Amazing Breech Block .50 BMG 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.
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.
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.
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.
Cast Bronze Buttstock Frame and Fore-arm Frame
Rifle auction tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
James D. Julia Inc., auctioneer for this unique rifle, provided some interesting background facts:
J.T. Smith, a former U.S. Marine and CIA employee, scratch-built several firearms over the years but this was his apex (finest rifle). Mr. Smith… required that his guns have form, function and beauty. This rifle was built in Mr. Smith’s home shop with a standard Bridgeport milling machine and an antique lathe along with much hand work. Some of the processes, such as bluing, heat treating, casting the bronze fore-arm and applying the classic bronze patina were outsourced, but all of the machine work was done by Smith. He built the rifle to weigh under the 65-pound limit so that it could compete in heavy benchrest rifle shoots. J.T. Smith also created a micrometer adjustable front rest for this rifle. The rest has three tapered arms emanating from a ball shape with screw-adjustable feet and a spirit level. Accompanying this fine rifle and rest is a magnificent set of tools in a fitted walnut case.