The “Untouched” Martini-Henry, Part One

A cautionary tale of restoring a classic single-shot battle rifle. Here’s how I restored the stockwork and wood.

by Paul Mazan

Martini-Henry rifles are breech-loading, single-shot, lever-actuated rifles that replaced the Snider-Enfield as British Army issue. Martini-Henry single shot rifles imported from over 100 years of storage in Nepal are on the market in both “Cleaned” and “Untouched” condition. This is what you should know before you tackle an untouched example.

The .577/450 Martini-Henry is an interesting piece of firearms history. After “starring” in the 1964 movie Zulu, it has become a much sought-after addition to military firearms enthusiasts and collectors. The influx of the Enfield-made rifles has reduced the price of shootable examples to just under $1000 and the rough “Untouched” examples are available for a couple of hundred dollars less. That has tempted many to seriously consider if the lower priced “as found” rifle is a good deal. Recently, a friend of mine, who happens to be a talented gunsmith, thought he would like to pick up one of the Enfield-made Mark IV long-lever Martinis. Speculating that since the Mark IV was the last model and only in service use for a few years, he thought he would have a better chance of getting a gun with a good bore.

I have emphasized “Enfield made” for a reason. Many of the…

Read more in the March 2018 issue.

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