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Thread: 577/450 Martini Henry

  1. #1

    577/450 Martini Henry

    Ok so I'm fairly new to loading BP cartridge rounds so i have a question. I have successfully loaded for the .577 snider and recently bought a Enfield mark IV 1885 long lever Martini Henry dated 1887. The whole tapered throat/bore has got me scratching my head and i guess for my own reassurance i want to ask a question that I'm sure has been asked many times now. I've slugged the bore from the muzzle twice and i get a .462/463 reading but from what i have been reading i should be using a .468-470 boolit in these rifles. I figured before i spent a bunch on a mold, sizer etc i would just buy some pre made boolits and make sure everything functions OK. It seems most everything out there is sold out or has to come from the EU but i did find some .470 boolits. Should i run these as is or size them down some? I guess i just feel nervous about pushing a boolit that much larger(especially in a gun over 100 years old!) but i guess it's supposed to swage itself down the barrel correct? I got my 24 gauge brass cut and annealed, should be picking up my dies later today and hopefully my boolits get here tomorrow so I'm hoping to shoot it this weekend if i don't have to adjust the boolit size. Thanks in advance for any help i get here...

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Sound like a Good plan. Lots Of Luck Trying to Make Good Brass.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Bub yulzari's Avatar
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    Contact Martyn at xringservices@yahoo.com and he can sort out what you need at reasonable prices. Knows Martini Henry matters intimately and will supply the cases and moulds to match your exact type. In USA so no import issues.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master



    curator's Avatar
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    noob-leader:

    The Martini Henry has an 8 inch tapered section where it goes from about .480 to actual groove diameter. Getting an accurate measurement with the 7 sided Henry rifling is very difficult. Start with the biggest boolit you can chamber and don't worry. Depending on which dies you have purchased you may find that they reduce the case too much to be able to seat boolits of the right diameter. I shoot the Lee .480-400RF boolit in my Martinis, cast from 1 in 40 tin/lead, unsized and lubed with Lee Liquid Alox. I do not size my fire-formed cases (reformed 24 gauge brass) just thumb-seat and shoot.

    If you are not familiar with the "British Militaria" forum, you should be. This is where the serious Martini Henry enthusiasts share information. link: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/brit...enry-forum-f1/

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Where abouts are you?...........if in GB,dont bother buying moulds,cause you wont be able to buy lead.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the quick replies! So i guess I'll just try the .470 boolits as it and see how they shoot. I ordered a set of the Lee dies as they are the only ones i knew about. I seen RCBS used to make them but i didn't see any for sale anywhere. As far as sizing i just use the Lee system being i use hi-tek coating on the majority of my bullets and once i figure out what size works good I'll just order a custom lee size die and maybe contact the guy in the link above for a mold. I'm in the U.S and i think i can scrounge up a lb or 2 of lead. Thanks again!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

    pworley1's Avatar
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    I paper patch my Martini Henry
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master




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    If you have the MKIV it should be bigger than you mentioned. That would be about right for the MKI and MKII. The rifling has an odd number of grooves so it is difficult to get an accurate measurement without special equipment. You can rotate the slug in the mike jaws and get close.
    As Curator mentioned the British Board has all of the information you are looking for. The Lee reloading dies are set up for a .458 diameter boolit so it is going to be way under size for your .470 boolit.
    I load for a MKII and shoot a .462 boolit made for the trapdoor. The MKII starts at .468 and tapers to .464. I get enough upset in the boolit that it shoots just fine. The group below is at 100yd. I do neck size with a modified 458 Win Mag size die and thumb seat the boolit.

    Bob
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by noob-leader View Post
    Thanks for the quick replies! So i guess I'll just try the .470 boolits as it and see how they shoot. I ordered a set of the Lee dies as they are the only ones i knew about. I seen RCBS used to make them but i didn't see any for sale anywhere. As far as sizing i just use the Lee system being i use hi-tek coating on the majority of my bullets and once i figure out what size works good I'll just order a custom lee size die and maybe contact the guy in the link above for a mold. I'm in the U.S and i think i can scrounge up a lb or 2 of lead. Thanks again!
    Cast Bullet Engineering (in Australia) makes several molds for the 450/577 at .462 so at least a fair number of martini rifles downunder must slug round that and shoot them ok -- a few of the guys that have these rifles really performing shoot paper patch. You are gonna find a lot of variation in the specs of antique rifles - they did not make them all the same even though that may have been the plan at the time

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub cas's Avatar
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    If memory serves me right... I use a .460 patched to .468



    My other rifle is larger, but I honestly don't remember what I patch that too, haven't shot it in years.
    Former cylindersmith.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I have been using the Lee 476/400 mould for years......I used to paper patch ,but using the 476 bullet is a lot quicker ..........I have recovered bullets fired with light charges,and even 476 dia doesnt completely fill the rifling in several rifles and carbines........So if you want a budget bullet,its the way to go,the only minus is the large flat point.......nevertheless ,I still get near 100% hits on steel at 300 metres/330yds.

  12. #12
    Boolit Bub bigbore52's Avatar
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    Ditto for Indian Joe's post....... and a shameless plug for David at CBE......I use his excellent 468-480MH mould in my Mk II and it works brilliantly even though it is marginally over size to what I bore slugged it.

    He also makes and sells the top punch and bottom dies to suit the Lyman 4500 lube/sizer to go with his moulds so worth dropping him an email and ask his advice on your MH, I've found him knowledgeable and a nice bloke to deal with....

    That being said, good dies aren't cheap and being a thrifty SOB I've made a few swaging dies in the past and swage that 468 pill down to try in my other 458 BP smoke poles before I settle on a particular mould for them ........that way I can tailor the pill to match each bore and get the best accuracy of the rifle before settling on a particular mould - easier and far cheaper than guessing one based on what others suggest...might work in theirs, but not in yours...you can swage it down from 468 to basically anything you want......

    If you are handy with metal working and have a lathe (or know someone who has and accepts beer tokens) then easy enough to make simple swage dies to get whatever diameter you need and try them first .....his 468-480MH has a similar ogive to the Postell (slightly flatter taper but essentially the same) and in my experience that general shape seems to work better than others I've tried

    Once you work out what diameter suits yours with this method, then you can always buy a custom mould knowing the size that best fits and reduce the risk of buying something that may not suit your rifle.........good luck
    Last edited by bigbore52; 11-12-2018 at 06:34 PM. Reason: spelling

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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