Gallery Rifle shooting

The MOD defines a gallery range as one where the shooters engage fixed targets from fixed positions. Hence almost all ranges that civilians are permitted to use are gallery ranges.

However, the common interpretation of a gallery rifle is one that is shot on or in, a shooting gallery. In other words rifles that can be used at short range in a 'shooting gallery' - i.e. an indoor range.

With the passing of the 1997 Firearms Amendment Act came the prohibition of 'handguns' referring to cartridge-firing pistols and revolvers. As a result many pistol shooters opted to use rifles chambered for the cartridges they had used in their pistols and revolvers. 
These short-barrelled pistol cartridge firing rifles (or carbines) are manually operated, either by lever or bolt action, and are usually chambered for one of the following cartridges.

.38 Special
.357 Magnum
.44 Special
.44 Magnum
.45 Colt
.45 ACP

Lever action rifles:

Everybody who has ever seen a Western will be familiar with the Winchester rifle and modern versions of these guns are still available. The modern Winchester (or American Repeating Arms) made versions are available in .38, .357, .44 and .45 chambering - all of which are suitable for gallery-rifle competitions.

If you are looking at a Winchester, consider the AE (Angle Eject) Version, as this permits the use of a telescopic sight.

A more prolific maker of lever actions is Marlin - a U.S. maker, who have been producing lever actions for over 100 years. These rifles are probably stronger and simpler than Winchester, and with their flat top actions are ideally suited for scope use.

Some time ago Marlin decided to adopt a system of 'micro groove' rifling for their barrels. This works well with jacketed bullets, but less so with plain lead bullets - just the kind of bullets we want to use for short range target shooting. The solution is to use the hardest lead alloy bullets you can.

Happily Marlin seems to have reverted to deep cut (Ballard) rifling which is better suited to lead bullets. Marlins are available in a variety of calibres and barrel lengths.

Rossi and Puma of Brazil make some nice Winchester type rifles, some in stainless steel.

Ruger produces a .44 Magnum lever action, that uses their unique rotary magazine.

The Italian gun industry has several makers who produce copies of historical Western guns in original chambering, or in 'modern' pistol calibres. Famous names are Uberti, Pietta and Pedersoli amongst others. Whilst these guns are faithful reproductions of American originals, they are mostly not suited for mounting a telescopic sight.

Bolt Action:

The UK laws have resulted in some custom built bolt action rifles which are chambered for pistol calibres. Armalon Ltd, (run by Peter Sarony a noted pistol-smith) built such rifles based on heavily modified No. 4 Enfield actions. Usually calibres are 9mm Parabellum and .45 ACP.

The rifles are modified to accept pistol magazines and have short barrels and modified woodstock. Scopes can be fitted and the No. 4 Action can be modified to cock on opening, making it very slick to shoot.


There is not much to choose between any of the gallery rifle calibres. If you are going to shoot any great volume you should consider hand-loading anyway. Experience suggests that the .38 special/ .357 magazine loaded to .38 Special pressures does not perform very well in longer barrels. Best results come from hard lead bullets and small charges of fast burning powders.

The .44 Special/ Magnum does much better, but still needs to be loaded with modest charges of fast powders. Round nose, flat point or 'Keith' style semi wad cutter bullets work well. For reliable feeding from a magazine stick to magnum cases.

The same comments apply to .45 Colt (or Long Colt) versions.

Buying second hand:

What to look for:

Check that the rifle feeds cartridges from the magazine properly.

Check for consistent trigger function.

Make a key careful inspection of the bore. Like revolvers, small charges can result in bullets left in the bore, which cause damage when the next round is fired. If the bore seems to have a dark ring in it walk away.