British Service percussion rifle, Pattern 1839 Musket, cal. .753 in., steel smoothbore round barrel, 997 mm long.

One of 26 guns donated in 1871 by the Victorian Ordnance Department from its Melbourne Armoury, for the newly created Industrial and Technological Museum. The display was intended to show mechanics and gunsmiths the principles of gun construction and recent technical developments in weapons.

Physical Description

Steel lock and hammer on R.H. side, converted from flintlock, brass oval triggerguard with small front spur, brass New Land pattern sideplate, foreend and butt plate, two sling swivels, one mounted from triggerguard, the other above front ramrod tube. Block foresight which also acts as the stud for fixing the bayonet, no rear sight, barrel fastened to stock via three barrel pins, steel ramrod and three brass ramrod tubes, the front one being trumpet shaped. Barrel L.H.side stamped with various British proof marks; Georgian proof of a crown over 'GR' over a broad arrow (c.1815 - c.1830); Government proof during the reign of William IV of a crown over 'MR', often used in conjunction with Georgian proofs; and goverment proof of a crown over crossed sceptres marks.


The decision in October 1838 to produce 30,000 flintlock muskets to alleviate a shortage of arms in the governments stores until percussion arms were available was amended only eight months later to bring the percussion arms into service using the parts already available, resulting in the Pattern 1839 Musket. Often perhaps incorrectly referred to as a 'conversion' firearms from flintlock to percussion, many examples show the tell-tale signs of the lockplates originally being drilled for flintlock mechanisms before being 'plugged' and the percussion system installed. This item appears to be an example of this practice, showing two plugged holes in the lockplate and heavy filing to the front half of the lockplate. An interesting example of the beginning of rapid technological advancement in firearm ignition systems. As well as use by British garison troops, the Pattern 1839 was sent out for use by militian and volunteer troops.

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