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Martini Henry Rifles

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by TheAzn, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. TheAzn

    TheAzn Well-Known Member

    Before I begin, I would like to say that I am very new to guns.
    I just have some questions about the Martini-Henry rifles.

    1. How strong is the Martini-Henry action compare to the rolling block actions, break actions, falling block actions, bolt actions and trapdoor actions?

    2. Is the Martini-Henry rifle - and any guns that load the same way - considered a falling block action rifle?

    Thank you
  2. GCBurner

    GCBurner Well-Known Member

    It seems to be plenty strong, as it's been chambered in some pretty hefty calibres, for its day. I'd say it was a type of falling block action, but the Martini action is really a class all by itself, compared to other falling block rifles like the Ballard, the Sharps, or the modern Ruger No. 1. The Martini and the Peabody are more pivoting blocks, since they hinge downward on a pivot pin, instead of sliding down grooves in the reveiver.
  3. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    Falling block.

    Moderate strength. I would not try to chamber one for a real high intensity cartridge. They work well for the 45/70 and the like. The rolling block is generally seen as stronger and if you want a real boomer think Ruger #1.

    I have one in 45/70 that's great fun. But I would never try to load it to 458 levels.

  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Ken Waters put his Peabody Martini in Group 2 along with Winchester '85 and '86.
    I doubt a real British Martini Henry would be much different.
    Note that the Martini Enfield was in .303 calibre.
  5. TheAzn

    TheAzn Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your answers, guys. Guess I'll pick the Martini-Enfield rifle, since it has a stronger action.
  6. BrocLuno

    BrocLuno Well-Known Member

    Lovely rifle and great action for a single shot. Don't forget to post pictures when you get yours :)
  7. TheAzn

    TheAzn Well-Known Member

    I will when I have the chance
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    A Martini Enfield was pretty much a Martini Henry with the firing pin reduced in diameter and the hole in the breechblock bushed down to fit for smokeless ammunition like .303. If you can find one it will save you on gunsmithing but is not essential.

    What calibers are you interested in? How's your budget? One like Saxon Pig's would not be cheap these days unless you have the skills and equipment to do it all yourself.

    A copy of Frank DeHaas' Single Shot Rifles and Actions would be helpful.

    Beware of copies from Nepal and Pakistan.
  9. TheAzn

    TheAzn Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your advice. I'm pretty okay on the budget, so I can buy expensive things.
  10. Pokyman

    Pokyman Well-Known Member

    The rifle pictured is a beautiful conversion. Who ever did the work did a nice job.
    I am thinking that the picture is of a Greener Martini. The Martini Enfield has a different shape to the action where is joins the stock than the one pictured. Also, I have not seen and Enfield with a safety. Just has the cocking indicator. The rifle pictured has a safety.
    If having a safety is important, make sure it has one before you buy.
    I did a conversion for a customer on the Greener. I was a 12-14 ga. shotgun from one of the British commonwealth countries. Rebarreled to 45-70. Customer likes it so much that it is all he hunts with. Killed moose, deer, and elk with it.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  11. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Well-Known Member

    It did start as a Greener 14 ga shotgun. A smith named Crow (forget first name) based in Utah did it about 12 years ago. Shoots clover leafs at 50 yards using any bullet.
  12. SWAT1911

    SWAT1911 Well-Known Member

    Little late to join the conversation but can someone give price ranges & calibers on these?wasant finding much online. Thanks
  13. alemonkey

    alemonkey Well-Known Member

    If you're looking for an original Martini-Henry the cheapest source right now is http://www.ima-usa.com. They have British manufactured rifles that were stored for years in Nepal which you can pick up for $400-500 if you're willing to clean them up. Cleaned and complete ones go for more. These will all be in the original .577-450 chambering.

    Gunbroker usually has quite a few Martinis for sale. Beyond that you're getting into custom built territory if you're looking at large frame Martinis in other calibers. David Kaiser in Montezuma, IA is a Martini specialist and can build pretty much anything you want. You can look him up on the forum at www.assra.com. His screen name is 38_cal.

    The Martini action was also made for many years in a small frame model. These are readily available in .22LR if you search Gunbroker. They have a reputation for being very accurate. They're often found in other chamberings also. Vic Samuel makes some very nice custom small frame Martinis. His website is
  14. natman

    natman Well-Known Member

    I don't see much difference in the action of a Martini Henry and a Martini Enfield. Most MEs are MHs with the Henry 450/577 barrel removed and an Enfield 303 barrel screwed in. The Martini is a pretty strong design.

    However, they are still 130+ year old black powder actions and some discretion is called for. I wouldn't go for the low end 458 loads in one.
  15. krinko

    krinko Well-Known Member

    This is an 1899 MkII Martini Enfield---converted at Enfield from an 1875 MkII M-H originally made by LSA.
    The internal conversion, in this case, involved a dovetail cut across the bolt face and insertion of a tougher steel replacement with smaller firing pin hole. The firing pin and extractor were also replaced.
    Any Martini is a joy to fire---but the ones that fire smokeless loads are joy-without-scrubbing.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  16. alemonkey

    alemonkey Well-Known Member

    Krinko, that's a beautiful gun. BTW, if you happen to have a regular Martini-Henry we do a big bore single shot match once a month in Lincoln.
  17. Z71

    Z71 Well-Known Member

    I own 2 1889 BSA MkII rifles and a 1886 MkIV rifle....all either purchased from International Military Antiques or Atlanta Cutlery.

    Good rifles and lots of fun. The actions are pretty tough looking. The Brits rebarreled many of the old MkIII rifles to .303 and they do fine.
  18. forestdavegump

    forestdavegump Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  19. alemonkey

    alemonkey Well-Known Member

    The IMA, Atlanta Cutlery, and Sportsman's Guide guns are all from the same Nepal Cache. IMA and Atlanta Cutlery partnered on importing the guns to America. I'm not sure how Sportsman's Guide got involved. The Francotte and Gahendra rifles you linked to are NOT Martini-Henry's. They're Nepal-produced variations on the Martini action and the general consensus is that they should not be fired, at least not without very careful inspection and safety precautions. They would be a neat addition to a collection, though.

    If you want a real Martini-Henry, IMA and Atlanta Cutlery also sell real, British-made Martini's. I just picked up an 1873 dated Mk II from them and it's in really good shape. The metal is excellent with the exception of some pitting below the wood line on the barrel, and the bore is in fantastic shape. The forend is very good, but the stock is fairly rough. I'll probably keep my eyes open for an original replacement stock. Time to track down some .577/450 dies...

    Here's the real deal. They also offer cleaned rifles, but mine was very easy to clean up, and that's half the fun:



    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  20. forestdavegump

    forestdavegump Well-Known Member

    yeah was gawking at the cheapies

    Yeah had the other link and deleted when I saved this. Your right not the same thing but still kindah cool?;)

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