Quantcast

Best 18th Century Military Flintlock Musket

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

FlinterNick

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
394
Is it the Brown Bess, Charleville, Prussian 1740? There’s almost too many to name, many underdogs on the list.
 

FlinterNick

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
394
Hi,
It would be hard to argue against the French models of 1763 and later as the most technically superior muskets of the 18th century. The Brown Bess, all patterns, wins the beauty contest by a long shot.

dave
I agree Dave, the French designs were from 1763 and on were very good, especially when considering the weight of the gun and ability to repair it.

lately I’ve done some research on pre-1763 French Muskets, they had lots of character but many flaws that rendered them very delicate for military use.

I think my favorite Brown Brown Bess is actually one of the sub patterns, the light infantry fusil.

I think an underdog is the 1752 Spanish infantry Musket, supposedly it had one of the most reliable locks.
 

Grenadier1758

Cannon
Joined
Oct 9, 2004
Messages
6,346
Reaction score
3,138
Location
St. Louis, MO
Its really kind of a toss up. While I have a bit of prejudice for the King's Pattern, I can see advantages inherent to the French Model of 1763. Ultimately, the fledgling United States chose the French 1763 for the US 1795 musket over the various King's Pattern muskets used in the War for Independence. As @FlinterNick has stated, the French 1763 is lighter, uses a lighter ball, is easy to repair and functionally sound. So one a comparison the Bess might have a edge on the battlefield with the larger ball and slight ease in reloading due to its larger size, on a musket to musket comparison, being lighter would make the 1763 the soldier's choice.
 

Flanders

36 Cl.
Joined
Jul 12, 2019
Messages
62
Reaction score
34
I’d say for most soldiers, the musket they had in hand , that functioned well, during combat was the best one , no matter the make and model.
 

FlinterNick

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
394
Its really kind of a toss up. While I have a bit of prejudice for the King's Pattern, I can see advantages inherent to the French Model of 1763. Ultimately, the fledgling United States chose the French 1763 for the US 1795 musket over the various King's Pattern muskets used in the War for Independence. As @FlinterNick has stated, the French 1763 is lighter, uses a lighter ball, is easy to repair and functionally sound. So one a comparison the Bess might have a edge on the battlefield with the larger ball and slight ease in reloading due to its larger size, on a musket to musket comparison, being lighter would make the 1763 the soldier's choice.
one thing about the Brown Bess that I think is an advantage on the field is production time. The British were masters at producing this gun in large quantities. With the HUD and EIC and Tower the British had a great system of providing for arms.

The French relied on mostly 3 factories in France, so getting those reliable arms to troops overseas to defend colonies etc.

The caliber was always an advantage of the Bess in the field, and a very broken down bess could still be used. The Charleville On the other hand needed to be cleaned a little more often.
 

FlinterNick

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
394
Its really kind of a toss up. While I have a bit of prejudice for the King's Pattern, I can see advantages inherent to the French Model of 1763. Ultimately, the fledgling United States chose the French 1763 for the US 1795 musket over the various King's Pattern muskets used in the War for Independence. As @FlinterNick has stated, the French 1763 is lighter, uses a lighter ball, is easy to repair and functionally sound. So one a comparison the Bess might have a edge on the battlefield with the larger ball and slight ease in reloading due to its larger size, on a musket to musket comparison, being lighter would make the 1763 the soldier's choice.
The heaviest Charleville weighed just about 11 lbs and that was the initial 1763 rollout pattern, I had the opportunity to view on of those next to the 1766, the difference in weight is around 1.5 - 3 lbs, very notice difference in the barrel weight and stock While the 8-9lb 1766 seemed somewhat too light to be truly considered a better gun. The initial 1763 also had more drop about 1/4 than the 1766, if I were to choose between the two I’d use the heavier 1763, lift a few sacks of flour and eat more protein !
 

Grenadier1758

Cannon
Joined
Oct 9, 2004
Messages
6,346
Reaction score
3,138
Location
St. Louis, MO
@FlinterNick, I agree that from a total logistics standpoint and robustness factor on the battlefield, the Brown Bess was superior as used by troops on the field. As individual firearms, there are advantages on a firearm to firearm comparison.

I'm still keeping my King's Pattern!
 

Loyalist Dave

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
9,615
Reaction score
2,623
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Is it the Brown Bess, Charleville, Prussian 1740? There’s almost too many to name, many underdogs on the list.
Remember, professionals talk logistics....,

The BEST designed musket for the AWI period, was...., wait for it...., The Spanish 1757. o_O

SPANISH 1757 B.JPG


The reasons are several:
-69 Caliber like the Charleville so better for ammunition per pound of lead, and higher muzzle velocity than the .75 caliber muskets of it's day.
-Barrel bands like the Charleville for easier cleaning BUT..., the hardware is cast in Brass, not forged from steel, reducing the cost and manufacturing time. Also make replacement of the hardware much simpler in remote locations in a far flung empire.
-Unlike the Charleville, the bayonet lug was soldered onto the barrel, so the aiming point did not move about as it did with the barrel band having the front sight as the Charleville.
-The lock was flat faced, like the Charleville, which also reduced production time from the round faced lock of the Bess, AND..., there was a large ring over the jaws of the lock, allowing finger tightening or the use of a small stick to tighten the jaws. No special tool needed.
-The forward edge of the lock jaws were wider than the back of the jaws, aka a "duckbill", unlike the other muskets of it's day..., reenforcing support for the flint.
-The frizzen was grooved, not flat. This allowed the impact speed of the flint to have less friction and thus not to lose speed as fast as a flint that hit a flat frizzen, AND as the frizzen wore down over time, the grooved surface kept exposing unstruck, fresh areas of the frizzen to be struck by the flint.
(All of the design advantages of the Charleville, plus additional improvements)

GROOVED FRIZZEN.JPG


Thus the musket with less cost, quicker manufacture time, easiest flint replacement, and most reliable ignition for the life of the frizzen, was the 1757 Spanish musket.

Here Endeth the Lesson. 🤯

LD
 

griffiga

45 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Sep 16, 2020
Messages
502
Reaction score
631
Location
Utah
At one time I had both a Navy Arms 1763 Charleville and a Navy Arms BBess. I preferred shooting the Charleville, but I do like the looks of the Bess. I haven't fired a Springfield 95, but I think the stock is a little better (longer) than the Charleville. I'm 6'4".
 

tenngun

Cannon
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jan 27, 2008
Messages
14,311
Reaction score
5,375
Location
Republic mo
I once heard the charley called the AK 47 of its time, as many nations copied it. Under Napoleon the French did very well in the far flung fields of the war. So nations wanted to copy it, and the rest of french military in general.
Training, espirt de corps,leadership counted more then the gun.
 

FlinterNick

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
394
@FlinterNick, I agree that from a total logistics standpoint and robustness factor on the battlefield, the Brown Bess was superior as used by troops on the field. As individual firearms, there are advantages on a firearm to firearm comparison.

I'm still keeping my King's Pattern!
Yeap, most Brown Besses were always considered oversized to start with. So tailoring the gun the field to make it more functional can be seen on many originals with shortened muzzles, reshaped stocks to compensate for damages, small springs added to the thimbles, added bands along the forearm Etc. The biggest blow of the Bess in my opinion was the forearms, the forearms were really only intended to hold the thimbles while the rear pin lug was the most critical.

The 1730 pattern bess used a double pin system, which was apparently much more difficult to do but makes logical sense for added bolstering of the barrel. After looking at photos you can see that the amount of wood to be removed was significant for the double pin lug system.
 

FlinterNick

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
394
At one time I had both a Navy Arms 1763 Charleville and a Navy Arms BBess. I preferred shooting the Charleville, but I do like the looks of the Bess. I haven't fired a Springfield 95, but I think the stock is a little better (longer) than the Charleville. I'm 6'4".
I once heard the charley called the AK 47 of its time, as many nations copied it. Under Napoleon the French did very well in the far flung fields of the war. So nations wanted to copy it, and the rest of french military in general.
Training, espirt de corps,leadership counted more then the gun.
I think that’s in reference to the model 1777 Charleville, which was copied in Belgium, Russia, Austria and the Prussians own potsdam musket was modified to resemble it.

The 1777 charleville even though considered cutting edge, went through many progresive stages of development.

The very early configuration of the 1774 was probably one of the better quality designs, but was very expensive to make due to the bayonet latch under the muzzle was not a very practical feature, and the rear band loading rod spring was Difficult to make because it was so small and the stock retained much of the previous 1766 features. A rounded lock was also more expensive apparently.

The 1777 used by french troops in the american revolution was quickly changed over with the corrected 1777, omitting the several screws that held the bands in place and adding band springs.

Provably the most advanced Charleville isn not even French but Belgian, it was copied over in 1822 as the last of the french flintlocks, very similar to an 1840 US flintlock musket.
 

FlinterNick

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
394
Remember, professionals talk logistics....,

The BEST designed musket for the AWI period, was...., wait for it...., The Spanish 1757. o_O

View attachment 59763

The reasons are several:
-69 Caliber like the Charleville so better for ammunition per pound of lead, and higher muzzle velocity than the .75 caliber muskets of it's day.
-Barrel bands like the Charleville for easier cleaning BUT..., the hardware is cast in Brass, not forged from steel, reducing the cost and manufacturing time. Also make replacement of the hardware much simpler in remote locations in a far flung empire.
-Unlike the Charleville, the bayonet lug was soldered onto the barrel, so the aiming point did not move about as it did with the barrel band having the front sight as the Charleville.
-The lock was flat faced, like the Charleville, which also reduced production time from the round faced lock of the Bess, AND..., there was a large ring over the jaws of the lock, allowing finger tightening or the use of a small stick to tighten the jaws. No special tool needed.
-The forward edge of the lock jaws were wider than the back of the jaws, aka a "duckbill", unlike the other muskets of it's day..., reenforcing support for the flint.
-The frizzen was grooved, not flat. This allowed the impact speed of the flint to have less friction and thus not to lose speed as fast as a flint that hit a flat frizzen, AND as the frizzen wore down over time, the grooved surface kept exposing unstruck, fresh areas of the frizzen to be struck by the flint.
(All of the design advantages of the Charleville, plus additional improvements)

View attachment 59764

Thus the musket with less cost, quicker manufacture time, easiest flint replacement, and most reliable ignition for the life of the frizzen, was the 1757 Spanish musket.

Here Endeth the Lesson. 🤯

LD
Great write up !

I’ve always wondered why the Spanish went back to the miqulette musket in later years.
 

dave_person

54 Cal.
Joined
Nov 26, 2005
Messages
3,171
Reaction score
2,053
Hi,
The model 1763 French musket was quite heavy and they lightened it considerably producing the model 1766 and 1768 upgrade, which were the muskets we copied for our first Springfields. The Spanish model 1757 is a fine gun but the brass hardware looks skinny and fragile to me, at least on the few I've seen in museums. I am sure the barrels were very good because Spain mined some of the best, if not the best, iron ore in Europe and were famous for the quality of their barrels in the 18th century.

The Spanish adopted a very French-styled locks during the time they had Kings from the French Bourbon family. They adopted all kinds of French fashions. I think that may have ended after the French revolution and Spain reverted to its own indigenous designs. I also believe the miquelet or "Spanish" lock was stronger and more reliable than other flintlocks and required less wood removed from the stock to mount the lock.

dave
 
Last edited:

FlinterNick

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
1,124
Reaction score
394
Anyone have any info on those odd and unusual Swedish and Norwegian Muskets? Seems like they used the dog lock system almost into the 19th century.
 

smoothshooter

50 Cal.
Joined
Nov 5, 2005
Messages
1,627
Reaction score
294
The 95 Springfield is a very slightly modified version of the 1763 Charleville.
In profile, the Italian rendition of the 1795 Springfield looks awfully fat around the breech area from top to bottom, lacking the grace of slimmer horizontal lines. Moreso than the few originals I have examined. Looks like the barrel breech area does not sit low enough th the stock.
Is this an Italian design flaw, or am I imagining things?
 

Latest posts

Top