Martini Henry Blanks

Section for re-enactors and those interested in the re-enacting of Victoria's wars.

Martini Henry Blanks

Postby BShajari » 22 Mar 2013 15:22

Is there a good supplier for Martini Henry blank rounds for reenacting?

Brian
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Re: Martini Henry Blanks

Postby GrantRCanada » 22 Mar 2013 19:23

Well, someone on the BVMS (British Victorian Military Society) message board posted this which they got from Ten-X Ammunition -
We were able to make up some 577-450 Martini-Henry blanks by forming 24ga CBC brass shells. The price is $4.49 each and they are packaged 20 rounds per box. There are a limited number of those blanks left.

However, that is a very steep price for something you can make yourself, without any need for loading dies! (Of course, for a blank, all you need is some black powder, primers and suitable wadding which will not form a dangerous "projectile" - wadded up toilet paper or kleenex works fine. A simple rod and pin de-priming tool will easily punch out the spent primer, and a new primer can be seated into the primer pocket by simply placing it (cup up) on a good firm surface (an anvil is ideal), setting the empty cartridge case over it and tapping it down with a dowel or the like. Pour in your measured charge of black powder and tamp in the wadding.

Formed brass (from 24 gauge CBC brass shotgun shells, just like Ten-X used for their blanks) is available from this chap for only US$41.95 for a box of 25, postage included within the US - http://britishmilitariaforums.yuku.com/topic/15223/577450-MH-and-577-Snider-Unprimed-Cases
(I know Martyn personally, and have shot with him - he is a gentleman! The "testimonials" posted in this link speak for themselves.)

Believe it or not, it is even possible to produce a safe blank which actually looks like a complete cartridge, complete with bullet seated:
Image
(Not that this "look" - and the trouble to achieve it - is at all necessary in a single-shot rifle ..... but these are blanks I loaded for use in .45-75 (top) and .45 Colt (bottom) lever-action repeating rifles .... for which blanks for multiple shots must feed through the action, and thus must effectively duplicate the shape and dimensions of a loaded cartridge.) The method for making such blanks is detailed in this forum thread (and at the link mentioned within it) - http://www.cascity.com/forumhall/index.php/topic,43872.0.html

As you will read if you follow the link, this type of blank has been approved for blank firing "re-enactment" purposes by the Parks Canada "firearms safety police" - and so ought to pass muster anywhere! The "bullet" is formed of a tapered strip of rolled soda-pop carton cardboard, dipped in wax. When the blank is fired this "projectile" provides resistance (necessary so your shot goes "bang" rather than "woof") but then either blows apart completely within a short distance of the muzzle, or simply uncoils and drops to the ground within 10 or 15 feet.
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Re: Martini Henry Blanks

Postby BShajari » 24 Mar 2013 23:59

Thank you very much for the information! I actually have about 15 empty shells that I could use. I've never reloaded before and am very unfamiliar with it. I only know black powder from ACW and Texas Revolution reenacting but have military armorer training, so I could figure it out.

That being said, what kind of primer should I use? If I tap it in, won't it set off the primer? Should I use standard FFFg powder?

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Re: Martini Henry Blanks

Postby GrantRCanada » 25 Mar 2013 05:40

What primers to use will depend on what your empty cases are ......

Most recently produced drawn brass M-H cases (such as Jamison, Bertram, B.E.L.L.) and also the turned-from-solid-stock cases (such as N.D.F.S.) will use Large Rifle primers. Cases made up from 24 gauge brass shotgun hulls (Magtech, C.B.C.) nowadays use Large Pistol primers (although older brass of this type actually needed Berdan primers.) Some of the older British and European cases (e.g. Kynoch) were Berdan primed - difficult to get, and a pain to work with for reloading - but there is a method to convert such cases to use standard 209 shotgun primers.

If the primer sits flat on a rigid and smooth flat surface (e.g. a thick metal plate or top flat of an anvil) and the top of the primer cup is started into the slight chamfer of the primer pocket (which you can feel as you position the case on it) driving the case straight down simply pushes the primer up into the pocket, just as the flat plunger does on a loading press. It is pretty nearly impossible to set off a boxer primer under such circumstances - although it has happened to me (rarely) using both this method and in a loading press. Keep in mind that at the priming stage the case is empty, so all you get is a rather startling "bang" - there is not really any danger.

Just about any shooting grade of black powder available to you will work for blanks FFF or FF, preferably, but even F is OK, and FFFF would work also; Even though 4F is certainly not recommended as a propellant powder because it would likely develop excessively high pressures in most cases, there is much less resistance in a blank than a live cartridge loaded with a projectile .... so "high pressure" from a blank is not really going to be a problem.

I gather you are familiar with firing black powder blanks in other circumstances, so you will be aware of the higher levels of fouling to expect, resulting from inefficient combustion of the powder charge due to the relatively low resistance.
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Re: Martini Henry Blanks

Postby QSVC » 26 Mar 2013 11:53

Hello all,

Some great advice Grant, brilliant....We were using 3/4 length blanks for a while which we bought from a group in the US. Easy to reload but as the mouth of the case finished where the shoulder would be on a full length cartridge, prolonged use would burn out the chamber and throat of the rifling. Rather glad we stopped using those, but I do like the idea of the rolled cardboard dipped in wax, it looks great.

All the best,

Robert F
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Re: Martini Henry Blanks

Postby GrantRCanada » 26 Mar 2013 19:51

Robert:

Of course your "short" blanks actually were more in keeping with the official "universal" blank adopted for use in both the Snider-Enfield and Martini-Henry, but I can certainly see that extended use of such blanks in either type of rifle could result in throat erosion -

Image

Although the "coiled cardboard bullet" type of blank is needed to ensure feeding of rounds through many repeating rifles and is unnecessary for blanks used in a single shot rifle, they certainly do "look good", don't they! Making them is rather finicky and time-consuming compared to basic blanks having only a card or wad, so you'd have to decide if the extra effort is worth the added authenticity of appearance ..... (For one thing, they certainly look much better when visible in a bandolier.)

One thing I shall have to do is try that method for .303 blanks. It would certainly be impressive to be able to rip off a full ten rounds in my Magazine Lee-Enfield. As mentioned, I have done so with tubular magazine lever-action rifles, using rounds like those pictured above, and it does make for a most educational display when done to demonstrate the possible rate of fire compared with that of someone firing a single-shot rifle ....
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Re: Martini Henry Blanks

Postby BShajari » 01 Apr 2013 14:37

Thank you, gentlemen, for the information! I''ll make some this week and post my product.

Brian
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