I decided to bring this antique rifle into the office and show it to some of the keener military historians at Osprey. It is my fathers and was given to him by a British army soldier who had recently served in Afghanistan. It had been bought at a 'reputable' antique rifle dealer on the so-called 'chicken street' in Kabul. The story goes that 4000 Martini Henry's and 4000 Snider-Enfield percussion rifles were sent out to Afghanistan in the late 19th Century. Most of them were either not used in combat or were left behind by the British when they pulled back to India.

The Martini Henry is an interesting weapon and was really made popular at Rorke's Drift. The weapon was very powerful and accurate over a much longer range than its predecessors, but it had a number of well-publicised failings - it had a severe kick, it tended to overheat quickly and to foul easily. Its most dangerous failing, however, was the tendency for the thin brass cartridge to jam in the breech when being extracted - not very pleasant for a soldier in contact with the enemy!

I can only imagine that there will soon be a lot of these rifles appearing in antique shops and militaria fairs across the country as more British soldiers return home. There is a price tag to go with them, however, I think it would probably be worth paying that little bit extra in the UK than having to walk down 'chicken street' in Kabul to purchase one!