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Nowadays better known for their cross-bow production, the then named J.H.Barnett, Son & Co. Ltd., of Liverpool and Birmingham, once manufactured a very accurate .22 rim-fire target rifle.
This rifle had a most unusual type of action, being a design combination of bolt and under-lever. The system was vaguely similar in operation to that of the equally novel Jurek rifle, except that the bolt locking was effected differently and the bolt was actioned from below rather than from one, or the other, side.
Below: the LHS of the rifle with the bolt closed
and the RHS with the bolt open
Below: an advertisement for the rifle in "The Rifleman" December 1949
The best description of this rifle can be obtained by reading the article written for "The Rifleman" - the Journal of the N.S.R.A. - (the National Small-bore Rifle Association), in March 1949. The rifle had been introduced between 1947 and 1948 around the time that the N.S.R.A. had been formed out of the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs late in 1947. The "Ten-X" Barnett was soon updated - in 1949. The N.S.R.A. had started advertising the new productof the "Ten-X Rifle Company" in 1948 soon after production started. Progress was evidently slow because, in December of that year, the advertisement stated that
"Production of the "Ten-X" Rifle is steadily increasing. Orders are now being taken for the next batch. Place YOUR order now and avoid disappointment".
With only around two hundred and fifty rifles believed to have been manufactured, either demand outstripped production and customers went elsewhere, or the design was simply overtaken by those of other manufacturers. It would be reasonable to suppose that the introduction of the new BSA Martini International had a considerable bearing on this subject.
The article in "The Rifleman" reads:
"WHEN anything new in equipment appears on the market for British small-bore riflemen, it is an event. When it is in the form of a complete rifle built on original lines, it is indeed something to cause interest. Let us therefore try to give a description of the " Ten X " rifle, - and in doing so, pay tribute to the men, who, knowing the limitations of the market, have laid out a vast amount of capital, as well as thought and man-hours, in trying to produce something new for rifle shooting. Let us remember, too, the enthusiasts who perhaps take a chance in buying these new things, and who are prepared to meet the initial teething troubles for the sake of advancement. How often it is that the man with the long pocket is considered to be taking unfair advantage over the ordinary club shot, but in reality he is paving the way for higher quality for the " rabbit," as happens in all other sports.
Most people now know that the chief of the original ideas
in the " Ten X " rifle is the fact that the ACTION is designed to
combine the best features of both the Martini underlever and the bolt actions.
Various modifications have been and are in course of being made to the action.
The original model had a bolt circular in its entire length. The loading platform
was formed of two spring-loaded plungers which were depressed as the bolt
rode over them on its travel forward. Latterly the loading platform has-been
replaced by a solid platform and the bolt cut away on the undersides. This
simplified loading very much and it is now possible to place the round of
ammunition directly on the platform and feed forward with the bolt without
deformation of the bullet. This is effective even if the rifle is canted to quite an angle. The striker travel is very short indeed and the action when adjusted correctly can be described as definitely of the " speed lock " variety. The bolt and striker are made to very fine limits of tolerance and it would hardly be fair to make it a point of criticism that they have to be "run in." Nevertheless, 12 months' steady use does improve the ease and speed of the movement. The description " Miracle " has already been given to the trigger pull of another make of rifle. Perhaps " Magical " would be a fitting word to describe that of the " Ten X." Properly adjusted (and without an instruction sheet or the necessary " know how " the user can have endless fun trying to do it for himself) the rifle may be fired with no apparent travel of, and very little apparent weight on, the trigger; moreover, the weight of pull does not vary and once adjusted correctly will stay put indefinitely. There are three adjustments, one for weight, one for slack up to the point of let off, and the third for take up-of movement after the striker has gone forward. This is simple when one knows how, but it can result in either not cocking or not firing with exasperating results. The makers have been approached on the subject of issuing some simple instruction so that the best results can be obtained quickly and it is understood that this is now being done. The main receiver body is machined from the solid. The bolt and striker are nickel chromed steel, hardened and tempered. All other parts, such as lever, the whole trigger assembly, sear, etc., are machined from the solid drop forging and hardened where necessary, The point of the springs being compression type is a great factor as regards reliability over the leaf-spring type.
The BARRELS are machined from the solid and tubed with Grade " A " hydraulic tubing, correctly heat-treated. The reason for doing this is that where the pressure and wear takes place it is possible to make sure of metal grain flow in the right direction and each batch is tested at Works to withstand bursting strain. This also enables the makers to pre-straighten the tube before and after machining as well as after insertion in the barrel itself (See ParkerRifling) .
Barrels are made in two weights :
(a) Standard 1½ - inches — 1and 1/16 in 3½ - inches,
and then a bottle
neck taper to ¾ inches for a total length of 28 inches.
(b) Heavy — 1½ inches — 15/16 inches by 28 inches.
Both are tubed, with .216—.2165 dimensions between top of lands. The STOCK is in one piece with a bolt fixing in front of the action and a further bolt passing through the small of the grip, the remainder of the barrel being allowed to float freely.
Some ingenuity is shown in the design of the SIGHTS, The
foresight is of tubular variety. The ability to alter the foresight for elevation
instead of the backsight gives the obvious advantage of preserving the same
pressure of the cheek on the comb of the butt at all distances, a small but
important point not usually appreciated by the " Novice". The rearsight
is of a more sturdy nature and is now fitted in a dovetail slot on the top
of the receiver. Adjustment fore and aft of the eye-piece platform is provided.
To those who are accustomed to the British made sight it is as well to give
warning that the original models had movement as in the American type of sights,
i.e., to raise one " unscrewed " the knob, and to lower one "
screwed " it down, but it is understood that present models now follow
the established British practice, i.e., right for raise, left for lower. The
sights are all machined from the solid and the bugbear of pressings is entirely
In GENERAL it can be said that the accuracy of the recent models has been of the best, and this can be attributed partly to the simple design of the action which gives an extraordinary smooth pull on the trigger, and partly to the extreme care taken during the rifling and lapping of the bore. It is perhaps a rifle to which one must get used. Owing to the bolt action being somewhat longer than the Martini block action, the rifle is inclined to feel at first a little muzzle heavy. This feeling, however, is common to all heavy barrelled rifles, and can be overcome by adding lead to the butt to correct the balance, or by an adjustment of the sling tension and the position of the hand stop. Incidentally, if the sling system is correctly adjusted the extra weight of a heavy rifle is hardly noticed, The underlever travels forward on ejection rather farther than the Martini type. This is no disadvantage when the action is " run in " as, when all the parts are nicely lapped, the lever goes forward of its own volition once the movement has got well started. It can be added that the whole rifle is hand finished.
It is worth noting that performance is the main attraction with a rifleshot when purchasing a new weapon, and so it should be mentioned that a " Ten X " rifle won its way into the 1948 Dcwar Team and also that the tubes used on these rifles are of the same high quality as that which enabled a junior member recently to win the English Section of the National Junior Postal Championships with a fine score of 299 ex 300."
The mechanical advantage of the action is considerable. A round not properly fed into the chamber is likely to be crushed if the under lever is brought back swiftly. On initial consideration, the action should theoretically be quite efficient for rapid or timed shooting such as the "Skirmisher" competition. The practice is rather different! The actioning is quite heavy, even though it requires longer lever-travel than is perhaps ideal. This is of no matter whatsoever when shooting deliberate disciplines, but the rifle falls somewhat short of expectations when speed is of the essence."
This rifle is serial no. 209.
As at Summer 2006, no complete rifles had been been seen above serial no.250, but at 2015 we now hold rifle no. 305 in rather sad condition, and a correspondent, from Parker in Colorado, recently advised us that he owns a rifle, serial number 417, built up privately from a barrel and action, without sights, which he bought "in the white" around twenty-five years ago. The rifle is reported as being "extremely accurate"; a statement which our experience tells us should be well believed. This particular barrel and action was one of a lot believed purchased by the gunsmith, possibly from auction, and that lot is assumed to be the "tail end" of iron-work production which had lain somewhere unused and unsold from the 1950s.
Left: the specially built rear-sight of which
the main components are machined from solid
Right: the height adjustable ramped fore-sight
The advertisement accompanying the March 1949 article