I am going to get so much Sh*t for this one buts its worth it! Grumpy
In the 1860s, at the dawn of the self-contained metallic cartridge era, the military armsmakers of Great Britain and other major powers decided to alter existing muzzleloading rifle-muskets into breechloaders.
Their reasons included saving production costs and buying time to permit experimentation. One such example was built on a combination of the Pattern 1853 Enfield and the Snider System, and was adopted in 1866. Although it remained in use with militia and colonial troops for a considerable period, it was replaced for Crown troops a scant five years later by a wholly new design: the Martini-Henry.
Unlike the Snider, which had a side-swinging breechblock, the new gun was a lever-action, single-shot, falling block that incorporated design elements by American Henry O. Peabody, Swiss Friederich von Martini and Scotsman Alexander Henry, among others.
To work a Martini-Henry, the shooter simply lowered a lever beneath the wrist of the stock, causing the breechblock to drop forward and expose the chamber. A formidable .577-450 bottlenecked cartridge was then inserted into the chamber and the lever closed, readying the rifle to shoot. Although the gun did not possess a safety, it did have a teardrop-shaped indicator on the right side of the action that allowed the user to determine whether or not the mechanism was cocked.
Initial versions were in the form of a long rifle primarily for infantry use, but early on it was determined that a short carbine for cavalry and artillery use was also in order. The answer appeared in September 1877 in the guise of the IC1 Cavalry Carbine, its official cognomen being “Carbine, B.L., Rifled, with Cleaning Rod, Martini-Henry, (Mark I).”
Employing the same receiver as the Mark II Martini-Henry rifle, this handy piece measured 37.6″ long (some 16.4″ shorter than the infantry rifle) and weighed a manageable 7 lbs., 8 ozs.
Like the rifle, the carbine had a checkered indention on the top right of the receiver’s rear portion that allowed the trooper to easily rest his thumb, thus keeping it from wrapping around the wrist of the stock where it could bash him in the nose under the stout recoil of the .577-450 round.
To also help ameliorate this problem, a special load was developed for the lighter carbine having a 410-gr. projectile, which was 70 grs. lighter than the 480-gr. projectile used in the standard infantry cartridge. The powder charge was accordingly reduced from 85 to 70 grs.
An abbreviated ladder-style rear sight was graduated to 1,000 yds. and a small blade front sight was protected by flanking wings to allow the gun to be more easily inserted into a saddle bucket.
Two years after the introduction of the carbine, complaints arose that the rear sight was snagging on the saddle gear, which resulted in the addition of a leather sight cover fixed to the stock by means of a pair of screws.
The Martini-Henry Cavalry Carbine proved to be handy, rugged and reliable. One added attribute was that the same basic platform could be transformed into an artillery carbine by the simple substitution of a front barrel band incorporating a bayonet lug and by the addition of sling swivels.
The adoption of the .303 British round in 1889 caused a revamping of the Martini-Henry carbines into .303 Metford and .303 Enfield versions. They were ultimately replaced by .303 Lee-Enfield repeating bolt-actions by the beginning of the 20th century.
The example we see here is in NRA Excellent condition (Antique Gun Standards) and maintains a large degree of original finish. As well as the royal Victorian crown and cypher, and “Enfield 1877,” markings on the receiver include a broad arrow surmounting the initials “SA,” indicating the carbine saw some service in South Australia.
Martini-Henry Cavalry Carbines are not as plentiful on the collector market as are the rifles, so a piece such as this one is easily worth $2,500.
Gun: Mark I Martini-Henry Cavalry Carbine
Manufacturer: Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield
Condition: NRA Excellent (Antique Gun Standards)
The Uberti 1885 High Wall gives modern enthusiasts a chance to own an exceptionally faithful reproduction of one of Winchester’s most timeless designs—one first introduced to the public by the legendary firearm firm in 1885 and designed by John Browning himself.
The company stopped production in 1920, but not before 139,725 were in the hands of enthusiasts. A review by American Rifleman Editor-in-Chief Mark Keefe provides the original’s history, how Uberti’s modern reproduction came into being and performance of today’s model.
It’s a must-read for enthusiasts, but the Readers Digest version of the story is Uberti understands that “classics never go out of style.” Add modern metallurgy and engineering and it makes for a undeniably attractive combination.
Those facts haven’t gone without notice. Last year the Uberti 1885 High-Wall finished third in the single-shot rifle category of the firearm sales ranking published annually by GunBroker.com. In 2018 it took a distant 9th, but it claimed third place from 2015 to 2017. There’s no denying the timeless looks have a lot to do with the popularity, but there’s more.
The most popular chambering on the website was .45-70 Gov’t although models are also available in .45-90 and .45-120—all the classic buffalo-hunting cartridges. Four versions are available: Carbine Straight Stock; Sporting Rifle Straight Stock; Special Sporting Rifle; and Big Game Rifle.
All feature a falling block action, a breakdown cleaning rod that stores under the buttstock and loading lever that opens or locks the action. Wood stocks provide timeless warmth, complemented nicely by the octagonal barrels (30 or 32 inch) with windage-driftable front sights on all sporting models. The carbine has a round, 28-inch barrel.
The Big Game Rifle version starts with Grade A walnut stock, and blue frame, lever and 22-inch round barrel. It also comes with a checkered pistol grip and rubber buttpad. Its MSRP is $1,229.
The Carbine version runs $1,069, and Sporting Rifle models are $1,149 and $1,199. A fresh-from-the-factory Special Sporting Rifle has an MSRP of $1,349.
However, when my grandfather came by the house early in the morning during opening weekend to pick up my father, I met them at the top of the stairs. I asked them “Are you going to the property?”
When they answered in the affirmative, I responded, “I’ll be right back.” Since neither of them had the heart to tell me that I couldn’t go, I got to go deer hunting with them then and every year thereafter.
I can’t remember many details of that deer season, only that it was a lot of fun and the start of many hunting trips for me. The downside of this is that my grandfather has not gotten a deer since I started accompanying them on hunts.
However, the joy of being with my father and grandfather out in the woods and the excitement of seeing deer made me a lifelong hunter. Even though he hasn’t shot a deer personally in the past few decades, my grandfather has shared in all of my hunting successes (and failures) since I joined their ranks, and I’m sure he considers that a fair trade.
Though it is a cliche, kids really are the future, and this is especially true with hunting. My grandfather was quite the sportsman in his day, but he is getting on in years and rarely hunts anymore. The fire inside him that burned with love for the outdoors would die with him if he did not pass that torch on for my father and me to carry.
In addition to his love of the outdoors and his many great stories, my grandfather possesses a wealth of knowledge gained from hard-earned experience that would also go to waste without someone to share it with. Fortunately, he has been able to share most of these things with my father and me to continue the tradition.
Along with the sentimental reasons listed above, there are also practical reasons to introduce a kid to hunting. If you turn them on to the sport, not only will you have a potential hunting buddy for years, but they also will be among those who fund conservation efforts through their purchases of hunting gear and licenses as adults.
They are also more likely to vote for public officials and policies that support the continued access to hunting in the future. In short, continuing to expand the ranks of hunters is vital to allow future generations of Americans to enjoy the outdoors.
Yes, it is often times inconvenient to take a kid hunting. They generally have a shorter attention span than adults, and it is much more difficult for them to keep quiet and sit still for an extended period of time. For these reasons and others, having a kid with you makes it much more difficult to seriously hunt for a trophy deer.
However, it might be useful to take a different view of the situation. A kid generally does not get upset about shooting a doe or a young buck instead of a trophy deer. They enjoy hunting because of the pure, unbridled joy of spending time with “the boys” and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors.
They do not get caught up in whether they shot the biggest deer or if they are properly practicing quality deer management. A kid would probably be just as happy, or maybe even happier, after shooting a doe or a four-point buck as many adults would be after shooting a nice 10-pointer.
We would do well to follow their lead and stop getting caught up in all of the other distractions that often accompany the sport and start remembering why we started hunting in the first place: because it’s fun.
I am the hunter I am today because of the experiences I had as a kid while hunting with my father and grandfather. One day, I look forward to introducing my son or daughter to the outdoors and to hunting. Hopefully, they will gain the same appreciation for nature and wildlife that I have, and this may well be one of the biggest lasting contributions that I make as a sportsman.
Keep this in mind the next time you have an opportunity to take a kid hunting, and consider making an investment of your time now for the future of the sport.