Khyber Pass Martini Pistol at RIA (Video)

The Khyber Pass is a well known center of arms production, with gunmaking there going back at least 100 years. The quality of craftsmanship varies greatly, from excellent and safe weapons to thoroughly unsafe guns made with little more than hand files and drills. In the last decade or so, much of the production has centered around making guns for sale to Western soldiers to take home as souvenirs. Since antique guns can generally be imported to places like the US and UK with minimal paperwork, gunsmiths build copies of the arms used by the British in their last occupation of Afghanistan – Martini Henrys. This particular one is a .303 caliber pistol, adorned extensively with decorations and with a laughably crude copy of British service markings. If you would to own it, you can bid on it at Rock Island on Sunday the 22nd.


  1. I’m trying to imagine the recoil of a 0.303in handgun. Probably in the class of a Contender firing .308 Winchester, would be my guess.

    The Webley “.45” looks interesting, too. Since it’s not listed as a .455, may I assume it’s one that was rechambered to .45 ACP/Auto Rim back in the Fifties or Sixties?

    As for the Japanese Type 26, is there any relatively common cartridge it will safely operate with, or a case that can be used to reload for it? Barnes doesn’t even mention the round.



      • “As for the Japanese Type 26, is there any relatively common cartridge it will safely operate with, or a case that can be used to reload for it?”
        The .38 S&W has similar dimensions, however the pressure may be bigger in .38 S&W. The neck diameter is smaller for 9mm Jap revolver so the Type 26 may or may not accecpt .38 S&W brass.

        • I’ve been thinking .38 Colt centerfire “Cowboy Action Shooting” brass might work;

          I’m guessing that loads would have to be worked up very carefully. Ezell (Handguns of the World) describes the Japanese Type 1893 round as 9 x 22Rmm, 22mm case length, rimmed, straight-walled, OAL 29.5mm, 9.7gm (149-grain) RNL bullet, MV 195 m/s (640 f/s), and notes that the case is thin-rimmed.

          The .38 Long Colt is too long (25.2mm case), and the rim thickness of the Colt and virtually every other .38 blackpowder revolver round is too thick. Its closest analogue would seem to be the British 0.380in revolver round, which the .38 Short Colt was copied from, according to Barnes, but again, the rim is too thick.

          It might be a rim turn-down or even custom cartridge case proposition.



  2. Similar pistols were also made in Ottoman empire in late 19th century, in some parts (Albania, Macedonia) up the 1912. Some were chambered for rifle, some for pistol cartridges (11x36mm Gasser most often, but .450 Boxer, .44 Russian and .44 Henry RF) and some for shotshells (28g/32g usually).

  3. That is a very interesting pistol, and I agree that it would probably be a very bad idea to fire it. I have to wonder if the action was made using parts that were intended for (reproduction) M-H rifles, and the maker thought to try to see if there was some demand in the pistol market for a more portable souvenir.

    I suspect that the maker could not read English, and had no idea what the markings signified other than knowing they were present on other firearms. Of course in a lot of places in Asia, *any* well known brand name adds an aura of “quality” to an item, even if the article is known by the buyer to be an obvious fake and even if the seller openly admits that it’s a fake. So to a gun maker in Pakistan, the more “Enfields” there are on something the better it is.

    With regards to the “broad arrow” mark, I believe it’s more properly a “property” mark than a “proof” mark. It’s used to indicate the item is UK government property, and is/was used to mark many other items besides firearms.

    A “proof” mark of course means that a firearm has passed official “proof” testing, while a broad arrow mark implies no such thing.

  4. These were sold by a surplus dealer in Canada in the 60s.
    A while later some were selling them as “rare Howdah pistols made for British officers in India”.

  5. Interesting.

    The geometry used is the one patented by Greener for his Martini actioned shotguns.

    In the usual military Martini, and the various small Martini target and rook rifles, the pivot pin for the breech block lies well above the centre line of the bore.

    Greener patented the idea of re-boring the barrel socket of surplus military actions, to bring the centre line of the bore through the breech pivot pin.

    This allowed a 12 guage case to be fed – without any need for the feeding groove in the breech block to be enlarged. It also allowed for some degree of inspection of the bore from the breech end, and eased cleaning of the bore.

    The original martinis were a pain to inspect (a strategically placed thumb nail usually reflected enough light up the bore to get some sort of view.

    They were also a pain to clean and an even bigger pain to re-assemble if they were ever taken to bits. The Francotte system with the solid outer walls of the receiver and all of the action removable as an assemby, allowed for cleaning of the bore from the breech end, although the BSA target rifles usually had hideous sharp edges on the hole at the back of the receiver, and would shred a nice plastic covered Parker-Hale cleaning rod…

  6. Anyone know how much this pistol finally sold for on RIA? I’ve been on their site for a while now and can’t find the February 2015 auction to look up the realized price. I have one almost identical to this one and am considering selling it. Any help would be appreciated!

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