Brown Bess Musket

Contributed by Stephen Fletcher

The Brown Bess Flintlock Musket came in 3 sizes - Long Land pattern 1720 - 1760, Short land 1760 - 1790 and India Pattern 1790 - 1815. The barrel lengths were 46" 42" and 39" respectively. They were the weapon of the common soldier and as such won Great Britain it's empire. Soldiers would be drilled to load aim and fire 3 times a minute and this formidable weapon would have a 17" socket bayonet attached for the charge. As will be appreciated with bayonet attached the weapon would be over 6' in length. Smooth bore, this weapon would fire a ball of 3/4" diameter and whilst being inaccurate over any distance at close range the effect was devastating. Quotations such as lock, stock and barrel, keeping your powder dry and going off half cock all emanated from this time. The principle is simple. A ball and cartridge are inserted in the barrel and rammed home. The cock contains a flint which then strikes the frizzen which causes a spark which ignites the gunpowder in the pan (flash in the pan if powder is damp) activating via a small hole the charge in the barrel. Prior to 1764 the lock would be dated and the example shown is 1742 with a wooden ramrod

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1720 - 1815

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