Part of the reason we started this website was so we could write good thorough descriptions....I used to get frustrated with the text limits imposed by the high traffic sites and having you guys, my customers, not getting enough information to make informed decisions about what you were buying. Now, we have the opportunity, or perhaps "street-corner soap box" to provide you guys with enough details and then-some. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes these descriptions can get a little overly verbose but please consider this to be more from enthusiasm than long-winded. These are more than just old guns to us; they are part of our history and if information isn't passed on, this history will be lost. We realize that in today's world, many of you don't have time to visit museums, travel to shows, or purchase expensive books...just look at the popularity of the History Channel. We hope that you will find these descriptions interesting and informative and remember, this is history you can do more than just look at, you can own it as an investment!
Here is an interesting variation of the Martini which is not often encountered. This old Martini originally built by London Small Arms Company in 1881 as a Mark III Martini Henry in Caliber 577-450. After serving the armed forces of the British Emprire and the Crown for several years, this old veteran became obsolete in the early 1890's with the advent of the new .303 Caliber Bolt Action Lee Metford and Lee Enfield rifles. Queen Victoria must have not been able to bear the thought of throwing away thousands upon thousands of perfectly good Martini Henry's so an ingenious plan was devised to rebuild and convert these Martinis over to .303 caliber. These new .303's were sent off to the Colonies for a few more good years of loyal service to the Crown until they were retired at the turn of the 20th century.
MARKINGS: If you know what to look for, the markings on these old Martinis tell quite a story...Ian Skennerton is probably the best source for deciphering the labyrinth of markings the British military used on their weaponry...I'm not the best interpreter but I will do my best to translate. This rifle has loads of good markings, all with a story to tell. This rifle tells me it went to Enfield in 1895 for its rebuild and conversion and that it spent some time as a .303 in service with the Colony of Victoria. The LEFT side of the receiver is marked with the Crown Cypher over V.R. (that means Queen Victoria Regina), over ENFIELD (the manufacturer), over 1895 (Its Conversion Date), followed by the small cypher proof with broad arrow (viewers marking, I think), over M.E. .303 (Martini Enfield Caliber .303) followed by roman numeral "I" (1st variation). The RIGHT side of the receiver bears its original LSA markings from when this rifle was a Mark III and dated 1881. As typical of London Small Arms markings, the original set of right-side receiver markings are extremely light and due to the Enfield rebuild in 1895, the crown and VR are now wraith-like shadows from their previous life. I wish LSA had put stronger markings on their guns but they usually get their message across as the markings still tell their story. The designations, Mark III, and production date are crystal clear. The STOCK has some good markings with Victoria ownership markings "VIC" inside of a circle. The Enfield Rebuild Cartouche is clear with the Mark I .303 designation over its serviceability designation of 1 (One being the highest). The brass roundel has no unit designations. Opposing broad arrows on both the stock and receiver designate this rifle was retired from military service.
CONDITION: This rifle is in overall NRA Good Plus to VG condition. The receiver and barrel retains much of its original Enfield blued finish. The markings are good overall on the receiver, rear sight, and buttstock. The wood is in very good condition and still retains its original top handguard which are usually lost. The wood has had a light coat of varnish added but has never been sanded and can easily be removed if desired. Action works good with cocking indicator still functioning. Rear sight is intact with sight graduation. All sling swivels for the .303 version are intact which include rear swivel, front swivel, and stacking swivel...note the original triggerguard swivel from its former Martini Henry conversion has been left off of these conversion...this is correct. You will also note that this rifle has no ramrod...this is also correct as all cleaning rods were banned from the British military and colonies in 1899. The bore on this rifle is in poor condition...the rifling is good but its fairly dark and there is a small ring present near the rear sight position. This could be re-lined if desired. Barrel measures correctly to be 30.25" in length. All in all, this is a good example of the .303 variation...its been several years since I've had one of these as they've gotten hard to find with the Martini craze that has swept over the marketplace.