Gunboards Forums banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Gold Bullet member
Joined
·
2,705 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Picked one up at Dallas, nicest one I've seen. I have read various things about them being
over complicated and unsafe. Any thoughts on this, not that I am likely to try to shoot it
any time soon, although it looks quite sound with decent bore. How do these come apart?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
528 Posts
There is a nice, but brief, write up on these on Keith Doyon's site:
http://www.militaryrifles.com/Nepal/NPeabody.htm
The photos include a disassembled view of the internal parts. I have only had mine apart once, the main thing I remember is the need to loosen the mainspring screw to relieve the tension before taking it apart or re-assembling. This is the large screw just in front of the lever clip on the bottom tang. After that, remove the lower action screws to drop the lever, tang, and other parts, then the block piviot screw. The top tang screw may go all the way thru into the lower tang, I don't remember. With the lower tang removed and top screw tang screw out, the butt stock falls off. There is a pin thru the fore arm in front of the receiver that holds the wood to the barrel, in addition to the barrel bands. And keep in mind the screw heads are pretty soft and easily buggered up...
Yep, these have a reputation for weakness due to unkown "steel" construction combined with tight boes. Evidently full power Brit ammo with their larger bullets were too much for some Gahendra barrels. I am comfortable shooting mine with light smokeless loads and .457 cast bullets; while my groove diameter is a tight .456 or so, the long throat keeps pressures low as the soft bullets squeeze into the rifling. My RCBS die set was made for .457 bullets and works fine for this rifle, on my Mk IV the brass gets overworked by re expanding case necks to .470.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
3,881 Posts
RichardWV is our resident specialist on the Gehendra's.

Hey Richard where are you?
 

·
Gold Bullet member
Joined
·
2,705 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
There is a nice, but brief, write up on these on Keith Doyon's site:
http://www.militaryrifles.com/Nepal/NPeabody.htm
The photos include a disassembled view of the internal parts. I have only had mine apart once, the main thing I remember is the need to loosen the mainspring screw to relieve the tension before taking it apart or re-assembling. This is the large screw just in front of the lever clip on the bottom tang. After that, remove the lower action screws to drop the lever, tang, and other parts, then the block piviot screw. The top tang screw may go all the way thru into the lower tang, I don't remember. With the lower tang removed and top screw tang screw out, the butt stock falls off. There is a pin thru the fore arm in front of the receiver that holds the wood to the barrel, in addition to the barrel bands. And keep in mind the screw heads are pretty soft and easily buggered up...
Yep, these have a reputation for weakness due to unkown "steel" construction combined with tight boes. Evidently full power Brit ammo with their larger bullets were too much for some Gahendra barrels. I am comfortable shooting mine with light smokeless loads and .457 cast bullets; while my groove diameter is a tight .456 or so, the long throat keeps pressures low as the soft bullets squeeze into the rifling. My RCBS die set was made for .457 bullets and works fine for this rifle, on my Mk IV the brass gets overworked by re expanding case necks to .470.
Thanks JP, I know now more than I did. Any idea how many were made?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
528 Posts
I'm pretty clueless as to total production but would not be surprised if the quoted figures of 500 to 1000 are accurate. After a close look at mine it appears to be handmade (but very well done) with a minimum of machining, which implies a low production rate. If my translation is correct my rifle is dated 1910 and is serial number 172. About this time the Brits started selling Martinis to Nepal, my Mk IV has a 1908 Rawalpindi stamp, its last rework before being transfered to "native service Nepal".
Yo Richard, Sahib, where are you?? Any other details to add???
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,266 Posts
Gahendra

The two books on the Nepal cache provide some excellent insight into the history, but raise other questions as well. Either book will allow you to decipher the markings on the Gahendras and other Nepal rifles and provide you a much better historical feel for your given arm.

As to numbers made, it was in the thousands with the British Resident at one point indicating something like 6,000+ rifles of the type in the central armory. Were they all Gahendras? I don't know, but since at that time no Martini-Henrys were yet “officially” provided Nepal, most probably were. It is also a safe bet that many rifles were in the field at any given time. Another consideration is that by all accounts IMA/AC imported more Gahendras than some of the low production numbers cited. Regardless of what number one might settle on, it was a totally handmade low production rifle that probably was in production for around 30 years at their national armory, with many examples worn out/scrapped or otherwise disposed of well before the current imports.

Their relatively long production run evidently continued until Brit surplus ammo was widely provided in the early 1900s and barrel failures became common, leading to the discontinuance of production and retirement of the rifle. It is important to note that prior to the MILSUP ammo becoming available, regular live-fire practice was not common and most cartridge rifles in the Nepal inventory were carried a lot and shot very little. I’ve never found a critical examination of a native Nepal 577/450 round, but because of quality of powder, etc, it is likely that the native rounds used previous to the Brit MILSUP were of lesser power generating lower pressures.

The issue on the barrel failures is most often blamed on the poor metallurgy of the hill villages that made the blanks. While there is little question that metallurgy was a factor, I personally don’t think it was any worse than many of the much treasured handmade rifles made a century earlier in the US. Rather crude hand forging was of course the norm before the industrial revolution brought us large factories and improved quality control. As in many catastrophic failures, I believe there were multiple factors at play, which prompted me to slug many Gahendra bores with the discovery of a wide variation in bore sizes, which are consistently tighter than Brit standard, some dramatically so

I personally own three and have shot more than a few others after examination for obvious flaws. Whether any given individual shoots any given rifle is a personal choice. However if that is one’s intent, for safety and preservation of investment, any Gahendra should be loaded with bullets matched to its bore as found through slugging the individual rifle and not based on what others have found. Considering the diameter of some of the “over bore” bullets now in favor for loading the 577/450, this is particularly significant. I also recommend loading them on the light side, using kapok or carded wool as a filler. With the right bullet these can provide very good accuracy and there is little benefit for rifle or owner in pushing the round in this rifle.

Personally I would not recommend them as a regular shooter (meaning 100s of rounds per year) regardless, since they are not anywhere near as strong of a design as Martini-Henrys (particularly in the critical support of the block and breach) and of course do have a record of safety/material quality issues. Equally important of course is the simple fact that these are handmade with no ready parts supply. For a machinist hand making parts can be a fun challenge. For most however it is an expensive trip to a gunsmith assuming you can find one that will touch the rifle knowing your intent to shoot it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
528 Posts
Splendid report Richard, thank you!
As to quantities produced, Keith's article mentions finding only two and three digit serial numbers, what is your experience with your own stash? Low serial numbers combined with higher production makes one wonder if the numbering started over every year....
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,266 Posts
Gahendra

I've found a few in the low 3 digit range. They undoubtedly did start fresh on a regular basis, but I don't have the info to go beyond speculating it was yearly. I hesitate to use "western logic" with Nepal production, since they definitively were not westernized despite being heavily influenced by the Brits. That said, an annual change based on their calender would seem logical, particularly since one of my "high number" rifles is dated decades before production ceased. Regretfully I'm not familiar enough with their cultural norms of the period to take the analysis further and the printed material I've seen really doesn't present much more than the application of western logic either.
 

·
Gold Bullet member
Joined
·
2,705 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
The two books on the Nepal cache provide some excellent insight into the history, but raise other questions as well. Either book will allow you to decipher the markings on the Gahendras and other Nepal rifles and provide you a much better historical feel for your given arm.

As to numbers made, it was in the thousands with the British Resident at one point indicating something like 6,000+ rifles of the type in the central armory. Were they all Gahendras? I don't know, but since at that time no Martini-Henrys were yet “officially” provided Nepal, most probably were. It is also a safe bet that many rifles were in the field at any given time. Another consideration is that by all accounts IMA/AC imported more Gahendras than some of the low production numbers cited. Regardless of what number one might settle on, it was a totally handmade low production rifle that probably was in production for around 30 years at their national armory, with many examples worn out/scrapped or otherwise disposed of well before the current imports.

Their relatively long production run evidently continued until Brit surplus ammo was widely provided in the early 1900s and barrel failures became common, leading to the discontinuance of production and retirement of the rifle. It is important to note that prior to the MILSUP ammo becoming available, regular live-fire practice was not common and most cartridge rifles in the Nepal inventory were carried a lot and shot very little. I’ve never found a critical examination of a native Nepal 577/450 round, but because of quality of powder, etc, it is likely that the native rounds used previous to the Brit MILSUP were of lesser power generating lower pressures.

The issue on the barrel failures is most often blamed on the poor metallurgy of the hill villages that made the blanks. While there is little question that metallurgy was a factor, I personally don’t think it was any worse than many of the much treasured handmade rifles made a century earlier in the US. Rather crude hand forging was of course the norm before the industrial revolution brought us large factories and improved quality control. As in many catastrophic failures, I believe there were multiple factors at play, which prompted me to slug many Gahendra bores with the discovery of a wide variation in bore sizes, which are consistently tighter than Brit standard, some dramatically so

I personally own three and have shot more than a few others after examination for obvious flaws. Whether any given individual shoots any given rifle is a personal choice. However if that is one’s intent, for safety and preservation of investment, any Gahendra should be loaded with bullets matched to its bore as found through slugging the individual rifle and not based on what others have found. Considering the diameter of some of the “over bore” bullets now in favor for loading the 577/450, this is particularly significant. I also recommend loading them on the light side, using kapok or carded wool as a filler. With the right bullet these can provide very good accuracy and there is little benefit for rifle or owner in pushing the round in this rifle.

Personally I would not recommend them as a regular shooter (meaning 100s of rounds per year) regardless, since they are not anywhere near as strong of a design as Martini-Henrys (particularly in the critical support of the block and breach) and of course do have a record of safety/material quality issues. Equally important of course is the simple fact that these are handmade with no ready parts supply. For a machinist hand making parts can be a fun challenge. For most however it is an expensive trip to a gunsmith assuming you can find one that will touch the rifle knowing your intent to shoot it.
Thanks for the information, I am not even sure that I will shoot it but if I do it will be done
with a lot of thoght and care beforehand......
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top