M1895? Westley Richards Improved Martini-Henry (Made for Z.A.R.)
(This Photo and bottom two this page courtesy of Ken Hallock)
GENERALLY: The M1895(?) Westley Richards-Martini was a result of orders by the South African Republic (ZAR, 'Zuid Afikaansche Republiek') placed with the Westly Richards firm while relations with Britain were still good. Apparently a sizeable order for such rifles had been placed but the Jamison Raid of 1896 shifted attention to a need for modern smokeless, repeating rifles and Mausers were ordered. The rifle is described by their manufacturers as "No. 2473 Westley Richards Improved Martini-Henry rifle with indicator in block and side screw." Quite a mouthfull but it does fully describe this rifle!
PHOTO: The rifle shown is a M1895 Westley Richards-Martini, manufactured 1896.
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: The rifles are marked "MADE SPECIALLY FOR Z.A.R." on the right side of the receiver, and Westly Richards below the Westley Richards trademark triangle on the left side. The top of the barrel is marked Westley Richards & Co and has the triangle and date within. The A. Francotte patented cocking indicator fits between the breech block and the right receiver wall and protrudes up to indicate a cocked rifle.
MISC NOTES: Walter suggests that no more than 10,000 were delivered due to political unrest and the anticipated delivery of more modern Mausers.
From a wonderful correspondent:
Subj: British Blackpowder Military Rifles
Date: 99-09-16 08:23:48 EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (John Baines)
Re your South African Westley Richards built Martini:
As you quite rightly say, this is a contract weapon, built by Westley Richards for the ZAR. It's major variation from the standard military rifle is that it uses the Francotte patent breech mechanism, which incorporates an unusual feature not found on the standard Martinis, this being that the action can be removed, in one piece, by extracting the single large headed locking screw at the front of the action, rather than the block hinge pin, cocking indicator, and headless screw of the standard Martini actions. This neccessitates the repositioning of the visible cocking indicator from the right hand action side. On the Francotte action it protrudes through a rebate on the top right hand side of the falling block. The reason for the supply of this action, rather than the standard Martini to ZAR, was probably to facilitate easier removal for cleaning of the entire action in the often extremely dusty climate of South Africa.
The Crowned AF of the firm of August Francotte. The ZAR Westely
Richards rifles were manufactured by Francotte in Liege, Belgium.
Page first built January 24, 1999
Revised February 16, 1999
Revised April 16, 1999
Revised September 26, 1999
Updated: Nov 7, 2021