Original British P-1871 MkII Martini-Henry Rifle Converted .22 Caliber
Original Item: Only One Available. At the end of the 19th Century the British Army’s former service rifle, the Martini-Henry, was being replaced by the magazine-fed, bolt-action Lee-Metford Rifle. While a significant number of the old Martini-Henry Rifles were rebarreled to fire the new .303 round, becoming Martini-Metford or Martini-Enfield rifles, a large number were used for military training and sold off for conversion for civilian competition shooters.
The late 1860s had seen the rise of rifle clubs and the formation of the British National Rifle Association following several invasion scares that had also led to the rise of new volunteer rifle units. By 1900, miniature target rifle clubs had become popular across the country and were widely encouraged in the wake of the Boer War when the basic marksmanship of new recruits to the British Army was found lacking. Both Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle both experienced firsthand the effect of accurate Boer rifle fire during the Second Boer War and on their return became staunch advocates of miniature rifle clubs with both men forming their own. The industrialization of the 19th century an increasing number of British men of service age who lived and worked in Britain’s industrial towns and cities had no experience of shooting or firearms. These rifle clubs provided a convenient way for them to learn to shoot.
The British Government encouraged civilian marksmanship training back then (unlike nowadays, where they're actively hostile towards private gun ownership), as it made basic military training easier, since the recruit already knew how to shoot. This proved very valuable during the First World War, when England's troublesome neighbor in Europe (Germany) got out of line. Precious days were shaved off the time it took to train recruits as a result of civilian marksmanship training.
A number of Birmingham gunsmiths including Birmingham Small Arms (BSA), Parker-Hale and W.W. Greener began to convert and later manufacture new Martini-Henry rifles in both .310 and .22LR. The Martini-Henry action dominated for target shooting in Britain for over 45 years with the rifles being used in national and international competitions including Queen Alexandra’s Cup and the Olympics. Many of the rifles had both the standard service leaf sight mounted on the barrel in front of the receiver while tang sights such as the Vernier became increasingly popular.
This particular example, in really wonderful condition, was originally manufactured as a Mk II by the British Small Arms and Manufacturing Company in .450/.577 caliber in 1889 but was later converted .22 caliber by C.G. Bonehill of Birmingham for military training and civilian marksmanship purposes.
Antique military training martini rifles are hard to find, especially in such great condition and with a truly excellent bore.
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