Q: I’ve just been given an old Martini with the small Cadet action chambered for the .300 Rook cartridge by the great grandson of an old English Army Colonel who brought it to Australia after World War I. The barrel is marked “Manton & Co, Gun Makers to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh KG, London and Calcutta.” What can you tell me about the history of this gun?
A: Manton was a well-known English gunmaker as far back as 1810. Duelling pistols made by Manton and his brother Joseph were highly prized by the English aristocracy. In 1869 the firm opened a branch in Calcutta, India, and five years later the name was changed to J. Manton & Son. The action of your rifle is, of course, a smaller version of the Martini-Enfield, one of the most famous single-shots ever made which was the standard British military rifle from 1871 until 1879. The small Martini was not only chambered for the .310 Cadet (.310 Greener) but a number of Sporting loads including the calibre you mention. Rook rounds including the .297/.250, .255, .300, .360 etc were popular for small game in Britain and were loaded for a number of different rifles and revolvers. Rook ammo is no longer available today and because of their odd configurations are difficult to make from other brass.