A Lithgow Shootout

By Anthony Mitchell

I recently had the opportunity to conduct a comparison test between two Lithgow Rimfire rifles, a Model 1B single shot and a Model 12 bolt action repeater. Both rifles are chambered for the .22LR. Both are equipped with the original open sights and are unmodified.

According to factory records, both the Model 1B and the Model 12 left the factory in 1956.

The Lithgow Model 12
The Lithgow Model 1B

Conventional wisdom has it that the rifle with a long, heavy barrel will shoot better than a rifle with a short light barrel. The Model 1B has a 24ʺ barrel, whereas the Model 12 sports a 25ʺ with a much heavier profile.

The Model 12 Barrel (left) is much heavier than the Model 1B Barrel (right)

Testing Conditions

Testing was carried out at Belmont at a distance of 50 metres. The sights on the rifle are the standard open sights. No sight adjustments were carried out during the test. All shooting was carried out from a bench. Weather was fine and hot, with a sometimes gusty breeze drifting the shots from left to right. Five shots of each type of cartridge were fired.

Ammunition Used

High Velocity Ammunition Used
  • ICI Civic High Velocity Solid
  • Stirling High Velocity Hollow Point
  • Winchester Super Speed High Velocity Hollow Point
  • Winchester Xpert Standard Velocity Solid

As far as I have been able to ascertain, the ICI packaging was discontinued in the early 1960’s. The Stirling packaging was commonly seen in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The best groups of the day were obtained with the ICI and Stirling ammo.

ICI Civic (L) and Stirling High Impact (R)

The Winchester Super Speed probably is a similar age to the Stirling Ammo. The K-Mart price tag indicates that the purchase price was $1.98.

Lithgow Model 12 Test Results

Stirling group size 80 x 25 mm (Circled in Blue)

ICI Civic group size 90 x 80 mm (Circled in Yellow)

Lithgow Model 1B Test Results

Stirling group size 55 x 55 mm (Circled in Orange)

ICI Civic Group Size 95 x 100 mm (Circled in Green)

Lithgow Model 12 Test Results: Winchester

Unfortunately, the Winchester did not perform terribly well in either rifle on the day, with group sizes as follows:

Winchester Super Speed 120 x 28 mm

Winchester XPert 95 x 16 mm

Lithgow Model 1B Test Results: Winchester

Winchester Super Speed 82 x 36 mm

Winchester XPert 110 x 120 mm


Both rifles shot better with the Stirling ammunition on the day. However, as can be seen from the results, there is not a great deal of difference in accuracy between the two rifles.

A check in my notebook revealed that the Model 12 shot much better with the Winchester XPert on a previous trip to Belmont. The main difference this time was the wind.

At the end of the day, the best course of action is to find which brand of ammunition works best in your own firearm.

Until next time, have a happy and safe shoot!

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