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Building a British Pattern 1760 Light Infantry Fusil

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Nov 26, 2005
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I always have several projects up and running at the same time. While I am working out my plan for a project during the evenings, I am working on a different project in my shop during the day. I guess that makes me a full time gun maker? I am building this project on spec and will sell it either on line or at Dixons. I would like it to go to someone who can use and appreciate the historical details I incorporate rather than someone who just wants a smoothbore to plink with. I am building a British pattern 1760 light infantry fusil from a parts set by The Rifle Shoppe. I bought the parts set (I hesitate to call it a kit for reasons you will soon appreciate) from a third party who had it for a long time but could never get to it and felt a little intimidated by it. The parts set includes an English walnut precarved stock. I am going to be blunt, I do not like precarves at all especially when you are trying to recreate historical details. I also have to build the lock, which is fine. I thought maybe some of you might like to see the process so tighten down your lug nuts and away we go.

The British pattern 1760 light infantry fusil was a direct result of war in America. George Augustus Howe, his brother William, Henry Bouquet, and Thomas Gage all understood, based on their experience during the French and Indian War, that the British Army needed lightly encumbered, mobile troops, light infantry, to act as scouts and flankers during campaigns in the forests of North America. They wanted those troops armed with a light and handy carbine. Eventually, British ordnance responded by developing the pattern 1760 light infantry fusil, which was based on an earlier design by Lord Louden in 1745. Unfortunately, production of the gun came too late for the French and Indian War. It may have been issued to some troops fighting on the continent of Europe during the waning days of the 7-Years War and some others might have been issued to soldiers in America during Pontiac's uprising but the majority of guns were placed in storage and not issued. Then in 1771, William Howe reconstituted the light infantry companies that were disbanded after the French and Indian War. Those "Light Bobs" were issued the pattern 1760 fusil. Light companies sent to America just before and during the early hostilities of the Rev War were issued the fusils. They were prominent among the Light Bobs during Lexington and Concord, Breed's Hill, Long Island, New York, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, White Marsh, and Paoli. If the "shot heard round the world" came from a British gun, it might have been a light infantry fusil. The light troops of the 52nd regiment facing John Stark and Thomas Knowlton at the rail fence during Breed's Hill carried the pattern 1760. By 1778, most were used up owing to their light construction and light infantry were issued with standard short land pattern muskets. The key traits of the light infantry fusil are carbine bore (65-66 caliber), 42" barrel, slimmed stock, simplified butt plate, trigger guard, and ramrod pipes, wooden ramrod, muzzle band rather than cap, unique thumb plate, and carbine lock. The gun weighs 7-8 pounds compared with the standard 11 lbs of the long land musket. It feels and handles more like a fowler than musket. The downside it that it is much more fragile than a standard musket and was easily ruined during service.

So here we go. The TRS parts are good quality but there are shrinkage issues probably from the casting process. The precarved stock should be Ok but it has the precision of a 5-year old kid with a router.


The machine cut mortices will be fine but thankfully they are well undersized. This is no Kibler kit. The routing around the butt plate is a mess and I believe I can squeak the butt plate on without losing too much LOP owing to the crude routing.


The ramrod channel and hole are too small for the 5/16" wooden rod. It looks like they were routed for a steel rod, which is not correct. They did not drill the ramrod hole, rather it is routed in from the bottom of the ramrod channel.

The brass parts show casting shrinkage compared to original dimensions. They are all a little too small and unfortunately, the machine inlets prevent changing that. I'll just have to suck it up and do the best I can but this experience again reinforces my belief that rough stock blanks are better, particularly if you want to reproduce historical details. I base many of my historical details on Bailey's book on British patterns. You can see on the pages showing outlines of original hardware how different the reproduced hardware is.




The first job was to get the barrel inletted fully. The machine inlet is only partial and the whole length of the channel needs to be worked to get the barrel in. The muzzle of the stock had to be cut off at the correct length, then the breech inlet deeper and square to the stock. Round scrapers and my Gunline round barrel float do the job nicely.

Next up is the breech plug. The barrel is beautiful and well finished but the breech plug tang is too short and too wide. The tang needs to be lengthened about 1/8". That does not sound like much but it will make a huge difference in where the tang bolt goes and its position relative to the end of the tang. Also the bolster on the tang is too massive and the angled back is a inletting nightmare. So I cut away much of the bolster and squared up the back to make inletting much easier. I heated the end of the tang red hot and peened it to lengthen it. After filing, it cleaned up nicely and had the proper dimensions.




The lock has to be built. I cleaned up and installed the tumbler. I turned the tumbler on my wood lathe with the bridle side spindle held by the chuck. Fortunately, the tumbler post for the flint cock was concentric because it spun true with no wobble. Therefore, I could clean easily clean up the bridle spindle, tumbler post, and faces of the tumbler with fine files and oiled stones. The witness holes on TRS lock plates are not necessarily accurate. You really have to check things out. The mark for the tumbler hole in the plate was not centered on the tumbler hole that was filled with clay prior to casting. I drilled out the hole at the mark with an very undersized drill. Using round files, I filed the hole concentric with the original hole but undersized. Then I drilled it out such that the tumbler could be fit if I hammered it home. Instead, I coated the tumbler post with oil and aluminum oxide powder, and lapped it into the hole until it turned freely but with no slop. Next, I need to add some length to the tail of the lock plate which is too short and not shaped properly. I intend to lose the engraved "Farmer 1757" which I am not sure is correct. No matter, I will engrave the right stuff.

That is where I am on this project. More later.

Looks positively like God's Country. Thanks for the post on the light infantry fusil, and the New England eye candy.

I made some progress. The barrel tang went is nice and tight although the pre-carved shaping of the tang and apron area made the job harder because the wood slopes away from the tang making the edges of the inlet much more fragile. Moreover, the walnut is not particularly dense piece and chips easily.

With the breech fully inlet I noticed a problem with the stock. The inlet for the lock plate bolster is deeper than the side of the barrel. I'll have to glue some wood in place to fill it.

I decided before investing much more time in this gun, that I would install the butt plate. I was concerned that the router mess that is the butt plate machined inlet might be too bad to salvage. I wanted to preserve as much LOP as I could so I just did not want to slice off the mangled portion. The first photos show the pre-carved inlet.




As you can see, this ain't no Kibler kit. I managed and it came out fine. You can see in the side view of my inletting that I just barely squeaked the plate past the area ruined by the schlemiel with the router.


FYI, a stock for this parts set from TRS costs $295 and probably more for English walnut. Anyway, it worked out and the LOP is 13 1/4" . The original measurement is 13 1/16", which raises a bit of historical speculation. Light infantry were selected for speed, agility, and intelligence, and often were small guys. The big bruiser grenadiers had long land muskets with typical LOPs of 13 1/2"-13/3/4".

The stock must have been inlet and drilled for a metal ramrod. All of the pattern 1760 carbines had 5/16" diameter wooden rods. The internal diameters of all the thimbles are too small. Fortunately, they have enough excess metal to drill them out to the proper diameter. But I still had to enlarge the ramrod groove and hole. I did not want to fuss much with this so out came the Dremel and 5/16" round burr. I do not recommend this to those unpracticed with the Dremel Destroyer or those who are faint of heart. This requires "brass ones" and finesse. The trick is to let the burr cut into the groove with no sideways pressure from your hand. Just let the groove guide the burr along its length.

I widened the groove nicely and also the routed groove beyond the step and under the barrel channel, the groove that should be a hole. Next, ran a 5/16" ramrod drill up the groove and drilled the hole at the step. A little round rasping and sanding and it all cleaned up nicely. I am going to glue wood to cover the groove under the barrel and then paint the barrel channel with a varnish thin coat of AcraGlas.

That is it for now and I have to shift to another project for a few days.

I admire your dedication. After seeing the way that beaver chewed up the butt plate inlet, I'd have thrown up my hands in despair.
So neat, Dave. I eagerly anticipate the rest of the project. I truly hope the person who ends up caring for this gun genuinely appreciates the effort you take to stay true to its historical pattern. I was thinking how cool it would be to see an early Rev War light infantry unit armed with these. And yet, if I were carrying it, I would be extra wary of taking good care. It’s not like you can just pick up another like you can a Pedersoli. It makes one appreciate folks who go through such efforts to recreate original pieces when most people see “good enough” when they see a factory gun.

Finally got back to this gun. This stock and some of the brass parts are nightmares. I inlet the lock plate but still have to finish building the lock. The tumbler bridle has so little extra metal, probably due to casting shrinkage, that the metal around the sear hole is paper thin. I am making a new bridle from scratch because the cast one is unacceptable.

I inlet the rear ramrod pipe. The casting was very good and has plenty of extra metal. However, I suspect TRS uses the same design for a number of their "Bess" like kits and it is not actually historically correct. Worse, because the tang is partially machine inlet, I cannot make it thinner and smaller to be more accurate. It also rises too much at the step producing a swell in the bottom profile of the stock at the pipe. These carbines have a straight profile along the bottom with only swells on the sides. Fortunately, the tang was plenty thick allowing me to file a lot away and straighten the profile.

I cleaned up and inlet all the forward thimbles. The machine inlets for the thimbles are not located correctly. Fortunately, I wiped them out entirely when I routed the ramrod channel and deepened it. Then I marked off the correct locations and inlet them. They have collared or ribbed ends, which I actually inlet using a tiny gouge. The originals were inlet very precisely.

Next I trimmed off a lot of wood on the fore stock. Note in the photos how there is staining from AcraGlas everywhere. This is because I can be incredibly stupid. I always paint the barrel channels with a varnish thin coat of Acra Glas to seal them and add a little strength to what will become a very thin walled barrel channel. This time I put way too much AcraGlas in the channel. I have no idea what I was thinking. When I clamped the barrel in place, AcraGlas oozed out everywhere in great quantity. I just had to sit back and laugh as the whole stock became immersed in epoxy spill over. After a good laugh, I cleaned up the mess and oh what a mess it was.

I decided to get the trigger plate and guard inlet next. The machine inlets are pretty good but cast trigger guard is twisted and warped such that it doesn't fit into the inlet. The trigger plate went in easily and deep enough to accommodate the guard on top but it is slightly off center relative to the guard. It doesn't really show very much and there is nothing I can do about it. However, fitting the guard to the inlet was a pain in the butt. I had to anneal it, then get rid of the twist. The rear of the guard curved slightly to one side and you cannot straighten it by judicious filing because it will be thinner than the machine inlet. So I had to anneal it and then bend it sideways until straight. I finally got it to fit. I drilled the holes for the pins and pinned it in place.


Note the guard has no reverse curl like other British carbines and muskets. This was the unique style used on this fusil. When inletting these long guards, inlet and pin the front first, then work toward the rear, inletting the rear final last. As they are inset into the wood, they tend to move forward down the wrist. If you trace and cut in the rear finial too soon, you may end up with a gap.

Next was the thumb plate, which is held in place by a bolt through the trigger guard behind the bow that goes through the wrist and threads into a boss on the back of the thumb plate. Fortunately, the machine inlet was centered on the wrist and a little undersized. However, the cast thumb plate was not an even oval and the little leaf sprout at the bottom was lopsided. When it was evened up and straightened out, it was too small for the inlet. Fortunately, it was thick because I took out my ball peen hammer and banged the snot out of it along the edges stretching the metal and making it bigger. Then I just filed it to shape.

Then I drilled the hole through the trigger guard, stock and into the plate, tapped the hole in the bolster using a bottoming tap. The hole also goes through the rear of the trigger plate so the single bolt helps anchor the guard, trigger plate, and thumb plate.

Well, that is where I am. I think I will finish the lock next.

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Hi Guys,
Thanks KJ. I really like my ball peen hammer. Sometimes everything looks like a nail to me.



Also got quite a kick out of this sentence, "I do not recommend this to those unpracticed with the Dremel Destroyer or those who are faint of heart." It took me back to the days I taught OJT's/Apprentices to use this monster and especially when doing finely detailed clearance cuts in fiberglass/wood/metal. We called it a "Hand Held Milling Machine on Steriods." Grin.

Wow Dave, I would have hated to see the "kit" put together by someone who does not have your skills.

I am REALLY ENJOYING following this thread. Thank you!!

BTW, I hope this doesn't dissuade you from doing a P1756 Artillery/Sergeant's/Highlander Carbine later on.....

Most excellent skills on display right here on muzzleloading forum. Dave, you teach all of us a lot. Thank you!
Hi Folks,
Thanks for your comments. One reason I am posting this gun is because it does need a lot of special effort because of the vagaries of castings and wood machining. I think you learn a lot when you have to correct problems. The best gunsmiths are really good because they can hide their mistakes and work arounds really well. Gus, no worries for your carbine. I think we should eventually just order the barrel and other parts and I will use an English walnut blank. I have two blanks already that will work very well. I bought them from Jim Kibler for a song and they are plain, very dense walnut blanks. One is earmarked for my marine musket and the other is for your carbine. They are exactly the kind of blanks British ordnance would select.

I made up one a year or two ago from my own patterns and local walnut with a filled in Lott lock the rest is just my stuff will try get pics perhaps via you Dave ? .There is also a conjectural ist pat Royal Foresters .These sorts where a popular item & most went to the US. The barrel was one turned up by Elmer Johnston from hollow bar . I agree the art of a gunmaker is getting round goolys & clangers that might daunt an ammeture !. Rudyard
I took the gun south with me to my brother's place for the Xmas holiday. He has a nice shop and bench, and I brought tools. I was able to shave wood off the fore stock and get close to the final profile. As you can see the fore stock is very thin on these carbines.

I also made an appropriate nose band. The parts set comes with a cast brass nose cap that is incorrect for the light infantry carbine. They had sheet brass nose caps of which, some were closed on the end and others left open. I made one with an open end. These were typically installed without a lot of finesse but they were still inlet. I first shaped the muzzle area to receive the band, which included relieving the side walls of the barrel channel to accommodate the folded tabs of the band. I made a paper template and fitted it to the stock then used it to cut out the brass. I used 0.04" brass sheet that I thinned on the ends for the folded tabs. I annealed it and bent it around the stock and folded the tabs over with light taps of a hammer. I pinched them tight with pliers. It came out nicely and looks correct.


The trend was that all British muskets and carbines that were originally designed for wooden ramrods were fitted with sheet brass nose caps or bands if at all. That includes those later retrofitted with steel ramrods. Muskets and carbines designed originally to use steel rods usually had cast nose caps. After the nose band, I inlet the side plate, which was easy, although I wish the pre-inlet was smaller so I could move the plate around a little.

Finally, I roughed out the barrel apron. These have undulating borders like the pattern 1730 musket but smaller. The apron will be reduced in size before I am done.

Well that is it for now.

Hi Rudyard,
Yes, I will gladly post your photos. Bailey recognizes the Royal Forester carbine as a pattern. I believe experience fighting in America was the driving force behind the development of light infantry companies. As a result, most patterns designed for those units probably found their way to North America. The pattern 1760 carbine was based on the gun Lord Louden designed in 1745. I believe all of those earlier guns were made by Barbar. The two patterns are the same except the 1760 uses a later straight-bottomed carbine lock and the standard British side plate design. It is really useful to see these guns in the flesh and compare them to the standard muskets. They are really smaller and lighter.

Hi Rudyard,
Yes, I will gladly post your photos. Bailey recognizes the Royal Forester carbine as a pattern. I believe experience fighting in America was the driving force behind the development of light infantry companies. As a result, most patterns designed for those units probably found their way to North America. The pattern 1760 carbine was based on the gun Lord Louden designed in 1745. I believe all of those earlier guns were made by Barbar. The two patterns are the same except the 1760 uses a later straight-bottomed carbine lock and the standard British side plate design. It is really useful to see these guns in the flesh and compare them to the standard muskets. They are really smaller and lighter.

I have what is probably a dumb question for the arms historians. This is called the "pattern 1760," I am assuming that means it was adopted into service in 1760. When would it have started arriving on American shores?
I ask because; A. I don't know, and, B. I am not usually interested in muskets (mostly due to size and weight, also barrel bands annoy me) so haven't paid them much mind. But, this one intrigues me. How much lighter is it? Comparable to a smoothrifle or heavier fowling piece/buck & ball gun?