmons Aetec scope, rings and bases, 125 pieces once-fired brass, and a Sinclair 22-250 bore guide.

This Editor has shot one of the older Miroku-built Browning B-78 falling blocks and it was beautifully built, with a butter-smooth action and gorgeous blueing. (Japan’s Miroku, which also builds Citori shotguns for Browning, is renowned for the superb metal-work and finish of their rifles and shotguns.) The B-78 was produced by Miroku from 1973 to 1982. This single shot rifle was initially offered in .22-250, 6 mm Remington, .25-06, and .30-06. .243 and 7mm Rem Mag was added to the standard rifle line and a .45-70 version was added on a heavier frame. The B-78 was discontinued in 1982, and then reintroduced in 1985 as the Model 1885 High Wall. The more recent 1885s feature a more traditional stock with a straight wrist and no roll-over comb.

Browning High Wall 1885

Chuck Hawks is also a fan of the Browning falling blocks: “The Browning 1885 High Wall is a modern version of the John Browning designed classic, widely regarded as the strongest and best of the American single-shot rifles. It is a very simple yet elegant looking rifle. It has an exposed rebounding hammer that cocks automatically when the ‘S’-shaped underlever is operated. The automatic ejector can be user set to throw the empty case out to the right or left, or extracted for convenient removal by hand.”

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