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  1. #1
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    Default martini vs. Sharps

    Which would be better for long range accuracy, a martini-henry or a sharps in .45, with a similar loading?

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    The one with the best barrel and the most experienced nut behind... Actions don't produce accuracy, barrels and shooters do!

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    Gert is correct for the most part. If and only if the barrels, sights, load development, and shooter ability are all equal, then the effects from the action can start to play. Things like trigger pull and lock time have the effect of reducing disruption forces from the trigger pull and shorter lock time reduces the amount of wiggle between trigger release and the bullet leaving the barrel.

    The common 1874 Sharps with a large external hammer has a relatively slow lock time compared to the Martini/Martini-Peabody striker fired action. The later Sharps-Borchardt 1878 is a striker fired action with very short lock times as well. In lock speed, the Martini is the fastest followed by the Sharps 1878 with the Sharps 1874 well behind. If the trigger pulls and all other factors are equal, that is what the order would be for potential to produce minimum groups. But this is only the potential. All of the factors must work together consistently and well to get minimum groups.

    Engineer 179

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    Quote Originally Posted by Engineer 179 View Post
    The common 1874 Sharps with a large external hammer has a relatively slow lock time compared to the Martini/Martini-Peabody striker fired action. Engineer 179
    In fact, until the advent of the Anschutz-designed short-stroke firing pin bolt in the late 1960's, the Martini action in .22 - as made by BSA here in yUK -was THE fastest of ALL mechanical locks.

    tac

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    It's not so much the action but the ammo. If the marttini was barreled for the same cartridge as the Sharps I would pick the martini. Of course there is also the limitation on cartridge length. 45-70 being just about max for the martini, while the Sharps can use 45-110 or 45-125. There is also the Remington Rolling block action to consider.

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    One other consideration is if you are going to shoot long range blackpowder competition in the US, then in most competitions your gun must have a hammer.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
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  7. #7
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    The folks who set the rules wanted to keep Borchardts and Martinis out, i think.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    If I were to use an Identical powder load and bullet weight, which one would be better.

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    DD,

    Let's qualify that statement - the hammerless actions (even the Ruger #1) are admitted for all creedmoor events (mid- and longrange paper target shooting) - it's the sihouette game that requires the pesky outside hammer... FWIW, Dave Gullo shoots a Borchardt as LR rifle...

    Of course I would also go for the Martini - for a Martini I have actually. I don't like the Sharps 1874 action... But regardless, quite a lot of people seem to be able to shoot these and win.

    Conclusion? Shooter, barrel, ammo, sights etc. are more important than action in the LR BPCR game. But hey, every little advantage counts - not to mention the looking good thing!

    The most difficult part of the game is the wind-reading: given enough time and resources, almost anyone can fulfill all the others (good barrel, accurate loads, good sights, good chamber,...) - but the one that can read the wind best will win... even when shooting "inferior" cartridges, actions etc.

    that's the attraction of the game - just excelling at 1 thing won't help you all that much - you need to be able to combine them all.

    But to answer that last question - the Martini would be better, because of the faster locktime.
    Last edited by gert10; 07-26-2008 at 02:43 AM.

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    Not just the faster lock-time. The hammer dropping is a distraction and even if you aren't really conscious of it, that chunck of metal flicking by the corner of your eye can cause a bit of flinch.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    Default Sharps history

    At the Battle of Adobe Walls (1874), 29 civilians including Bat Masterson were attacked and besieged by Quanah Parker and 300 or more Comanche. On the third day of the battle, Billy Dixon with his Big 50 Sharps (50-90), shot an Indian Chief out of his saddle at a distance of almost one-mile - 1,538 yards. The 700-grain bullet took about 5.5 seconds to reach the target, and the surprised warriors, understandably demoralized, broke off the siege.

    Taking the shot (at the goading of Bat Masterson) Dixon had a less than perfect rest and the recoil knocked him over and out of the loft crashing thru a table and scattering debris all about.

    The shot was replicated in 1998 by Mic McPherson with a 45-110 cal Sharps and a 50-90 cal Sharps.

    Have searched but have not found any like long shots taken by a Martini, perhaps someone knows.
    Was a soldier, very young, and they turned me into an old man. Sometimes in the early morning, before the sun is up, I think of fallen brothers, first with smiles...then with tears.

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    I believe Dixon hit the horse, not the Indian. either way it was certainly a good shot.

    Now I also wonder why even silhouette rifles need a hammer considering all the pre WW1 Schuetzen clubs that exsisted in this country. Guess they want ta keep the "old west cowboy tradition"
    Same as Cowboy action shooting, gotta be single action when cetrtainly DA revolvers were around at the time, EVEN in Tucson, The Mayor had a Webley bulldog in the 1880's and then there were Custers guns.

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    The hammer and single action issues are my sticking point with CAS. I have a 74 Sharps, Rolling Block, and my two six shooters and only use them for CAS, but I collect and shoot martinis and Webleys (and a 78 Borchardt too).

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    And Wes Hardin was packing a pair of 41 cal 1877s when he had his last confrontation with Old Ben Selman, though that was in the 1890s in El Paso.

    Dixon always claimed it was luck rather than good panagement (and it was indeed the shaman's horse that was hit), though I'd say there was a measure of both involved. Even into a group, it wasn't bad shooting to get on the target whatever the distance was (there is controversy as to the actual distance, but even the shortest estimate is better than 800 yards IIRC).
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    Default Martini vs Sharps – long distance shooting

    Billy Dixon and Bat Masterson both claimed the Indian Chief was killed with the long shot, Quanah Parker claimed the shot broke the Chief’s arm.

    Doubt that a dead horse or broken arm would have demoralized the attackers to the point of quitting the fight. We are talking 300 or more tough Comanches who outnumbered the Whites by at least ten to one. Had to be a kill or disabling wound.

    The Shaman’s horse was shot dead on the first day of battle in the opening attack. Some say the Shaman was also the recipient of the long shot taken on the third day, but this is unsubstantiated.

    During the 1870s and 1880s Sharps rifle shooters won many contests and set records not broken for generations, 8 to 9 inch groups at 1,000 yards were not uncommon.

    At Little Big Horn there were a few Sharps rifles on hand and at least one long shot made by one of Reno’s men, Capt Ryan, possibly with a 50 cal Sharps, against a skilled Sioux sharpshooter with a booming buffalo gun; after he had shot three troopers and a couple of mules. I do not know the distance of the shot, but it may be possible to research the topography and make an estimate. Next time I’m out that way.

    At Isandlwhana range markers were laid out just before the Zulu charge but I do not know at what distance shooting began.

    At Rorke’s Drift there was long range sharpshooting but I am not aware of any recorded long shots.
    Last edited by Sailor; 07-26-2008 at 09:40 PM. Reason: Clarification
    Was a soldier, very young, and they turned me into an old man. Sometimes in the early morning, before the sun is up, I think of fallen brothers, first with smiles...then with tears.

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    Can't compare a Martini to a Sharps, don't have a Sharps(I want one though).

    I can compare an 1889 Martini Henry Mk.II BSA&M made rifle to a 1881 Trapdoor Springfield US service rifle.

    The guns are comparable condition, with the Trapdoor being overall somewhat better shape, and the Martini having the best bore.

    With the ammunition I have, the Trapdoor Springfield is easily more accurate. This is at plinking ranges of 40-100 meters.

    My son and I just had a Springfield/BSA&M shoot off the other day! We burned up every .577/.450 cartridge I had, Ten-X and reloaded, versus the only .45-70 ammo I had, Ultramax cowboy loads from Cabela's.

    With my old rifles and the ammunition I had, the Trapdoor rifle was clearly more accurate.

    One factor in the US Springfields favor is easily available, proper bullet size ammunition! My Martini don't really like the Ten-X, does somewhat better with my fabricated ammo. However, I still feel my Martini is an accurate rifle, I just have not been feeding it right. The Springfield rifle I just bought in June preforms perfectly with the Cabela's bulk .45-70 ammunition.

    I suspect the accuracy would be more comparable if the Martini had a load it liked. I also imagine my "new" Trapdoor is just going to be an excellent shooter despite it's pitted bore.

    Too many variables for a firm conclusion, but the US Springfield I have easily outshoots my Martini Henry. I think the ammunition, or lack of suitable ammo is the biggest determining factor in my amature .577/.450 versus .45-70 tests.

    I have faith in my Martini's accuracy, I just have not quite found it yet.

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    Z71,

    no words - just a pic:
    Just looking for a way to avoid the tumbler in the lower righthand corner...
    Last edited by gert10; 07-27-2008 at 12:41 PM.

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    As long as you use 45/70 bullets you will keep hunting for the Martini's accuracy. The Martini just is not a .458, but then neither is a TD most of the time. find some bullets Minimum diameter .468 and try them in you Martini.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
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    Sailor, at Ulundi, the Zulu army manouvred and massed into the horns of the buffalo formation at 800 yds from the square, which they considered to be outside the range of the Martini Henry. Horsemen were sent out of the sqaure to goad them into coming closer, which they did. During this phase the riflemen held their fire, so as to get the Zulus close. At Isandhlwana and Khambula, when the aim was to keep the Zulus away, the zulus were engaged at varying distances, but because they closed very rapidly I do not think they were at long range for much time at all. I estimate 400 yds would have been about the start of the earnest shooting. At Rorke's drift the distances at which the battle was fought were certainly less than 400 yds, the caves on the Oskarberg being about 400 yds from the mission station.
    I personally find the problem with using Martinis accurately at long range is partly the blunt V and barleycorn sights; and partly the stout trigger pull.
    "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past". (William Faulkner)

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    Most Sharps, not all are Target and Hunting rifles equiped for Precision shooting wher the Martini was a balttle rifle intended for area shooing.

    Also You will find little information on the Billy Dixon or any of the great "Sharps" Shooters out side North America.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
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    Default bullets

    I am using the original military bullets, and a 90 grain loading.

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    ROB D – Thanks. Did not know that. 800 yards, seems the Zulu learnt some lessons at Isandlwhana and Rorke’s Drfit.

    Did a little research. At:

    Khambula – The Zulu right horn were enticed into attacking too early by Buller’s cavalry (Lancers – seems the lads with the pointy shafts were given this taunting task since they could gallop off to safety) they barely made back alive with the quick running Zulu at their heels, in fact the line could not fire till the cavalry cleared off safely and several had trouble doing so, indicating the right horn was shot to pieces at close range: the Zulu then retreated 600 yards back seeking cover from the murderous rifle fire, - 31 rounds per man was shot off, the 2,000 strong British force vs 20,000 Zulu - 83 British casualties vs 3,000 Zulu dead.

    Ulundi – The Zulu attacked just before 9am and the 17,000 strong British force met the 24,000 Zulu with rifle, artillery and even Gatling gun fire…83 British casualties and 1,500 Zulu dead. It was over in 30 minutes, Zulu prisoners claimed they were stunned by the deafening noise, not to mention the hail of lead, rockets, canister and explosives.

    “I estimate 400 yds would have been about the start of the earnest shooting.”

    Agreed. Accounts suggest the Martini killing field started at this distance. A Zulu could probably cross it in 80 seconds, however this would be retarded by the disciplined fire of the British line.

    Interestingly, the Zulu also had muskets and about a 1,000 captured Martinis and they were used, as there is evidence of British killed by rifle fire.

    “the Martini was a battle rifle intended for area shooting.”

    Indeed.

    Did not come across any noteworthy long shots, by either side, but will search thru regimental records, journals, letters…..also since Martini was a well-liked field rifle will check period hunting literature.
    Was a soldier, very young, and they turned me into an old man. Sometimes in the early morning, before the sun is up, I think of fallen brothers, first with smiles...then with tears.

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    Here's a link to a fascinating report on serious long-range testing in 1879.

    Enjoy!

    http://home.earthlink.net/~sharpssht...SandyHook.html

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    Leave it a bright lad from Near Shrewsbury to tell a Yank how good the Springfield Trapdoor rifle is.

    Seems the tests on the New Jersey beach were done as a result of the Russo-Turkish War. The Turks put up a tough show thanks to excellent leadership of Osman Pasha (at Plevna), the 45 cal Peabody-Martini which excelled at long distance plunging fire (Russians were felled at 2,000 yards, some hits reported as far out as 3,000) and the 44 cal Winchester which excelled at rapid fire. The Peabody-Martini is comparable to the Martini-Henry, which was replaced by the Lee-Enfield with those amazing volley sights, seems the war department was paying attention. For his formidable efforts Osman Pasha was feted by the Russians. Sitting Bull and Cetshwayo received like treatment. A different time.

    Did not realize the Springfield long rifle was quite that good, at Little Big Horn troopers carried the carbine version, and the enemy were well aware of its distance limitations (think Custer carried a quick loading Remington). In fact one of the reasons the Indians broke off the battle was that the scouts had reported the looming arrival of the walking soldiers, (Terry’s infantry who carried long rifles), seems the Indians didn’t need test reports to convince them of the long range killing power of the Springfield long rifle.

    One wonders if at Isandlwhana, the British could have survived had they started firing earlier, however the surprise and speed of the attack, and the lack of defensive works seems to have guaranteed defeat.

    Ironically the American Martini, Peabody’s Martini, was a failure in America, but a success abroad.

    A revealing article Charadam, thank you. See this is your first post, God willing there will be more.
    Was a soldier, very young, and they turned me into an old man. Sometimes in the early morning, before the sun is up, I think of fallen brothers, first with smiles...then with tears.

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    The one important difference between the long-range shooting at Plevna versus that of most battles is that the Turks had marked off the distances prior to the Russian attack, turning the approaches into basically a known distance range. No guess work or reliance on skill of individual marksmen to determine the distances involved......a huge advantage. This is not to take away from the accomplishments of the Ottoman troops, which was significant. However not unlike the Sandy Hook trials, when the distances are known accuracy of the BP rifles of the era is quite good whether a Martini-Henry, Springfield or Sharps. The problem then as now is the trajectories of the BP cartridges make distance estimation much more important than for those higher velocity cartridges that use the new fangled smokeless powders (a passing fad for sure).

    While I have no intent of starting a major argument on BP accuracy, of the regular issue military rifles of the BP cartridge era, for long range accuracy I’d pick the Turk M87 Mauser in 9.5x60Rmm. While lacking the romance or the Sharps, Springfield or Martini-Henry, it is arguably the pinnacle of military BP rifle/cartridge development. Fortunately a quest for superior accuracy does not guide my choice in favorite rifle/cartridge. I’ve put more rounds through my favorite MH MK IV than through all of my Sharps, Springfields and BP Mausers put together.
    Rich in West Virginia, savoring life one cartridge at a time.

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    One thing about the Sandy Hook report - and you need to read it several times to notice it: When discussing the extreme range results, it makes it appear that the bog-standard 45-70 (405gr bullet) actually outperformed the 577-450 Martini round - which wasn't the case.
    However, the experimental LR round with 500gr bullet and 80grs charge did (and it incidentally lead to the 45-90) - as would seem logical: a heavier bullet will always reach out farther than the lighter one - which was the reason the US military decided to change to the 500gr bullet after these trials.

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    Would the british have survived if they had started firing earlier? Nope.
    Would they have survived if they had laggered the waggons and got behind them? Possibly. The firing line was too damm far out, causing the troops to be too thinly spread. The Zulu tactics were based on finding an enemy in the open, and Cestwayo had cautioned his impis not to engage the enemy if they were in a fortified position.
    Chelmsford, with typical upper class arrogance badly underestimated his enemy, thinking he could beat them just like the British had beaten other tribes.

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    Chelmsford left his Gatlings back at camp.

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    I think that was Custer who left his Gatlings in camp.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
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    Quote Originally Posted by x5g8 View Post
    Which would be better for long range accuracy, a martini-henry or a sharps in .45, with a similar loading?
    If I could pass a comment on the original question that was asked:
    I assume that we would be considering that both cartridges would be loaded to the same composition, namely a 500gn bullet, 4 lube rings, no gas check, cast 1 :15, one card wad behind the bullet, 1/8th thick lube, one card wad over 85gns ffg Goex, with powder tapped down on the outside of the case, with the bullet seated under slight compression leaving 2 lube rings exposed.
    OK: so far we have covered the Martini-Henry case. Now; to duplicate this same load in a .45 Sharps case, we will have to go to the 45/120 3 1/4" inch case (firstly, because modern cases are not balloon-head any more, and the walls are slightly thicker)
    Having got to this stage of both rounds being identical in loading, the first thing that is noticable will be the reduction of recoil (assuming that both rifles are of equal weight) from the 45 Sharps,because of the straight case, compared with the Martini-Henry. The bottle-neck shape on the M-H case is the main cause of excessive recoil. Don't forget that in the M-H you have an 85gn powder charge in a .577" cyclinder being throttled down to a diameter close to .46".
    Many years ago I had a Sharps Model 1874 3 band outside hammer .450 x 3 1/4" rifle that was specially made up for some U.S rifle team - I forget which one, but it is referenced in Phil Sharp's book, "The American Rifle"
    and I shot this rifle against my 1891 Presentation M-H MK II rifle, both rifles using the same load.
    The distance was 900 yds. Without a doubt the Sharp's straight case was the better of the two, from a recoil viewpoint, but both rifles fouled badly, and after sighting in, had to have their bore's wiped after every shot. The sharps rifle carried the day with a score of 41 ex 50 on the 36'' bullseye with the Martini coming in at 37 ex 50. The Sharps rifle is now back where it belongs in America, but the MkII still gets an airing now and again.
    To sum up then, go for a new-made sharps taking the 3 1/4" inch case, if you really want to shoot out to 1,000yds; but if 600 yards is your cup of tea then a 45/70 will be fine, and cheaper to run.

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    Sorry Uncle ray, but I don't buy the BN recoil thing - it might just be a cause of higher pressure, but most certainly not of heavier recoil - and I did notice that you never said anything about rifle weight. Chances are a military MH will be quite a bit lighter than a match 45 Sharps.
    Recoil is a factor of bullet weight/velocity/rifle weight, cartridge config determines some inner ballistics (like chamber pressure), but will not appreciably increase recoil. Only if it makes the bullet exit the muzzle appreciably faster will there be more recoil, all other factors being identical...
    As to the fouling thing, you probably did something wrong if you needed to clean after each shot. Also, do you think comparing a match rifle to a military rifle would be fair?

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Sukey View Post
    Would the british have survived if they had started firing earlier? Nope.
    Would they have survived if they had laggered the waggons and got behind them? Possibly. The firing line was too damm far out, causing the troops to be too thinly spread. The Zulu tactics were based on finding an enemy in the open, and Cestwayo had cautioned his impis not to engage the enemy if they were in a fortified position.
    Chelmsford, with typical upper class arrogance badly underestimated his enemy, thinking he could beat them just like the British had beaten other tribes.

    Exactly, studies of the battlefield have indicated that there was up to 10 yards between each British soldier. Out in the open, spread out, and out numbered. Perfect recipe for disaster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gert10 View Post
    Sorry Uncle ray, but I don't buy the BN recoil thing - it might just be a cause of higher pressure, but most certainly not of heavier recoil - and I did notice that you never said anything about rifle weight. Chances are a military MH will be quite a bit lighter than a match 45 Sharps.
    Recoil is a factor of bullet weight/velocity/rifle weight, cartridge config determines some inner ballistics (like chamber pressure), but will not appreciably increase recoil. Only if it makes the bullet exit the muzzle appreciably faster will there be more recoil, all other factors being identical...
    As to the fouling thing, you probably did something wrong if you needed to clean after each shot. Also, do you think comparing a match rifle to a military rifle would be fair?
    Sorry, Am I missing something or not ??
    The ORIGINAL question asked was the DIFFERENCE between a MARTINI-HENRY, and a SHARPS.
    Now I took that question as it read ; A question about MILITARY rifles; that were in use at the time of the Martini-Henry.
    So far, so good. The US equivalent THEN was the 1874 Sharps 3-band breech-loader, in 45-2and one-tenth case, which weighed approximately the same as the British M-H rifle; which is about 8lbs 10oz.
    See "Single Shot Rifles" by James Grant; page 196 Illustration D, to see what the rifle looks like. It's no bloody match rifle, believe me !
    My 1874 side-hammer 3-band Military-Target rifle made for the New York State rifle team, which is the same pattern rifle as illustrated, was not chambered for the 45/70, but for the longer case that took 85gns of 2F.

    So, dealing with the ORIGINAL question that was asked, I repeat the same answer; that there was LESS NOTICABLE RECOIL out of a straight case, than the bottle-neck case, using exactly the same components, and rifles of equal weight.
    Now the reason for cleaning out after every shot was to eliminate the potential build-up of fouling that WOULD have an adverse effect on recoil. Secondly, NOWHERE have I mentioned that we were shooting the latest u-beaut replica rifles ( do you know of anyone who is presently chambering rifles to take the M-H cartridge ?).
    As for your comment about no difference in recoil between a similar charge in a bottle-neck case V's straight cases is just pure poppy-**** !

    Read what the likes of Gould, Metford, Greener, Peabody ( and even James Grant) said about bottle-neck cases of large capacity - why do you think they went out of fashion; just for the fun of it ?
    I can tell you that I have been shooting for over 50 years with both bottle-neck, and straight BP cartridges in rifles around 9 -10 lbs weight, both in the field and on the range, and the straight-case, load-for-load with the bottle-neck, comes up trumps every time.
    I have no interest in shooting Modern-made state-of-the-art BP rifles that weigh 12-14 lbs, or possibly more; and this is not intended to take the mickey out of those who wish to do so. The point of all this is you completley mis-understood the original question, to which I applied the proper conclusion, which is; when an ignighted charge in a case as large as a .577" dia, is constricted to .46" diameter, pressure goes up, and so does recoil. Obtain a copy of Graham Wright's book "Shooting the British Double Rifle",and read his chapters on proof-house testing of the large calibres - It's a eye-opener for bottle-neck cases.
    Now you know why most of those weaklings stick to 45/70's ! ( woops - incoming flack approaching!!)

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    I can only put here that very 1st law of pysics:action = reaction. And to answer your question, no, a target rifle made in a different cartridge for the NY state militia rifle team doesn't make it a military rifle.
    And BN's went out of fashion? In the US maybe, but maybe you had better also look at the rest of the world - there's something else besides the US, remember? The last BP rounds in military (and commercial) use were BN's Ever heard of 9.5 Turkish, 8x60 Kropatschek, 8x50 Mannlicher?
    Also, If BN's are out of fashion, why is just about every high-powder modern round a BN? Oh yes, I forgot, that doesn't apply to smokeless...
    And yes, I'll believe (even know) a BN round will develop higher pressure with a same charge - but UNLESS the MV with an equal weight projectile is higher, RECOIL WILL BE THE SAME. IOW, you can produce an identical velocity with less powder in a BN case, as it produces higher (chamber) pressure for a same charge.
    I am not speaking of the subjective things like stock fit, balance etc - but if you launch a 500gr bullet from an 8lb rifle at 1250 fps, then you get just that specific recoil impulse (about 37 ft-lb), whatever the case configuration, no if's and buts, just a fact. Recoil is NOT a factor of chamber pressure. Rifle weight, Bullet weight and MV - nothing else.

    BTW, I've read Greener, Metford and Walsh... And even the last Brit BP match cartridges were BN's as made by Gibbs, Westley Richards, Fraser, Webley,... (with the rigby exception), makes you wonder why if they all knew these were so inferior.... Maybe it's just an issue of loading them the way they are supposed to be loaded, which is different from straight cases? And the Brits did keep up the BP LR thing for quite a bit longer than the US.
    But yes, all those things from outside the US don't really count, I suppose?

    Bottom line - chamber pressure is not equal to recoil.

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    Recoil perception is just that perception and a subjective concept.

    To say the a BN in a Martini has more recoil than an straight case with identical load characteristics, bullet weight and velocity in a Sharps is an apple and oranges comparison. Stock and action design are variables that would skew results and affect felt recoil.

    If you have a BN case and straight wall case in identical guns and they use identical weight bullets, with identical charge weights, and produce identical velocities they both will have the same recoil energy.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
    *********
    To find things Martini go to: WWW.MartiniHenry.com

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    "In the US maybe, but maybe you had better also look at the rest of the world - there's something else besides the US, remember?"-----gert10

    "But yes, all those things from outside the US don't really count, I suppose?"---gert10


    Gert, I believe Uncle Ray is actually Australian---unless there's two Uncle Rays on the Board---so please say something nasty about whatever it is they have in that "Australia" place.
    Wherever that is.

    I shot my Martini MkIV with 500 gr paper patch and my 1873 Trapdoor with some .45-70-500 on the same trip to the range this summer and didn't notice any particular difference in recoil between the two.
    But then, I am not a connoiseur of perceived recoil since I ginned my way to 225lbs and put padding on those sharp shoulder bones.
    -----krinko

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    Quote Originally Posted by krinko View Post
    "

    Gert, I believe Uncle Ray is actually Australian---unless there's two Uncle Rays on the Board---so please say something nasty about whatever it is they have in that "Australia" place.
    Wherever that is.
    -----krinko
    Thanks, Krinko, I went all warm and fuzzy when you said that, Mate...
    But TWO Uncle Rays...?? God forbid.
    Not only that; I must be senile, 'cause....the original question asked was :- (1) MARTINI; (2) SHARPs...What was the better one to go for.
    So; I passed on my comments re two similar rifles.
    (1) BIG bottle-neck case, (2) STRAIGHT case. Sure, it was lengthened, but both contained the same components. This was the comparison.
    I didn't get side-tracked on to other Straight/BN cases, because the others were NOT relevant. The question again (unless I've missed it completely) was (1) MARTINI; (2) SHARPs. Both rifles same age, weight, firing same charge. RESULT : BIG bottle-neck case gave GREATER recoil than straight case, with same charge.
    We can all go on argueing until we are blue in the face about other calibres/rifles/SC V's BN; but that was not the original question.

    Having said all that, I shall now repair to my slit-trench, don my WWI Brodie helmet, and with my trusty 1915 Enfield by my side, bayonet fixed, of course, prepare myself for another onslaught from those who insist on dodging the original question asked, by going off on all different tangents once more.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Ray View Post
    Thanks, Krinko, I went all warm and fuzzy when you said that, Mate...
    But TWO Uncle Rays...?? God forbid.
    Not only that; I must be senile, 'cause....the original question asked was :- (1) MARTINI; (2) SHARPs...What was the better one to go for.
    So; I passed on my comments re two similar rifles.
    (1) BIG bottle-neck case, (2) STRAIGHT case. Sure, it was lengthened, but both contained the same components. This was the comparison.
    I didn't get side-tracked on to other Straight/BN cases, because the others were NOT relevant. The question again (unless I've missed it completely) was (1) MARTINI; (2) SHARPs. Both rifles same age, weight, firing same charge. RESULT : BIG bottle-neck case gave GREATER recoil than straight case, with same charge.
    We can all go on argueing until we are blue in the face about other calibres/rifles/SC V's BN; but that was not the original question.

    Having said all that, I shall now repair to my slit-trench, don my WWI Brodie helmet, and with my trusty 1915 Enfield by my side, bayonet fixed, of course, prepare myself for another onslaught from those who insist on dodging the original question asked, by going off on all different tangents once more.
    Well actually Ray the question was:

    Quote Originally Posted by x5g8 View Post
    Which would be better for long range accuracy, a martini-henry or a sharps in .45, with a similar loading?
    You are the one who came up with BN has more recoil than Straight nonsense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Ray View Post
    If I could pass a comment on the original question that was asked:
    I assume that we would be considering that both cartridges would be loaded to the same composition, namely a 500gn bullet, 4 lube rings, no gas check, cast 1 :15, one card wad behind the bullet, 1/8th thick lube, one card wad over 85gns ffg Goex, with powder tapped down on the outside of the case, with the bullet seated under slight compression leaving 2 lube rings exposed.
    OK: so far we have covered the Martini-Henry case. Now; to duplicate this same load in a .45 Sharps case, we will have to go to the 45/120 3 1/4" inch case (firstly, because modern cases are not balloon-head any got to this stage of both rounds being identical in loading, the first more, and the walls are slightly thicker)

    Having thing that is noticable will be the reduction of recoil (assuming that both rifles are of equal weight) from the 45 Sharps,because of the straight case, compared with the Martini-Henry. The bottle-neck shape on the M-H case is the main cause of excessive recoil. Don't forget that in the M-H you have an 85gn powder charge in a .577" cyclinder being throttled down to a diameter close to .46".

    Many years ago I had a Sharps Model 1874 3 band outside hammer .450 x 3 1/4" rifle that was specially made up for some U.S rifle team - I forget which one, but it is referenced in Phil Sharp's book, "The American Rifle"
    and I shot this rifle against my 1891 Presentation M-H MK II rifle, both rifles using the same load.
    The distance was 900 yds. Without a doubt the Sharp's straight case was the better of the two, from a recoil viewpoint, but both rifles fouled badly, and after sighting in, had to have their bore's wiped after every shot. The sharps rifle carried the day with a score of 41 ex 50 on the 36'' bullseye with the Martini coming in at 37 ex 50. The Sharps rifle is now back where it belongs in America, but the MkII still gets an airing now and again.
    To sum up then, go for a new-made sharps taking the 3 1/4" inch case, if you really want to shoot out to 1,000yds; but if 600 yards is your cup of tea then a 45/70 will be fine, and cheaper to run.
    If you had a MH MK II in 577/450 and a MH MKII in 45 3 1/4 and they both shot 85 grains of FFg and pushed the 500 grain bullet to the same velocity; and you had a Sharps Model 1874 3 band outside hammer in 577/450 and a Sharps Model 1874 3 band outside hammer in 45 3 1/4 and they both shot 120 grains of FFg and pushed the 500 grain bullet to the same velocity; and you said that of the four described rifles the 577/450 recoiled harder, then I would find that interesting.

    But to say the recoil in two different shaped rifles is worse in one than the other because one is BN is nonsense.

    I do know where you are coming from how ever.

    Becasue of stock shape and location of the trigger the Martini has a well deserved reputation for bad recoil. Small buttplate and unhandy grip do not help absorb recoil.

    The stock configuration of the Sharps is much better for dealing with recoil.

    Shooting 45-120 with 120 grs. of FFG might feel much more pleasant in a Sharps than 85 grains in a MH.

    Put a properly configured stock on the Martini and it's like shooting a different gun.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
    *********
    To find things Martini go to: WWW.MartiniHenry.com

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    DD;
    I'm going to raise the white flag here, because - dear me -I've completely got off the track.
    For one minute, I thought the original question related to two 19th Century rifles; one which happened to be a Martini-Henry, and the other a Sharps, and yes;the original question asked about accuracy.
    Now what controls accuracy, besides your comments about stock design, etc, is also recoil.
    My comments emphasised that, because of personal experience of shooting two different rifles, with the same load.
    Perhaps I should have said that in my situation, the Sharps model 1874 shot better than the 1874 M-H. But not because of a better stock design!
    Perhaps I'm built like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, because I have found the design on the M-H butt NOT uncomfortable, in all the past 50 years I have shot the rifle, with both black powder loads, and smokeless equivalents.
    Now; you can say until you are blue in the face, that there is no difference between shooting a large bottle-neck case, compared with a straight case of similar capacity, and bullet weight.
    Well; I'm talking from practical experience!
    And as a result of additional recoil, the accuracy must be dimished.
    If the M-H BN case was not a problem with recoil, why don't we see it chambered in rifles used by our American friends in 1000yd metallic silhouette shooting ?
    CH-4 will make you a reamer, Bruce Bertram is still making cases, along with a number of others.
    Why not ? I'll tell you why not. It's an abhorrent design of a case; adopted by a penny-pinching government who grasped a design produced by Eley thus allowing the government a pitiful saving by using base-forming and wall-forming machinery already on hand for the Snider rifle.

    Here's another example of how good the cartridge was..
    "In this year (1883) the (British N.R.A.) council also decided, in view of the erattic results at 1000 yards of the Government pattern Martini-Henry in previous years, to limit the matches for this rifle to not over 800 and 900 yards." ( Stonehenge -London 1884)
    Crook cartridges - or bad stock design ??.
    And another...
    "The latter (M-H rifle) has done useful work during the last twenty years, and some fine shooting has been made with it, but it was never a satisfactory weapon beyond 600 yards, to say nothing of it's terrible recoil, and its more or less inferior ammunition.
    Most of us are eagerly looking forward to the time that we may hang it up over the mantlepiece as a relic of the past, and a reminder of the days of our youth."
    (Lt. Phil Fargher, VRA Queen's Prize Winner 1892. Gold Medal, Bronze Cross (Bisley) etc, etc, quoting from his book "Rifle Shooting" 1899.)

    So; what have we here ? Crook ammo; poor stock design ??
    Back in January 1960 when the No.4 was first allowed in Australia for competitive rifle shooting, I asked Perce Pavey; Was the two-groove barrel as good as the five-groove barrel. Perce's comments were.."Ray; if they were any good, they would still be making them.."
    And that sums up the accuracy of the Martini-Henry cartridge; a b** of a design, heavy recoil, and just not accurate.
    I did not refer to accuracy, because no-one, and I mean no-one, in their right mind, would consider using the Martini-Henry for long-range shooting, due to its short-cut design, coupled with heavy recoil; when there FAR, FAR BETTER rifles using straight cases to choose from.
    And I'm saying that from experience. You can quote all the figures you like, but until you have had the practical experience of comparing the Martini-Henry 577/450, with a Sharps Military Model 1874, you will have to take my word for it that there is greater recoil in the BN case, which will NOT produce the same accuracy compared with a straight case of similar capacity - irrespective of as you say - different stock design.

    If the recoil is excessive, then forget accuracy. Did I mention excessive fouling ? Throw that one in too.
    End of sermon.

  40. #40
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    Uncle Ray - I agree about the abomination of a cartridge as originally designed - the foil cartridge coupled with the chamber required for it does give an accuracy issue one has to contend with when shooting the MH. The case also is a bit too big for the powder capacity required.

    BUT - this has nothing to do with it being a BN design. Try and get a decent rifle in #2 Musket, and you'll be surprised...

    However, with drawn brass and correct loading techniques, you can get around those issues.

    To answer the following question: "If the M-H BN case was not a problem with recoil, why don't we see it chambered in rifles used by our American friends in 1000yd metallic silhouette shooting ?"
    1. Because they're americans, they buy american, and most american rounds are straight
    2. The straight cases are cheaper
    3. Everyone knows how to load a straight case, BN's are different

    "And that sums up the accuracy of the Martini-Henry cartridge; a b** of a design, heavy recoil, and just not accurate. "

    FWIW, I shoot a military MH in - military breechloader competition, so I know the rifle . Most of the competitiors are using trapdoors. Last month's int'l competition in France, guess which rifle won its category, leaving all the 45-70 trapdoors behind?

    And then there's this year's midrange (300 - 500) vintage military breechloader match in Bisley, guess which one finished 2nd overall, but 1st at 300?

    Perhaps my Martini didn't produce such terrible recoil after all... And even shot better than a straight-cased 45-70 Trapdoor.

    Sometimes there are some generally accepted truths out there, which just aren't.

    And this bloke here chose the Martini design to build a long range rifle on, because of the excellent action design. AND it is using a BN round, albeit not 577-450 (I prefer #2 Musket). And yes, it is performing, scoring well - and outshooting straight cartridges in competition.

    FWIW, the last BP LR target rifle (and cartridge) to hold the 1,000 yds LR record was a Pebody-Martini Creedmoor chambered for - you guessed it - a BN round, the 40-90 What Cheer.
    And I'll restate - most Brit target cartridges of the era were BN.

    And as to your reference, they are only partially true - people like stonehenge, Metford and others usually compared the military martini to what was called the MBL (military breechloader), acually an open-sighted, full-stocked target rifle. Of course it wasn't up to those standards... And yes, all rifles weighing 8 lbs and shooting a 500gr bullet with 85gr of powder will kick - hard!
    I have a Roumanian Steyr-Martini chambered in #2 Musket, military issue - and it is all the Brit Martini should have been: smaller case, better chamber design, drawn brass from the outset... FWIW, I've already shot that one out to 1,000, and it does well - with its BN case.

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    G'day gert10;
    We could continue this discussion until Gabriel blows his trumpet - but you are moving away from the original comment that I first raised -not on the Martini action, but the bottle-neck 577/450 case that was used; which involved throttling down an 85gn charge of black powder down to an exit hole of .45 in such a short distance.
    Now, you are referring to bottle-neck cartridges such as the .450/No2 that fires the same 85gn charge as the 577/450; but my friend, the base dia. is not the Martini-Henry cartridge size of.668; it's .576, and secondly, the bottle-neck shoulder is bugger-all.
    Refer to "Cartridges of the World" for dimensions.
    Of course the recoil is going to be less.
    Let me close this issue off with a couple of quotes. Accept them or not - it's up to you, but they have been written by people with FAR more experience than you or I will EVER gain from shooting BP BN cartridges :-
    (1) From the Ballard Rifle Co. 1882 Catalogue:
    "The advantages of the solid-drawn shells are numerous. There is less recoil than with the bottleneck shell; it is no trouble to clean them; they are exactly the same size as the bore...."
    (2) The Wurfflein Rifle Co. (US) 1889 Catalogue:
    Obviously producing some rifles chambered for the Ballard cartridge, as they have used exactly the same extract from the above Ballard Catalogue, and finally, which you will find interesting..
    (3) From the Providence Tool Company 1881 Catalogue, with reference to the contract with the Turkish Govt to manufacture 600,000 Martini-Henry Rifles...
    "The objection to the excessive recoil of this rifle, which has been raised in some quarters, has been obviated in the arms manufactured by the Providence Tool Company by the adoption of a different form of ammunition."
    The cartridge which replaced the 577/450 of course was the 11.43x55R; ( 45 Turkish, or as known in the US as the .45 Peabody-Martini )
    Yes; a bottle-neck case, but with a base dia. of .582, some 86 thou. less than the Martini cartridge, and a gradually-sloping neck, which reduces the recoil tremendously.
    The bottom line again is; there is more recoil (thus effecting accuracy) from a large bottle-neck case, eg: the .577/450 Martini-Henry Cartridge, than there ever will be, from a straight-walled case, using the same 85gn powder charge, and a 500gn bullet.
    Can we now please call this discussion quits ?

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    They also have much more experience of selling them, and early catalogues are full of misleading statements designed to emphasise the superiority of what they were actually selling.

    Leaving such factors as muzzle blast out of it, recoil thrust is caused by pressure on the inside of the case. This force therefore takes place in all directions, but the reason we don't think of sideways recoil, is that the thrust on left and right or top and bottom of the chamber is equal and opposite, the various directions cancelling each other out.

    The rearward thrust is equal to pressure multiplied by all parts of the case interior which face forward, i.e. by the cross-section of the case interior at its widest point. If that includes a long, slightly tapered part of the body, it still only transmits recoil force in proportion to its apparent area, as seen from the front.

    The trouble is that a similar force is exerted in the opposite direction, on the interior of the case shoulder, and this goes some way towards cancelling out the rearward thrust. The effective part of the breech-pressure induced recoil, with a case of any shape, is equal to pressure times the part of the forward-facing interior which does not lie behind the shoulder - i.e. pressure times bore diameter, as in any other firearm. This brings us back to the fact that mass times velocity of the solid and gaseous ejecta, equals mass times recoil velocity of the firearm. The Turkish cartridge produced less ejecta. I can see (though I don't believe it) how someone might imagine a more sloping shoulder could increase the effective recoil, but not reduce it.
    Last edited by Calgacus; 10-13-2008 at 04:29 AM.

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    Uncle Ray, there is only 1 single person here who still keeps claiming that the BN produces more recoil, while all empirical evidence points to the contrary. However, I will not insist anymore, so we will just have to agree to disagree. But your arguments do completely fail to convince me - and not only me.

    Sales talk from a 1880's catalogue most certainly help there... And I do like the argument Calgacus puts forward, that you could give a good logical explanation why straight cases (or BN's with a very sloping shoulder, for that matter) should actually produce more recoil.

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    Well, I did say I don't really believe shoulder width or angle makes a difference to recoil.

    There are a host of other factors which could be advanced in favour of one sort or another of case, for accuracy, consistency of burning, ease of reloading, case life, etc. One in favour of a short, wide case is that the powder is likely to ignite and burn with greater consistency. It wasn't as great in the days of black powder, which ignites easily, but it was known then, and becomes more compelling with smokeless. It would be hard to find a modern high-power benchrester using a case as elongated as a .243 Winchester, even. Another in favour of the straight case is that it is easier to load well. This one was truer in the days of simple hand reloading tools, but less so now that we have presses which withdraw a sizer button through the neck of a bottlenecked case on the reverse stroke.

    The quote from a King's Prize shooter refers to a match in which military ammunition was issued, and presumably he, as well as Stonehenge, were talking of the years when this would be coiled-brass. Other loading practices were also inferior, as recorded in Fremantle's "Book of the Rifle" of 1901, which describes the standards of the .303 loading shop as in striking contrast to the style of the boys who used to reload .577/.450 at Woolwich Arsenal.

    The original post referred to long range accuracy with the Martini-Henry or Sharps, and the most convincing answer is that the Martini with the facilities we now enjoy can be at least as good as the striker-fired Sharps-Borchardt, and superior to those with a heavy hammer. Different rifles and shooters do vary a lot, but if anyone finds the opposite, it won't be because of the recoil.
    Last edited by Calgacus; 10-13-2008 at 02:18 PM.

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    Sailor,

    Just a note here: Sharps never produced a 700 grain bullet for their .50 caliber rifles. Billy Dixon most likely used a paper patched 473 grain bullet which was the most common projectile used for the .50-100 at that time. The largest .50 bullet Sharps made was a 500 grain. The 700 grain bullet you are refering to is being used in todays reproductions with a fast 1-22 to 1-24 twists. The orignal Sharps .50-100 had a 1-34 twist barrel and would not stabilize a long 700 grain bullet.

    During the 1870's or early 1880's (can't remember the exact date) the U.S. military did some tests on straight walled case vs bottle necked case, necking down a .45-70 to .40 if I remember right. They found the bottle neck case produced about 2000 - 2400 lbs pressure inside the chamber than a straight walled case. Whether this would translate into more felt recoil or not I do not know.

    R,
    Beck

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