M1874 Turkish Peabody-Martini: (types "A" and "B")
(Photo courtesy D. Goss)
M1874 Type A Turkish Peabody-Martini
(Photo courtesy D. Goss)
M1874 Type B Turkish Peabody-Martini
GENERALLY: The Ottoman Empire was one of the leading military nations during the mid to late 19th Century. And Ottoman Turkey remained a major military power, albeit with less and less influence over its previously vast holdings, into the 20th Century, until the empire's final breakup after arriving on the wrong side of the armistice table at the end of World War I. But throughout the 19th Century, although Turkey did not have the manufarturing capabilities to support an arms industry, she maintanied herself with modern arms through purchases in Europe. Large numbers of British Snider-Enfields (over 300,000) were bought from Britain, and Turkey approached Britain for the purchase of Martini-Henrys but was unable to do so. Thus Turkey bought Peabody-Martinis, more than 600,000 of them, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, from Providence Tool Company, USA, which owned the rights to the Peabody action. The specifications were that the rifle be an exact duplicate of the British Martini-Henry, which was the Mark I at the time. Thus, for example, the Turkish Peabody-Martini is fitted with a checkered buttplate - a feature found only on the British Mark I, and abandoned on all later British Martini-Henry Marks. The proper nomenclature really should be "Peabody-Martini-Henry" since the rifle is also fitted with Henry rifling. But then, that should be the proper nomenclature for the British rifle as well. For an in-depth treatment of the history of the Turkish Peabody-Martini rifle, see: The Turkish Connection - The Sage of the Peabody-Martini Rifle.
PHOTO: The rifles shown at top, above are an early pattern (Type A) M1874 Turkish Peabody-Martini. If you look closely you can distinguish the safety mechanism just forward of the trigger. The rifle pictured below is a later pattern (Type B). No safely, but with bayonet lug mounted on the forward barrel band.
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: At a glance, the Peabody-Martini is very difficult to distinguish from the British Martini-Henry Type I. They differ principally only in markings! And that is no accident, as noted above the Turks wanted exact copies of the British rifle. Both share the same receiver, Three sling swivels (front band, trigger guard and buttstock!) similar sights and rod. Markings, however, are significantly dfferent. The Turkish is marked on the left of the receiver with "PEABODY & MARTINI PATENTS, MAN'FED BY PROVIDENCE TOOL CO. PROV. R.I. U.S.A." and a Turkish serial number and Turkish crest on the right side of the receiver. The British Mark I is unmarked on the left side of the receiver and very distinctively marked with Crown, V.R., Enfield etc on the right side of the receiver. the most significant difference is that the Turkish rifle is chambered in it's own unique cartridge, the 11.3x59R, which is known in Britain and America as the .45 Turkish.
Turkish Peabody-Martinis were built in two distinct patterns, the early "Type A" and a later "Type B" variant. Noticable differences include:
Type A: (i) Fitted with safety; (ii) Brass breech block pivot pin secured with retaining screws, (iii) cleaning rod with sharp shoulder all around like British Mark I, and (iv) no bayonet lug, rather the Type A was fitted for a socket bayonet.
Type B: (i) No safety, (ii) split steel breech block pivot pin, no retaining screws, (iii) cammed rod like the British Mark II, and (iv) bayonet stud integral with front band so the rifle could mount a sabre bayonet.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: See The Turkish Connection - The Saga of the Peabody-Martini Rifle, by William O. Achtermeier, (Originally published in Man At Arms Magazine, Volume 1, Number 2, pp. 12-21, 5557, March/April 1979).
For more historical information, including the role of the Peabody-Martini at the battles at Plevna, please see M1866 Turkish Contract Winchester and see especially the link there to the article "The Plevna Delay", a exceptional article on Plevna and the tactics of the Turks under the brilliant Field Marshal Osman Pasha by Richard T. Trenk, Sr., Originally published in Man At Arms Magazine, Volume 19, Number Four, August, 1997.
(Photo courtesy D. Goss) - M1874 Type A Turkish Peabody-Martini action close-up
(Photo courtesy D. Goss) - M1874 Type B Turkish Peabody-Martini
Type A M1874 Turkish Peabody Martini, view of the left receiver wall
(the rifle is pointed to the left) with pin retaining screws removed.
See the conversion table below for translations of Turkish numbers.
Right side and left side of this Turkish Peabody's Rear Sight.
Above: The original Turkish markings: 100, 200, 300 & 400 meters.
Below: What I believe are later added markings
A distinctive charecteristic of the M1874 Type A Turkish Peabody-Martini is
it's checkered buttplate, virtually identical with the British Martini-Henry Type I.
Above: M1874 Turkish Peabody-Martini, safety is ON, rifle is cocked, ready to fire.
Below: M1874 Turkish Peabody-Martini, safety is OFF, rifle has been fired.
In Western denotation, this would be Serial Number 29276
A conversion table for Arabic-Turkish and Western numerals. First contract Peabody-Martini rifles range from 1 -- 200,000; second contract rifles range from 200,001 -- 500,000; and third contract rifles range from 500,001 to 600,000. Serial numbers over 600.000 appear on rifles which were manufactured to replace those that had been lost in 2 shipping accident.
Another example, different serial number. This one I believe to be Serial Number 217552
M1874 Turkish Peabody-Martini (Japanese Purchase)
In about 1880 some 9,000 Turkish Peabody-Martinis were purchased (in 2 lots) for use by the Japanese navy. These are believed to have been war booty forfeited to the Russians a the conclusion of the
Russo-Turkish war of (1878-9?) and shortly sold to the Japanese. The rifles were later conveyed to the Ministry of Education for use in Japanese (military?) schools. This one is so marked.
Right side of knoxform, just ahead of the receiver. Kanji translates as: "Meiji 13 Year Gun 1st Modification/Receipt" (Meiji 13 is the Western year 1880).
(Thank you to Chip Goddard for his guidance regarding the translations relating to this rifle.)
Top of Knoxform, just immediately ahead of receiver.
An abbreviated version of the Kanji for "Education Ministry"
Above and below: Two views of the same faint cartouche
It is the cartouch of a school; this rifle was a school
training rifle, but the cartouch is too feint for me to
Right side of knoxform, just ahead of the receiver.
Kanji translates as: "Meiji 15th Year (1882) Gun - 1st Receipt."
Compare this kanji (Japanese charecters) to that appearing on the other Japanese Turkish Peabody-Martini in this section.
(Thank yous yet one more time to Chip Goddard for his guidance regarding the translation relating to this rifle.)
Right buttstock caratouch. Looks like a styalized "A" but I have no clue. Anyone have any ideas?
Above: original Turkish Peabody rear sight marked in Turkish units Below: Japanese sight with Arabic style numerals overstriking the original Turkish markings.
Page built June 8, 1997
Revised May 27, 1999
Revised September 28, 1999
Revised January 7, 2001
Revised March 18, 2001
Updated: Nov 12, 2021