I am particularly interested in the types of rifles that troops serving in Africa would use, especially during the 1890's. Did they have any kind of repeating rifles, or were they still using single shot rifles? Any specific details would be appreciated.


They would have started the decade with Lee-Metford bolt-action 8-10 shot rifles and ended the decade with Lee-Enfield bolt-action 10 shot clip rifles. There were probably still some Martini-Henry level-action single shot rifles as well as their updated version being used at the time but the 1890s seems to be when the single shot rifle was phased out in favor of those with magazines.


From "The Modern Traveller", published 1898:

I never shall forget the way
That Blood upon this awful day
Preserved us all from death.
He stood upon a little mound,
Cast his lethargic eyes around,
And said beneath his breath :

"Whatever happens we have got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not."

He marked them in their rude advance,
He hushed their rebel cheers ;
With one extremely vulgar glance
He broke the Mutineers.
(I have a picture in my book
Of how he quelled them with a look.)
We shot and hanged a few, and then
The rest became devoted men.

More seriously, Wikipedia provides this account of the Battle of Omdurman, 2 September 1898
(my emphasis):

The battle began in the early morning, at around 6:00 a.m. After the clashes of the previous day, the 8,000 men under Osman Azrak advanced straight at the waiting British, quickly followed by about 8,000 of those waiting to the northwest, a mixed force of rifle- and spearmen. The British artillery opened fire at around 2750 m (about 1.7 miles), inflicting severe casualties on the Mahdist forces before they even came within range of the Maxim guns and volley fire. The frontal attack ended quickly, with around 4,000 Mahdist casualties; none of the attackers got closer than 50 m to the British trenches. A flanking move from the Ansar right was also checked, and there were bloody clashes on the opposite flank that scattered the Mahdist forces there.

Casualties are listed as:

British & allies:    47 dead,    382 wounded
Mahdist:         10,000 dead, 13,000 wounded; 5,000 captured

British weaponry at Omdurman consisted of

  1. 10 gunboats mounting 60 guns, howitzers and Maxims
  2. 9 batteries of field artillery mounting 64 guns, howitzers and Maxims
  3. Lee Metford and .303 Lee Enfield rifles capable of up to 10 rounds/minute in skilled hands with a range of 2800 yards

The Maxim guns were single-barrelled of various styles firing 600 rounds/minute.

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