When the bullets you fire go wide in the ditch...


January 4, 2003, 04:13 PM
I am bouncing up and down in my chair like a five year-old on a twinkie jag as I type this.

Just got back from the gun show...

While there, I noticed an acquaintance of mine had The Absolute Coolest Gun on his table. A Martini-Henry. An honest-to-Kipling, .577-by-gawd-450 Martini-Henry. (Cue soundtrack to Zulu...)

Afraid of the answer, I asked "Er, how much is it?"
"Aw, I don't want it no more. I'll sell it to you for $250."
"$250!?" I squeaked "That's almost free!"

Now I have a gin-u-wine Tommy Atkins rifle to hang on the wall under my British Pattern 1908 cavalry saber. :cool:

Wonder where I could find some .577-450 brass? Hmmm... :D

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January 4, 2003, 04:17 PM
Wonder where I could find some .577-450 brass? Hmmm...

Tam--According to this months MidwayUSA catalog, .577-450 Martini Henery brass can be had from Bertram Brass for the low, low sum of $101.44 per 20. :what:

Good Luck!


January 4, 2003, 04:18 PM
Game on! :D

Chuck Dye
January 4, 2003, 04:20 PM
Wall hanger? WALL HANGER??? Surely there must be some ammo available to feed at least one range session!

(sorry, ROTL has yet to provide a green with envy, drooling with material lust smiley!;) )

Chuck Dye
January 4, 2003, 04:21 PM
Jeez, a guy has to type fast around here!

January 4, 2003, 04:27 PM
Great! Just what Tamara needs, a new gun..:neener: :D

January 4, 2003, 05:53 PM
Old Western Scrounger has 577x450 Martini ammo:


After I got my long lever Martini Enfield(later than Rourk's Drift but close enough for me) I searched for the ammo and found OWS. At the time it was $40 for a box of 10. I thought "$4 per round, you have to be kidding!?" I put Zulu into the VCR while cleaning the baby. After the gun was cleaned and oiled and the movie was over, I pulled out the plastic and went back to the computer! Best $40 I ever spent!!! The ammo is $30/10 now.

The rounds are 450gr lead bullets loaded with black powder (clean your gun). The cases are drawn brass and boxer primed. OWS has the dies but they are $160, and Bertram brass for $139/20. Shooting the Martini is a hoot!


Mike Irwin
January 4, 2003, 06:49 PM
You can get reloading dies from RCBS.

Hold on to your socks, though.

If you ever shoot it with a military load, though, remember one thing...

That funny scallop on the right rear of the receiver? Your thumb goes there.

If you wrap your thumb around the wrist of the stock as you would with just about any other gun, you're likely going to break your nose.

4v50 Gary
January 4, 2003, 06:53 PM
Just read Vol. 3 of the Annals of the King's Royal Rifle Corps this week. It mentioned that the Martini Henrys kicked. It's not your older brother's Snider-Enfield.

Mike Irwin
January 4, 2003, 07:08 PM
The design of the stock and power of the cartridge mean they kick with authority.

But boy are they fun to shoot!

January 4, 2003, 07:14 PM
Got Pics?!

I wanna see!!! :what:

January 4, 2003, 07:16 PM
Ammo ordered, just 'cause I can't stand having a gun around the house I don't have ammunition for. Thanks, guys! :D

January 4, 2003, 07:19 PM
Yowser! That is some high priced stuff.

One could wonder if you could possibly fireform some brass from another caliber, but the long case neck makes you wonder.

Congrats on your purchase! I have a gunshow next week and I'm hoping to puck up something nice.

Good Shooting

January 4, 2003, 07:45 PM
Cool, Tam! Now Oleg will have to do a picture of the both of us - you n' yours with me n' my runt-Martini!

Runt's .32-20 Martini (http://www.a-human-right.com/cadet-betty_.jpg)

Dave Markowitz
January 4, 2003, 07:49 PM
Very nice! We expect a range report ASAP. :cool:

Mal H
January 4, 2003, 09:57 PM
Very cool and rare find, Tamara! And at an unbelievable price. Congrats! After you take some photos of the rifle, be sure to add some of the shoulder bruises. ;)

I gotta ask the meaning of the thread title. Is it a quote from the movie? I don't see the connection.

January 4, 2003, 10:35 PM
The Young British Soldier, by Rudyard Kipling.

When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier OF the Queen!

Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts --
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts --
An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An' it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it's beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

Now, if you must marry, take care she is old --
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

'T'was a misquote, sorry. I was working from memory... ;) :cool:

Mal H
January 4, 2003, 10:56 PM
Ah Kipling! I should have guessed after your cue "honest-to-Kipling". Not a bad memory job at all, hell I had forgotten the entire poem!

Al Thompson
January 4, 2003, 11:26 PM
Mal - read John Ringo - you'll pick it up.. :D

January 5, 2003, 12:03 AM
...the Brits do some silly things, but they do have the best names for cartridges. The rifle in this photo is a .500-.450 #1 Blackpowder Express:D

No, you won't find ammo at Old Western Scrounger. Cases at Bertram, yes. So far, 285 gr paper patched bullets at 1820 fps, and 4" groups at 50 yards. I am still working on it.:D

January 5, 2003, 07:56 AM
I got a MH ($125) from Potomac Arms back in '78. At the time Bell Labs was making brass for it at $1.50 each. That when I first got into bullet casting (480 grains). I used smokless powder loads which worked fine with the shallow rifling. Recoil was mild, less that a 45/70 due to the heavy weight of the rifle. MAKE SURE you remove the forearm and check out the rifle real close. The first MH I got from Potomac Arms looked great, but when I removed the forearm to grease it up I found very deep heavy corrosion. If I had fired that MH, the barrel would have burst. I sent it back and they replaced with a good shooter. It seems some MH's were designed just to shoot the foil brass. Mine would not fully chamber the brass cases until I had a gunsmith remove a little metal from the top-rear of the chamber. The foil cases would have had that "built in flexability" and therefore would not have been a problem. Try paper patching your bullets, I used cigarette paper that worked great, the MH is supposed to have a very generous throat and bore diameter is sometimes up .462. I purchased a 45 acp adapter for mine and the rifling was still able to stabilize the 200 grain lead bullet. With that long barrel it sounded and felt like shooting a 22lr. Alas I sold everything with the MH 7 years ago but it was a very fun gun to shoot and research. Good Luck

January 5, 2003, 09:21 AM
What no pics? How rude!;)

January 5, 2003, 09:55 AM
Patience! Pics will be along tomorrow or Tuesday, as my digicam is currently loaned out. :cool:

Mike Irwin
January 5, 2003, 10:31 AM

I don't think it's a case of the MHs being designed to shoot the wound brass cases, but one of the modern cases you got being slightly oversized.

The British changed to a drawn-brass cases about 1885-1887, and many of the nations that also adopted it for their armies also used brass cases.

January 5, 2003, 11:20 AM
While we are on the subject of the Martini Henry, I was looking through the Shotgun News and noticed that International Military Antiques


has repros of the 1871 British field kit. They have the leather belts (w/24th Regiment of Foot buckles), braces, cartridge pouches, and bayonet frog. They also have the water bottles, bread bags and even the white pith helmets.

I am afraid that we may be drifting into the kinky?


January 5, 2003, 09:23 PM
Somewhere, in the bottom of a file cabinet in my shop, is a somewhat-forgotten W.W. Greener Martini action, waiting to be assembled into a Martini .45-70 Creedmoor. Problem is, there's a #1 Rolling Block action waiting in line before it, and a Siamese Mauser waiting before it, etc. :(

January 5, 2003, 09:41 PM
i bettcha you have already been here:

this is a good read:

roll yer own:

January 5, 2003, 11:10 PM
Curiouser and curiouser...

The rifle is a MkIII. Barrel band, lever and assorted other small parts have visible (if worn) "W^D E 82" War Department 1882 acceptance marks, except... no big markings on right side of receiver!


Think I'll take the foreend off tomorrow morning and see what lies beneath.

Mike Irwin
January 5, 2003, 11:14 PM
"Patience! Pics will be along tomorrow or Tuesday, as my digicam is currently loaned out."

What? You won't lend a friend in need a gun, but you'll lend out your digicam? :rolleyes: :D

January 5, 2003, 11:23 PM
My Martini Henry is in .303 proofed 1903 so I can shoot all that cheap surplus stuff out of it. I passed up lots of .450s until I found a .303 BSA .

January 5, 2003, 11:34 PM
There were also sporterized versions of the Martini's that bring serious dollars. One local chap has a sporterized version with an engraved receiver - in .500 blackpowder express, very nice shape. I think he normally asks $3K for it at gun shows.

Dare I mention it, I have nine single shot rifles, collect & admire them, but I still think Martini's are pretty homely:( A good shooter with some history would still be okay, though.:)

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