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Thread: 1887 martini henry

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    1887 martini henry

    Last night I was the high bidder on a quite rough looking VR Enfield Martini- Henry 1887. Listed as caliber unknown. More than likely a 577-450 but wonít know till it gets here.
    While I bought this gun very cheap it appears shooting it may not be cheap at all. If thatís the caliber it is and I can come up with some brass I can make the rest of what I need.

    Or I could rebarrel to something more easily obtained.
    Questions, comments, concerns, opinions freely welcomed.
    Thanks, Woody
    Some people live and learn but I mostly just live

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    You can shoot quite cheaply,with a bit of common sense applied......you have a choice of bullets ,cheap moulds Lee 458 /paper patched,....if this doesnt appeal,then I use the Lee 476/400gn......fits fired neck OK,also fills grooves ,and gives pretty good accuracy......due to small grease grooves ,its smoke less only......Cases ,use reformed 24 ga CBC,buy these from a supplier,dont try to make them,unless you have a decent workshop,and lots of patience...........and finally ,dont waste money on Lee die sets.....too small .....but do get a Lee shell holder,or two.....Some say a good cheap neck sizing die is the first 3/4 inch of a 45/70 die.....only size enough of the case to hold a bullet......Latest theory concerns the use of foam draft excluder rod to confine powder into case base for reliable ignition....havent tried it ..yet.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master



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    I’m nostalgic and would keep the original barrel, as long as there’s nothing wrong with it. I’m sure you could get set up with whatever you need to reload for it for less cost than rebarreling. I regard that type of project of the fun of the hobby.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    While I could rebarrel it myself for not too much I would prefer to keep the original caliber. I think the 577-450 is very old fashioned looking and I’m in to such things.

    As I peruse the internet I’m seeing ways I can make this thing go bang for maybe not so much.
    Some people live and learn but I mostly just live

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    45 colt insert might be what you want.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    If a 577/450 original martini you'll need a bullet at least .468/.470 in diameter. regular cast bullets for the 45/70 are too small. Plenty of info on the British Militaria website. Frank

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Not to be a downer but before you order all the equipment to feed it check it out real good to make sure its not a Pakistani copy. A couple a years ago someone tried to sell me a pair of martini's and upon inspecting them it turned out they were both fakes neither had any rifling and one was marked V.R. 1907 on the receiver a neat trick considering Queen Victoria died in 1901. If you find its a real one then oh the fun your gonna have. I shoot a monthly ram bash with a fellow who shoots a MK2 every once in a while using a paper patched lyman 457125 and does pretty good with it.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by justashooter View Post
    45 colt insert might be what you want.
    Since a 45 colt is .452 and the 577/450 needs ~.470 diameter, I am thinking a 480 Ruger chamber adapter with lead bullets would be more appropriate.
    A 480 Ruger lead bullet is .475" diameter.

    Of course make sure it only sees light handloads, I'm sure a factory 480 Ruger round would grenade it.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I believe the problem with the 480 chamber insert would be paper thin walls if at all. If the barrel is ok I’ll probably neck size on 480 Ruger dies or I’ll make my own.

    First I have to get it in hand, confirm the chamber, slug the throat and barrel and then make a plan on seeing it go bang.
    It is a VR Enfield mk 4 1897
    It looks pretty neglected on the outside going by the pictures. I hope the inside looks better. If not I’ll probably go with 40-65 as I already have a Swedish 1867 in that caliber and really like it.
    Some people live and learn but I mostly just live

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Isnt 480 ruger just a chopped off 45/70 case?....anyway,the 45/70 adapters are notorious for jamming in place due to neck expansion.

  11. #11
    Banned
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    In regards to chamber adapters ...

    I've made one for my martini for .45lc , I could lie and say it shoots just as well as proper ammunition. But it doesn't .
    It does shoot pretty decent though , I don't have any problems keeping every shot inside a paper plate @ 100 yards And @ 50 yards 3-4 inch groups are normal .

    That was accomplished fairly easy , I used a 230 or 250 grain bullet from something similar to wheel weights And starting loads .

    Trying to use anything beyond starting loads caused things to go south in a hurry , groups opened up and flyers became common .
    Same thing when trying heavier bullets .

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    If you make your own adapter,I think the best result would be a cylinder .480 dia,and use a base seated cast gc 475 bullet less the check......It should be possible to use the gascheck recess for base seating,or maybe reduce the recess to suit......of course the problem with a 45 adaptor of any diameter is going to be the bullet hitting the throat at considerable velocity and stripping......Theoretically ,the bullet may be at 500-600fps when it enters the rifling....a gain twist starting at zero would be good ,but the Martini is constant 24"

  13. #13
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    In theory that sounds like the way to go , in reality though not so much . If you make the " cylinder " dia much over .460 the wall of the neck portion of the adapter gets very thin And is more then likely going to cause problems . If your lucky it'll just split , if your not so lucky it's going to get stuck .
    I made the neck on mine quite a bit shorter then a cartridge is to help avoid that very issue .
    The bullet jump . Well you have that in revolvers to , sure not to the same extent but it's still there .
    And as to the bore / groove dia of a martini , well we also have to keep in mind that the martini has a bit of a taper to it in the first 12 inches so it's not .468-470 it's entire lenght . And in theory cast bullets are supposed to obturate aren't they ?

    But I digress , And hop off my soap box . 45colt chamber adapters for sure aren't the best solution , proper ammunition is .
    But they can and do work pretty well for some casual shooting fun .

    I have a general philosophy that serves me well, don't make a mountain out of a mole hill .

  14. #14
    Boolit Master



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    As Hawkeye pointed out make sure it isn't a knock off. The 1st 8 " tapers from .468 to .464. That is assuming it isn't a MKIV which is larger.
    I shoot a 20-1 .460 boolit in mine with BP and it bumps up just fine. I just neck size my cases with a 45Win Mag die that has been cut down and taper crimp the boolit in place with 45 colt size die. This works for me.
    This is a 100yd group from my MKII.

    Bob
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  15. #15
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    My solution for using a .45 Colt adapter is to load a hollow base bullet intended for the .455 Webley. RCBS mould number # 57947 for a 265 grain hollow base bullet. I cast the bullets soft, 30:1 and the skirts seem to bump up to fill the bore nicely. It is a hoot to shoot and shows no sign of keyholing as far as 200 yards with all the 3F the case will hold and still let you seat the bullet with mild compression. It works OK, but the bullet does not carry enough grease to suit me. (I have not tried a grease cookie) For those with an aversion to black powder, 5.0 grains of Trail Boss works fine.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    A pistol insert is a waste of time--the undersized bullets will make sufficient noise, but never match the accuracy of a proper case and bullet.
    I shoot my MH rifles with reformed CBC 24 ga. brass, which I bought already formed into 577/450, from a vendor. In my experience, any 45-70 cast boolit patched up to about .470" performs quite well with black powder loads in the 65-85 grain range.
    If that bore is pitted, I'd try a grease grooved, lubed bullet in the .465-472" range.
    Like others have mentioned, use foam backer rod to take up air space in the case, and of course using a grease cookie under the bullet, patched or lubed, helps tremendously with fouling management.
    I've neck sized these cases with a Lee .480 Ruger die set.

  17. #17
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    I, too, shoot mine with 24 gauge brass. They come pre-formed so I just load them up and shoot. I think 82 grains for ffg works as a great load. I can't fine my reloading data right now so I may need to edit the grain. I use a Lee mold for the lead projectile. It's cheap and works for me.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Aren't the magtech 24 ga brass cartridges balloon head construction?
    How many firings do you get before a case head separation occurs?

  19. #19
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    They are a balloon head , if I had to guess I'd say I've fired my cases
    7-8 times without any issues using a fairly light load .
    I've also never full lenght sized my cases since I made them .
    I've also never had to trim them , I've seen no signs of stretch .

    Since I made the chamber adapter , I seem to have "wasted" my shooting time by mostly using it , no recoil , cheap and easy to feed
    It just makes It to easy to go out and waste away an hour or so having fun plinking away .

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I have fired CBC formed cases over a hundred times.......never had a head separation......and my first forming efforts were pitiful ,cases were a series of steps......however they eventually conformed to the chamber,and have been good ever since......one has dveloped a loose primer pocket,one has cracked on the shoulder where it was folded backwards in a forming mishap......Mostly I load with smokeless....at first I used ballistite ,then another shotgun powder I was given,then trailboss......I have used black ,but woeful accuracy results if you dont swab after every shot.....CBC cases (mine anyway) are made of excellent brass........sizing is not reequired if cases are used in the one gun....sizing ruins cases.

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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