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Thread: Martini-action, custom-built

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    Martini-action, custom-built

    Good afternoon, all.

    Slight introduction first. I'm not new to shooting, however to casting projectiles and reloading i am very new. And am after a little bit of help. I am a newly-qualified Engineer & Toolmaker, from New Zealand, with dreams of becoming a qualified Gunsmith.

    So of course, when it came the days to do a sort of "Final project" to finish my apprenticeship, the solution was simple.

    I had an old Martini-Enfield action rusting away i collected from a good mate, with a bit of cleaning it came up very nicely- then the hard bit. Calibre? After some thought, i spotted an old double-rifle book i had.. and came up with .45-70. Some digging later, i found a chap locally manufacturing barrels. Received the barrel blank a week later. Machining, fitting took about a week, bluing was done by hand, the barrel is 28" long 1" diameter heavy bull profile sights are modified Pattern14 Parker-Hale diopter rear with Globe front.





    Now to the thick of things.

    I have two moulds, Lyman 405gr Flatnose/non gas checked, and Lyman 480gr spire point/non gas checked

    The rifling in this particular rifle is 1-18" twist rate, i am trialing loads using 34gr of H4198 powder behind the 480 gr boolit(I'll get used to the terminology!)

    So far its performing admirably, however i am still incredibly new to the reloading scene- i understand the engineering behind it but nothing beats experience!

    So all i can ask is- any suggestions for where i should go from here to develop the most accurate loadings i can? Powder, load etc.

    For reference, the rifle/action has been proofed to upper loads for Marlin lever guns, not quite Ruger #1 loadings however

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Beautiful job on your rifle. With My 45/70s I use an old 405 grain Lee mould and either 4198 or 3031. For lighter loads that won't punish you so much Trail Boss powder is a good choice.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    I especially like the rear sight. What is it, and how hard was it to make the custom mount?

  4. #4
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    I've got to say, nice work.
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  5. #5
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    Nice work Bane. I have news for you. You are probably BETTER qualified as any other "gunsmith" in NZ. There are a few very clever engineers and a lot of 'butchers' who think they are gunsmiths. I secret is to find the former. I know a brilliant benchrester with a good workshop. He is my go-to guy. Good luck to you.
    Cheers from New Zealand

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  6. #6
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatume View Post
    I especially like the rear sight. What is it, and how hard was it to make the custom mount?
    Incredibly easy actually!

    This is the exact rear sight i used



    I flipped the diopter carriage upside down and remachined/re-threaded the hole for the diopter so it sat closer to the carriage. Machined a flat and re-scaled it (The P14 had "Wings" on the receiver for the ladder sight the diopter sight is underslung to sit inside these wings) tidied up the body of the mount sight and machined exess metal off, then drilled and tapped a new hole, machined a screw to go through the bolt block and pull the sight against the receiver, using two 3/32" tension pins pinned to the receiver body to prevent it rotating.

    Front sight i pinched off a Gevarm .22, remachined to fit barrel profile.

    Took a while getting sight profile correct and getting it lined up, i need to get a load worked out then take it to the range so i can re-engrave the rear sightplate with ranges.


    Quote Originally Posted by JeffinNZ View Post
    Nice work Bane. I have news for you. You are probably BETTER qualified as any other "gunsmith" in NZ. There are a few very clever engineers and a lot of 'butchers' who think they are gunsmiths. I secret is to find the former. I know a brilliant benchrester with a good workshop. He is my go-to guy. Good luck to you.

    Thank you! I'm only 25 years old, so dont think too highly of me yet, i have alot more learning to do!.
    I notice your in Christchurch- this barrel came from John Thompson if you know of him?



    Dframe: what powder grain weight do you use behind your 405 load? Would like to work out a good load for both weights of projectile

  7. #7
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    Yes, I know John. I have an invite to visit his workshop and see barrels being made. Very nice man is John.
    Cheers from New Zealand

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  8. #8
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffinNZ View Post
    Yes, I know John. I have an invite to visit his workshop and see barrels being made. Very nice man is John.
    When you see him, pass on my regards and if possible direct him to the photos

  9. #9
    Boolit Man
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    You have produced a classic target rifle. Elegant in its simplicity. In terms of where to go from here have you slugged the barrel? Go .001 or .002 over grove diameter for your bullets. You have a good powder but the levergun section etc. will have alternatives if you arn't satisfied with what you have. What about alloy? I run everything from straight wheelweights to 1 & 20 tin to lead in my Marlin 1895. Gas checks are another option along with black powder or paper patched bullets.

    Some guys on the Marlinowners site are getting one inch groups at 100 yds. with the .45/70. I am not one of them but with your rifle that does not seem like an unreasonable objective.

    In addition do some reading. On the Los Angeles Silouette Club site Glen Frexell (sp?) has a series on the opening page that has virtually everything you wanted to know about bullet casting. While the focus is on revolvers most of it applies to rifles as well. The Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook is excellent. Paul Matthews and Mike Venturino (Handloader and Rifle magazines) have also written extensively on casting. You could join the Cast Bullet Association. Lots of good technical stuff on their site.

    Last there is also another option that might work for sombody with your skills. One day I went to the range and spotted a fellow shooting an 1871 Martini complete with Crown and VR on the action. He couldn't remember the caliber but was shooting bullets that he made the molds and gas checks for. On another occasion I spotted him shooting an Italian rolling block. He was not too happy with the accuracy; said he cut the rifling to deep on the barrel. He made it from a broken axle off of one of those machines used for moving cargo containers.

    Greg B.

  10. #10
    Boolit Man
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    Beautiful rifle. I also agree on bore size. You want cast boolits a little over. You might just try out of the mold to see how big they are in relation to bore size, before you try to size and lube them. If you have a piece of barrel left you can size that. You can always lube with liquid Alox in a plastic bowl. I've got a .38-55 rifle that requires .380 boolits. I use as cast and lube with Alox in a bowl. I get sub 3/4 inch groups at 100 yards from a rest.
    I have always used 3031 in my 45-70s with both boolits and bullets, and I've never had one not shoot well.
    DHB

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    Thanks for the support guys

    A little bit of success, shot a small amount of reloads. Had help casting these a while back, 500gr gas checked lubed with 60/40 beeswax/olive oil.. Range in the workshop is only 50 yards but it is enough to get a rough idea of how its shooting

    44grains was actually quite tame, rifle held up beautifully, considering going up to 46-47 grains.

    Estimated velocity is ~1700 FPS



    I havent slugged the bore yet, i was hoping i could retreive at least one of the lighter loads however i underestimated the power of the rifle- blew a hole clean through two phonebooks (Thank god for a properly built range!)

    Will slug it this week hopefully and work out what its measuring, however it shot quite nicely with straight-from-the-moulds.

    Bore is spotless, no leading, no exess grease, no unburnt powder residue. Quite happy atm.

    My only concern is the lube i am using, 60/40 beeswax/olive oil was suggested as an interim solution however could i keep shooting this lube if its not causing me any problems?

  12. #12
    Boolit Man
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    1) If it ain't broke don't fix it. Your rifle seems to like that lube with that boolit and at that velocity so why change? Only question I would have concerns temperature. Does the stuff melt off the boolits if you leave them sitting in the sun? If you look around on this site they have recipies for many bullet lubes. Also from what I can see you are using gas checks. These help greatly in the prevention of leading until you get to the upper end of lead boolit velocities. So if you go to a plain base boolit keep in mind that you may have to change lubes if it starts to lead.

    2) You don't have to slug the bore. You got a custon barrel so the dimensions are probably where they should be. I have a rifle that shoots fine without going through that little exercise. If you are getting poor accuracy and leading etc. and you think the boolit is undersize or the barrel oversize this is the way to find out as both conditions are not good.

    3) Just in case you have a hard time finding gas checks, like here in Canada, Corbins sells tools to make them. Here on this site there is a fellow named Pat Marlin who also sells gas check tools.

    4) Before I did anything more I would load more ammunition and vary the powder charge and shoot a bunch of three shot groups to see what works best. That last 44 gr. group is starting to look interesting.

    Greg B.

  13. #13
    Boolit Bub
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    As i said these boolits were cast a while ago (8-10 months?) and lubed. I did clean them a little better, the one in the pic was kicking around the bottom of my toolbox :P

    I dont think i will be shooting only gas-checked boolits, i have a spitzer point 500gr mould so what i *think* i will be doing next is i will be loading three different grain weights, 44, 46 and 48 gr and two different projectiles, 500gr gaschecked fn and 500gr ungaschecked s/p.

    I suppose i have to figure out when i can get to the range next!

    As for slugging the bore, thanks for that i was a little worried i suppose if it shoots just fine i shouldnt have to worry too much.

    If i do find i start having leading problems what lube would you recommend? (I prefer going from "Best personal experience" then working from there :P)

  14. #14
    Boolit Man
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    I am currently shooting a plain base 405 gr. Lee boolit at slow trapdoor velocities using a 1 & 20 soft tin/lead alloy. Accuracy and economy are my main interest. Lube is the old NRA 50/50 beeswax alox formula. No leading.

    Only time I remember leading a barrel was on my .357 Ruger Blackhawk using weel weight alloy and full velocity loads. I switched to linotype alloy and the leading pretty much stopped. Same lube.

    If you stick to trapdoor velocity and pressures using a relatively soft alloy and the lube you got it probably won't lead. If you go fast use a hard alloy, hard lube and gas checks. Gas checks go a long way toward preventing leading at speeds approaching maximum. However don't use hard bullets at low velocities as sometimes they won't seal the barrel properly and you get gas blowby which melts some of the boolit lead onto the barrel. If you are buying lube most manufactures have a blend for higher velocities. I don't have any high speed lube recomendations as I usually shoot at slower velocities. In the lube section here there are lots of recomendations just experiment and your rifle will tell you what it likes.

    Greg B.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    Bane,
    That is really nice work! Clean, well thought out... You should be proud.

    No interest in moving to the states, eh?

  16. #16
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg B. View Post
    I am currently shooting a plain base 405 gr. Lee boolit at slow trapdoor velocities using a 1 & 20 soft tin/lead alloy. Accuracy and economy are my main interest. Lube is the old NRA 50/50 beeswax alox formula. No leading.

    Only time I remember leading a barrel was on my .357 Ruger Blackhawk using weel weight alloy and full velocity loads. I switched to linotype alloy and the leading pretty much stopped. Same lube.

    If you stick to trapdoor velocity and pressures using a relatively soft alloy and the lube you got it probably won't lead. If you go fast use a hard alloy, hard lube and gas checks. Gas checks go a long way toward preventing leading at speeds approaching maximum. However don't use hard bullets at low velocities as sometimes they won't seal the barrel properly and you get gas blowby which melts some of the boolit lead onto the barrel. If you are buying lube most manufactures have a blend for higher velocities. I don't have any high speed lube recomendations as I usually shoot at slower velocities. In the lube section here there are lots of recomendations just experiment and your rifle will tell you what it likes.

    Greg B.
    Thanks, much to think about there, i'll be shooting in the next couple weeks will keep you all informed!


    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt Petro View Post
    Bane,
    That is really nice work! Clean, well thought out... You should be proud.

    No interest in moving to the states, eh?

    Not atm sorry i'm quite happy here :P

    I was at the states last year and didnt have much of a good experience (All revolving around Los Angeles airport)

    People there are fantastic though.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bane View Post
    I was at the states last year and didnt have much of a good experience (All revolving around Los Angeles airport)
    People there are fantastic though.
    ............I quite often wish an asteroid would hit LA (NOT just LAX) and I only live 70 miles east of it.

    Bane, Welcome to the board and glad to have you. I don't know what plans you have for your new rifle (and a beauty it is, too) but for just casual shooting and plinking, I sure suggest you invest in a 300gr slug. Less powder and lead going downrange and less wear and tear on you also One of my favorite loads in the 45-70 is the 292gr Lyman over varying charges of 2400, 4227, SR4759, or 4198. They're all accurate and at velocities of 13-1400 fps I've never had one bounce off the target paper yet.



    I too have 'done' a couple Martini's. The top one was chambered .444 Marlin, and I REALLY should have rasped off that stupid rollover cheekpiece I made up a folding windage adjustable rear sight for it, and I bet you can tell where the elevation portion came from?



    This one was a 'kit' if you will. A friend had all the pieces but had lost interest in it, so I was able to pick it up for $150 complete. He'd fitted the buttstock to the action, and had inlet the forend, but it was up to me to figure a way to 'stick' it under the barrel and have it hang there. The barrel has ratchet rifling too. Don't know it's provinence but it's well covered on the underside with criptic stampings. As it was it wouldn't clock to the action so I had to make a shaped washer to fit between the barrel shoulder and the action. It was fiddly work but ended up working perfectly.



    Happily there was a threaded 'boss' on the underside of the barrel but I'm danged if I could ever figure what the threads were. Probably some communistic heathen metric foolishness (ahem!). However it was close to 1/4 something or other and LOOKED like fine threads so on the lathe I kept infeeding after tries on the barreland knocking the crests down with a file I finally got it. Spent more time setting back up to pickup the thread then anything else. Got the bolt made, and had previously bored the forend and made an escutchen. I fire blued them and put it together. Even managed to clock the screw (believe I could feel the threads stretch a bit in the process, HA!).

    I have a MkIV Martini also dated 1887, it remains as issued in 577-470, no photo of it by itself. Since you have a beautifull sleek new rifle form the 1870's and a cartridge from the same time, maybe you should load some ammo from the same period?



    Of course the ones on the left haven't been lubed yet. I don't shoot them much as it's a lot of lead to be sending downrange (505grs) but if I'm out of paper patched slugs I will. The patched ones are the Lee 405gr patched with 20 lb paper to .472" and loaded over 31.0grs of IMR3031 + dacron. From the MkIV's 33" bbl they go 1250 fps and will easily fetch the 200 meter ram. I also tried the 577-450 loaded with BP and a paper patched 450gr Lee (closest I had to the issue 480gr original). After the 3rd shot the left side of the rifle was covered in slobber, and I was looking for someone, anyone I could PAY to shoot off the remaining 17 rounds! I will admit that HM troops at Ruarke's Drift were mightily motivated, but they also had to have been manly men to stand that abuse shot after shot, and hour after hour, heh, heh!

    Once again, welcome aboard.

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  18. #18
    Boolit Bub
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    Beautiful rifle, and exellent use of a No.4 rear sight! That particular type of martini is quite rare- having the thumb-throw safety lever. Idle curiosity, does the safety release on the downwards throw or upwards throw?

    The earlier models released on the downwards throw, this meant that with very little fiddling you could hold the trigger down with one finger and use your thumb to gently release the safety, working almost like a "Set trigger" system.

    Bane, Welcome to the board and glad to have you. I don't know what plans you have for your new rifle (and a beauty it is, too) but for just casual shooting and plinking, I sure suggest you invest in a 300gr slug. Less powder and lead going downrange and less wear and tear on you also One of my favorite loads in the 45-70 is the 292gr Lyman over varying charges of 2400, 4227, SR4759, or 4198. They're all accurate and at velocities of 13-1400 fps I've never had one bounce off the target paper yet.
    As it stands i have just secured an almost endless supply of lead, so i can shoot 500gr's all day long In saying that i think the 405's are about as light as i would let myself go. Not because i like punishment but the rifle doesent seem (to me at least) to recoil as badly as i expected, when i was getting cases to reload all i could get on hand were a couple boxes of Hornady LeverEvolution, 60rds later i was feeling rather pleased with myself

    Of course, loading these 500grs will see!

    I fully intend to use this as a hunting rifle more than a target/gong ringer aswell, so keeping to the loads i would use for hunting is probably a better bet.

    Don't know it's provinence but it's well covered on the underside with criptic stampings
    If you care to photograph the stampings/markings i would be more than happy to translate for you, i'm a bit of a Martini nut


    Happily there was a threaded 'boss' on the underside of the barrel but I'm danged if I could ever figure what the threads were. Probably some communistic heathen metric foolishness (ahem!). However it was close to 1/4 something or other and LOOKED like fine threads so on the lathe I kept infeeding after tries on the barreland knocking the crests down with a file I finally got it. Spent more time setting back up to pickup the thread then anything else. Got the bolt made, and had previously bored the forend and made an escutchen. I fire blued them and put it together. Even managed to clock the screw (believe I could feel the threads stretch a bit in the process, HA!).
    For future reference *ALL* threads on the Martini rifle are BA(British Association) Stupidest thread profiling *EVER*. with the only exeption being the barrel thread which is some bizarre 1" whitworth profile.

    Where do you get your cases from in 577/450? in large quantities at all or home made?

    Someone here would make a small fortune if they started supplying 577/450 cases!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Bane,

    For 577-450 new brass try Jamison Intl. Good brass but not cheap.

    http://www.jamisoninternational.com/...ji577450mh.htm

  20. #20
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check