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My Mk II Martini-Henry

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When ‘arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch, don’t call your Martini a cross-eyed bitch.
She’s human as you are, you treat her as sich.
An’ she’ll fight for the young British soldier.
                                            Rudyard Kipling.     1865-1936

 

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“We were using Martini’s, and fine rifles they were too.”

Private 1373 – Alfred Henry Hook V.C., Rorkes Drift, Natal        

     In a never ending search for the “poor man’s black powder cartridge rifle” and being bitten by the Martini bug, it was a given that one would be found and shipped to Toad Hall.  In short, and with many thanks to Doc Sorrentino, a nice one was adopted and an interesting little beastie she has turned out to be as well as an excellent shooter.  It started life as a Mk I Martini-Henry British front line service rifle back in 1875 made by the London Small Arms Company.  A bit later, she was upgraded to a Mk II and made much more serviceable.  Her service record is unknown for the most part until 1894.  The rifle had wound up on the Indian sub-continent by this time and was sent to the Allahabad Arsenal.  Once there it was completely overhauled insuring the rifle was in tip top shape to be issued to the Nepali army.  One of the more interesting changes the rifle has encountered was the addition of a Mk IV butt stock.  It had been removed from an Enfield Mk IV, the long lever retainer hole was plugged and a short lever hole and cup installed!  I guess the mentality was “parts was parts” when making repairs.   The Allahabad Arsenal stamped their identification roundel, date, and the weapon re-classification number on the butt along side the Enfield roundel.  England.  Perhaps South Africa.  The Sudan?  India.  Afghanistan?  Nepal….and now America.  She’s a world traveler!  Don’t you wish this rifle could talk?

      This rifle, like the Nepali Martini-Henry and Gehendra previously met, is an IMA alumnus, but this little gem is no wall hanger.  IMA does have other Mk IIs and A, B, and C models of MK IVs available, but they are in unknown quantity and in various unknown conditions.  This is why it’s important to do your homework, make inquiries, and do some planning before making a purchase.  Up front, if you’re looking for the best opportunity to obtain a shooter, the MK IV will be the best bet.  It’s not so historically glamorous as the Mk II, but then again, it wasn’t in service as long, so it’s condition will normally be far superior.  Check out IMA’s website or order one of their catalogs and see what’s available for yourself.  www.ima-usa.com    Enjoy the photos.

Enfield and Allahabad Arsenal roundels on the MK IV butt stock.  The large numeral 1 indicates it was originally accepted as a front line weapon.  When it was overhauled at Allahabad Arsenal, the large numeral 2 was stamped on the butt to let the world know it had passed from a front line rifle and went into secondary service.

 

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London Small Arms was the original manufacturer of this rifle as a MK I.

 

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Close up of the assembly housing stamps.  Notice the offset “I” when it was upgraded to a MK II?

 

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The MK IV butt was altered to accommodate an earlier MK “short lever”.  Neatly done.

 

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Mk I trigger group upgraded to MK II.  Very competent brazing job by a master craftsman.

 

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Brass Martini-Henry muzzle protector.  Believe this to be the third model as there is no cleaning rod hole.

 

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The rear ladder sight.  Stamps indicate “Native State” & “Nepal”.  Nepal is where the rifle saw it’s final military service as a non-front line British service rifle. Thus the large numeral 2 in the butt stampings.

 

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The muzzle.  Notice the bayonet lug on the upper barrel band?  The front sight doubles as a bayonet lug, too.  This rifle can take either style of M-H bayonet.

 

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Check this out!  The highly desirable Mk I chequered butt plate.

 

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Full length view.

 

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Rorke’s Drift battle scene from the movie Zulu.

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