The Elegant .310 Martini Cadet
The milsurp stream is full of stylish military single shots, but no model approaches the sheer elegance of that little, delightful wand of a rifle we call the .310 Martini Cadet. Largely made between 1911-1913 by Birmingham Small Arms Co. (BSA) and to a lesser extent by W.W. Greener, the model was used for cadet marksmanship programs, especially in the Commonwealth of Australia. Imported from Australia in the 1950s and 1960s by American surplus arms dealers, thousands of Martini Cadets arrived on our shores and could be had for as little as $9.95 in their original .310 chambering.
Unfortunately, equally impressive quantities of .310 ammunition did not accompany the guns, so a lively trade developed in rechambering the cadets to .32-20 and .32 Special, as well as reboring them to .357 and .44 Magnum. This upped the price a bit, rechambered jobs fetching $15 to $20 and rebored guns, $30 or so. When the dealers still couldn’t unload them, they stripped the cadets for their small Martini actions. What followed was a decade or so of custom single-shot rifles being built around the little action in a variety of small game calibers ranging from the .17 Hornet and .222 Rimmed to the .44 Magnum.
This scaled down version of the Martini-Henry was originated by Francotte of Belgium and is often referred to as the Francotte Patent action. The design is significant because by removing a single split pin the complete internals of the action can be detached from the frame as a single unit. Anyone who has fussed with stripping and reassembling a large Martini-Henry action will appreciate the advantage of the Francotte system.
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