The Brunswick Rifle was an early British rifle, successor to the Baker Rifle. Produced in the mid 1800's, the Brunswick had a uniquely rifled barrel with only two grooves, unlike the older contemporary rifles or smoothbore muskets.
The Brunswick was designed around an unusually shaped musket ball, which was made with a thin band around its diameter. This innovation was designed to engage with rifling in the barrel and, due to the fact that the band went around the ball, meant that the barrel would have to be bored with two grooves to enable the ball to be loaded and fired. This resulted in a very basic rifling system to impart spin on the ball producing a greater range and accuracy for the Brunswick compared to other firearms of the era.
Other than this attempted innovation, the Brunswick was also fitted with a percussion lock mechanism, a fairly standard practice at the time. The Brunswick, however, had a slightly modified design whereby the hammer was connected to the trigger via a spring which extended into the wrist of the stock. This longer spring was intended to improve the firing mechansim, although in reality the spring (because of its location) weakened the wrist of the stock, potentially causing it to break. Later models were fitted with a more conventional percussion lock design.
The Brunswick was also fitted with a bar which allowed the attachment of a sword bayonet, a similar design element to the Baker Rifle. Various parts were made of brass for purely aesthetic reasons, such as the trigger guard, butt plate and ramrod pipe. The Brunswick also featured a two position folding leaf rear sight and front box sight.
The Brunswick, as mentioned earlier, was designed to fire a uniquely shaped musket ball, designed with a narrow band around its centre. This band allowed the ball to engage with the rifling of the barrel, producing spin. This gave the Brunswick a greater effective range (around 300yds) than the more widely used Brown Bess musket or Springfield Model 1835 Musket.The Brunswick was originally bored to accept a .654in calibre ball, however it was quickly established that a larger calibre would be more effective meaning the Brunswick was bored to accept a larger .704in calibre ball. As with virtually all firearms of the day, the Brunswick was muzzle loaded meaning it only effectively had a capacity of one shot. At night the specific shape of the ball, which meant that the ball had to effectively be slotted into the barrel, made reloading difficult as the user would have difficulty in locating the grooves. Despite this the British Army expected the user to fire three or four shots in a minute.
The Brunswick Rifle was first adopted for service in 1836, therefore named by the British as the Pattern 1836. This version was effectively the standard version of the Brunswick, as the design was modified throughout its service life.
The Pattern 1840 was the first development of the Brunswick, with several improvements on the older Brunswick. The Pattern 1840 also featured a dual compartment patch box (which contained the percussion caps before they were placed on to the nipple).
The Pattern 1841 was the first of the Brunswicks to feature the redesigned percussion lock system (move to one side rather than directly behind the chamber as it had previously been located) although this change would not move into wider production until 1845. The material of the barrel was also changed to wrought iron (replacing the twisted steel version) as a cost-cutting measure.
The Pattern 1848 was one of the last versions of the Brunswick to be produced, featuring several improvements to the overall design of the Brunswick. The bayonet lug was also modified and improved to better secure the bayonet to the Brunswick with only a few models produced.