Martini-Henry Mk II Rifle: What's it worth?

#1
A question for any of you Arrsers out there who know something about 19th century firearms. Strolling around Abergavenny market the other day, I came across what looked like a very nice example of a Martini-Henry Mk II rifle, complete with bayonet and scabbard. Marked up as 1876, with a Royal Garrison Artillery 1902 Regimental butt marker. The stall holder wanted £795.00 for it which seems a bit steep, even if I knocked him down a wee bit. I also understand they aren't deactivated and that an FAC is not required as "ammunition is not available".

I'm considering buying it as a birthday present for myself so that I can hold the Zulus at bay here in my Welsh border fastness. It looks like it's the real thing - is it worth it?
 
#6
OK, so it seems the price is pretty fair - what's the score on deactivation/legality? Is it classed as an antique firearm that I would have to get put on an FAC if I wanted to shoot it? How would I get it checked to see if it was serviceable? Apologies for all the bone questions but I wouldn't want to buy it and then find it was pointless even trying to shoot it.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#7
Reminded me of this article:

Soldiers in Helmand unearth British rifles lost in 1880 massacre - Asia, World - The Independent

Soldiers in Helmand unearth British rifles lost in 1880 massacre
Weapons taken after a Victorian defeat in Afghanistan have been recovered – and repatriated as antiques
By Keith Howitt

Sunday, 8 June 2008

British soldiers serving in Afghanistan have recovered weapons looted from the bodies of their Victorian forebears.


Rare Martini-Henry rifles lost in the bloody defeat at Maiwand in July 1880 have been retrieved 128 years later by troops fighting the Taliban and al-Qa'ida in Helmand province.
Two of the rifles, dated 1874 and 1878, are currently on sale in a Sussex antique shop for £1,100 apiece.
Mark Hawkins, co-owner of The Lanes Armoury, Brighton, said: "When we first fought the Afghans, we kept sending out armies who lost. The Afghans killed our chaps and took their weapons.
"Now British officers are finding these guns, recognise them for what they are, and are getting permission to bring them back. We've had a few through. I think a soldier might pick up a couple, keep one as a souvenir of his time in Afghanistan, and bring the other to us."
Peter Smithurst, senior curator of historic firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, said: "The Martini-Henry was the first purpose-made breech-loading rifle introduced into British service. It is an iconic rifle."
The Martini is particularly popular with collectors, he said, because of both its place in the development of firearms technology and for the role it played in the famous battles of Britain's colonial campaigns.
Mr Smithurst said Afghanistan was increasingly a source of antique firearms. "I have been getting quite a few email inquiries from British servicemen and the American forces as well."
Mr Hawkins said: "The Martini-Henry is a very, very collectable gun – almost entirely down to Michael Caine and the film Zulu. Everyone who has seen that film has seen the Martini-Henry and knows it is the rifle used by the British in that era."
Unlike the successful defence of Rorke's Drift in 1879, as featured in Zulu, the battle of Maiwand a year later was one of the worst British defeats of Queen Victoria's 63-year reign. A 2,500-strong Anglo/Indian force was routed by an Afghan army of about 12,000 men.
Among the 1,000 British and Indian dead were 286 men of the Martini-armed 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, who made a last stand in a walled garden in the village of Khig. When only two officers and nine men of the 66th remained alive, they charged the hordes of tribesmen surrounding them.
An Afghan witness described the end: "These men charged from the shelter of a garden and died with their faces to the enemy. So fierce was their charge, and so brave their actions, no Afghan dared approach to cut them down. Standing in the open, back to back, firing steadily, every shot counting, surrounded by thousands, these British soldiers died. It was not until the last man was shot down that the Afghans dared to advance. The behaviour of those last 11 was the wonder of all who saw it."
The weapons they wielded so gallantly could finally be returning home.
 

TheIronDuke

ADC
Book Reviewer
#8
How would I get it checked to see if it was serviceable?
Pull the blunt wooden bit into your right shoulder. Pull the trigger. If you can read a car number plate from 50mtrs, or indeed, see anything at all after you have pulled the trigger, it is probably OK. Till the next time.

For any children reading this, a word from Wise Owl? Dont go firing off old guns unless your Uncle is an armourer. And if he is, dont go down into the woods with him. Armourers are not to be trusted in my experience.
 
#9
If rifle is in good nick, price is stiff but not unreasonable...

Frankly, as long as the gun has no visible damage or corrosion or wear it should be good to go! Remember you are only shooting Black powder so your chamber pressures are not nearly as high as smokeless. The Martini action is also one of the strongest ever made. Don't fall into the trap laid by some gunsmiths .. oh you need to have it proved before you shoot it... No you f'in don't! A barrel needs to be proofed once before it is sold or after major repair, otherwise no. Unless you have hot work done, a gun should never need reproving.

Legally you need to put the gun on ticket before you can shoot it. When you write to plod informing them that you have entered it on your FAC, add that you "retain the right to revert the weapon to a curio and remove it from your licence" otherwise they will sometimes try the "once on ticket it has to be deactivated" line - which is utter tosh..

Since NDFS has closed down, getting hold of ammunition components had not been that easy, however Bertram Bullets of Australia make cases and both RCBS and CHD make dies. You can use standard Lee .45/70 bullets, but if you want some real swaged paper patch bullets PM me..

Best of luck - BEST rifle the british ever had (even better than the EM2 or the SLR..) - Mine has won me lots of tin (nearly as much as my Ross!)
 
#10


Nice story - but almost all drivel.. particularly anything from that tw@t in the Brighton Lanes...

The guns that appeared in Afghan of late are mostly either ex Indian Army surplus, sold on over the years (and showing the double arrow "sold out of service" mark) or built in and around Peshawar and the Khyber Pass. Some MAY have been "taken from the bodies of dead soldiers" but I would think this very unlikely....

No longer allowed to export them apparantly, which is probably a good thing as nearly all the originals have long gone...
 
#11
Pull the blunt wooden bit into your right shoulder. Pull the trigger. If you can read a car number plate from 50mtrs, or indeed, see anything at all after you have pulled the trigger, it is probably OK. Till the next time.

For any children reading this, a word from Wise Owl? Dont go firing off old guns unless your Uncle is an armourer. And if he is, dont go down into the woods with him. Armourers are not to be trusted in my experience.
Remind's me of a fella I work with, he does house clearance's on the side, he went through some old boy's suit case and found a Lugger with ammunition. Now being a bit of a Rum lad he nip's off down the wood's to 'Appraise' the find, pulls the trigger and after a flash bang and a lot of nervous shouting later realised he had split the barrel.
I still have the Mills bomb he was too shit scared to play with afterwards, luckily it was a training aid with holes drilled into it. It sits in my living room.
 
#12
Pull the blunt wooden bit into your right shoulder. Pull the trigger. If you can read a car number plate from 50mtrs, or indeed, see anything at all after you have pulled the trigger, it is probably OK. Till the next time.

For any children reading this, a word from Wise Owl? Dont go firing off old guns unless your Uncle is an armourer. And if he is, dont go down into the woods with him. Armourers are not to be trusted in my experience.
Sage advice or what?
 
#14
With all due respect... What?
What?

Just thanking ID for his useful contribution. I think I shall be returning to market on Wednesday with some cash in my pocket...............
 

Travelgall

MIA
Kit Reviewer
#15
OK, so it seems the price is pretty fair - what's the score on deactivation/legality? Is it classed as an antique firearm that I would have to get put on an FAC if I wanted to shoot it? How would I get it checked to see if it was serviceable? Apologies for all the bone questions but I wouldn't want to buy it and then find it was pointless even trying to shoot it.
It doesn't need to be deactivated due to the Obsolete Caliber Rule.

Home Office
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#16
It remains a section 58 and therefore the rozzers dont even need to know you have one. Dont waste time firing it, you will only get addicted. If it looks genuine check it for spelling errors. Darra guns are known for minor spelling mistakes.
HNDFS are still trading from Newport, they bought out NDFS (thank feck as he was grumpy) and give a discount for HBSA members.
Hang it on the wall, if its genuine it will increase in value if not it will remind you to check first!
If its a copy then regardless of age it can still be held off ticket as a replica/unable to proof (lets face it you wouldnt want to).
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#17
Look at the 11 stamped below the crown, if its evenly spaced with the gap between the 11's directly below the centre of the crown then its a Mk2 and not a mark 1 converted to Mk 2 standard.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#18
Just browsing Bonhams catalogue at the moment, guide price for a Mk1V is £300 - £400 in reasonable condition. Interestingly they have an 8mm Portugese contract Castro Guedes System Steyr 1885 (looks like a Martini Henry at first glance) with a guide price of £1000 - £1500. Apparently 40 000 were ordered but rejected due to doubts about the strength of the action. I suspect that would make it pretty rare and ergo of interest to collectors.
 
#19
It doesn't need to be deactivated due to the Obsolete Caliber Rule.

Home Office
The "obsolete calibre rule" is an invention of the Home Office and has no standing in Law. It doesn't need to be deactivated or held on a firearm certificate because it is an "antique possessed as a curiosity or ornament" under s58(2) of the 1968 Firearms act.
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#20
I've seen these on sale in a few Markets in Afghanistan - but they were not only more expensive than this one, but were extremely dodgy looking, even to my amateur eyes. Spelling mistakes, numbers upside-down, and just the generally poor finishing made me highly suspicious. They were being marketed at the Yanks of course, as ones taken from dead Brits over a century ago...

There are, or should be, large numbers in and around Afgh, as they were given as part of the annual bribe to the King to keep him sweet, along with gold, etc., for many years. However, I would think that most were made in the Empire, rather than in the UK.
 

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