from the Colonial era
Land Pattern musket, 1777
model, called "Brown
Bess". The 18th
century musket was essentially a large smoothbore shotgun.
After loading from the muzzle with loose black-powder and a round
lead bullet from a cylindrical, paper wrapped cartridge, the musket was
fired by the flintlock action above the trigger.
A rotating cock holding a piece of flint snapped forward to
strike a pivoting L-shaped frizzen or "steel."
That action created sparks that ignited a small portion of
priming powder in a projecting flash-pan sending flame through the
barrel's touchhole to reach the main charge.
Obviously, it would not perform in the rain and depended upon a
sharpened flint and properly hardened steel frizzen for reliability.
real problem, however, was the black powder quality. Following each firing, roughly 55 percent would remain as a
black sludge that built up inside the barrel clogging the touchhole and
coating the lock. To cope
with this fouling residue, the average ball was four to six hundreds of
an inch smaller than bore size. Upon
ignition, the undersized ball bounced and skidded up the barrel and
proceeded in a direction determined by its last contact with the bore.
Beyond 60 yards, the ball would lose its reliability to hit a
limitations determined 18th century battle tactics, which employed long
lines of men trained for speed of loading rather than accuracy.
They were expected to average four rounds per minute.
The soldiers typically pointed their arms and fired in controlled
volleys at enemy troops positioned 50 to 60 yards away.
The typical battle was decided by a disciplined bayonet charge
ending in a hand-to-hand melee.
meet these combat conditions, the new British Brown Bess standard musket
was designed to deliver a large bullet at low velocity. It employed a sturdy stock for use as a club in close
fighting and had an overall length that combined with a long, socket
bayonet to create a spear or pike for impacting an enemy's line.
It was also designed to be durable and to withstand the rigors of
years of active campaigning. The
Brown Bess was to successfully fulfil all of these demands.
|The Snider-Enfield Infantry rifle
is particularly long at
54 ľ inches. The breech block houses a diagonally downward sloping
firing pin struck with a front-action lock mounted hammer. The action
operates by the firer cocking the hammer, flipping the block out of the
receiver to the right by grasping the left mounted breech block lever, and
then pulling the block back to extract the spent case. There is no
ejector, the case being lifted out or, more usually, the rifle being
rolled onto its back to allow the case to drop out.
post 1823. Lock marked tower with crown over gr but no
service issue proof marks.
Barrel made by E Baker with fixed post
sights and has a bayonet bar at the muzzle. Stock is the split type with a
brass patch box and has an old repair to the cheek piece. It is doubtful
that these rifles were used by British troops in Australia.
However there is a possibility
that they were privately purchased from the United Kingdom by the early
Volunteer Rifle units in New South Wales.
1851 Minie rifle. Percussion lock marked crown over VR and 1852 over
Enfield. Barrel proofs are rather feint or erased. The sight is proof
marked crown over b and has the makers initials R&WA. Stock has a
feint makerís roundel on the butt and the issue details on the tang have
been erased. Three flat key pins, similar to the 1842 pattern musket, hold
the barrel to the stock and the fore end cap has a Lovells catch to secure
the 17 inch triangular socket bayonet. The Minie rifle is recorded as
being issued in Tasmania, though no examples have been noted with any
1858 bar on band short rifle. Percussion lock marked crown over VR and
1860 over tower. The stock comes to 1 1/4 inches of the muzzle and the
wide upper band is pinned to the stock. The bayonet boss is numbered 32
which would originally have matched the yatagan style sword bayonet. The
stock was made by Chadwick and the rifle assembled by Bond. The butt has
the tower armouries roundel, the date 1861 and the number 65. It is
complete with sling swivels, original ramrod and nipple protector and
chain attached to the trigger guard. This type of
rifle was not common in the colonies of Australia although it was used by
some volunteer rifle units.
2 different bayonets from pre WW1.
The bayonet on the left is in fact an Italian Model 1871 (second model)
to suit the Vetterli rifle of that period which I believe was of Swiss
design. On the right is a Mk
1888 British pattern bayonet. The one on the left is here to show the
curved (or hooked) quillion similar to those seen on some early models for the SMLE
bayonet as issued to some early AIF units.
|Martini-Henry Mark I (1871-1876)
|Martini-Henry Mark II (1877-1881)
|Martini-Henry Mark III (1881-1888)
|Martini-Henry Mark IV (1888-1889)
1853 Socket Bayonet was sometimes referred to as the "Common Socket
Bayonet", as nearly every infantryman used it. It was originally
issued for use with the Pattern 1853 Muzzle-loading Rifle. It was
slightly curved away from the muzzle when attached to the rifle so the
soldier could load the rifle without spiking himself on the point of the
bayonet. As vast quantities of these were available as surplus, a
bushing was brazed into them to allow them to be used with the new
Martini-Henry. There were several different scabbards used with this
bayonet. Overall Length: 20.7 inches Blade
Length: 17 inches
Pattern 1860 Sword Bayonet
is another example of an existing bayonet being modified for use with
the Martini-Henry. At the time of the Martini's adoption, there were
large numbers of these bayonets in stores, so in the interest of saving
money, they were inexpensively modified to fit the M-H. Their muzzle
rings were bushed to fit the M-H barrel, and the tops of the pommels
were filed down to allow the Pattern '60 to slide onto the top barrel
band tab. This bayonet does not have an integrated saw like the Elcho,
but features a curved blade known as a "Yataghan" type blade.
It is very common to hear these generically referred to as Yataghan
Sword Bayonets. Overall Length: 28.1 inches
1876 Socket Bayonet is an improved
and redesigned Pattern 1853.
|It was the
opinion of many that the Pattern 1853 was too short to make an effective
fighting weapon when attached to the rifle. As a result, the Pattern
1876 was lengthened nearly five
inches. The cross sectional
shape of the 1876 was made equiangular, rather than being wider on the
top as was the 1853. Also, since this bayonet was only to be used with breech loading
arms, the outward curve was also omitted. Two scabbards
were used with the 1876, the MkI and Mk.II. The MkI scabbard had two
rivets on the front face of the leather body, and the Mk.II had three.
These rivets were attached to a long leaf spring which held the bayonet
secure when it was in the scabbard. This bayonet was also referred to as
the "Long Common Socket Bayonet". Many of these were later
converted for use on .303 calibre Martinis by cutting down and bushing
the socket. The sockets were bored, re-slotted and a new locking ring,
stop and screw installed. After conversion, these bayonets hung below
the rifle, instead of to the side. Converted 1876's are sometimes
referred to as the 1896 Pattern, but the correct designation is
"Bayonet, Martini-Enfield, Triangular". Overall
Length: 25 inches Blade Length: 21.75 inches
"sword" bayonet with saw back & scabbard
The Martini-Henry Rifle is a weapon
of Empire. Unlike the Snider-Enfield
it replaced, it was England's first service rifle designed from the
ground up as a breech loading metallic cartridge firearm. It
protected and served the British Empire and her colonies for over 30
years. This robust weapon utilized a falling block, self-cocking,
lever operated, single-shot action designed by Friedreich von Martini
The barrel used the Henry Rifling System, designed by Alexander
Henry. Henry Peabody, an American, was actually the father of the
Martini action. His design utilized an external hammer to strike a
firing pin for cartridge ignition. Mr. Martini's refinement of the
design basically consisted of conversion to an internal coiled
spring activated striker. Martini's improved design flourished and
Mr. Peabody's is nearly forgotten.
Later in the British Martini's
career, other rifling patterns such as the Metford System and even a
system devised at Enfield were adopted. It is therefore common to
hear these weapons also referred to as Martini-Enfields or
The first Martini adopted for service in the British Army was the
M-H Mark I, which entered service in June of 1871. There were an
additional three main variations of the Martini-Henry Rifle...the
Mark II, III and IV. There were also sub variations of these that
are commonly called Patterns. In 1877 a Carbine version of the M-H
was entered into service.
There are five main variations of the
Carbine Model: the M-H Carbine Mark I (a.k.a. Cavalry Carbine), the
M-H Garrison Artillery Carbine, the M-H Artillery Carbine Mark I,
the M-H Artillery Carbine Mark II, and M-H Artillery Carbine Mark
III. Initially, British Military Martinis used the Short Chamber
Boxer-Henry .45 Calibre black powder cartridge. The original
cartridge case was made of a thin sheet of brass rolled around a
mandrel, which was then soldered to an iron base. These cartridges
were assembled by the orphaned children of British Soldiers, and
were relatively cheap to produce.
They were found to be vulnerable
to being easily damaged, and produced inferior muzzle velocities.
Later, the rolled brass case was replaced by a solid brass version
which remedied both of these problems. There was also a Carbine
version of the Boxer-Henry .45 Calibre cartridge. This round used a
410 grain bullet with 70 grains of black powder, instead of the 485
grain bullet and 85 grains of powder used in the infantry rifle
load. The primary reason for the milder load was that the recoil of
the rifle load was very punishing when fired in a carbine, and this
was found to be the cause of many failures in prototype carbines.
In an emergency, either load could be used in either weapon. When the
advantages of small calibre, flatter trajectory, high velocity
cartridges became evident, an experimental Martini in .402 calibre was
designed. Known as the Enfield-Martini Rifle, these rifles offered
superior ballistic performance compared to Martinis in .450 calibre.
With the adoption of the .303 calibre service cartridge however, the
British realized it would be a supply nightmare having to equip units
with .450 Martini-Henry, .303, and .402 Enfield-Martini (not to mention
pistol and Gatling Gun cartridges as well).
Thus, the .402 calibre Enfield-Martinis (of which thousands had already
been built) were switched back to .450 Martini-Henry calibre, and
converted to what we know as the "A" and "B" pattern Martini-Henry Mark
IV. "C" Pattern Martini-Henry Mark IV's were original manufacture
weapons, not conversions from the E-M .402.
Smaller, lighter versions of the
Martini-Henry were created to train young military cadets. These
weapons, often referred to as Martini Cadets, are similar in
appearance to Mark IV's, but are much smaller and lighter. Many also
feature August Francotte's improved action design, whereby the
of the action can be removed by removing a single pin or screw.
Government issue Cadets were originally in .297/230 Morris (Short
and Long) and .310 Cadet (a.k.a. .310 Greener).
like the .450 Martini-Henry, have fallen into obsolescence, and are
nearly impossible to find in the US. Thus, conversion of these
rifles to readily available rimmed cartridge calibres such as .357
Magnum, 32-20 WCF, 218 Bee, and 22 Hornet is very popular. The
cadet's action is extremely strong. According to a 1955 data
circular, the cadet action was tested with proof loads generating up
to 60,000 PSI!!! Alas, the adoption of the Lee-Metford
Magazine Rifle in 1888 would
lead to the phasing out of the single-shot Martinis. Nonetheless,
the Martini survived for many more years as a Home-Guard and second
class weapon of the British and Colonial Armies
some photos and wording from http://www.martinihenry.com/infantry.htm
Cadet Rifles by Ian Barger, 597 Rockvale
Road, Armidale NSW 2350
|The large actioned
Martini-Henry rifles were used by the various colonial armed forces and
police forces in Australia from 1871, originally in .450 calibre and in
the closing years of the century in .303 calibre. These .303 Martinis
were generally known as Martini-Metfords or Martini-Enfields, depending
on their rifling pattern, and used the .303 cordite cartridge designed
for the famous Lee-Enfield rifle used by the United Kingdom and its
former colonies from about 1895 until around 1960. At the time of
Federation of the separate Australian Colonies to form the Commonwealth
of Australia in 1901, there was thus already a fairly long history of
the colonies using versions of the Martini action as their standard
These military Martinis were very
heavy full-sized rifles, too large and heavy for the 14-18 year-old
cadets in the various militias of the time. The first attempt to provide
a special cadet training rifle appears to have been made by the
Victorian Government in 1887 when they purchased 500 Francotte Patent
Martinis in .297/300 calibre. Subsequent batches of these training
rifles were also acquired by the West Australian and Commonwealth
Governments. The Francotte Patent allows removal of the lock mechanism
by the simple removal of a single split pin, as seen on the later .310
Cadets. The Francotte Martinis were made by A. Francotte and W.W.
Greener, who introduced the stamping of a kangaroo on the top of the
receiver, as found in the later .310 Cadet Martinis made by Greener and
the Birmingham Small Arms Company (B.S.A.). Apart from the Francotte
Patent and the kangaroo, the action resembled the Mark IV Martini-Henry
Not to be outdone, the New South Wales
Government in 1891 introduced a miniature version of the Martini-Henry
Mk IV rifle. Still in .450 calibre, these rifles were made by the
Braendlin Armory Company of Birmingham, and were stamped "BRAENDLIN
CADET CARBINE 500/450" on the barrel and came complete with a
cleaning rod slung beneath the forend. The right-hand side of the action
carried the typical Martini-Henry cocking indicator. A similar rifle,
the .310 Westley Richards Cadet Martini, was issued in NSW shortly after
Federation. This was also a miniaturized version of the Martini-Henry,
and like the Braendlin, did not use the Francotte lock removal system.
In 1910 the Commonwealth Government
introduced a system of universal cadet training, and issued the States
with what is now known as the .310 Martini Cadet Rifle. These employed
the Francotte Patent, and were made in the UK by both Greener and B.S.A.
They were marked "COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA" on the right face
of the receiver, and had the now-familiar kangaroo profile on the top.
They were issued to all states and thus carry the various State markings
on the buttstock and on the upper right corner of the right face of the
receiver. The B.S.A. Martinis are generally considered to be better-made
than the Greeners, and the later and more common B.S.A. version carried
a superior rear sight, adjustable for both elevation and windage. The
cartridge was an existing commercial round, the .310 Greener, a
small-game and target centrefire cartridge about the same size as a
Winchester .32/20 and fitted with a 120 grain heeled lead projectile.
Frank de Haas in his classic
"Single Shot Rifles and Actions" says that B.S.A. made 80,000
of the .310 Cadet rifles, although I have a Queensland-marked B.S.A.
rifle dated May 1912 that has a serial number of almost 83,000. The .310
Cadet rifles were withdrawn in 1921 and cadets issued with the standard
military .303 Lee-Enfields, although the stored Martini Cadets were
re-issued to the militia in 1942 when Australia was in danger of being
invaded by Japan in World War II. A little-known sidelight of this
development was the manufacture in Australia at that time of a copper-jacketted
round for the .310 Cadet, as use of the original lead projectile by the
Army Reserve forces would have contravened The Hague Convention!
After World War II, the Martini Cadets
were sold to the civilian population - I can remember seeing them in
disposals stores in the 1960s selling for the equivalent of $6.00. Large
numbers of Cadets were sold in the United States and also New Zealand.
In the 1950s and 60s, .310 Cadet ammunition was available commercially
in Australia, but in USA the nearest available round was the Winchester
.32/20. Some Martini Cadets would chamber the .32/20 without
modification, but those with tight chambers were generally
This was not always an entirely
satisfactory procedure, as the groove diameter of a .310 barrel, despite
the designation, was .320, while the projectile in the .32/20 round was
about .312 in diameter and thus tended to rattle down the oversize
barrel. Perhaps the majority of Martini Cadets, both in Australia and
elsewhere, have ended up being re-barrelled to suit commercially
available ammunition. The most popular of these conversions have been to
rimfire calibres, both .22LR and .22WRM, and to small-game centrefire
calibres, especially .22 Hornet, .218 Bee, .222 Rem and .357
Some beautiful sporting stocks of
highly figured walnut or maple have been fitted to these converted
rifles, and I have seen photographs of some extraordinary customised
Cadets fitted with such stocks and with the actions intricately
engraved. Despite its antiquity, the Martini Cadet action is a strong
one, and many shooters are intrigued, as I am, by its simplicity,
safety, ease of use, ingenuity of design, and precision of manufacture.
Many are still in use in Australia in the form of a smallbore target
rifle, the Sportco Clubman, with a heavy .22LR barrel and aperture