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Author Topic: New purchase - possible 1905 M  (Read 1818 times)
Bluenoser
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« on: February 16, 2023, 12:51:51 PM »

Well, I recently did something most uncharacteristic for myself and just MIGHT have come out on top.  I tend to carefully mull things over before jumping in.  Lost a lot of bargains that way.  Didn't do that this time.  A Ross 1905/Mk II sporter came up for sale online at a very attractive price and I pounced.  It appeared to be either a Mk II with a MK III rear sight in a cut down stock, A 1905 M (First Type) sporter or a Mk II**** still with the Ross Mk III rear sight in a cut down stock.  I was hoping it would be a 1905 M.
It arrived not two hours ago and I took my first quick look.  The rifle is in very nice condition if one looks past the slathered on varnish and the broken firing pin (which I was aware of).  It has the early style bolt and someone probably broke the FP trying to get it apart.  It also has the later wide mid band correctly positioned for an M, which made me think it might be a later conversion of a military rifle.  The barrel is 28" and the bore appears to be at least very good.  Now for the kicker!   I popped the buttplate off and found serial # 445 stamped into the butt and the plate.  If I am correct, only commercial rifles have the serial number in that location Grin
Am I getting excited over nothing, or have I likely scored an early 1905 M?  What other possibilities might I have overlooked?

Pics to follow, once I have had a chance to disassemble and photograph it.
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Bluenoser
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2023, 02:22:23 PM »

Pics as promised:









The serial # only appears on the butt and buttplate.  It is interesting that, in both cases, the first digit is turned 90 degrees



There are a DC stamp and broadarrow on the stock, but that isn't surprising since the stocks are converted military stocks and it has been suggested that military rejects might well have been used.



There are no military inspectors or acceptance marks on the barrel or receiver.  There is also no serial number.



The rear sight is in excellent working condition.



The bolt has the early threaded firing pin and cocking piece, but does not have a slotted extractor.  The later style cocking piece is shown for comparison.




Someone probably broke the firing pin while attempting to disassemble the bolt.  I have since removed the FP stub from the cocking piece.  I would like to find a replacement, but doubt that will be possible.  I may have the broken FP TIG welded, convert a later style FP or scare up a piece of 3/8" drill rod and turn a new FP.



I have additional pics if anyone would like to see something in particular.
All comments, observations and suggestions will be appreciated.
Thanks for looking
« Last Edit: February 17, 2023, 02:30:26 PM by Bluenoser » Logged
Ax.303
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2023, 11:34:44 PM »

Hello Bluenoser, I don`t want to say for sure this is not a 1905 M. But there are a few differences between your rifle and the one shown on page 141 in the Ross Rifle Story.
This leads me to believe that this is a cut down military rifle.

The rifle in the TRRS shows a Mk II roller coaster rear sight, 26" brrl, early style mid band,and flat butt-plate.  

Your rifle has the Mk III rear sight, 28" brrl, later mid band, and military butt-plate. The forend is shaped considerably different as well.
The D^C on the stock would be a acceptance, property stamp. So likely would not have made it back to the factory.

Any one or even two of these things would not rule this one out for me, as Ross was trying to use up parts that were no longer used for military rifles. But not all of them together.

The numbers stamped under the butt-plate is interesting, although the numbers are a different size and font, and are upside down compared to the ones found on factory Ross sporters. The serial number would be low four digits by this time as well.

It is at least a nicely done sporter.

Cheers
« Last Edit: February 19, 2023, 10:48:22 AM by Ax.303 » Logged
Bluenoser
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« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2023, 06:29:40 PM »

Ax.303 has made some thought-provoking observations and I will try to address each individually.  I will open by saying that, at the moment, I believe the clues suggesting this is likely a 1905 M outweigh those suggesting otherwise.  However, that could well change.

Rear sight:
The example in TRRS does indeed have a Mk. II rear sight and this one does have a Mk III rear sight.  I have not seen the 1909 Ross Sporting Rifle Catalogue, but understand that also shows a First Type 1905 M with a Mk II rear sight.  Do we know for a fact that the 1905 M (First Type) was only produced with the Mk II rear sight?  I suspect we might be making an assumption based on TRRS and documented examples.  It might be correct, and it might not.  According to TRRS, the Mk III rear sight was first used in September of 1907 and was discontinued in May of 1909.  Sir Charles was notorious for tweaking the design of his rifles.  I understand the 1905 M, at least the First Type, was assembled from on-hand parts and, perhaps, previously assembled military rifles.  Is it possible some 1905 Ms were produced with Mk III rear sights due to a shortage of Mk II sights, or for some other reason?  Is it possible some Mk IIs with Mk III rear sight (ref. pg 170) were converted to sporting rifles?  That might explain some of what we see here.
I honestly don't know the answer to those questions and am not knowledgeable enough to form a sound opinion.

With regard to barrel length:
According to the Sporting Rifle Serial Number Database, examples of the1905 M are known to have 24", 26" and 28" barrels.  The 24" barrel could well have been shortened and the majority are 26".  I can see a sporting rifle composed of military rifle parts having a military-length barrel.  This would be a good time to point out this rifle also has a military-style front sight base having four hood screws.

The mid band:
The later style mid band is the reason I suspected this might be a post-production sporterized Mk II with Mk III rear sight, rather than a 1905 M, when I first saw it.  Is this the only known example of a suspected 1905 M with a later-style mid band?  This could go back to the question of available parts and substitutions, or it could go back to the question regarding possible conversion of the Mk II with Mk III rear sight.

Flat butt plate:
This is an interesting point, and one that might be particularly relevant.  Are we certain no 1905 M having a military butt plate was produced?

Forend shape:
I am not seeing a considerable difference.  I only see two minor differences.  The front hand guard does not extend forward of the band, and could not due to the shape of the mid band.  The fore stock forward of the band is rounded, rather than bobbed, which may, or may not, be how it left the factory - if it is indeed a 1905 M.

Serial number:
The serial number is the primary reason I lean toward this being a 1905 M.  The font is different, it is larger and it is upside down, for which I have no explanation.  That said, I have never seen a serial number in that location on a military rifle.

Production date:
Why the suggestion the serial number would be in the low four digits by the time this rifle was built?  Do we know the date range during which the 1905 M was produced?  The lowest serial number for a 1905 M recorded in the database is 894, and that is a first variation.  This one is 445 - if it is a serial number.  How might that mesh with possible excess inventory of  the Mk II with Mk III rear sight, which could not have been produced earlier than September of 1907 and was not likely produced much later than May of 1909?

D^C stamp:
In my opinion, this is the strongest indicator the rifle is not a 1905 M.  I have no explanation for it and would be interested to know where, and at what point, the stamp could have been applied.

Additional information:
There is no "303 Ross" stamp on the knox.
I have come to realize the absence of military acceptance marks on the barrel of a Ross does not imply a commercial rifle.

I thank Ax.303 for his thought-provoking observations and hope he and others will continue to participate in the discussion.  I am anxious to learn.
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Ax.303
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2023, 12:47:10 PM »

The serial number is the biggest red flag on this one.
 
You say yourself that the lowest serial number listed is 894 this would be for one of the type with the early parts shown in the Ross Rifle Story.
You have one numbered approx. half that, putting it in the 1903 rifle number range. The first 1905-M was shown in the 1906-1907 catalogue.
 
If they were going to use the parts on your rifle it would likely be 1908-1909. I have a very early 1905-R (earliest I have ever seen and I have seen lots) the serial number is above 1900. It would have been made early 1908.

The numbers on your rifle are twice the size, the wrong font, applied crudely, and are not in the correct range for date manufactured. 
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Bluenoser
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2023, 03:20:54 PM »

I have been messing with Ross rifles approximately 50 years, but still consider myself a neophyte. I am certainly not an authority on the subject.
I agree with everything you say. I, too, have several serially numbered commercial rifles and am well aware of the differences. To my mind, the differences are too dramatic to be an attempt at deceit - and the numbers have obviously been in place for a long time. For some reason, the first digit has been deliberately rotated 90 degrees. I am trying to be open minded and consider all possibilities. Could the number have been applied at the factory and could it have been applied in the manner it has to clearly differentiate it from the normal serial number range? The answer has to be - possibly, but why. Please note that I said possibly, not likely.

I am not saying the rifle did leave the factory in it's present form, but I believe one has to consider the possibility that it might have left the factory in it's present form. The suggestion of a likely production date of 1908-1909 happens to line up with something I have been considering. The Mk II with Mk III rear sight would have entered production no earlier than September of 1907 and was not likely to have been produced much later than May of 1909. What do we know about the distribution of those rifles? Do we know if the factory might have been sitting on excess inventory? If so, is it possible some of those rifles might have been reworked into sporting rifles? If that were the case, and if the reworked rifles did not fit the standardized model, Ross just might have applied a clearly unique numbering system to differentiate those rifles from standard production.
Am I grabbing at straws here? ABSOLUTELY! However, the facts are clear. The number is in exactly the same spot other commercial numbers are found, and they are applied to both the metal and the end of the butt - as are the others.
There has to be an explanation. I do not believe it is an attempt to deceive.
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Bluenoser
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2023, 10:24:36 AM »

Here is a comparison of the serial number on the subject rifle to those found on known commercial Ross rifles.  The subject rifle is flanked by a 1905 R on the left and a Mk II** on the right. The subject has been flipped to make comparison easier.



I agree the font is slightly different and at a larger pitch.  The difference is most noticeable in the 4.  It measures 0.205" or about 15 points compared to 0.133" or about 10 points on the others.  That makes it approximately 1.5 times as large and I cannot agree that it was applied any more crudely than were the others.  All of the foregoing is likely of little or no importance.

I am trying to consider all possibilities regarding the origin of this rifle in it's present form.  I think it quite unlikely that the average individual cutting down a military rifle would go to the trouble of applying that number, and I think it less than likely they would know what a Ross-applied serial number looks like, or where to find it.  There is another possibility worth considering.  I wonder if there might have been someone engaged in the business of converting Ross military rifles to sporting rifles on a commercial scale, and if they might have been modelling them after Ross sporting rifles.  I can see such an enterprise wanting to apply a serial number in a manner similar to Ross-produced rifles while, at the same time, wanting them to be distinctly different.  If that were the case, I would think someone in the collecting community might have become aware of it.

On the subject of the sideways 4:  I have been reading the number as 445.  I wonder if it might be # 45 in group or batch 4.

We have a number of very knowledgeable and very helpful individuals on this forum.  I suspect this is one of those discussions many have no desire to become involved in.  I respect that and am appreciative of the participation the thread is receiving.  Thoughtful and frank dialogue frequently leads to new possibilities and the abandonment of dead ends.

EDIT
I made an interesting discovery while putting the buttplates back on the rifles.

Firstly, the curvature of the commercial buttplate appears to be precisely the same as that of the military buttplate (except for the ends) and the lower screw is in the same location.  The military buttplate, of course, curves inward at each end.

Secondly, there is a plug in the end of the butt of the subject rifle.  It can be seen in the 9th photo in the 3rd post.  When the commercial buttplate is laid on the butt and the lower screw is inserted, that plug lines up precisely with the upper hole in the commercial buttplate.  I am not sure what to make of it.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2023, 01:18:07 PM by Bluenoser » Logged
kstorey
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« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2023, 03:00:29 AM »

For what its worth I have a couple of Model M ,s ( second type ) according to TRRS. I'll pull the butt plates off tomorrow and have a look if they have numbers under there and what the font looks like.
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Bluenoser
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« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2023, 08:26:25 AM »

Thank you.  I appreciate your taking the time to do that.
I have done considerable research since my last post.
My Rs and commercial Mk II**s all have S/Ns and formats the same as those pictured.  I don't have any others known or thought to be Ms.
I have a relic cut-down 1908-dated stock off a military-issued Mk II that had a Mk II or Mk III rear sight.  The stock has the S/N stamped on both the right cheek and the end of the butt.  The stamp on the butt appears to be the same font, is the same height, is in the same location and is upside down - all of which match the S/N on the subject rifle.  As would be expected, that number is the usual alpha/numeric.  Finding the S/N on a military Mk II stamped on both the right cheek and under the butt plate might not be unusual, but I don't recall seeing it before.  That odd looking S/N is still a head-scratcher.
Aside from the stock and assuming no part replacements, this rifle appears to fit the description of a Mk II with Mk III rear sight manufactured between May/June of 1909 and early summer of 1910.  It may have been one of the last 4,000 produced.
Please correct me if I am mistaken, but I believe the "D^C" stamp on the stock is no more a property mark than is the "D^C" in the roundel.  I believe the property mark is a "C" and the released for sale mark is a "^" within a "C".
Although I have neither, I understand the Mk II with Mk III rear sight was offered in both the 1907 and 1909 catalogs.
Given what I currently think I know, I believe this is likely a commercial Mk II with Mk III rear sight that was subsequently converted to a sporting rifle
Research continues.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2023, 08:33:50 AM by Bluenoser » Logged
admin
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2023, 11:57:47 AM »

Nice to see the detailed discussion.  I wish I had something to add.
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Ax.303
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« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2023, 09:33:27 PM »

Please correct me if I am mistaken, but I believe the "D^C" stamp on the stock is no more a property mark than is the "D^C" in the roundel.  I believe the property mark is a "C" and the released for sale mark is a "^" within a "C".

I was hoping someone else was going to chime in, but I guess not.

As far as I know the D^C in the roundel is a military ownership stamp as well. It is not found on any civilian rifles.

D^C stands for Dominion of Canada ownership. The broad arrow is a military ownership marking through out the British Empire.

The ^ within a C is a Canadian Military Ownership mark. Two opposing ^s within a C is the mark for sold out of service.

The Ross Rifle Story is incorrect in this regard. This probably why Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons and some others have got this wrong as well.
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Bluenoser
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« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2023, 07:22:09 AM »

You might well be correct, but I am not yet fully convinced.  I did get that info from TRRS and am certainly aware of inaccuracies in that tome.  I was under the impression the roundel (with it's D^C) was applied at the factory along with the model and serial #, and would pre-date military ownership.  In my mind, that reinforced the statement that D^C is not an ownership stamp.  I was under the impression the stamp might reflect the rifle having been made in the Dominion of Canada.  I have certainly seen many broadarrow within a "C" and double broadarrow stamps and always considered them to be the ownership and released for sale stamps.  I find it difficult to reconcile there being two different stamps with the same meaning.  This rifle does not have markings on the right cheek and I don't believe that area has been sanded - at least not to any degree.  The possibility does exist and I need to take a closer look.

On a separate but related note: what is known about the style, size and orientation of the S/N under the butt plate on this rifle?  I do have an example of an issued Mk II with the same format under the butt plate as well as the same number on the right cheek.  It is the only Ross I have seen with the S/N in both places.

Any thoughts on that odd S/N with the first digit rotated 90 degrees?  To my mind, that is perhaps the most interesting aspect of this rifle.
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