Martini henry patch colours

I’ve acquired two rolled-case .577/.450 rounds with unusual patch colours - blue and purple (definitely not red). Can anyone advise what these colours signify? These cartridges look standard in every other respect.

IIRC there was a thread recently ID;d the blue patch as an Australian cordite carbine load.

The purple is a post-Aug. 1880 Carbine Mk. III of English make. The blue is NOT a cordite nor a carbine load. These were made either by CAC Australia, or on contract by English firms. Does yours have any stamp marks on the outer primer ring? I have one with a single “broad arrow” or “crow’s foot” stamp; it’s weight is 767gr, well within tolerance for the Mk. III Rifle. A cordite loading would be lighter.

I have in my notes that this was the “Mk X Rifle” but I haven’t confirmed that designation.

There are so many inquiries about the various 577/450 patch colors, that I think another project should be in the making. Someone must be “THE” expert on this round. How about a list, once and for all, of the meaning of all the different patch colors that appear on this cartridge?

No, I am not volunteering - I don’t know squat about the 577/450. Am just suggesting it might be time for such a list. I assume that between all of the top collectors and students of ammunition that use this Forum, most of the colors can be identified. Is that a bad assumption? If too easy a project for just 577/450, perhaps it could include the Snider rounds as well.

Being an ignoramus regarding this cartridge, I would love to see such a list.

I am actually working on such, although it’s part of a much bigger book project. Depending on time, I could probably do something short(er) for the Journal. The book is several years out from being finished…

Dan - I was thinking of just a simple list of colors with a brief explanation of what the color signified (if for loading, a specific weapon, etc) and the era in use. An example, just for format:

Paper Patch Colors for .577/450 Boxer:

Chartreuse - armor-piercing incendiary self-destroying practice tracer for the
Ceylonese mini-carbine, c. 1890s.

I envisioned it as something primarily for the Forum, although I guess it could be put in the Journal too. I would favor the Forum with it first, though. You have taken on a lot already. I was hoping one of our British chaps would take this on. I would think among those who collect these rounds that the color of the paper patches is pretty basic and well-known. Not knowing anything about the round to speak of, I suppose I could be wrong, but I thought this would be a simple list for those “in the know” to make up and post here.

There really isn’t much to list. Almost all the MH Boxer Rifle variations used a white patch, with two exceptions: the blue-patched Australian version listed above, and the “Ball, Rifle, Mk I Cordite” made in India, which had black lines on the paper patch.

The Boxer carbine rounds are a little more complex. All of these used a 410gr bullet - the same one as the Mk IV Rifle round:

  1. Ball, Carbine, Mks I and II used a white (or tan) patch.
  2. Ball, Carbine, Mk III (Pre-Aug. 1880) - white paper patch with three slits, generally not visible.
  3. Ball, Carbine, Mk III (Post Aug. 1880) - red paper patch, which varies in color from red-orange to purple. The patch color seems to be insignificant, as a packet by J. J. Graham (undated) contained one purple patched and nine red-patched rounds (the length of which varied significantly).
  4. Ball, Carbine, Cordite (Indian Pattern): 410gr RN PPL, pink patch with black lines

I have heard of - but not laid eyeballs on - an English cordite carbine round with a Boxer case and green patch.

Solid-drawn cased rounds generally followed the same pattern: white for Rifle (or MG), red/purple for carbine (orange is also found), and green for cordite.

That’s the short version, LOL!

Dan - that’s great. It is more than we had before without having to find it step by step in two or three books. Now we have a quick, concise list that can be referenced in seconds! That’s what it is all about.

Hi Cyberwombat,
May not be of interest but I had a look at some of my rounds after reading your post, the only one I know the manufacture of is the third from bottom, next to the riot ball, it came out of a packet [string tied wrapper] marked Colonial Ammunition Co. New Zealand 1899 Mark 111
but the second from top has the remains of a "green patch ", tried to rub clean but stopped as wanted a little bit there as a reference
The riot ball 476, and the striped patch round are Indian and the Mark 1 476 has 476 over lined and a V with a long version of the broad arrow crossed.
Missed the first time, not sure hat happened, must have pressed the wrong button.

I’d be interested to know the headstamps of the top three solid-drawn cases if you’d oblige please? Great picture by the way!

Terry - nice lineup.

Here’s a small photo I have showing the range of colors that can be found on the MH Boxer carbine:

I need to dig into my MH drawer and take better photos!