"He fired once, and fired two, and a bullet whistled into the bushes … You shoot like a soldier," Kamal said, "I'll see how you drive!"
("Ballad of West and East", R. Kipling)
It must be assumed that the colonel's son and the head of the scouts fired at Kamal with a revolver, which is why he missed. If he had shot with a carbine, the chances of hitting him would have been much greater. True, the poem does not say what weapon the commander of the reconnaissance detachment used. But judging by the time, it could well have been a rifle (or carbine) of the Martin-Henry system, with which English soldiers at the end of the 19th century had to fight both in Africa and on the Afghan border …
British soldier with a Martini-Henry rifle.
The problem of loading rifles from a muzzle, in fact, has never been a problem. He put it upright, poured the gunpowder, drove the wad, then the bullet, then the wad again, or even dropped Minier's bullet on the gunpowder, put the gunpowder on the shelf or put the primer on the hose and put it on and shoot. But how can a rider or an infantryman do the same while lying down? Here everything was decided by loading from the treasury, but there were technical problems here. Christian Sharps managed to solve them in the simplest way from a technical point of view, who created a rifle and a carbine for cavalrymen with a vertical wedge sliding in the grooves. A paper cartridge was inserted into the open breech part, by moving the lever on the neck of the box, the shutter rose, with a sharp edge cut off the bottom of the cartridge and locked the "treasury". Through it passed a hole from the brandtube, on which the capsule was still put on. Then most of the Sharps rifles were converted to round or centerfire cartridges and metal cases.
Scheme of the bolt of a rifle by Christopher Sharps.
His rifles broke all records for reliability and accuracy, and for many years remained the favorite weapon of both buffalo hunters and … snipers, as they ensured high accuracy of shooting. And it was he, Sharps, who invented a mechanism controlled by a lever-lever made in the form of a trigger guard back in 1851, while the famous Tyler Henry patented his mechanism even later than Christopher Spencer, the author of a seven-shot carbine, also with a shutter controlled by this the same lever. He invented it in 1860, and in fact, "Henry's bracket" only differs from it in shape.
The second model of the Mainard carbine.
A very rare model of a capsule carbine, which was in service with the southern army and produced at an enterprise in Downville, Virginia in 1862.
Be that as it may, and systems with a lever on the neck of the box, which was a continuation of the trigger guard, became widespread in the same USA during the internecine war between the North and the South. These were the systems of Sims, Stevens, Ballard, the famous Winchester, and later the Savage (or Savage) rifle.
Rifle Martini-Henry Model 1871
In the same way, the bolt in the Henry Peabody rifle was controlled by the lever, made integral with the trigger guard. This system appeared in 1862, and the design of its bolt part was such that the bolt in it was movably fixed on an axis located above the location of the center line of the barrel bore. When the bracket went down and forward, the front of the bolt also went down. At the same time, the breech of the barrel opened, and the spent cartridge case was removed. It remained to put a new cartridge into the barrel, raise the lever and shoot. In the United States, Peabody liked the system, but the end of the Civil War put an end to his work. But his rifle became interested in Europe, and above all in Switzerland.
As you can see, the lever has a large shoulder and is conveniently located. The safety lever is clearly visible on the receiver. There are no other protruding parts on the receiver!
There, the Swiss engineer Frederic von Martini (1832 - 1897) concluded the Peabody system (a serious drawback of which was the external hammer, which had to be cocked separately) into one mechanism (still controlled by the lever located at the back of the trigger guard), in which the hammer (which was spring-loaded firing pin) was inside the bolt. The Martini system appealed to the British army, which adopted it in 1871.
An oval "medallion" with a thread - under the thumb so that it does not slip when placed on the receiver.
This is how the Martini-Henry rifle, combining the Martini bolt and the polygonal bore of the Scotsman Alexander Henry (1817 - 1895) from Edinburgh, was born. It all began with the fact that in England in 1864 they decided to create a committee to equip the army with a rifle loaded from the breech. It was clear that the easiest and cheapest way was to remake the existing stock of muzzle-loading rifles, and not make new weapons. As a result, in September 1866, a rifle of the Snyder system with the designation "Snyder-Anfield Mk I", which was a remake of the English Anfield rifle M1853, appeared in service with the British army. The conversion method was adopted very simple and therefore effective. From the breech of the barrel, 70 mm was cut off and a receiver with a new Snyder bolt was screwed onto it, and all other parts of the rifle were left unchanged.
However, the Snyder rifle did not remain in service for long and already in 1871 was replaced by the Martini-Henry rifle - perhaps the most advanced rifle of the time. Like all other army rifles of those years, it was single-shot, had a traditional caliber 11, 43 mm, length 1250 mm, barrel length 840 mm, weight without bayonet 3800 g, rate of fire 10 rounds per minute. There were seven Henry rifles in the barrel. The muzzle velocity was 411 m / s. The aimed shot range was 1188 m.
Muzzle of the barrel, ramrod and bayonet mount.
The wooden parts of the rifle were made from quality American walnut wood. The forend had a length of 750 mm, a steel ramrod with a length of 806 mm was inserted into it. The buttstock had a steel butt pad, sometimes smooth, sometimes with a diamond-shaped notch. The latch of the shutter release lever was attached to it. The rifle bolt is swinging, driven from the lower lever. The platoon of the drummer was carried out with the same lever, the ejection of an empty cartridge case from a rifle using an ejector. The sight was a step-frame, the front sight had a triangular cross-section.
Lever position when the shutter is open.
The barrel was round, screwed into the receiver, and attached to the forend with two sliding steel rings. The trigger had a notch to increase the sensitivity of the finger, and a soft trigger with no free play. After the shot, the sleeve is thrown to the right-up-back when lowering the bolt from lowering the lever. The stock is attached to the receiver with a long and strong clamping screw, the head of which is closed by a cast butt pad attached to the stock by two screws. The bayonet for the rifle was adopted three-edged with valleys, very similar to the bayonet adopted in the Russian imperial army. In addition to the rifle, a cavalry carbine was produced, which differed only in its shorter length. But the cartridges for it were slightly different. The fact is that, due to the relatively low weight and large caliber, the recoil of the carbine was quite high. Therefore, cartridges with lightweight bullets of a shorter length, which had a winding not of white, but of red paper, were adopted for carbines.
From left to right:.577 Snyder-Enfield,.577 / 450 Martini-Henry in brass foil,.577 / 450 Peabody-Martini with full-drawn brass case and.303 British Mk VII (for Lee-Metford / Lee-Anfield rifles).
The rifle is suitable for cartridges designed by Edward Boxer of various types with a brass, solid-drawn bottle-shaped sleeve. The length of the cartridge is 79, 25 mm, the weight of the black powder charge is 5, 18 g, the diameter of the lead cylindrical bullet is 11, 35 mm, the weight is 31, 49 g. Like all bullets of that time, the bullet was shellless, with a rounded head, and wrapped in oiled paper to improve obturation, since it had a diameter smaller than the diameter of the barrel bore.
Martini-Henry cartridges made by squeezing a straight sleeve from a Snyder.577 rifle.
Wrapping the bullet with oiled paper and the use of a seal located behind the bullet helped to reduce friction and prevent lead rifling in the barrel. When fired, the bullet rang out, its diameter increased, and it pressed the paper into the rifling. The best.45 Peabody-Martini cartridges were then produced in the USA, and they had a higher performance than the European ones.
.577 /.450 cartridges. From left to right:
1. A sample of 1871 with a foil sleeve. 2. For carbines. 3. Idle. 4. A sample of the mid-1880s with a solid-drawn sleeve.
The rifle was produced in several modifications Martini-Henry Mark I (1871-1876), Martini-Henry Mark II (1877-1881), Martini-Henry Mark III (1879-1888), Martini-Henry Mark IV (1888-1889).
Outwardly, the differences in modifications were very minor.
The Martini-Henry Mk II rifle, in contrast to the base model, had an improved trigger, a slightly different rear sight, and a new ramrod. On the Martini-Henry Mk III, the scope has been improved again and the cocking indicator has been changed. The Martini-Henry Mk IV received an extended reloading lever, which increased the reliability of the bolt operation at elevated temperatures, a re-shaped receiver, as well as a new butt and ramrod.
Diagram of the mechanism of the Martini-Henry rifle.
Note that the Martini-Henry rifles were loved in the English army. They managed to demonstrate a rate of fire of up to 40 rds / min, moreover, it was very simple and extremely "soldier-resistant". By the standards of those years, it could hit a target at a distance of 1000 yards (913 m), and good accuracy was achieved at a range of 500 yards.
Martini-Henry rifles, even after being removed from service, were produced in England until 1908 and even entered service with … young scouts!
The popularity of the Martini-Henry system is also evidenced by the fact that it was in service not only in Great Britain, but also in Turkey, Romania, and also in Egypt. The Martini-Henry rifle has served well in the wars that the British Empire fought in Africa, Afghanistan, the northwest border of India and against the Maori in New Zealand.
I could not resist imagining myself as a British colonizer somewhere in the wilds of "black Africa" and not holding this rifle in my hands. By the way, the personal impressions of handling her are the most positive. Lightweight, comfortable, there is not a single extra or protruding part. The lethality of the bullet was, of course, very high. In short, the perfect single-shot "killing machine."