British Enfield History, Part One

We’ll take a look at the history of British Enfield service rifles, starting with muzzleloaders and single shots.

by Paul Mazan

Enfield. The very name conjures up visions of the iconic British service rifles of the 20th century for most of us. Small arms manufacturing at Enfield goes all the way back to the muzzleloading era. The Royal Small Arms Factory in the Enfield suburb of London was opened and assembling Brown Bess muskets in 1804. A new manufacturing facility was built and began making guns for the British military from 1816 to 1988. Power was originally provided by water wheels turned by the River Lea. The river was also used by barges to bring raw materials from ocean-going ships on the Thames and finished product back for shipment all over the Empire and the world.

The Pattern 1800 Infantry Rifle, a muzzleloading flintlock known as the Baker rifle, was the first product manufactured at Enfield and saw service with the British army during the Napoleonic Wars as well as by the Mexican Army under López de Santa Anna during the Texas Revolution. It was considered very…

Read more in the June 2018 issue.

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