Original British P-1871 Martini-Henry MkI/II Rifle Converted to .22 Rimfire Trainer by C.G. Bonehill - dated 1875

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Well this is definitely something we have very seldom seen before: a Martini-Henry long rifle converted to .22 for training use! Usually we see .303 conversions, intended for service, but the platform was also good for converting rifles to use in training. This is one such example, and it was converted in Birmingham England by a well-known maker of the time, though we unfortunately do not know exactly when this conversion took place. Definitely some great research potential here!

Martini-Henry rifles, 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, which is now somewhat faint, though the Royal cypher and "Mark of Arm" are still clear:

B S A & M Co
(Lock Viewer Mark)
I I.

The left side is marked with the conversion information for the .22 conversion:


This rifle definitely has led an interesting life, and in fact was converted TWICE! It was originally made in 1875 (faintly marked) as a Martini-Henry Mk I rifle by Birmingham Small Arms & Metal Co., a large private company that was a major government contractor for decades. This early version featured a polished breech block, brass breech block axis pin, and other features that were later removed. As with almost all of the Mark I rifles in service, when the Mark II was introduced this rifle was converted to the Mk.II standard, indicated by how the "II." is off center under the "Lock Viewer's Mark".

With the introduction of the Lee-Metford in 1888, all Martini-Henry rifles became obsolete, and were relegated to home use and colonial troops. As such this rifle was then later converted to .22 Rimfire for use in training, possibly for the military or maybe for cadet use. This was undertaken by Christopher G. Bonehill, an English gunmaker from Birmingham, England who began working in 1872 and continued into the early 20th century. He was quite well regarded, and eventually became a guardian of the Birmingham Proof House. The company installed a completely new barrel, which is also marked by the company, and indicates it is for AMMUNITION .22, along with British proofs. The stock has an ENFIELD marked rondel proof, so that was most likely swapped at at some point.

Overall the rifle definitely looks like a rifle that saw long service, with the finish faded to a peppery mottled patina overall. The action cycles correctly with a crisp dry fire, though we have not tested it for any ability to eject cartridges. We checked the bore, and there is faint rifling present, but it definitely saw much use after being converted to a training rifle. There is wear and some past oxidation and fouling present. The stocks are in very good condition, with a lovely color and patina of age. They show a bit of cracking and denting, as well as a repair to the butt stock toe.

A wonderful piece of British and Firearms history! An antique, already over 135 years old and ready to research and display!

The Martini action, adopted by the British in 1871 was one of the strongest ever developed and saw military service in England and the Empire, in one form or another for almost seventy years. The most famous action of course being the defense of Rorke's Drift in Natal, South Africa in the 1879 Zulu War. They saw extensive use all over the British Empire.


Year of Manufacture: 1886 - later converted to .22lr
Caliber: .22lr
Cartridge Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Overall Length: 30 Inches

Overall Length: 45 3/4 Inches
Action type: Falling-Block
Feed System: Single Shot

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