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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have my fair share modern hunting rifles, they shoot accurately and I have put a lot of meat on the table and horns on the wall with them. They are a dream to shoot.

But these days I enjoy shooting the old guns. They can be a challenge to make shoot and thus a challenge to take game. That's the point, the challenge.

I recently acquired a Sporting Martini made for Rawbone in Cape Town. Rawbone was a Gunsmith for Greener before he went to Cape Town and opened his shop. When Rawbone sold out and left Cape Town in the 1860's Greener bought out Rawbone and carried on the business selling Greener's in South Africa under the Rawbone name. This gun very much looks like the Greener Martini's of the era. I believe this gun was made by Greener.

Making these old guns shoot is one thing, but studying them and their history is also fascinating.

Here is the gun.

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The gun as a 28 inch ribbed barrel. The barrel is very thin with a muzzle diameter of .670".

The gun is marked "ammunition 303"

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Check-out prior to shooting did not show any discrepancy's, it was even in head space for a Martini. No Go gap in a Martini is .010 compared to no go for a modern rifle .006.

I ASSumed this was a.303 British. (caps intended) When I fired the gun I got a rude awaking. The first shot was just fine. When I opened the action the case extracted and ejected over my shoulder onto the ground. I could see bullet hole in the target down range through the spotting scope. I loaded the second round and same results. The third round was different, smoke came rolling out of the action.

Opening the action slowly and extracting case I found a partially separated case head.. First impression most people have when they see this is excessive head space. Looking at the head of the case-pressure signs. This was a pressure incident, not head space.

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I checked my loads again and and did not find any issue there. I recalled reading the history of the development of .303 British cartridge, and thought I recalled something about problems with head separation. When I dug into my library I did indeed find that there were issues with head separation during the development. But more remarkable I found that the earliest development of the .303 British cartridge centered around the Swiss 7.5 Rubin cartridge. Early version of this cartridge used bullets of .304 diameter. The Swiss later settling on .308 diameter bullets. Looking at the proof and other marks on the is gun I was able put it in the range being made between 1890 and 1900. Te 303 development was around 1888.

The hole down a rifle barrel is the bore. In standard rifling there are lands and grooves. The lands being smaller in diameter than the groove. The British practice was to make guns with jigs and fixtures and verify dimensions with gauges. Land diameter can be measure with a plug gauge. Groove diameter was more difficult particularly with the propensity to make odd number grooves. The .303 British identified calibers by land dimensions as did we. But we are know that 30-30 and 30 M1 GI use .308 bullets. British did the same. Thus in the end pf the development the Brits used .311 bullets in 5 grooves for .303 British.

Knowing and revisiting this history of the cartridge and the gun I suspected my bore might the culprit. I slugged the bore and the major groove diameter was .304.

I ordered some .304 180 grain bullets from Hawk Bullets. When they arrived i load up a couple of test rounds and went to the range and fired them with no ill effects. Because these bullets were smaller, I also ordered and insert neck sizing die from CH4D.

This brings me up date and yesterdays trip to the range.

I had 20 rounds loaded up with starting loads for 180 grain bullets from the Sierra loading manual using IMR4064. IMR4064 is known to be pressure sensitive (Correction: temperature sensitive, not pressure sensitive. Although increase in temperature does result in increased pressure).

I started shooting holding front sight level in back sight, center of mass-front sight bead covering the bull. Range 100 yards under a covered firing line but the temperature was 90 degrees. I wasn't comfortable with my sight picture and after 3 rounds switched to 6 o'clock hold. Here is the first target.

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After shooting these three shots the barrel was to hot to touch.

I set the gun aside and let i cool . I helped the wife shoot her pistol.


After period of time I went back the gun to fire another group. I fired 5 shots. This time I used a 6 o'clock hold. I could see the sights alignment and sight picture much better.

Although I called shots 4 and 5 good, I saw in the spotting scope how they moved around the group.

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I suspect those last two shots were influenced by the temperature sensitivity of IMR 4064. The barrel was hot enough to cause the use of a middle range swear word when I touched it with my finger!

Also back in the olden days when I worked as a Gunsmith, I built ultralight hunting rifles. We learned very quickly to only test for three shot group particularly in hot weather. Once those pencil thin barrels heated up they would whip all over.

I have 12 rounds left over and when it cools off I will go back and test them. While these are not great targets. I do see potential.

It use to be that the Gun Rag guys would tell us that 4 inch groups with factory ammo in factory guns was adequate for hunting. I am not that far off here, and I can improve from here.

In any case, I still about 40 rounds for the .308 Norma Mag as a back up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
This gun has been slugged and groove is .304. Took a bit to measure because the rifling is odd number of grooves . Used and old millwright method and got it done. The rifling might also be metford and not enfield. I need to study the rifling real close.

The problem with loading manual loads is they were all worked up in climate controlled environments-72 degrees-indoor under ground labs. Another real temperature sensitive powder that works very well in .- is H-335. Developed some loads one winter for a big prairie hunt the following spring. Shot great on range 50-70 degrees. Blew primer out the cast at 90 degrees. These were mid table loads, only can imagine what might have happened with max loads.

I think I am going to go back to old school methods. I am going to go down the list powders and for each one I have, I will load five rounds of each powder and test fire.

As was the protocol of the era, this rifle is marked with its regulated load, 38 grains of Rifleite. Anyone got a pound of Rifleite to spare?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Rifleite was an early smokeless powder made from roughly 1890 to 1900,

You must be very carful with powders and only use as directed. One of the IMR's has warnings about increased pressures from using charges below minimum recommended.

Then there is chamber ringing. Oh my start a discussion on that subject. Lots of know nothing experts come of of the woodwork when that subject comes up. But Paul Vielle discovered cause and effect in the 1880's when he was developing the early smokeless. Ask those keyboard experts about Vielle and they have never heard of him. Some of those experts are very intelligent and knowledgeable folks. They are just not up on their history. The most current reference I can find in print about Vielle is Schwartz and Dell's book " the modern Schuetzen Rife" copyright 1999. Dell specifically working from a translation of Vielle paper tests and confirms Vielle theory. A fascinating read. I would have loved to have been Dell's neighbor. Prior to that the only reference I can find on Vielle is a translation of Vielle's work found in The Modern Shotgun" by Burrard first printed in 1932 and reprinted in 1952. Vielle discover that if an air space is left between bullet and powder, and a column of air is formed by using an over powder wad to hold the powder up in front of the flash-hole, then a pressure wave is formed at the base of the bullet, upon firing. That wave can cause a ring bulge or rupture. If the powder is allowed to slump and no column is formed then no pressure wave forms.

The history behind these guns is is so interesting

This old Martini I am playing with is steeped in history, that I am still learning. It is marked made for Rawbone, Cape Town.

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Rawbone had worked for Greener. He traveled to Cape Town and opened a shop and became a distributor of Greener arms in South Africa. Later Greener bought out Rawbone Cape Town and continued the business. Rawbone moved to Canada and carried on his business.

When the British first started developing the .303 Brit cartridge they worked with this Swiss Rubin cartridge which at that time used a.304 bullet. The Swiss later settled on .308 bullet for their e round. The Brits were using the .304 bullets to start in a Metford rifled bore. The early cordite loads wiped out the metford rifling and the brits move to enfield style five groove rifling.

This gun I am working with does not appear to be enfield rifled and has more groove than 5. It also has a very tight twist. The .303 Brit is one to ten inch twist and this barrel could be just that. The Brits were also working with 215 grain bullets.

I contacted Hawk Bullets and the will make me up some .304 diameter 215 grain round nose bullets, 50 for $47.50, minimum order 3 boxes.

Now I need to go hit the shower, wife sto leave at 8 to go to Minnesota to see our new great grandson. Truck is packed and ready to go. When I get back in 10 days maybe those bullets from Hawk will be hear.

Douglas
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Most of the gun rags are staff written these days, little to no freelance stuff. Very closed house. You need connections to get in the backdoor.

Besides what I write is not vogue. No plastics or box magazines. All to much of what appears in print these days read a lot like press releases or promotional ads. I understand don't offend the advertisers. I won't write like that.

Back in the late 70's early 80's I had several articles published on handgun silhouette shooting and Varmint hunting.

For the past 30 years my writing has been on the internet. I write about model cannons and the Martini Henry, especially shooting these old guns.

Perhaps my best work has been the research work I do. I do subject specific research. I primarily do this for writers. They have me dig out all the info I can find on a subject. I compile the material and submit it it with a synopsis or summary. From that the writer writes his story or book chapter. I enjoy this more than writing the article itself.

You know that list of "people I wish to thank" authors put in their books.. You will occasionally find my name there. One author recently only refered to me by user name. I think he was pissed at me because when I did peer review of His book. I found a syntax error that required editing the entire book. Something to do with a Roman numeral. Roman numeral XXIV may be pronounced twenty four. But when that numeral appears as an identifier it not correct to identify it as 24. People will be looking for an item marked 24 when they are actually marked XXIV.

Yes black powder is subject to the Vielle effect. Airspace by its self is not the culprit, the airspace in a column is bad. Powder laying in the bottom of the barrel is not a problem.

I don't use the black powder substitutes much anymore. Black powder is much better. The caution with the synthetics and crushing them is that their burn rate is change and that adversely affects pressure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I have acquired a wide varity of black powders over the years. Swiss is my current favorite. I have heard good things about Olde Enysford. I have some, but haven't used it yet.

I have nothing nice to say about Pyrodex. Triple 7 has worked pretty well for me. It was the powder I used to take my kudu. haven't bothered with the rest of the synthetics.

I tend to stick with historical type muzzle loading. I would love to take a deer with my .75 Cal EIC F musket or 69 cal fusil. I shoot 130 grains of Fg and ..730 round ball between two card wads in the musket.

It has been suggested elsewhere that I load up some black powder .303 loads to see if this martini will shoot them. The Brits did load blackpowder .303 as an interim cartridge. They had problems with development of the smokeless cartridges. The rifles and no ammo, so they loaded black. There is an interesting story about How they did that.

Metford rifling is intended for black powder. When cordite powder was used in metford rifling it quickly eroded the the throat.

I will find a load for this gun. That's half the fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This post is killing me. I want to be in the shop working on this. Instead I am 750 miles away on Minnesota seeing the new Great Grandson. He is neat little kid. Not new baby ugly. Good looking kid. The kid, smiles all the time, doesn't fuss a or cry. His Grampa does tournament fishing as a hobby and has got fishing poles covered. I need to dig in storage an find him something...Martini of course.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Congrats on the lil pup. You don’t seem to be of the great grandpa age bracket.
Flattery will get you every were. Last week we sitting with two of our daughters as they talked about their grandkids. Also last week we attend a planning session for the wife's high school school reunion, number 55. I was in the Marines, my issue rifle was an M14, we wore sateen utilities. I was a widower and my okie gal was a widow when we met. Counting what she had, and what I had, and what we have, we have a total of 88 years marriage all together. Yep well eligible for Great Grampa hood. Despite two artificial knees, fused back and a stent in my heart I can still chase the Okie Gal around the house-and sometimes remember what to do when I get lucky and catch her.

73 proud years I have, looking at 74.in a couple of months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sitting here researching Metford rifling. I am beyond convinced my two old guns have Metford rifling. Metford rifling is a polygonal rifling. One writer implies that Metford rifling is hammer forged. Make sense as it would be difficult to cut such rifling . This same writer also says he believe that metford rifling is tapered. His reasoning is to have a means to remove the mandrel, a taper mandrel would be easier to remove than a straight.

The SMLE started out as a Lee Metford before it became the Lee Enfield and them later the Short Magazine Lee Enfield. The LM had 5 groove rifling, my gun has 7 groove.

I am in Minnesota right now and about 50 Miles from Track of the Wolf. I may run by there tomorrow and pick some .32 cal lead round ball and do some slugging when I get home.

I am going to go through my powders and make up six test loads with each and see if there is one that stands out. I was reminded by a fella on Nitro Express forum that 3031 was thought to have been originally formulated for the .303. H4350 is supposed to have similar burn qualities to cordite. I have both powders.

I'll run through the powders I have then maybe try those specials order 215 grain bullets.

But, first it has to cool off!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I made a range trip yesterday. I brought three rifles to test fire. To better understand what I am working on here I suggest your refresh you memory by reading my earlier posts.

The primary gun for the trip was the Rawbone .303.

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I had 12 rounds of the 4064 loads left over from the earlier test.. I also loaded up five rounds of every powder have, that is listed for 180 grain bullets on the .303 Brit charts. I got the 4064 loads all fired. I also fired five Varget and five 3031 test rounds.

Range session also involved test firing a Hollis Martini in 450 Musket No.2 and a Greener Martini in 577/500 No.2 Express.

Range temperature was in the 60's yesterday no wind. I started out by putting 6 Redfield sight targets. There just wasn't enough contrast between sights and targets to do any kind of accuracy works so I put some B17 bullseye patch targets. That made a big difference.

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I started my test with the Rawbone .303 upper left target. After three shots, I checked the barrel and it was getting hot. I set the gun aside and shot my Issac Hollis Martini 450 Musket No.2 at the top center target. I then went back and fired 5 shots with Rawbone .303 in the top right target with loads using 3031 loads. The barrel did not seem to get as hot as with the 4064. I set the .303 down and let it cool. I picked up my Greener Martini in 577/500 No. 2 Express and fired it at the lower target. Finally I went back to the .303 and fired 5 more shots with Varget loads. I marked the target for RL15, but looking at the fired cases they were all marked Varget. (I write the type of powder on the side of the case with a fine sharpie when testing loads.) I then continued to shoot the left over 4064loads in three shot strings letting the gun cool between strings.

Something I notice waiting for the barrel to cool. Thin muzzle section would be cold while the chamber area remained hot to the touch. I have never notice that before. I don't think I ever noticed that before with modern steels.

I was blessed in my lifetime to have had three amazing mentors. MGYSGT Bill Hahn was my Pistol Coach when I was on the Marine Corps Base Combat Pistol team. He taught me basic and advanced pistol marksmanship. Bill had tried out for the 1956 Olympic pistol team in International rapid fire. After he retired he went on to become one of the founders and creators of Cowboy Action shooting. SA Ralph Himmelsbach taught me to be a Police Firearms Instructor qualifying me to teach at the State Academy. Ralph was the lead FBI investigator on the D.B. Cooper Case. Lt. Col Jim Rice was my professor at college. He not only taught me gunsmithing but he also coached me on the college High Power rifle team. He selected me to be part of the team to build the M-1 Garand that Lt. Col. Ken Erdman used in winning the 1983 National High power championship.

In my shooting these gentleman taught me the importance of calling my shoots. Where were the sights when the trigger broke, what did it feel like. The importance of doing this is really about concentration and focus . I shoot okay and I can call my shots pretty well. These fine men coupled this shot calling with target reading. Did you call a shot high and left, did you find the shot high and left on the target? Did your student hit low ans right about 4 o'clock? Are they jerking the trigger?

One thing these esteemed gentlemen did not teach me was the effects of aging. In fairness at age 74, I am older than these three were when they taught me. They had not yet experienced the effects of arthritic hands and fading eye sight when they were teaching me. My old hands get twitchy on the trigger or I can not focus on this sights properly, but it's better after cataract surgery.

These old guns I like to shot, tend have nasty hard to pull gritty triggers and some very fine sights. What effect does this have on my shots an sight alignment? Then these old British guns don't make it easier with their wide V blade rear sight and thin blade front sight. But that is part of the challenge in shooting them, that's the fun.

Here is the 4064 target, 12 rounds total.

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See that hole in the lower right corner on the 3R, jerk on a 8 lb gritty trigger and that is where your shot will ends up-this shot was called. That one in the black 6 o'clock in the 7 ring, anticipate the shoot and throw your shoulder into gun when you fire, that is were your shot will end up-also called. Those circled 9 shots are a group. Right were I called them. The vertical stringing perhaps from poor sight alignment. Our not getting the sights clearly aligned at 6 o'clock on the black but perhaps moving up or down on the black. Now that shot at 9 o'clock on the right target, I didn't see that one coming. I either bucked my shoulder back when I fired or did a whole hand jerk when I fired pulling the entire gun right.

Over all I am pleased with the results of 4064 in the gun, this load will hunt.

Here are the 5 shot test targets for 3031 and Varget. The one target is marked RL15. When I got back to the bench I found the loads I used were Varget.

I also test fired a black powder load for the Isaac Hollis 450 Musket No. 2-three rounds. You will notice 4 holes. Look real close at the double hole one is bigger than the other. That is from the 577/500. This is a good start for the Musket No. 2 I can work with this.

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Finally the Greener 577/500 No. 2 Express. This was three rounds cast 330 grain lead over 130 grains of FG black powder. This was the original loading for this cartridge. The shots are the larger of two holes in double shot in the upper right target, 6 o'clock at the bottom of the lower left target, and four inches below the word precision on the lower right target is the the third shot. I'll need to work with with this one, perhaps a faster burning powder- FFG or even FFFG. I do have a good load for this gun using 440 Woodleigh bullet and Varget.


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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Tentative plan right now is go back out to the range and fire the rest of the test loads. I am also going to test the 4064 loads at 200 yards. I think I have enough powder to do 40 rounds. I'll test 3 at 200.

I am also going to take the K15, 308 Norma Mag out for scope check. You guys didn't really believe I was just taking this old gun out to the deer stand and rely on it did you? The old gun will be limited to 100 yards right now. Anything further belongs to the K-15. That is unless this old gun shoots better group at 200 than at 100-pessimistc. I might try increments. Set the target at 150 and see what I get. If it is okay, then move to 200 yards. The k15 is every bit of a 500 yard gun. It would have to be dead calm standing broadside monster buck before I would take that shot how ever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I was out in the shop decapping the brass and noticed my trigger weights sitting in the corner. I grab them up and weighed the trigger pull of the old Martini. The trigger will hold 8-1/4 pounds and release at 8 1/2 pounds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Yes short, the actor wasn't getting paid and had other things to do. Videographer complained and said she wanted a some pause after she said fire. I have been told we will reshoot it to day. I have enough years of marriage experience to know when to say "yes dear" :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Had a great range session this morning. Tested three more powders and checked the 4064 loads at 200 yards.

First powder checked was Reloader 15.
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That way left shot was called "way left".

Next was IMR430
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Ho hum

Last IMR4895

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This group measure 3 inch by 2 inches. It use to be that a 4 inch group at 100 yards with factory ammo was consider acceptable for hunting. Modern rifle and modern ammo will shoot much better than that today. But this 130 year old single shot with Metford rifling and English style iron sights seems to meet that old 4 inch standard. This is a 100 yard gun!

All the 100 yard groups were shot 6 o'clock hold.

The main purpose of todays range session was to test the 4064 loads at 200 yards. I shot the three test loads first, but when I got those done the wind came with 10 to 15 mph gusts. The 200 yards groups sure showed the effect of that . Center of mass aim point.

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I should note here the estimated velocity of this 180 gr RN rounds is 2200 fps. Wind drift at 200 yards should be about 6 inches at 10 MPH and 12 inches at 20mph.

Since this gun shoots right of POA this left to right dispersion is about correct.

One thing I won't be doing is taking 200 yard shots with this gun.

I think I will load up some more IMR 4895. My current load is 38.8 grains. Sierra manual give me two more increments, 40.4 and 42 grs. I am going to load 5 of each and go back to the range.

I am already at max load on the IMR4064 loads.

I also am going do a figure of merit excel spread sheet on the 4064 and the 4895 load and come up with a sight correction.

Action video. Yes my sweet Lady Jane took some action video today and as soon as I get it edited and loaded to youtube I'll post it.

Oh one other thing. You guys who may have a concern about this BOF hunting with an inaccurate primitive gun, I did a scope check on the K-15 .308 Norma Mag that will go out hunting as the back up gun. Scoped hasn't moved in 30 years. 3 inches high at 100 yards.

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I'll let you ponder this for a bit. During the Victorian era the Brits used a system of measurement to determine accuracy called figure of merit.

W e use the center to center system to come up with MOA. Simple to nd easy to do. The problem with this is you could have a group of say nine shots all in cluster and one shoot a stray. That one shot would have a greater influence on the group size than the other 9. For example the 9 shots measure 1 inch but the 10th shot opens group up to 2 inches.

The Brits had a system that registered the coordinates of each shoot and a formula that determined the mathematical center of the group, and rated the total merit of each shot to its center. It was pretty complex and easy to understand why it passed out of favor.

Along come modern times and Excel spreadsheet. One of the fellows on British Militaria Forum took the figure of merit formula and plugged it into Excel and made it simple to use Figure of merit. All you need is the Figure of merit Spreadsheet, locate the coordinates and input each shoot and the spreadsheet give you all kinds useful information,

Here are the two Figure of merit Spreadsheets for 4064 and 4895.

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4895

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Lots of useful information in there. But the biggest take away for me is the sight correction. If you have been following this thread you may have noticed the groups are all right of the 6 o'clock point of aim. Looking the FoM sheet I need to move the rear sights to the left .027" to .031".

This afternoon I am going to do that and will try to get some photos showing how it is done on these old guns. Tomorrow I am headed to the range and we will see how successful I am.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
Karma?

Murphy's Law?

Practice what you preach?

So I went to the range yesterday and started test firing the 4895. Third shot a case head came out but the front half of the brass stayed in chamber.

Age old reloading rule and especially important with these old guns. Never use brass fired in one gun in another gun.

When I loaded this ammo up I had 19 cases. I grabbed one case for a box of fired brass-probably fired years ago in a SMLE. I decapped primed and neck size for the .304 diameter bullets. I had already marked the other 19 case with a sharpie. I didn't mark this one.

I do not know how many times over the past years I have given out this advice, do not switch brass from one gun to another. If the advice is good enough to give others, perhaps I should listen.

So far none the simple ways to remove the brass have worked. I can not find my cerro safe.

Just pulled the gun out the freezer that method did NOT work.

I guess I will just take the Isaac Hollis 450 WR Musket No. 2 hunting.

I'll order up some cerro safe and extract the case when I get back from hunting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
I cut off a piece wooden dowel. Mixed up some two part epoxy. Smeared the epoxy on one end of the dowel, Pushed the dowel in the broken case and pushed it all the way into shoulder. This morning pushed a cleaning rod down the bore to the case, Gave the rod a light thump and the case came flying out.

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I am ready to go hunting!

But first my Lady Jane says I must make the Sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving Dinner. Happy thanks giving everyone!
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Just as a follow up, I checked the interior of the the two previous fired cases with a paper clip and could find not indication of head separtion.

Oh and this morning I found my cerrosafe, right where I left it the last time I used it. Another rule violated, put things away when you are through using them.
 
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