Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter Sunday

As I write this it's Easter Sunday, and I've just got back from a morning out, and as I'm stumped as to what to write about I figured my trip would do.

I went shooting. Now to some of you this might not seem exotic, but in the UK we have rather stringent gun laws. To give you an idea, back many years when a teenager was regrettably murdered by some lowlife prat with a submachine gun, the then government decided, as usual, that it needed to appear to be doing something to deal with gun crime. However gun laws were so strict already their only answer was to ban air rifles...

Early this morning, however, I visited a nearby gun club, they even allowed me to shoot. As I was hanging around near the firing point one of the members offered me a gun to shoot, it was a Mosin Nagant carbine. Apart from a few .22's and some low powered air rifles many years ago this was going to be the first gun I fired.
First shock, no safety. Just a bolt, a trigger and that's pretty much it! As the barrel on the carbine is quite short, but its still the full sized round, it's got a hell of a bang on it, there was even a ball of flame shooting out the barrel. This was a big surprise and may have caused some giggling on my behalf.
Not me, I don't have a beard. Just a shot for showing the flash.

While myself and the nice bloke who'd lent me his Mosin Nagant to shoot were chatting he asked why I was interested in shooting. I mentioned you lot and that I do quite a bit of military history, and well the conversation went something like this:

Him: "Military history?" While reaching for a gun bag. "How well do you know the words to men of Harlech?"
Me: "!!!!!!!!"
Again, not me....
Yes, he had a Martini-Henry. Well he says it was a Martini-Henry I suspect it was actually a 60 pounder cannon, into which you load what look like Saturn V rockets. It weighed a ton, I'm not a small bloke, I regularly do archery and weightlifting but this thing was BIG.
This first shot left me crying with laughter into the stock. It caused a couple of other visitors to jump a mile when it fired. A massive cloud of smoke with bits of debris covered the firing point. Along with the distinct smell of sulphur, exactly like the smell you get if you eat too many hard-boiled eggs and then fart. That's the odd thing; the smell of gunpowder changed throughout the morning, but only the Martini-Henry had that sulphuric smell.

Compare, if you will, the Mosin Nagant round to the Martini-Henry round
Next my host pulled out a rather short cloth gun bag, I was curious as to its length, and about to get my next shock. It was an AK74 with a collapsible stock. Now the laws in the UK only allow single shot weapons. No semi-auto or full auto. This AK had been manufactured without gas parts and couldn't accept them, so was perfectly legal. Of course it meant that the bolt had to be viciously yanked backwards after each shot. Of all the weapons I fired that morning it was this that felt the easiest to handle.
The Mosin Nagant and AK74, that drainpipe you can see on the left of the picture is the Martini-Henry.
Well that's not strictly true. The other gun I used that was even easier to handle was a Czech CSA VZ.58 MARS in 5.56. Now bearing in mind the British laws this had gas parts, but is still legal. What happens is the bolt is locked back by the gas parts operation. Then when you pull the trigger the bolt is released. The net effect is it acts similar to a semi-auto, however you just need to pull the trigger a second time after firing your first shot, which is a bit of an odd feeling.

I also had a go with a Winchester, and that's quite a handy little rifle, one can see why they're so popular, I think in part it was down to the pistol rounds the one I was using shot. You could easily see how you could get a blistering rate of fire out of it. One interesting thing about the Winchester was it has a safety feature. It actually has a mechanical interlock. Once you've worked the lever to reload the rifle you have to pull the lever in tight to the stock otherwise the gun will not fire.
The other collection I fired. From the left, Winchester, two guns I didn't fire, VZ.58 and finally Mjölnir in rifle form the Lee-Enfield. I suspect that's actually what the "M" stands for in SMLE...
Then finally, the main reason why I have thought about shooting. Someone got out a SMLE No.4. While the .303's were being loaded, they looked so puny for such a legendary rifle. But the rifle itself... it felt like you were aiming something the size of the titanic and it had a kick that was unbelievable. It felt almost as heavy and with a high a recoil as the Martini-Henry. Of course it lacked the latter's cloud of dense smelly smoke. By this point of proceedings I had a very badly bruised shoulder, and well the power of the Lee Enfield caused its barrel to skip out of the rest, it was almost a bit to much for me to handle that first time, as I wasn't used to what it was going to do. One thing I did notice, that might have been a result of me loading off handed, was the bolt had a curious spring to it. As you push the bolt forwards there was a cushioned area where the bolt would spring back a bit, which you had to force forward before locking the bolt down wards, the Mosin Nagant had lacked this.

I'm sold, I'm aiming to go back!


  1. Glad you enjoyed your first shooting experience. Fyi, the spring back you describe in the Lee-Enfield is how the firing pin is cocked for the next shot. The last bit of bolt travel is compressing the striker spring. In the Mosin (and others like Mauser 98) the striker spring is compressed when you lift the bolt handle up to unlock after firing.

    1. Thanks. I didn't know that piece of information.