THE late Arthur Langsford of Broken Hill has left an awesome legacy.
At least two generations of Australian shooters have had access to his pioneering genius and, despite his passing more than 10 years ago, some still use his creations.
Arthur. a professional shooter after the 1930s' Depression, began to work from home as a gunsmith and commercial handloader.
Then, in 1958, he set up Myra's Sports Store in the centre of Broken Hill, naming the store after his wife. So this year marks the golden anniversary of the founding of an iconic business.
Distance was no barrier. Clients came from all states, driving, flying, telephoning or writing.
Being a lateral thinker, avid experimenter and practical shooter, he produced a line of cartridges with Myra in their names. In addition, he built rifles for them.
For example, at a time when big cartridge cases and high velocities held sway, Arthur took another tack. Taking the then-new .222 Rem case, he "necked it up" (expanded the case's neck) to calibres .243 and .257, creating efficient rounds with special appeal to professional roo shooters and medium game hunters.
Today these rounds, still known as the .243 Myra and .250 Myra, retain loyal fans, even though the cartridges must be handloaded (assembled at home.)
Shooters in the US grabbed the .257 version, renamed it the .25 Copperhead, then touted it as an American invention but failed to understand its purpose. They saw it mainly as a varminting round for long-range shooting of small targets, a task for which it was unsuited.
In the 1950s, Arthur Langsford experimented with .17s and made jacketed projectiles for them, some 20 years before the little calibre began to take hold in Australia. One design became the .17 Myra Mite, a small centrefire based on the .25-20 case: cheap to feed and compatible with rifle actions then common in the bush.
But Arthur didn't stop there: he turned to handloading rimfires. Yes, you read that correctly.
Having arranged a supply of ICI .22 ratshot cases, he necked them down to .17, loaded them and sold them as the .17 Myra Tini-mite.
Today's .17 Mach 2, an imported American round, is almost identical to the much-older Tini-mite.
Arthur also created the .17 Myra Vixen, a necked-down .22 Magnum rimfire firing 25gn and 29gn bullets. With Win 680 powder, the Vixen achieved 3060 feet per second. When fed with IMI 656, it averaged an astonishing 3640 fps after Arthur added a steel reinforcing ring to contain the resultant pressure. Memory says that was in 1972.
The .17 HMR cartridge, another recent American import, is a Vixen lookalike with a lighter bullet, but it is trounced by the Vixen in the velocity department. So, in the .17 rimfire arena, Arthur beat the Americans to the punch - by at least 30 years.
(Interestingly, a Narrandera district shooter also designed a rimfire like the Vixen in the early 1970s. My research says the Vixen was first, however.)