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.303 Martini-Enfield

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by Pork Fat, May 5, 2006.

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  1. Pork Fat

    Pork Fat Member

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    Southern Ohio Gun has some in rifle and carbine configuration. They are pre 1898 and the fine print says not intended to be fired. My questions- Does anyone know the origins of the batch they have? How weak and unfireable can a Martini action be?

    I assume that these have been released from some former colonial state's armory. I have little interest in wallhangers, but would love a shooter, if feasible. Any thoughts, opinions, or education appreciated.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2006
  2. deciple-of-keith

    deciple-of-keith Member

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    The Martini is a suprizingly strong action! I have converted many over the years to 45-70 & several to .223 as well as several .303 wild cats ! I would say the company marketing these would be covering them selves legaly ! :scrutiny: Remembering that the Barrels are built for Black Powder ! The action itself is not the weak point of these rifles.Though it is always adviseable to get a competent Gun Smith to check it out.

    Dave
     
  3. Pork Fat

    Pork Fat Member

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    The ad does say that they were made for black powder, but that made me wonder. If the Lee-Metford rifles had erosion problems with early smokeless loads(cordite?), and the later Lee-Enfield was an improvement specifically designed for smokeless powder, what does Martini-Enfield signify?
    Were Martini-Enfields older Martini rifles rebarreled, or were they manufactured completely new? I know that with some effort and luck, I could look this stuff up, but it's more fun this way.
     
  4. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    As I understand it, the .303 Martini - Enfield was a .577-.450 Martini - Henry converted to .303 for issue to colonial troops so as to use the standard issue ammo whilst getting some use out of the old rifles and not giving the wogs weapons equal to the British Army.

    A friend has one and it was a very well done conversion. The barrel and extractor, of course, but they also reduced the striker tip for smokeless ammunition and dovetailed in a bar across the breechface with smaller firing pin hole to prevent primer cratering or piercing.
     
  5. deadin

    deadin Member

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    If I remember right, the original .303 Brit was a compressed black powder load. This is probably what they are talking about. I think they changed to cordite about the time the Lee-Metford came out (1892?) Anyway, I would have no problems with shooting equivalent smokeless loads through one of these. Kind of like shooting smokless in 45/70 trapdoors. Just don't try to make a magnum out of it. :eek:

    Dean
     
  6. Pork Fat

    Pork Fat Member

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    I got to digging around on a Martini-Henry forum, and one thread has those guys thinking that these are possibly " Khyber Pass" handbuilt copies. They are billed as genuine British-origin guns, but apparently Century sold some copies as original a few years ago out of ignorance. Apparently the markings are a little off on the copies, and the steel of dubious pedigree.
    I'd like to think that S.O.G. wouldn't import a bunch of Afghan ripoffs and was wondering if anyone had bought one yet.
    Khyber Pass guns are interesting in their own way, but not for shooting. I wouldn't want to buy one, find out it's cheese, and have to hassle with sending it back.
     
  7. deadin

    deadin Member

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    Years ago I watched a special on the Afghan gun industry. Amazing what those guys can do with a handful of horseshoes, nails and other scrap. Using not much more that a forge, hammer, anvil and files, they were making stuff all the way up to 20mm. All guaranteed to fire. (at least once..:evil: )

    Dean
     
  8. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    They are arsenal rebarrels.They are 'Large action' Variant originally .450-.577. I have an Enfield .303 Carbine which was produced in 1903 which was the final Medium action variant. :)
     
  9. Pork Fat

    Pork Fat Member

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    The Scoop

    I e-mailed Jason Atkin at Martini-Henry.com with my concerns. He advises me that the guns being sold by S.O.G. are Khyber Pass handbuilts. They are apparently having most sent back to them, and are fully aware of the rifles' inauthenticity. This does not stop them from marketing them as genuine British pieces.
    Apparently, they paid their Afghan connection $150 apiece, and the $245 markup keeps it a viable practice for now. Knowing this, I doubt that I would buy anything from these scammers. I recommend Martini-Henry.com to anyone interested in these rifles and some of the shenanigans associated with their growing popularity.
    Thanks to all who replied, this stuff fascinates me. - Ken
     
  10. deciple-of-keith

    deciple-of-keith Member

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    Years ago I watched a special on the Afghan gun industry. Amazing what those guys can do with a handful of horseshoes, nails and other scrap. Using not much more that a forge, hammer, anvil and files, they were making stuff all the way up to 20mm. All guaranteed to fire. (at least once.. )

    I remember seeing a similar spl (probarly the same one ) I remember thinking tha these Blokes really had'nt read the Patenting laws or that The British Gun making firms had really fallen on hard times :D AS there was a Street of tiny workshops Bearing the Names of Enfield ,H&H ,PURDY, BOSS & Sons ect :what: They showed the entire proccess of a Enfield .303 from scratch to the New owner walking out into the street & fireing it off into the air:D

    Dave
     
  11. deadin

    deadin Member

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    Dave,
    Sounds like the same show. I wouldn't mind seeing it again.
    I've had a couple of their "pistols" pass through my hands and the markings on them are a hoot. Letters backwards, nonsense words , stuff run together, usually makes no sense at all. Of course, I'm sure that our alphabet makes about as much sense to their customers as theirs does to us. :D
    Another group of "innovative" gunmakers were the ones in and around Viet-Nam.

    Dean
     
  12. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The Martini is a very strong action. It was originally designed by Peabody (an American) but that design had an outside hammer. Martini improved it by making the firing pin internal, with a coil spring, cocked automatically when the lever is operated. It is a very fast action (much better than the trapdoor Springfield of the same era) and served the British Empire well into the 20th century with .303 conversions using standard Cordite loads. I would have no concerns about strength with normal .303 loads in an ENGLISH made gun.

    I am a bit surprised that they would claim Afghan made guns were English made. As Disciple says, it should be pretty easy to tell the difference.

    Just a note on British nomenclature of that period, but I don't know the rationale for it. The first name was the inventor of the action - Martini, Lee, etc. The second name was the type of rifling used. So a Martini-Henry was a Martini action with a barrel using Henry rifling. A Lee-Metford was a Lee action using Metford rifling. A Lee-Enfield was a Lee action, with rifling developed at the RSAF, Enfield. They also at one point, included the information that the rifle had a magazine, and that it could be loaded from a charger or "stripper clip." The full nomenclature, with the word "rifle" implied as the first word, and commas inserted by me, would be something like "[Rifle,] Magazine, Lee-Enfield" or MLE. Another example is "[Rifle,] Charger Loading, Lee-Enfield" or CLLE. The full meaning of SMLE is "[Rifle,] Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield." So it is the rifle that is short, not, as some folks thing, the magazine.

    Jim
     
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