This rifle is a combination of the Peabody and Martini systems, the former covering the mechanism for closing the breech and extracting .the cartridge shell, after the rifle has been fired, and the latter covering the device for igniting the cartridge. This rifle was adopted by the English and Turkish Governments, after long and exhausting trials in competition with all the prominent breech-loading rifles of the world. It endured the test of actual experience in war during the contest between Russia and Turkey, and obtained the highest reputation for solidity, accuracy, long range, and other desirable qualities of a military weapon. The official reports from the armies in the field, and the letters of army correspondents, unite in praise of the Turkish rifles. The parts composing the breech mechanism combine the greatest possible strength with simplicity of construction, and the system, in its present perfection, is the result of long and careful study to produce a rifle meeting all the requirements of military service. Its form is compact and graceful, and the symmetry of its lines is nowhere infringed upon by unseemly projections, which besides being offensive to the eye, are often prejudicial to the comfort of the soldier on the march or in the performance of its necessary manipulations. No movement of the barrel, or any other parts, except those immediately connected with the block, is required in the performance of any of its operations. These are performed in the simplest possible manner, and without in the least infringing upon the strength and durability of the rifle, which is equal, in these respects, to the best muzzle-loader. In the operation of loading, the whole movement of the block is made within the breech-frame or receiver the end of the block-lever falling but a short distance from the stock.
The block itself is a strong, substantial piece, and when in position for firing, is so firmly secured as to ensure its perfect safety, as has been repeatedly shown in the severe tests to which it has been subjected. The position of the block, when it is drawn down for loading, is such as to form an inclined plane, sloping toward the breech of the barrel, and the groove in its upper surface corresponding with the bore of the barrel, facilitates the entrance of the cartridge so that it slides easily into the chamber, without the necessity even of looking to see that it is properly inserted. The adoption of the coil main-spring in place of the common gun-lock mainspring, is considered a great improvement. It has been found that, in several instances, where the coil main-springs were broken, the defects were not noticed, and the springs compressed in the blocks worked as usual. Had such mishaps occurred to the old gun-lock mainsprings, the arm would have been rendered useless. The accuracy and range of this rifle are very remarkable. The system of rifling used is that known in England as the Henry. There are seven grooves, of peculiar shape, with a sharp twist (one turn in twenty inches). After a long series of experiments, with different kinds of rifling, the English Arms Commission finally decided upon this system as giving the most satisfactory results, both with regard to accuracy and range.
The manipulations for loading and firing are of the simplest kind : Throw down the block-lever with considerable force, pressing with the thumb of the right hand; insert the cartridge; and return the lever to its place, which raises the block to its proper position when the rifle is ready for firing. After firing, throw down the block-lever with force, and the empty cartridge shell is thrown out clear from the rifle, leaving the chamber ready for the insertion of another cartridge. This extraction of the cartridge shell is effected by the action of an elbow lever, which throws it out with unerring certainty, the instant the block-lever is lowered. This elbow lever derives its power simply from the action of the block itself, and cannot become deranged, as its action is not dependent upon any spring and is of such strength as to prevent the possibility of breakage or derangement by any service to which it can be subjected. If it is desired to preserve the cartridge shell for reloading, throw down the block-lever with a gentle movement, and it is drawn out into the groove of the block, from whence it can readily be taken by the person firing. See Martini-Henry Rifle and Peabody Rifle.
Farrow, Edward S. American Small Arms; a Veritable Encyclopedia of Knowledge for Sportsmen and Military Men. New York: Bradford, 1904. Print.
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