The Martini rifle has an interesting history. Martini is the abbreviated name for the Martini-Henry, a single shot, lever action rifle using an action Friedrich von Martini developed from the Peabody rifle. The barrel for the original Martini rifle was designed by Alexander Henry, had a 1:22 inch twist with seven grooves, hence the Martini-Henry name.
Four models of the Martini Henry rifle were produced. The Mark I, the MArk II, Mark III and Mark IV. The Mark I was first adopted by the British and entered service in 1871. The Mark IV ended production in 1889 and was still in service until the end of WW1.
The original Martini-Henry chambering was a rimmed cartridge similar to the .577/450 and was infamous for its heavy recoil. The large action Martini Henry rifles were used by the Australians from 1871 until the turn of the century, at first in .450 caliber and later in the .303 caliber service round. These military Martinis were very heavy, full sized rifles, too large and heavy for young cadets in the various militias of the time.
In 1910 the Australian government introduced a system of universal cadet training and issued what is now known as the .310 Martini Cadet rifle.
The Martini Cadet was made in the United Kingdom by both Greener and B.S.A. They were marked “Commonwealth of Australia” on the right side of the receiver and had a Kangaroo stamped on the rear.
The rifle was chambered for the .310 Greener, a small game and target centerfire cartridge similar to the Winchester 32-20. Following WWII, the Martini Cadets were sold to the civilian population and large numbers were sold in the United States. Quite a few of the rifles ended up being re-barrelled to more popular cartridges such as the 22 long rifle and the .22WRM and small game centerfire calibers like the . 22 Hornet and the .218 Bee. Despite the action being from the late 1800’s, the action in strong enough to support many of the smaller modern cartridges.