Skip to comments.One Way to Retire an Old Rifle
Posted on 12/12/2010 8:12:54 PM PST by Pan_Yan
Earlier this year, as part of the tools of war series, At War published photographs of Taliban small arms from Helmand province, along with data on the types of firearms in insurgent use. The photographs included images of bolt-action rifles, including one, a Lee-Enfield rifle, that dated to 1915.
In spite of their advanced age, Lee-Enfield rifles, along with Soviet Mosin-Nagant bolt-action arms, have seen continued service in Afghanistan for two reasons: they offer greater range and accuracy than the assault rifles in more common circulation, and their ammunition remains available on Afghan black markets.
Many readers wrote with questions about that old Lee-Enfield. Some asked what else we might be seeing. Today we return to the collection with the publication of an even older rifle seized from the Taliban.
The rifle in question, also collected by Marines in Marja, is a standard-issue Martini-Henry rifle. The Martini-Henry predates the Lee-Enfield by a more than generation. It was first fielded in the 1870s and was carried by British colonial troops to far-flung corners of the world. Like the Lee-Enfield line, and like well-made infantry rifles generally, the Martini-Henry rifles proved sturdy and have lasted, when well-cared for, for more than a century.
C.J. Chivers/The New York Times
A Martini-Henry rifle, collected by Marines in Marja, Afghanistan, had fallen into neglect.
The factory stampings on a Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle made by the British in 1915.
(Excerpt) Read more at atwar.blogs.nytimes.com ...
Scream at the top of your lungs... have it arrested... egads !
Unless the Martini-Henry was rechambered for .303 (some were), it would be darn hard to get ammo for it! I saw some that was $139 for 20 rounds.
Back before I knew better, I gave away a Lee Enfield made in 1941 with a 4 digit serial number.
I have an Enfield that my grandfather might have carried in WW1, and it is the most accurate iron sighted military rifle I’ve ever shot. The .303 is a pretty hard hitting round too. Love it.
There’s a picture of one in a junkyard in Jabul at the article I linked in post #1. Lots of countires have left their military refuse in Afghanistan.
I had a Martini nice rifle,Single shot but I was a kid and they were cheap.
For lots ‘o info on old military bolt action rifles including Martini-Henrys, check here, especially the forum section:
Talk about a good movie plot. That rifle was probably carried by a British soldier from the UK to India to Afghanistan, then changed sides in battle. It was probably fired against the British, Indians, other Afghans, Soviets, the Northern Alliance and finally Americans. I’d bet it was buried under a few huts in between. Too bad it’s in such poor shape and probably got destroyed by our military. It deserves a good cleaning and retirement over a mantle somewhere.
I know an SF guy who’s done several tours in Afghanistan. He told me there are places so remote that when they went there the tribesmen thought they were Soviets. They never knew the Russians had left. Other places even further off the beaten path had never seen an outsider in the memory of anyone living. They had completely missed the events of the last 30 years—Russian invasion, Taliban, everything.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they were so isolated they knew nothing about the conflicts nor hitech before we arrived and afterwards were now addicted to computer games, bartering opium for X-Box’s.
I decided I had become a collector of these old bolt action rifles after I got a nearly new 1915 Swedish Mauser for $60 a couple years ago at garage sale, and had to reconfigure my gun safe to fit it in. Using just the iron sites and surplus ammo, I can hit a 300 yard gong 2 of 5 times with my 1934 Mosin Nagant, 03 Mark 1 Springfield, 1891 Argentine Mauser, 98 Mauser, etc. My Mosin Nagant has an especially smooth trigger pull, rivaling my M1A. I have a WW I era infantry manual that says the FMJ bullet from the 03 Springfield will penetrate a three foot oak plank at 200 yards. Trying to close with a company armed with a lot of these old rifles should not be a pleasant experience.
I am so sorry for your loss fso301. I can still see with my minds eye the picture of the Winchester M-1 carbine covered in factory wrapping and in its original box that the seller wanted $325 for. I try not to think of the many items on which I spent $325 or more on and are now in our city’s landfill.
No doubt that most people couldn't tell you what year that it was and besides having smokeless powder firearms, live like they have for the past 3000 years.
Make that Russian Mosin-Nagant rifles. They were first made in 1892, and some pre-Soviet ones are still in circulation.
That 6.5 x 55 might be the ultimate deer round. And the ultimate anti-personnel round, for that matter. Relatively low pressure and low recoil, and can reach way out there.
Interesting. I remember reading an article in a gun magazine back in the 1970s where the author stated that many tribesmen in Afghanistan were still using flintlocks at that time.
I really regret parting company with that Lee Enfield. As I recall, the serial number was in the 4,000 range. My younger brother and I bought it for $30 at a neighbors garage sale. Bore looked like brand new. A couple of years later, I bought out my brothers interest in it for $15. Years later, I gave it to my older brother. Recently I wondered if I might get it back so, I contacted him but he said he had given it away years ago.
See that green duct tape in the photo? Looks like ‘100 Mile an hour’ tape - Army issue. How did the Taliban get it? Makes me imagine our ‘friends’ there are funneling all sorts of supplies to them.
Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!
Those are beautiful weapons. I wonder how many times those triggers have been pulled.
My rifle is still covered in cosmoline from the 50’s or 60’s when the guy bought it. A couple years ago he just wanted the $60 he paid for it originally. I have bullets and new cases to reload for it and can hardly wait. It has a light and smooth trigger pull also. It also has a post front sight, which works a lot better for me. The blade sight bleeds into the bull and I have a hard time replicating the sight picture.
I could shoot straighter if I had scopes, but I just can't move away from original configuration. Vintage scopes are just too expensive when I want to save up for a mil spec scope for my M1A.
Lyudmila Pavlichenko was a Ukrainian Soviet sniper during World War II. Her recruiter urged her to become a nurse, but she insisted on becoming a soldier. Pavlichenko had a shooting certificate from a gun club in Kiev that she earned at age 14.
That reminds me of something else I try to forget. My dad bought a new Remington 1911 for $25, and not knowing I wanted it sold the pistol for $50, because he could double his money.
On the bright side, I guy at work convinced me in late 70’s to buy an M-1 Garand from the CMP for $125. I got a rebuilt rifle with a late production Winchester receiver and a beautiful walnut stock.
I think he said he paid about $250 for it. I wanted one.
Does that picture look reversed? Or maybe its a made-up Soviet propaganda pic?
The scope mount is on the same side as the bolt...I don’t recollect seeing anything like that. Also it appears that the bolt is missing from the back of the action by the thumbpiece.
Not that the Soviets would stage anything.... ;)
Interesting photo of the dashing Lyudmila.
Interesting. It appears the rifles were just a prop given to her for the photos.
On the second one you posted, she can’t even get a cheek-to-stock look for it, and the scope mount is still on the wrong side (I had to blow it up to see that - and it almost looks like there is a magazine protruding under her left wrist).
I’m something of a Mosin aficionado. If there is a scope mount like the one in the pictures, I’d like some more info about it from the experts on the forum.
Meanwhile, I appreciate you posting these pics.
If I understand correctly, Lyudmila survived the war and thought young Vasily had been killed. It wasn’t until about the 1960s that she read something about him and realized he was still alive. Fascinating story of the snipers and their tools.
She’s kinda hot, but if she’s mad at me, I think I would stay at least a mile away from her.
The “ghost ring” aperture sights on the Mark Four Lee-Enfield have to be among the best iron sights ever put on a rifle.
Did they think he was the reincarnated Alexander?
re: “The Man who would be King”.
Well...maybe two miles, just to be sure. Maybe three miles....
One Way to Retire an Old Rifle
Uh, send it to me.
I’ll clean it up and mount it over the fireplace.
Maybe that’s become an ancient and unknown practice in most of the
Obama sent it to “Captain Crunch”.
I am given to understand that the Afghans hand-built many different kinds of rifle, back to the Tonkin-Jazail. (CF Rudyard Kipling)
Lyudmila Pavlichenko: Not guilty at all.
There are many places in Afghanistan and Pakistan where few of the people have ever been so far as the next village. These people are more cut off from the outside world than those on the most remote Pacific island.
I have never been able to get past the idea that the Lee-Enfield just looks plane ugly to me. I have got maybe one or two places left in the safe, so will probably pass. I realize this is not a rational decision.
Oh, I never for a moment disputed the fact that the Lee-Enfield does not have the graceful looks of the Mauser family. Even the “sporterized” Lee-Enfields of the early twentieth-century have an awkward quality. I just love those rugged, ergonomic qualities and that rock-steady, glass-smooth action.
And like I said earlier, the aperture sight of the final variant is one of the best darn iron sights on any rifle anywhere.
The Afghan jezail was infamous for outranging the British musket in the First Afghan War.
Like I said, it is not rational. I have not even handled one.
I understand that rechambering the Martini-Henry was popular early in the century. I recall reading that the .450-577 cartridge had been considered and dropped by the Ordnance Dept. in favor of the .45-70 as the Martini-Henry round was judged to be an overpowered shoulder-beater.
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