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A couple of years ago myself and a good friend conspired to help out our military sniper teams. We had heard that a well known outfit that specializes in "MILSPEC" rifle goodies had sold the Marines and other forces a scope mount that was crap. We knew we could make a much better and simpler mount.
At that time only the Marines were using the M-14 more than any other service. We had developed a very stable platform to hold a scope and it's zero no matter what.
We had a "few" built and sent to squads in the Sand Box and Afghanistan to try out.
We got very few replies one way or the other about the mounts and how they did/did not work. It didn't really matter as long as they got put to use.
One Marine did reply and thanked us for the time and effort. He also told of his "kills' using the mount on his M-14.
As it turns out, this Marine is from the Four-Corners area, and drove into Albuquerque today. He met up with Me and Scotsman and said he knew I liked odd-ball fire arms.( he has been on SR in the past) While he had seen rifles and other weapons that would make all of us green with envy, most could not be "brought" back home.
He did however present me with this little jewel of a pistol. One taken from one of his targets,a Khyber Pass, hand converted Martini-Henry .303 1870 pistol.
As you may know these captured weapons were converted into all sorts of hell raisers. Or copied outright by hand! Their sole purpose was to be used to kill the Enemy soldier at close range and take their firearm(s)
The workmanship is better than high School shop class. All parts are original English manufacture. The cocking lever has been modified. Pistol grips have been added and are lined with a steel plate. The barrel is original with the early rifling that is still in very good shape and
the barrel is now "half-Round". Two sling/string swivels have been added as well as a hand crafted front sight. A groove has been cut at 12 o'clock to be used as a rear sight.
Once I check this pistol out I will of course fire it. The bad guy did, at least for a few rounds.
I took the pistol to the range with some reduced loads. The pistol shot to the point of ain, and a little low at 25 yards. The fireball was impressive.
The 2.5" barrel was not enough to stabilize all the bullets. Still, the pistol was made to kill the infidel and steal his weapon. Not made to be a march pistol. Recoil was stout.









 

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After you insert a picture then hit the enter key to put a space and line between each picture.

Can you point to the original parts, I see none.

If the bore was good why did the bullets keyhole?

You should indeed keep this gun as symbol of the graditude for your kindness shown by the young marine. But your are risking your life shooting it.

You have my appreciation for suppoorting the Marines.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It keyholes because the rifling is only 2.5" long. The rest of the barrel is chamber. Plus there is no way you can push the bullet fast enough to impart enough spin to stabilize the bullet. Can you point out why you feel that the markings are not "real"?
 

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Re: Markings

Just for starters, the Martini did not come online as a service weapon until 1871... That "1870" is just as spurious as "VR 1913."
Never mind the other irregularities.

Victor

"Always carry a firearm east of Aldgate, Watson."
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the info. Why would anyone go to all the trouble to place all the markings on the pistol and it's parts is beyond me? It is a different world.
 

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Rapidrob, I have to agree with DD - to my eye not a single part of that gun ever came off an Enfield production line. The reason for fakery? Why, to flog it to the locals, of course. The gun likely blew up some time ago and was shortened to a revolver when it did.
 

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At that barrel length only a tiny part of the normal rifle powder charge would burn. It is, at least, less likely to damage the user's hearing than a barrel with four or five inches of rifling. What surprises me is that the bullet looks to have ended up little if any larger in diameter than it started.

There are a few of these pistol-shaped objects about nowadays. One has been on a firearms auction site for a long time, which at a starting price of $375 and buy now price of $1450 shouldn't be surprising. It is described as a tiger hunter's howdah pistol, and 2/3 standard Martini size, although I think one is as factually imprecise as the other. Anybody who feels I am promoting an auction misunderstands my intention.

I don't believe the faults of the Afghan people include gross ignorance of firearms. I think these were made not to flog to the locals, but to tourists. Most likely they were.
 

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Calgacus,

This subject comes up every so often. From many trips to Afghanistan over the last six years as a government contractor, I have seen several of these pistolsin break open and falling/pivoting breech types. The one illustrated is slightly better finished than most. I know of no Afghan Native who carries one of these and neither does my long term Afghan contact. These often sell in the bazaar's for in the $100 or so range ( with tough negotiation) and are strictly built for tourist trade as a "unusual local modification". The native Afghans can generally get an AK or similar for near the same money and know that they have a weapon far less likely to blow-up in their face.

One of the better dealers that I have worked with through my long term contact, sells these and similar kyber scrap in the front of his shop. In the second room, he carries a mix of real antiques, civilian and military modern/semi-modern arms and very well made "replicas" and will tell you what is what, if you are invited to the back. He has a nephew with a well equiped small machine shop/forge who asked if a 577 snider chambered double pistol based on the IZH 20 gage external hammer side-by-side shotgun action would be more marketable. Built by a skilled craftman with a reasonable equipped shop and a knowledge of metal and heat treatment, such a piece would be very interesting. It would however sell for a fair amount more than the tourist paperweight pieces currently available.

This nephew has built a stainless steel damascus bladed hand and a half sword for me and did an exceptional job for $125 plus the 420,cm152 and 440C steel that I supplied him. I look forward to seeing what he has when I get back there late this month.

Engineer 179
 

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That is just about what I would have expected, and it is interesting to have so much inside information. I've seen a Time-Life book on the area and Michael Palin's "Himalaya" programme on the arms trade in Darra Adam Khel, and the Afghans, and the Afghans' Pakistani friends and relations, are very much to be admired for what they achieve with very limited technical resources. They deserve to be compared with early American small-town gunmakers. But that is an altogether different trade, aimed at a different market.

Rudyard Kipling believed that a lot of the Afghan Martinis were made in Kabul, and in those days they had the reputation of being inferior in accuracy, but not deathtraps like this paperweight would be, and certainly not of a design that would be worthless if made to the highest standards.

Your friend is right about a .577 on a shotgun action, which is pretty much how the few so-called howdah pistols were made. I think it is another collector's term which is mostly of modern origin, and they were at least as likely to be used against savage tribesmen such as Afghans or Dervishes, as tigers. Most men preferred heavy calibre revolvers. Pistols used a shorter .577 cartridge, though, as the recoil of the rifle Snider round would be extremely vicious, and I think a more supportive grip than a simple shotgun conversion would be needed.

The people who now import these items for sale bear a heavy burden, with or without warnings of caution before firing. If you say " Walk softly but carry a big stick" to your dog, all he will hear is " walk."
 

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The khebr pass region between pakistan and afganistan has long had a reputation for producing unlicensed, home-made copies of firearms using whatever materials are available- more often than not, railway sleepers, junked motor vehicles, and scrap metal.
During the various British military expeditions in the north west founder, the locals acquired examples of the martinee hnry Martini-Enfield, and later,lee enlandrifles and began to make their own copies.
The quality on such rifles varies from "As good as a factory-produced example" to "dangerously unsafe", tending towards the latter end of the scale.The ammunition used in the region is often underloaded, being made from a variety of powders -or even old film (which contains nitrocellulose, a key component of smokless powder. As such, Khyber Pass Copy rifles cannot generally stand up to the pressures generated by modern commercial ammunition, and it is generally advised that they should not be fired under any circumstances, although some collectors have made mild handloaded cartridges for their Khyber Pass rifles.This practice is not recommended, and anyone firing a Khyber Pass rifle is doing so at their own risk.
 
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