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Old February 10, 2009, 11:27 AM   #1
Snood Dewlap
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Century's 303 enfields

I just received my latest flyer from Century Arms and they continue to advertise the Martini action Enfield carbines in .303 caliber for what looks like an attractive price. Does anybody have any experience with these rifles? Are they truly british manufactured (and therefore of their typical high quality) or are they locally made guns made from stolen railroad track in some Pakistani burg?

I think a Martini in that caliber would be a real fun gun to work with but I'm skeptical of the quality and frankly I'm not sure I trust Century's description.

Thanks!
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Old February 10, 2009, 12:03 PM   #2
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A lot of Martinis were made by British contract arsenals like BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) in England. Occasionally you find Martinis made in India, although I have only seen a few, and they are very nice actions. And yes, hand-made Pakistani Martini actions show up occasionally, but surprisingly, they are actually stronger than the original British Martinis because the originals were made of cast iron. The smaller Martini actions were made of both cast iron and steel. I think a Martini in 303 would be fun, but I would not feed it a steady diet of it.
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Old February 10, 2009, 01:08 PM   #3
Snood Dewlap
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What I had in mind was shooting cast bullets like I do my more modern No. 1s, No. 4s. No5 and Pattern 14s. I just wantto be sure I'm getting a true British military rifle and not a facsimile.

Has anybody purchased one of these and can give an opinion on condition?

Thanks!
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Old February 10, 2009, 02:48 PM   #4
James K
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On the origin, the ads indicate the guns are British-made, but if you are concerned, call them and make sure.

I don't now have a Martini, but I have owned them in the past. IMHO they were the best single shot military rifle made. They are faster than any of the bolt actions and most other single shots, and stronger than the U.S. "trapdoor". The only drawback during much of the period of use was the truly horrible ammunition. As it was, they gave a good account of themselves when the odds were anything near reasonable.

The later rifles in .303 were very good and strong enough for any .303 cartridge. I would have to ask about the barrel quality though; British-made .303 ammo was corrosive and erosive right from day one to the end and most of those rifles were "handed down" to colonial troops whose motto often was "shoot today, clean sometime, maybe."

Jim
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Old February 10, 2009, 04:59 PM   #5
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To each his own. For me, a great deal of the romance in a Martini-Henry is the original .577/.450 caliber.
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Old February 10, 2009, 07:29 PM   #6
North Texas Ed
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.303 vs .577-.450

I would agree with Webley MkV regarding the "romance" of the original big bore black powder caliber, but for the price of brass. IIRC .577-.450 new brass is something like $80 or $90 per 20. I have lots of good Greek once fired .303 and I'm looking for a cast bullet shooter. I had an owner of a .303 carbine tell me the carbines in .303 do well to shoot 3" groups at 50 yards, but that seems pretty sad for any rifle - at least if you work on the load.

Anyway I ordered one of these yesterday. I'll let the group know what I think of it when it gets here. Shooting might take a bit longer, depending on weather and time away from "honey do's" to get to the range.
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Old February 11, 2009, 10:37 AM   #7
Snood Dewlap
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North Texas ED.,

I agree with you and others about the romance of the 577/450. I lust after one each time I watch "Zulu". But your right, the expense of brass, dies, etc. has put me off. The beauty of the .303 is partly the convenience of having components on hand.

I think I messed up at the very start of this posting, I think its SOG that has these carbines I'm refering to. Anyway, I eargerly await you comments once you have one of these guns in hand.

Thanks!
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Old February 11, 2009, 11:35 AM   #8
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SOG

I remember reading on SurplusRifle.com that the Martini rifles SOG is selling are in fact Kyber Pass knock off guns. If you want a real Martini-Henry, go here:
http://www.ima-usa.com/index.php/cPath/29_61_246

What seems too good to be true, usually is.
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Old February 11, 2009, 03:19 PM   #9
Snood Dewlap
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Snipecatcher,

I think we're talking about two different rifles. The IMA rifles are 1870's and 1880's Martini-Henrys. I'm referring to the more modern Martini Enfields chambered in .303 British. The IMA rifles are the real deal and there are some knock- offs around. I'm trying to find out if the Martini Enfields are the real deal.

Thanks!
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Old February 11, 2009, 08:30 PM   #10
North Texas Ed
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SOG Martini Enfields

Snipecatcher wrote: "I remember reading on SurplusRifle.com that the Martini rifles SOG is selling are in fact Kyber Pass knock off guns."

Snipecatcher, If you go back and look, you will notice that the writer stipulates it is "rumor". It may be true, but rumor isn't fact and obviously the writer has not had one in his hands. The moderator, Rapid Rob, indicates the condition is fair to good with dark and pitted bores (that wouldn't be a surprise). But while he apparently has had contact with a number of them (or I guess so since he is the moderator and writes like he knows what he's talking about), he doesn't state that they are knock-offs.
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Old February 12, 2009, 01:39 PM   #11
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I've been wanting to pick up a Martini artillery or cavalry carbine in .303 British for a long time, but the prices are very high. When I first saw the SOG ad a couple of years ago I jumped right in & ordered one. I can only say I was VERY disapointed in what I got. I am convinced it was NOT a british-made rifle, it had no markings on it to indicate such except some very crudely applied ones with a date that didn't quite jibe. The barrel looked to be completely the wrong profile for the rifle, & the wood was teak, or something similar, definately not something you'd see on a british military rifle. The rifle was also missing some parts. I contacted SOG & told them I'd be returning it for a refund, which they were happy enough to do.
About nine months later, I was away at a shooting competition, & one of the guys there brings out his SOG .303 Martini that he'd just bought & it was almost identical in fit & finish to the one I'd sent back. Those are the only two I've seen, but I'd be wary of ordering another. I know the SOG ad states they are british-made rifles, but I have SERIOUS doubts, they look like reblued Afghan or Pakistani knock-offs to me.
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Old February 12, 2009, 08:46 PM   #12
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This reply re-affirms what I have read before. It has been a while since I researched the SOG guns, but I found a few sources echoing Arquebus' statement. I did do some intensive research (Google ) when I first found out about these, and from what I gathered, I did not want to take a chance on one. I suppose it isn't too much of a risk though, as you could always just return it. Good luck.
-Dan
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Old February 17, 2009, 09:48 AM   #13
Snood Dewlap
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Arquebus,

Thanks for the input. That's just the kind of first hand knowledge I was looking for! I think I'll keep my hard earned gun fund money in my pocket for now.
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Old February 19, 2009, 03:12 PM   #14
North Texas Ed
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I Finally received mine

The SOG sold Martini came in. While I can't swear to it, it appears to be an original Martini-Enfield which is very pitted, re-blued and restocked, with the cocking indicator replaced with a non-standard part. The barrel is counter-bored, and looks like the Black Hole of Calcutta.

I'll probably return it, though it is tempting to see about re-barreling. I'm not ticked off though, what can be expected for about triple the price of a Moisin-Nagant?
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Old February 20, 2009, 11:15 AM   #15
Snood Dewlap
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North Texas Ed,

Thanks for the report. It's good to hear it looked like a real British manufacure gun but I'm disappointed with your report of the condition. I think I'll have to pass on this. To bad, it would have been great fun to have one to experiment with but it sounds like they might be too far gone.
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