Original Item: On March 23, 1878, an accessory called “Sights, Auxiliary: Front and Back” was introduced in the British Ordnance List of Changes for the Martini-Henry rifle. The Martini-Henry gained fame throughout the world in the second half of the 19th Century in the hands of Tommy Atkins. The auxiliary sight set allowed a trainer to see the same sight picture as the infantryman he was coaching.
The set, made of steel, consists of a front sight assembly that clamps around the muzzle of the rifle and a rear sight that attaches to the rear sight slider. The trainer’s sights are offset to the right of the rifle. While the distance of the rear auxiliary sight from the barrel centerline is fixed, the front sight may be adjusted horizontally over a wide range, and also provides vertical adjustment for zeroing. The rear sight is designed to be used with the rifle’s sight leaf either up or down, and with the slider at any elevation.
As is common with most collectible antique military guns, accessories, excepting bayonets, do not survive at a high rate. The “Sights, Auxiliary: Front and Back” are so rare that no photograph of them shows up in the definitive work on the Martini by Ian Skennerton. He shows the original pattern drawing presented in the L.o.C. at the time.
This set of sights is in outstanding condition. There is no pitting, no rust, no deterioration of any kind to any of their parts. We believe that the clamp for the rear sight slide originally had small leather pads, but if so, these are no longer present. The auxiliary sights would be one of the most exciting accessories to have as a serious collector.