View Full Version : Took out the Gahendra 577/450 yesterday

11-14-2010, 8:07 AM
I took this old warhorse out for a session yesterday at Metcalf. It is a Nepalese Gahendra, circa 1860-1870 sometime.


When I picked it up last year (off Craigslist, of all places) it was in a mess. Rusted bore, rusted internals, broken hammer that had been badly re-welded, broken hammer spur, rotten wood. At least it could be cocked and would hold the hammer back. And it had about a 20 lb trigger pull.

I fixed the hammer by carefully measuring and filing to fit the receiver, and I made a new hammer spur using a 6d nail. Then I scrubbed the bore out about ten times to get all the crud/rust/baby spiders out. It is now shinier on the lands, but the grooves are quite worn and pitted in places. I had to make a couple of retaining pins to hold the barrel to the stock also.

I stripped and cleaned the wood and filled in all the holes with wood filler that matched somewhat well. Then I oiled it with 4 coats of tung oil. It is not perfect, but it looks way better that it did originally.


It is a single shot, breech-loading rifle that is a precursor to the Martini-Henry action. Drop the lever, insert the round, close the lever, and fire.



The rounds are made using Jamison brass, with a 500 grain Lee .459 bullet (cast) and 80 grains black powder equivalent (Pyrodex). The cases get pretty dirty after firing. I drop them into a jar of water, detergent and mild vinegar mix to neutralize and get the powder off them.


Results were interesting. This was shot at 50 yards. The first 2-3 shots were very good, within a 2 inch group or less. Once the bore started to foul, the group spread out a bit to 4-5 inches. On the pic, most of the shots are about 10 o'clock of center target in a distinct group.


The rifle was a 100-150 yard minute of tribesman weapon (aka 'Savage' in British parlance, but they also used that term for anyone born outside of Greater London area). It was certainly effective for that purpose.

Felt recoil is stout, akin to a 12 gauge slug gun. After 5 rounds you really begin to notice it. The metal buttplate doesn't help things either.

Reloading time is fast. You can load, fire, eject, and reload in under 10 seconds easy, maybe even 5-6 seconds with practice.

Brass and dies for these guns are both expensive and hard to find. I lucked out and found a set of dies and some brass on one of the online forums for a reasonable price.

11-14-2010, 8:11 AM
Great rifle and story, thanks for sharing.

I love to see old guns repaired and fired.

Anubis Laughed
11-14-2010, 8:22 AM
Nice restoration on this rifle, it cleaned up very well.

I own three Martini-Henrys, but not a Gehendra. Now I've just got to get around to making some ammo for them....

Question: What is the wood/metal piece there in front of the ammunition?

11-14-2010, 8:38 AM
Irish, nice job getting that old war horse back to action!
Dealing with a pitted bore that leads up is a real PITA. Try lapping the bore with JB Bore paste, and using a hard cast bullet.
Have you tried IMR Trailboss powder yet?
Burns much cleaner than Pyrodex, and gives better results.
Edit to add: I was just visiting with forum member Egan, he has a set of dies he may part with.

11-14-2010, 8:42 AM
Awesome. I really want a Martini-Henry and I almost had it out of my head until I read this thread. Thanks!

11-14-2010, 9:07 AM
Very cool. :D

11-14-2010, 10:19 AM
TRAP55, I have actually tried Trailboss in this rifle and while it shot cleanly, the accuracy was terrible. 8 inch groups at 25 yards.

This rifle (at least my one) seems to really prefer decent loads of black powder in order to group reasonably well (for its age).

I will experiment with bullet weight to see what provides best accuracy here.

11-14-2010, 10:45 AM
Great rifle.......The photos don't do justice to the size of the round. These things look like artillery ammo, They are huge.

11-14-2010, 10:48 AM
Very nice! I shoot my MkIV MH with reformed 24 ga brass, 80 gr of RS pyrodex, a puff of kapok on top of the powder, a grease cookie of beeswax and olive oil for the fouling, a felt wad and a 480 gr .466 dia bullet. I have the same issue as you with fouling, after 5 rounds the group size double at 100 yds. I mop the bore out with a wet patch every 10 rounds.

I've read the metallurgy on some of the Nepal made rifles is pretty soft but then yours has been fired enough to wear the bore with lead bullets. That is a lot of rounds through the tube! Nice restoration job.

11-14-2010, 11:21 AM
Have you slugged the bore yet?
What are the bore and groove diameters?

You can lap the bore to clean the grooves up, and run paper patched bullets.
Have you considered this yet?


11-14-2010, 11:32 AM

Thanks for the tip. I did slug the bore, came out to about 456 using a soft lead ball. I didn't measure groove depth.

I know I could paper patch, but I don't want to put that much time into it.

I plan to run a JB-coated brush through the bore to clean it up some. I am hoping that leaves it nice and shiny thoroughout.

11-14-2010, 1:34 PM
Big Irishman-

To clarify -- the 'bore diameter' is the rifling land - to - rifling land measurement (smaller), the 'groove diameter' is the groove - to- groove diameter (bigger)

When you slug your barrel's bore, the slug will have grooves in it.
The measurement across those grooves is the 'bore diameter'
The big diameter of your slug (assuming that it's gotten full contact with the grooves) is your groove diameter.

If you're shooting cast bullets, you need to run a bullet that's over groove diameter by one to three thousandths of an inch, or you need to be running a bullet with a soft enough base to be able to expand to groove diameter as you fire the cartridge.
I haven't run this cartridge, but from what I recall this issue has come up for others.

Slug your chamber throat and neck area, or do a cerrosafe cast of your chamber.
know the relationship between that area and the groove diameter of your barrel.
This is important to properly loading for this rifle.
It's possible that you could get pretty good and fairly consistent accuracy from that rifle, AND ditch the fouling problem with properly fitting bullets.
With too-small-diameter bullets, you will at least run into rapid leading of the barrel, and poor accuracy.

Further -- on your plans to JB bore paste the bore -- you need a jag and tight patches oiled and prepared with the JB bore paste to get it to work.
You need tight and consistent pressure against the metal for the JB to do it's work.
A brush will scrub flaky crap and gunk out, but it will not get you the kind of pressure you need against the metal needed to get anything out of the JB bore compound.

Consider slugging that bore again, with bigger pure lead ball if needed in order to get a measurement of the groove diameter.
The groove diameter is the one you need to know in order to properly size your bullets.
Don't give up on thoughts of paper patching too, it's not nearly as difficult or time consuming as you might think - it's actually quite easy, and it might be just the ticket to get that rifle running right.


11-14-2010, 4:00 PM
Excellent restore, and it shoots well too! Does it kick much?

11-14-2010, 4:04 PM

Plug in your battery charger and see how much Ganges goo you can pull out of it.

Slugs look like they don't need the weapon to kill. Yikes.

11-14-2010, 7:46 PM
Question: What is the wood/metal piece there in front of the ammunition?

Not the OP, but that's an Opinel knife... I usually keep one in each of my vehicles. Great little cheap folder, with high-carbon steel blades that keep a great edge.

11-14-2010, 9:01 PM
kperry, yes it is a #10 Opinel. Great knife for cutting patches, cleaning swabs, etc.

11-15-2010, 12:18 PM
what an amazing project, hats off! how cool!

do you have one of these to put on the end?


11-15-2010, 4:12 PM
Thanks for sharing! It is interesting to see pics of such a rifle up close like that.

Is that still the 'Peabody Action?'

11-20-2010, 11:54 AM
Keep top accuracy by:

Go down to allan steel in Redwood city and get a piece of 3/8" teflon rod and drill/install a 8/32 threaded insert in the end. screw in a .45 plastic brush or jag.

Mix up 1 to 20 ballistol/water (water soluble cutting oil) and moisten patches and push thru every shot or 5 shots to keep fouling soft.

Antifreeze in same ratio also works well.

Proven out to 1000 yards with BPCR, works on muzzleloaders too.

11-20-2010, 12:02 PM
Frank, thanks for that tip re the ballistol, I will try it. I have a long flexible cleaning rod I run through every 5-10 rounds with a cleaning patch on a brush.

I believe this is a Peabody action.

11-20-2010, 8:04 PM
Thanks for sharing.
You've only made my interest in old firearms peak even more.
I admire those that can do what you did. Maybe someday I will be able to do that kind of work on an old rifle.

11-21-2010, 9:26 PM
Thanks for the kind words. I am just a newbie at antique firearm restoration.

You should see the work Frank (6mmintl) has done restoring old guns, his craftsmanship is amazing.

Thanks for sharing.
You've only made my interest in old firearms peak even more.
I admire those that can do what you did. Maybe someday I will be able to do that kind of work on an old rifle.