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conversion trapdoor breech. The Snider was a simple P1853 rifle with a hinged breech to take a .577” centre fire cartridge. The hammer drove a central rod, contained in the Snider block, which in turn exploded the primer. It was effective and very popular, albeit being a simple stopgap.

The Snider .577 Rifle

In order to select the next generation of military rifles, the British War office held a prize competition in 1867 to select from various designers a weapon that utilised a smaller, higher velocity projectile than the .577” snider. The trials were to take place within the next two years, with an ultimate winner to be announced in 1869.

The resultant competition saw various well know names in gun manufacture offer prototypes for consideration, entrants were Messrs Peabody, Henry, Fosbery, Albibi/Brendalin, Burton, Martini, Joslyn and Remington. However the resulting test proved inconclusive with no particular rifle achieving the desired performance criteria. Two examples however had stood out, but each rifle had its shortcomings. It was only when the best attributes of each design were put together that a simple and effective rifle was born.

The favoured action was that of Frederich Martini, (1833-1897) a Swiss gun maker of Hungarian origin. Martinis’ action was a simple falling block action. Martini had been accused, (quite rightly in reality), of improving and re-engineering the American Peabody falling block mechanism.  Martini had devised a block that held an enclosed striker. The action of the under lever dropped the block, cocked the mechanism and ejected the spent round in one action. His selected cartridge was a .450” calibre Boxer brass round very similar in design to the American 45/70. The designation was to be the long chamber Martini .

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