Original British Martini-Enfield .303 Carbine Issued to New Zealand - Dated 1881 and converted 1895

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Martini-Enfield Mk I was effectively a Martini-Henry Mk III rebarrelled to .303 and with a new extractor installed, whilst the Martini-Enfield Mk II rifles were generally of new manufacture- although there are examples of converted Mk II rifles.

Originally (from 1889) Martini-Henry conversions used Metford rifled barrels (and were known as Martini-Metford rifles), which were more than suitable for the first .303 cartridges, which used black powder as a propellant, but they wore out very quickly when fired with cordite/nitrocellulose cartridges (introduced in 1895) and so in 1895 the Enfield rifled barrel was introduced, which was much more satisfactory and suitable for use with "modern" (smokeless) ammunition.

The Martini-Enfield was in service from 1895-1918 (Lawrence of Arabia's Arab Irregulars were known to have used them during the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, along with any other firearms they could acquire), and it remained a Reserve Arm in places like India and New Zealand until well into World War II.

Martini-Enfield rifles were manufactured/converted by:

- R.S.A.F. (Royal Small Arms Factory), Enfield Lock
- L.S.A. Co (London Small Arms Co)
- B.S.A. & M Co (Birmingham Small Arms & Metals Co, later simply BSA)
- H.R.B. Co. (Henry Rifle Barrel Co, later went out of business and taken over by Blenheim Engineering)
- N.A.&A. Co (National Arms & Ammunition Co)

The original manufacturer information, would be stamped onto the right side of the action, while the left side would have information regarding the conversion. This example is marked on the right action with original maker information, though due to refinishing it is very faint:

(Lock Viewed Mark)


The left side is marked with the conversion information:

(Lock Viewd Mark)
M.E. '303.

This started life in England as a .577/.450 Martini MARK III in 1882, made by RSAF Enfield, just in time for the Egyptian campaign and the Battle of Tel-el-Kabir in 1884. In 1895, it was reconfigured at Enfield into a Carbine and was converted to .303 caliber as an M.E. Mark I. This particular .303 caliber M.E. Mk 1 carbine was actually shipped to NEW ZEALAND and is marked N.Z. / 98 for 1898 and broad arrow marked indicating its service in the Empire. It very possibly served in the First World War, in a reserve capacity and probably Home Guard Service in WW2.

Thereafter it was no doubt used for training and parade purposes. At some time this Carbine was designated as "D.P." standing for Drill purpose. The usual reason for this stamping a perfectly good rifle as for Drill Purpose was that it allowed the Regimental Armorer to write the weapon off and apply for a brand new often far better replacement rifle, by then an S.M.L.E. No.1 MkIII. True Drill Purpose weapons were "SAW CUT" in front of the breech as well as being stamped, however this one was not. When company director Christian Cranmer was a boy in the 1950s, England appeared to be awash with these, but at that time Napoleonic Flintlocks were plentiful too. How things have changed!

In very nice condition this model saw service in throughout the British colonies, it is fitted to accept the P-1888 Lee Metford knife bayonet to attach directly under the barrel. It has been restored to wonderful display condition, with a great looking stock and nice dark blued finish on the metal. This has however made some of the markings somewhat faint, as can be seen. Mechanically, the carbine still cycles correctly and dry fires. The bore shows clear lands and grooves, with a partly bright finish. There is some fouling in the grooves from what we can see. The rear sight is present and fully functional, though the rear sling swivel on the butt stock is unfortunately missing, as is the cleaning rod.

A wonderful piece of British and Firearms history! Ready do display.


Year of Manufacture: 1881 - converted 1895
Caliber:  .303 British
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Overall Length: 21 Inches

Overall Length: 37 Inches
Action type: Falling-Block
Feed System: Single Shot

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