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18 September 2014
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From Musket to Breech Loader

By Professor Richard Holmes
Image of the British Infantry in red coats with their rifles
British infantry, 18th century ©

Follow the evolution of the rifle - from musket to machine gun - and discover how the pikeman became today's modern soldier.

Character of an army

Tactics, the art of fighting battles and engagements, is in great part a reflection of the weapons in use at any one time, and it affects not simply what happens on the battlefield but the character of armies more generally.

' ... its bullets are spun by rifling to impact with greater accuracy.'

During the lifetime of the British army there have been various major changes, and one of the most significant was the development of the breech-loading infantry rifle. It is so called because its metallic cartridges are contained in a magazine below the breech, and its bullets are spun by rifling to impact with greater accuracy.

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