Martini Henry Artillery Carbine stock

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      Recently I acquired a Martini Henry Artillery artillery carbine (Mk II) the fore stock of which had been falling apart for some time and was only being held together with carpenter’s glue. As seen in another video, any attempt to fire the carbine usually resulted in the glue failing to withstand the recoil forces and pieces falling off.

      As shown at Martini Henry carbines came in several variations. No current manufacturer makes fore end stock wood for any version of the Martini Henry carbines. I did an Internet search and contacted several collector groups but I was not successful at finding the proper stock forend for my carbine. I decided that by using the remnants of the old forend as a pattern I could make my own replacement for the old broken one.

      While studying both the broken one and some other Martini Henry stocks I observed the cause of the wood splitting was a combination of extremely thin fore stock side walls (0.08″ or 2mm) being used as the only support for a barrel lug pin of 13/64″ diameter and the heavy recoil of the .577-450 cartridge. It was obvious that the British military had also realized the barrel lug attachment method of the Mark II MH action was a problem because in 1879 they approved a redesign so that the Mark III and Mark IV rifle actions used a totally different system of attaching the stock forend to the gun barrel.

      Essentially the problem was the shooter is holding the fore stock, when firing the gun and barrel recoil. The pin going through the barrel’s recoil lug strikes the wood of the stock. With steady use, over time, this widens the hole in the wood. In turn that gives the recoiling pin more room to increase it’s velocity as it recoils backwards. Eventually the wood will split along the grain line.

      I did some research and learned shooters of early African Express rifles intended for dangerous game ahd also experienced issues with the recoil lugs of their gun barrels sometimes causing their gun’s wood to fail. The modern method is to design a barrel lug with a flat square surface ahd seat it against an epoxy surface such as Brownells Acraglas. In order to do this with a Martini Henry I would have to modify the design of both the barrel recoil lug and also provide a stronger bearing surface than the original thin sidewalls of the fore stock wood. This would of course completely eliminate any need for a pin hole through the fore stock wood’s weakest point.

      This video shows my journey.

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