I was selected to checker a very rare and unique Exposed Hammer Martini custom rifle. It's new owner had never seen one like it before, and in my 40+ years of tramping up and down gun show isles, neither had I!
The rifle is chambered for the British .360 Rimmed #5, obviously Brittish, something akin to our .38 special and .38 Colt cartridges. Original sighting equipment included a Beach Combination folding front sight and single folding leaf rear barrel sight. A flat, about 1/2" wide extending the entire length of the barrel, had originally been ground or milled off the top of the barrel. This entire flat had been engraved with a wavy line pattern, similar to the top of the raised matted ribs I have seen on some higher grade doubles. A Lyman tang sight has been recently added.
The action and related parts were color case hardened by Donald Menk at the Color Case Company in New Springfield, Ohio. The new stock set was made by Michael Allee at Gunsmithing Only in Mission, Kansas.
My task in this collaborative effort was to checker the wood. I was given only two constraints by my client. The first was that he wanted the checkering cut at 22 lpi. The second was that he wanted the exposed wood of the butt end between the heel and toe plates checkered too.
I chose to design a wrap-around multi-point pattern for this diminutive forend, which offered modest coverage.
For the butt stock, I chose to start the checkering pattern on the belly of the stock, almost midway between the end of the lower tang and the stock's toe. I then carried the pattern foreward and up onto both sides of the grip, making it a wrap-under pattern, if you will.
Note the small accent points near the flutes of the comb and at the end of the lower tang. These were added to compliment some of the smaller points on the forend pattern.
The end of the butt was checkered within a slim border cut along both sides of the butt and following the shape of the heel and toe plates. My Bench log shows that this checkering project took 15 hours to complete. The owner was very pleased with the outcome, and so was I!
For those of you who are interested in the inner workings, I can give you a teasing glimpse of what I could see with the wood removed. This action is about the same size as a Martini Cadet.
A large "V" spring mounted on the lower tang seemed to power the exposed hammer, the actuating lever and pivoting breechblock.
When the small lever at the end of the lower tang is pressed inward, it releases the main actuating lever which allows it to rapidly spring open, dropping the breechblock, cocking the exposed hammer and extracting any chambered case.
The action is closed by squeezing up on the actuating lever. This closes the breechblock and leaves the exposed hammer fully cocked. A small leaf spring in the end of the actuating lever engages the lower tang to hold the lever in it's closed position. The top surface of the exposed hammer is finely serrated and can easily and safely be put into a half-cocked position, as shown above, from where the hammer can be rapidly fully cocked, just as with any other exposed hammer mechanism.
I wish that I knew who had originally made this dandy little gem, but sadly, there was no indication of who the maker was anywhere on it, only some barrel and action proof marks. I also wish that I knew more about the inside workings of this gun as well, but since I did not specifically have the owner's permission to dissassemble it to find out more, I will remain forever curious!