Q: I just bought a Lithgow No.2 MK 4 rifle in .22 Long Rifle that I enjoy shooting more than its big brother a No.1 MK III in .303. My questions are: Is it legal to convert a .303 to .22 LR? On Youtube an American company called "RockNLoad" converted a Savage No.4 MK 1 .303 to .22 LR. It shot very well and they called it a No.4 MK II. What paperwork and parts would I need to do have such a conversion done? What would the rifle be called? What would the rifle be licensed as? Where would I find a gunsmith to do the job? I am fully aware that this project would cost a lot and require a fair bit of gunsmithing. Andrew Allan
A: I think that the Lithgow No. 2 MK 4 rifle you have in .22 LR may be a single shot. As to whether or not it is legal to carry out such a conversion is a question for the Firearms Registry in your state. They will tell you what paperwork is required and any other questions you have about licensing, as the category would have to be changed. I don't know of any gunsmith who would tackle this job. You are right when you said it would take a fair bit of gunsmithing - in fact a helluva lot. It would be a very costly exercise costing maybe $2,000 or more. For one thing you'd need a complete new bolthead with offset firing pin. If a bolthead is not readily available, the gunsmith would have to make one from scratch, adding to the cost. A new barrel (or sleeving the original barrel) would cost about $600. It would be a lot cheaper to buy an original rifle, even if it cost $2000 but they appear on the USED GUNS website fairly regularly for about $1200. So that's your best bet. As well as being made at Lithgow, they were made in Canada and England. I believe BSA made 2500 for the British Navy and altered the Lee Enfield magazine to house a BSA .22 magazine. But before you do anything, contact your Firearms Registry to find out what the rules are regarding such a conversion.
Below is a video of a smallbore service rifle match where many used military rifles that were arsenal converted to .22LR.
Nick Harvey is one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He has been writing about firearms and hunting for more than 65 years, has published many books and uncounted articles, and has travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject is unmatched. He has been Sporting Shooter's Gun Editor for longer than anyone can remember. Nick lives in rural NSW, Australia.