Of all the guns imported by the embattled Confederate States of America, the one held in worst regard was the British 2-groove Brunswick rifle. This sentiment was also felt by British and colonial units who were issued the gun.
Now that I have had a chance to shoot the Brunswick rifle that I described in an earlier post , I can see why. (Post and video below). Used with either shot or ball, the gun did not shoot accurately enough to make precision shots on a man at 50 yards.
The gun’s designers thought it held high promise. This was supposed to be a gun that would shoot as well as the American rifles used in the Revolution, incorporate the newest trends in arms design and be a low-cost combat rifle that could replace the smoothbore 1842 musket. The 1842 was the percussion version of the historic Brown Bess that, with progressive improvements, had been in service for a century.
The Brunswick rifle was fitted with a new back-action lock, two sights (one that could flip up for longer range shooting), a strong bayonet fitting, a patch box, a patent breech to allow easy detachment of the barrel for cleaning and a reduced-caliber sub-chamber in the barrel for more efficient ignition of the powder charge. These improvements added to the novel 2-groove rifling system were to produce a “new world standard” combat arm.
Using the issue sights, my gun consistently shot more that a foot to the left at 50 yards and would not have touched a man at 100. In addition, the sub-chamber tended to gum up with black powder residue which resulted in hang fires or misfires. The back-action lock’s trigger pull was so hard that it was difficult to do precision shooting at any range. In short, although the gun would function (at least most of the time) I could not hit anything with it. Even the original flintlock Brown Bess was more accurate, which was not saying much as this gun had no rear sight.
Not even when sent to Nepal on the fringes of the British Empire, was the gun any better regarded. There was a .69-caliber smoothbore version (14-gauge) of the Brunswick design that had a better reputation. The rifles were put into storage, and the brass patch boxes were salvaged to recover the metal.
British ordinance officials did learn, and their next rifle; the .58-caliber Enfield, was a world-wide success.