Australia is back in the gun-making game as Lithgow Arms launches a range of bolt-action hunting rifles in .17, .22, .223 and .308 for hunters and target shooters.
The rifles have been designed and developed in Australia to be competitively priced and offer “modern tactical styling, high accuracy and reliability,” according to Lithgow Arms.
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The historic NSW-based firearm maker, which currently manufacturers the Austeyr for the Australian military forces, will debut its all-new LA101 CrossOver rimfire rifle at this weekend’s SHOT Expo in Melbourne.
The LA101 will be the first civilian firearm mass-produced in Australia in more than four decades, and the company says the centrefire models will follow the rimfire into the market.
“We’re building on our proud military heritage to offer a new Australian rifle specifically for Australian customers,” said Chris Jenkins, CEO of Thales Australia, which owns Lithgow Arms.
“We’ve been asked about this idea for many years, and decided it’s now time to meet the demand for a competitively priced, locally made rifle.
“There is definitely a place in the market for a product like this, and we believe customers will appreciate owning a rifle made at Lithgow, with all its heritage and storied place in Australian military history.”
The rifles will be distributed by Winchester Australia, which recently entered a strategic partnership with Thales that focusses primary on ammunition and has resulted in the release of the new Australian Outback brand of ammunition.
Winchester Australia says the LA101 will be on sale in the final quarter of 2013, but prices have not yet been set.
The LA101 CrossOver will be chambered in .22LR, .22WMR and .17HMR and will have a heavy barrel with semi-match chamber, aimed at improving accuracy.
“Each military grade steel barrel will be cold forged, manufactured on the same machine at Lithgow that makes barrels for the ADF’s Austeyr rifles and ensures their outstanding accuracy – the only such machine in the southern hemisphere,” the company says.
The CrossOver’s stock also shares Austeyr technology, being made from the same injection-moulded nylon as the EF88 that Lithgow is developing.
The stock’s trigger guard will be part of the mould, which features a design that will suit shooting over a bench or on a bipod; the butt can be rested solidly on the ground, the pistol grip is steeply angled and the fore-end is wide.
The triple-lug bolt will provide a 60° throw and is claimed to be “rapid and smooth” in operation.