Hi from Auckland NZ. Thought I would garner some thoughts on a recent acquisition.
I have been given the long-term care and use of a BSA Martini Action Cadet single shot rifle. It has been re-chambered and, I believe, re-barreled in 32-20 WCF. It has some issues.
First the barrel. It is stamped 32-20 on the side. It has a significant bulge just behind the front sight. The bore looks shiny and mint, like it has done little work. I called my gunsmith and sounded him out about cutting the barrel down and re-positioning the front sight accordingly - would loose about 8cm of barrel length. No problem he said, but its probably an original barrel with just the chamber converted to 32-20, as apparently was done to many. I have got hold of some brass, projectiles and dies for 32-20. Including some gas checked 120gn cast bullets at .313 and some Hornady 90 gn SWC at .314. Either bullet would have to be driven hardish to enter the muzzle end of the barrel so I'm thinking it is actually a re-barreled action with the barrel at .312. Which would be nice. I understand that if it was the original barrel it would be sized for a .324 projectile in which case the .313 dia would drop right in there - right? Anyway, I'm taking it out to him on Monday.
In the meantime I ran up some gentle test loads in fours with each of the projectiles using data for AP70N (for the 120gn) and Titegroup (for the 90gn). The few cases came to me with the rifle, primed probably some 30 yrs ago, so, not knowing their provenance, I full length resized and reprimed them with Federal 205 SRP. I'm used to reloading .22 Hornet so had no issues with producing some nice looking rounds from delicate brass. Crimped with a Lee Factory Crimp die for a firm but not brutal hold. Then I went to test chamber them.
I have no prior experience of Martini Actions but it doesn't take much to see that with the action open, the round should slide nicely down the ramp, into the chamber and then, with the leaver closing the action the two lugs come up behind the case head to lock it firmly in place and the ramp rises to it's closed position, ready for firing. Anyway, that's how it looks to me but I may have you rolling on the floor by now. What actually happens is these two lugs stand up proud of the ramp when the action is fully open and there is no way apparent to me that the round can be slid over them into the chamber. I can get it in about 3/4 of the way then it jams up. It is not a COL issue, the projectile point is not hitting the rifling. Moreover the 90gn SWC has a somewhat shorter COL than the 120gn FP but jams at exactly the same point. Just can't get the round past the two upstanding lugs. Maybe some damage happened to the action when the barrel got bulged....
On the outside of the action, right-hand side there is a small lever that feels to have some spring tension under it when moved. David, the gunsmith says this is a cocking indicator, however, while it can be manually turned from vertical to rearwards almost completely around and back again it does not otherwise do anything.
Yes, the action cocks and fires with a good solid click of the firing pin. Anyway I guess David will sort it all out when I get it to him, if it turns out to be worth sorting.
In the meantime some quick questions for the experienced and knowledgeable. The owner of the gun, on hearing about the bulge, first suggested re-barreling it to say 25-20 or .218 Bee. Assuming there is nothing drastically wrong with the action, and that the barrel is indeed a 32-20, and given the good condition of the bore apart from the bulge, I would like to keep it as 32-20. If put into safe working condition it would be used to train any of the 8 grandchilden interested enough, eldest of who are about to turn 13. Not just in shooting but also reloading. We have access to plenty of feral goats as well as rabbits and hares. If it was to be converted what would you convert it too - there are many options? Thoughts? Opinions? recommendations? Is it worth the conversion cost? Cheers
PS, I should explain, the gun's owner has never fired it. Bought it at a firearms show trading table more than 30 years ago with some other stuff in a weak moment and it has lived in the back of a safe ever since. Had no idea the barrel was bulged lol.
John - New Zealand