Author Topic: Wild hair - 577/450  (Read 1176 times)

Offline Snake Oil

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Wild hair - 577/450
« on: November 09, 2023, 08:39:02 PM »
This stuff is so addicting... I love shooting, collecting, outfitting, and trying all that comes from this stuff... I found a uniform I like and am now trying to accessorize the uniform... a little bit of a flip from finding a firearm and tracking down the appropriate uniform.  The Buffalo Boarder patrol out of Britain would have had Martini Henry's if I'm not way off the mark.  The round would have been the now nearly extinct 577/450 which looks to be able to be formed from 24 gauge shotgun shells making the round much easier to acquire.  Has anyone had success in making this round?  What tools are essential?  Is this a terrible idea?
A day shooting is good for what ails ya!

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2023, 11:23:49 AM »
As many denizens of the Barracks know, i have often shot  :-Xthe .577/.450 Martini-Henry (as well as its predecessor, the .577 Snider-Enfield) in my forays into the wilds of the American West to uphold the honour of the British Empire at the GAF National Muster…



And the .577 Snider-Enfield and .577/.450 Martini-Henry are both robust - and truly “manly” - cartridges, as evidenced by this comparison to their little American cousin, the .45-70 US Govt cartridge x



Although I shoot solid-head drawn brass cases (mostly Jamison brass from back in the day when that now-defunct producer was in operation) both .577 and .577/.450 cases can indeed be formed from 24ga brass hulls.  .577 Snider is quite easy to do (involving only shortening the case snd sizing it down slightly) but forming the pronounced bottleneck of the .577/.450 case is rather more problematic, and many people report an alarming rate of failures in the re-forming process.  Considering the hit-or-miss availability of the 24ga hulls, I usually advise people to avoid the hassle and frustration of that forming process and, instead, get their brass already formed and ready to go from Martyn Robinson, of X-Ring Services in the Spokane, WA area.  Martyn is a delightful ex-pat British gentleman with whom I have had the pleasure of shooting quite a number of times over the years.  I’m not sure what his current price is per box of 25 cases re-formed to your desired caliber, but his prices have always been well worth it to avoid the headaches and attrition costs of trying to do it yourself …  He does not have a dedicated website, but more information is available here on his “pinned” posting in the Vendor’s Forum of British Militaria Forums - https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/britishmilitariaforums/577-450-m-h-and-577-snider-unprimed-cases-t16005.html

Martyn also sells bullet moulds, loading dies and other necessities, by the way …

One comment:  if you propose to use one of the more readily available Mark IV Martini-Henry rifles, that distinctly different-looking model was something of a late afterthought in the chronological development of British military rifles, and was never issued to British Regular troops … its use was limited to colonial (mostly Native) forces such as the Indian Army, and to a few Volunteeits units in the United Kingdom. Accordingly, for.the uniform you would wear to be historically accurate for the rifle, strictly speaking you’d need to limit it to that sort of unit …
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline Drydock

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2023, 07:07:48 PM »
I'm not familiar with that unit, but would not most patrols in this time period of Canadian history not have Sniders?
Civilize them with a Krag . . .

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #3 on: Today at 11:53:36 PM »

Offline Snake Oil

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2023, 06:33:37 AM »
Here is what I have found so far...

Picture attached (wrong hat, but a sharp look!)

The uniform of the BBG included a black pillbox cap, with a band of black braid on which a silver badge with a buffalo head on a wreath was mounted. The tunic was black cord with black velvet facings and white metal buttons with buffalo head and BBG title. The breeches were also black and were worn with black leather boots. The men were armed with Martini-Henry rifles and Webley revolvers.

https://www.1879zuluwar.com/t4150-buffalo-border-guard

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Isandlwana

https://www.stronghold-nation.com/history/ref/british-buffalo-border-guard-regiment

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.britishbattles.com/zulu-war/battle-of-isandlwana/%3famp

https://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armycampaigns/africancampaigns/zuluwar/zuluwar.htm

As a start...
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Offline Niederlander

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2023, 06:35:40 PM »
Black ought to be pretty comfortable in late June............Bring plenty of water!
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline Hair Trigger Jim

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2023, 06:57:53 PM »
If you wear it at the Grand Muster, Nebraska usually has plenty of wind to cool you off!   ;D

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2023, 08:03:56 PM »
I was going to comment about wearing black in the Nebraska summer heat, but Niederlander beat me to it …  ;D

I have discovered that the Natal volunteer forces, including the Buffalo Border Guard, did not use Martini-Henry rifles and carbines … rather, at the time of the Anglo-Zulu War they were armed with Swinburn-Henry arms … which did chamber the same .577/.450 cartridge, and were somewhat similar in appearance and operation - more so for the full-length rifles than the carbines.  However, the Swinburn-Henry was actually a different action, with a modified receiver shape and a large cocking lever (used to actually set the action to half-cock or full-cock) rather than the simple "cocking indicator" of the Martini-Henry action. 



As a mounted unit, the BBG were in fact armed with Swinburn-Henry carbines which (as can be noted from the above photo) were noticeably different from Martini-Henry carbines, including having checkering on the stock, longer barrels, a longer forestock without a nosecap, sling swivels, and provision for a knife bayonet.  Here is a Swinburne-Martini carbine (which actually bears a Natal Mounted Police mark and number just ahead of the receiver) -



Here is a crop from the relevant plate in Osprey Men-at-Arms No. 388 "Zulu War - Volunteers, Irregulars and Auxiliaries" together with the Plate Note relating to that part of the image and also the Notes for Plate 1, with the details regarding arms highlighted.  When I first looked at this image my first reaction was that the artist had done a quite inaccurate rendering of a Martini-Henry … neither rifle nor carbine … but as you can see from the above photos, it is in fact a pretty good representation of the correct Swinburn-Henry carbine -



[NOTE: the reference in these notes to a ".577" Swinburn-Henry carbine reflects a common error of "non-gun" folk, who see the full designation of the .577/.450 Martini-c cartridge and read it to mean that the firearm in question was .577 caliber.]

While I'm on a roll, as it were, here is a better photo of a Swinburn-Henry carbine knife bayonet and scabbard  -

Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2023, 08:05:30 PM »
If you wear it at the Grand Muster, Nebraska usually has plenty of wind to cool you off!   ;D

Well … up top it can be breezy enough, but down in the draws where the skirmishes are run it can be pretty sheltered ...
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2023, 11:19:15 PM »
I'm not familiar with that unit, but would not most patrols in this time period of Canadian history not have Sniders?

Chuck:  I'm wondering if you made that post thinking that the Buffalo Border Guard was Canadian - it was in fact a volunteer unit of the Natal colony of South Africa.

If, on the other hand, you were referring to the unit I was protraying in the photo in my post, that was, indeed, a Canadian Rifles unit (in that case, specifically badged to the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada … but the same uniform would have been worn by other Rifles Battalions.)

During the 1870's to 1890's, the primary-issue rifle of the Canadian Militia was indeed the Snider-Enfield, but Canada did have over 7,000 Martini-Henry rifles, which were actually issued to some units, primarily the full-time "Permanent Active Militia" (e.g. the "School of Infantry", the Regiment of Canadian Artillery, etc.).  Moreover, military (as well as civilian) competition shooting teams utilized the Martini-Henry, because it was the primary-issue military rifle of the British Army until 1888 - service rifle competitions (the primary shooting sport of the Britih Empire throughout the latter half of the 19th Century) were shot with it up until about 1890 or so. 

Here are a couple of photographs of members of Queen's Own Rifles shooting teams, all armed with the Martini-Henry -





Actual use of the Martini-Henry by Canadians in action is not unheard of … for example, although the Snider-Enfield was certainly the rifle primarily used by Canadian Militia during the 1885 North-West Rebellion, there mention in several period accounts that at least one squad of men were armed with Martini-Henry rifles during the Battle of Batoche … the mention of it in the report of Major-General Middleton, who commanded the entire force, unquestionably is the most authoritative of all:



 
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline Niederlander

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2023, 06:24:06 AM »
Great info, Jack!  I'd vote to let him use a Martini-Henry as a substitute for the Swinburn-Henry.  I'm sure those are just EVERYWHERE!
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline Snake Oil

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2023, 06:35:54 AM »
Last night as I was chasing down the many auctions for a Martini-Henry it dawned in me just how hot June was in Nebraska and hesitated a bit. It might end up more of an Atlantic Division thing, but I still have a few pennies to save up. As with all of our amazing combinations, the better the firearm condition the more pennies you need!!

Rattlesnake Jack, I appreciate your help on the research!  I was hoping you would chime in, your uniforms are always spot on and look so good!!

Looks like the Queen's Own Rifles shooting team may have had the same uniform... would that not still have been "military service"?

Looks like I need to track down where the three surviving BBG soldiers went after there BBG days and where else those uniforms were issued.  And somehow figure out how to cool Nebraska in June!! 😎
A day shooting is good for what ails ya!

Offline Drydock

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2023, 07:08:11 AM »
You got it Jack, I was thinking about a possible Canadian unit.  Once I saw "Natal" I realized my mistake!
Civilize them with a Krag . . .

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2023, 11:13:25 AM »
Snake Oil … one thing to keep in mind is that, when it is particularly hot/humid at Muster, few shooters actually compete in full uniform, “shirtsleeve order” being adopted/accepted for sheer survivability.  The earlier Grand Musters, happening as they did much later in the year did see us shooting through the stages/skirmishes in full uniform … even in snow, a time or two!


I do think that the competetive shooting activity of these chaps was part and parcel of their military service, and it was done in uniform.

The uniforms of “Rifles” units in British and Canadian service, for the most part, were dark green … think “Sharpe’s Rifles” … although they appear to be black in early photos, or even to the eye in certain lighting conditions. Only officers and NCO’s would wear the frogged type off “patrol jacket” which all ranks of the BBG and many other Natal volunteer units seem to have worn.
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline Snake Oil

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2023, 11:17:30 AM »
That looks like fun!!  Show would make that a very different experience!

Looks like pistol may be the bigger challenge than rifle or uniform!
A day shooting is good for what ails ya!

Offline Niederlander

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2023, 12:03:22 PM »
As I recall, it was twenty six degrees that morning.
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2023, 05:46:37 PM »
As I recall, it was twenty six degrees that morning.

Cold enough, that's for sure!  Here's Niederlander in the snow …



… and a pair of Texicans …



Folks got to use some kit they normally don't have to break out!

Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2023, 09:36:34 PM »
Here's a two-part 2012 article on Natal Volunteers and their Rifles, from the South African Military History Journal, which you may find of interest -

- http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol156wd.html

- http://samilitaryhistory.org/vol161wd.html
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline Pitspitr

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2024, 09:57:08 AM »
Fortunately, nobody got pictures of the Texicans making snow angels!  ::)
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Offline Trailrider

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2024, 01:02:45 PM »
Cold enough, that's for sure!  Here's Niederlander in the snow …



… and a pair of Texicans …



Folks got to use some kit they normally don't have to break out!
I can't find the picture anymore, but I've done that but with a muskrat fur hat, that I still use when the weather gets cold enough that I need to protect my ears.
Ride to the sound of the guns, but watch out for bushwhackers! Godspeed to all in harm's way in the defense of Freedom! God Bless America!

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Offline Baltimore Ed

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Re: Wild hair - 577/450
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2024, 04:28:09 PM »
The anniversary of Rorkes Drift 22-23 January 1879 is upon us once again. My only Martini is still the lowly .310 Cadet so I’ll have to use my 1866 musket with mounted bayonet to defend the mission outpost at Manns Harbor. Planning to use my Fosbury this year along with my MkIV.
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