Romanian Model 1879 Martini-Henry Rifles & Carbines By: Ian McCollum

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Following its experience in the Russo-Turkish War, the Romanian Army was quite impressed by the Martini-Henry rifle in Turkish service. Unlike so many Western observers who were taken by the Winchester repeating rifles that actually didn’t make much battlefield impact, the Romanians recognized the all-around quality of the Martini. So after the war when looking to equip their own newly independent army, they went to Britain for Martinis. They were not able to get rifles made in Britain, but did purchase a license to make the rifle in .45 Gatling, which they took to a factory in Witten, in the German state of Wurtemburg. This factory was newly opened, run in part by Friedrich von Martini himself – so what better place to get Martini rifles?

An initial contract for 60,000 rifles and 8,000 carbines was accepted by the factory and delivered fairly quickly. When the Romanians came back for more guns the factory had gone bankrupt, however. Subsequent orders were instead made form OEWG Steyr in Austria. In total, Romania acquired about 145,000 Martini long rifles and between 12,000 and 18,000 carbines. They were replaced by the Model 1893 Mannlicher in the 1890s, and thus were never used as a front-line rifle in any major combat. They served in World War One in a secondary role only.

Thanks to the King Ferdinand I Military Museum for giving me access to these examples and to A.N.C.A. for coordinating the visit! If you are in Bucharest, make sure to stop in and visit the museum:https://www.muzeulmilitar.ro/en/

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