"THE MARTINI-HENRY RIFLE. Special interest attached at the present moment to a blue book on the Martini-Henry rifle and ammunition. We have here an "abstract of re- ports on the experimental Martini-Henry arms issued for trial in ] 868, together with the remarks of a special committee appointed to consider the same." The special committee consisted of Captain and Lieut. Colonel H. C. Fletcher, of the Scots Fusilier Guards, president; Captain R, W. Haig, R.A. Captain Trevor Chapman, inspector of musketry; Captain J. E. F. Aylmer, Lord Elcho, and E. Ross, Esq. Forms of report, consisting of a series of questions to which replies were to be sent in, accompanied the rifles, and the information thus obtained form the basis of the official publication. The first item relates to accidents." These prove to be very rare, and altogether of a minor character, none of them peculiar to this description of arm." The second question refers to difficulties of loading. Objections have arisen owing to the bending of the cartridges and the rucking- up of the paper. For these defects a remedy has already been provided by the provisional adoption of the short-chamber cartridge, which is stronger, and has no external covering of paper. The attention of the Superintendent of the Royal Laboratories will be called to the complaints that some of the base cups are too large. Occasionally a difficulty has been experienced in extracting the cartridge cases. This is attributed by the committee to defective cartridges, to slight variations in the size of the chambers of the rifles, and the form of the extractor, due to the arms having been made by hand and not by machinery, and finally to want of experience on the part of the men using the arms. An universal negative is Riven to the inquiry, Has the lever in any case been broken, or so bent as to impede the action ?" It has been urged that if the rifle were exposed to wet and dirt the breech would clog. The committee observe that this point was carefully tested in the competitive trials which preceded the re- commendation of the arm. The present trials support that recommendation, for although in some cases rust and dirt are observed, the effects are so slight that the breech action is not interfered with Replies to the sixth question tend to 3how that the coil spring is in many instances too weak, and that the substitution of stronger springs hag pre- vented the recurrence of misfires. In a few cases the springs were considered to become weaker by use but the committee believe this to be a mistake, and give their reasons for thinking so. So far as present experience goes, it does not appear that the circumstance of the stock of the rifle being in two parts has impaired its strength, though a more extended trial, or one of a special character, is advised in order to test the relative strength of whole and divided stocks. On the subject of the recoil the reports show a little discrepancy but the general conclusion seems to be that the recoil is not excessive. With the thumb placed across the head of the stock, "as per musketry directions," the rifleman is likely to get a smart blow on the nose." It seems pretty clear that the recoil is greater than that of the Snider, but inconvenience may be avoided by suitable and easy precautions. There is also a little diversity in the replies on the question of weight. Thus the Royal Engineers are said to find the rifle too heavy. One regiment of the Curragh reports that the arm is not too heavy for an ordinary man, but may be for some of the purity recruits now passed into the service." But upon- the whole the verdict is favorable, and the committee conclude that there is no practical objection to the weight of the arm on service." The position of the back sight is a particular in which the rifle seems open to improvement, and some changed contemplated. The sword bayonet is objected to in some cases on account of its weight; but in several instances it is highly approved, and the committee consider that this part of the equipment is satisfactorily received. The balance of opinion is also decidedly in favour of using the bayonet as a saw for cutting Wood, &c. For this purpose several regiments suggest the addition of more teeth," to which the committee see no objection. The committee, how- ever, recommend the trial of an experimental sword-bayonet of a construction "'submitted by Lord Elcho. The cleaning implement of the rifle, termed-the jag and protector, are found useful, hut W is recommended that the jag should be diminished. The muzzle stopper is also generally approved, and its introduction is considered desirable, according to the experimental pattern.
Question 17 inquires whether the ammunition has been found liable to become broken or damaged in transport, or when carried in men's pouches. The majority of the reports show that no such results have arisen; but in a few instances damage has resulted. The use of the short-chamber cartridge, it is believed, will be attended with ad- vantage in this respect. The adoption of this particular cartridge' will also facilitate the operations of loading and extracting. Several reports state that the present cartridge is "too long." One remarkably good result is shown in the fact that out of 137,308 rounds only seven ball cart- ridges were found to cut round the base. la two-i instances only have the caps given way. It is unfortunate that a great number of miss- fires have been reported in the trials of the Martini-Henry. In the face of several theories, the committee adhere to their opinion that these misfires are mainly caused by the weakness of the spiral springs as originally issued. The springs are not so strong as those approved by Mr. Martini who employed a spring of 40 lb., but who allowed that 33 lb. might answer. Mr. Martini finds that the springs issued in the two arms presented to him from1 Enfield were only 26 lb. It also appears that the springs of the 100 experimental arms were not so strong as those of the arms with which the original experiments' were made, on the success of which was based the recommendation that the rifle should be adopted, With regard to the indicator not sufficiently distinguishing whether the arm is cocked, the committee think this objection may equally apply to the difference between the full and half cock of an ordinary hammer. The position of the indicator, with reference to the breech-pin is said to be readily distinguishable, not only by sight, but by touch, a point of some importance at night. Two reports, one of which is from Her Majesty's ship Excellent, object that the rifle is too long, and the committee admit" there can be no doubt that for the naval service a shorter rifle would be preferable," and it is suggested that the length should be that of the arm used by the Rifle Brigade and 60th Rifles. From Portsmouth, the Inspector of Musketry for the South-West District makes the important statement that the rapidity of loading of the Martini- Henry is more than double that of the Snider The accuracy of shooting is stated by the same authority to be much greater" with the new arm than with the Snider and the allowance necessary for wind much less. Also", There seems no tendency to foul after continuous firing." is The manipulation of the breech action is easy, simple, and safe." The lock does not appear liable to injury from rough usage, wear, or weather." The Inspector of Musketry at Dublin thinks the accuracy of the rifle decidedly superior to that of the Snider at the longer but not at the shorter ranges." The superior rapidity and accuracy of the Martini-Henry are qualities generally admitted, and strong expressions of approval occur in many of the reports. When is it to be issued to the army."