Martini-Henry 1887 single-shot lever-action rifle .577/450″

01. Original name Martini Henry rifle Mk IV   
02. Other official names   
03. Popular names   
04. Chamberings .577/.450”, .303, 11.43 x 55R (Ottoman), .43 x 59R (Romanian) and 7.65 x 53 (Ottoman)  
05. Designed by Friedrich von Martini &Alexander Henry   
06. Design date 1865 (MKI) through to 1887 (MkIV)  
07. In service date(s) MK IV1887   
08. Adopted by Great Britain & Colonies, Afghanistan, Ottoman Empire, Romania   
09. Production quantities Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 of all marks were produced at 5 factories: BSA (Birmingham), RSAF (Enfield), Henry Rifled Barrel Co. (Hoxton), LSA (Bow) and National Arms and Ammunition (Birmingham).  
10. Mechanism Single shot lever action falling block  
11. Weight 9 lbs 1ozs (MK IV)  
12. Mountings The Pattern 1887 sword bayonet was standard on the MKIV, see note 14 below for information on further variants  
13. Practicality in action The rifle suffered from cartridge-extraction problems during the Zulu War, mostly due to the thin, weak, pliable foil brass cartridges used: they expanded too much into the rifle’s chamber on detonation, to the point that they stuck or tore open inside the rifle’s chamber. It would eventually become difficult to move the breech block and reload the rifle, substantially diminishing its effectiveness, or rendering it useless if the block could not be opened. After investigating the matter, the British Army Ordnance Department determined the fragile construction of the rolled brass cartridge, and fouling due to the black-powder propellant, were the main causes of this problem. To correct this, the weak rolled brass cartridge was replaced by a stronger drawn brass version, and a longer loading lever was incorporated into the MK-IV to apply greater torque to operate the mechanism when fouled.  
14. Comments / Other information The Martini Henry Mk1 was approved for service in July 1874, the Mk II in April 1877 and the Mk III in August 1879. Some 9600 MkII’s were converted by BSA to .303 and designated the MkVI mainly for issue to the colonies in the 1890’s. Only 6 Mk V’s are believed to have been produced, a conversion of the MkIII rifle. Cavalry and artillery carbine versions of most marks were also produced. Bayonets for the different variants of rifles and carbines included the Pattern 1853 bushed socket bayonet, Pattern 1876 socket bayonet, 1887 sword bayonet, 1879 sawback bayonet, 1888 bayonet, 1895 socket bayonet and the Yataghan sword bayonet.