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DateOriginal Topic
5th February 2005Martini MK IV
By ron
HI there,
can anyone tell me if the MK IV was issued to
British troops in South Africa.
6th February 2005Neil Aspinshaw
The Mark IV Martini Henry did not get issued until 1887.
The Mark II Martini Henry (1874-78) would have been the weopon of choice. It is possible some mark 1's were present, however the majority of these had been upgraded . I have seen some 1879 dated MkIII's however it is unlikely that they could have ever saw sevice in SA (zulu period) as that is the date they were manufactured.
The mark IV, had started life as the Enfield Martini mark I, at .402" calibre, and had a short lever like the marks I - III. However the introduction of another round saw the 68000 produced turned into the Mark IV M-H with a long lever and .450" calible barrel.
These were mostly introduced to colonial, Indian and Sudanese regiments. The latest being a consigment of ex-Indian MKIV being sent to Nepal in 1908.
My new website should be up and running by mid Feb, there is comparison photos and service timeframes. In the mean time check out Jason Madkins site, the link is on the RDVC homepage, it is excellent.
6th February 2005Barry Iacoppi N.Z.

To the best of my knowledge the MKIV was never issued to front line British troops so I doubt very much that any found their way to Africa with British troops. Most MKIVs went to the colonies with it would appear the majority going to India and Nepal. I’m sure that I have seen photos of British troops in Britain with the MKIV.
There issue in Britain would have been very limited as the first bolt action .303 rifle was taking the Martini Henrys place as fast as it could be produced. I also believe that the British army were never issued with the Martini Enfield. (The Martini with a replacement .303 barrel) and such conversions were a stop gap measure for the colonies while they waited at the end of the list for the new repeating rifles.
I have a real soft spot for the MKIV. My first shooting Martini Henry was a MKIV.
I still have and cherish it. She lacks the classic lines of the previous MKs but she is the ultimate new improved model.

Hope this helps.

6th February 2005Alan Critchley
the MK4 which I have, I was given in South Africa. It really just appeared and my brother bought it. It has all the WD markings etc. and is dated 1886. What do you think this means?
By the way, nice to meet up with you at the excellent NAM Zulu War event yesterday.

6th February 2005ron
Thanks for your replies chaps.
Just wondered whether there was really any benefit of the long lever over the short lever?
6th February 2005Adrian Whiting

Adding to Neil;s comments above. The Enfield Martini went into production in the 1887-8 production year (April 87 to March 88). In that and the following year over 64k were manufactured. Almost immediatley they were converted, in batches, to the Long Lever MkIV, Pattern C, then A, then B, back to A and finally B again !

The conversions were undertaken in the 1888 and 1889 production years. The object of the Long Lever was to aid extraction, which by and large it does - albeit, to my eye, it spoils the original lines of the design...

Alan, the component manufacturing process would have commenced before the assembly. It was the assembly which was counted as the "production". As a result there will be blocks, like the one you mention, where the manufacturing date is stamped into the side. This can give an artificial suggestion that the weapon was "made" before it was "produced", if you follow what I mean !


7th February 2005Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
One has to remember that the Martini in 577-45 also saw action in the Boer War. The Boers used them and no doubt the British may have issued them to their supporters out side of the regular army. Not the first choice for the Boers but they had to use what they could find. That some MKIVs ended up in Africa does not surprise me. Some may have been bought by Africans as economic big bore hunting rifles. MKIVs were never issued in New Zealand but there are plenty here.
7th February 2005Neil Aspinshaw
did the bayonet go on?, yes it was good to meet. I subsequently found a picture in Pakenhams "the Boer war" of civvies in Mafekeng armed with mark 4's during the seige.
7th February 2005ron
Hi there
wasn't the extraction problem cured by changing from rolled brass to drawn?
Or was this done after the introduction of the MKIV?
7th February 2005Neil Aspinshaw
Partly, it is only when you strip down the mark IV that the benefits of the longer lever are apparent. The extractor hook is operasted by the block depressing onto it. The flat bed of the mark IV extractor is approx 1/4" longer giving greater mechanical advantage on the pivot point.
Still having said that my mark II practically throws a drawn case over my shoulder, My mark IV leaves it still on the breech block. some improvement!.