The Ferguson rifle was an early breechloading flintlock rifle designed by Major Patrick Ferguson for the British military during the 1770's. It had a calibre of .650in and a .615in cartridge and production began in 1776 before ending two years later ended with only 100 made for the British army during the American revolution.
The breech of the weapon is closed by 11 starting threads on a tapered screw, and the trigger guard serves as the crank to rotate it and open the breech. One complete turn dropped the screw low enough to drop a ball into the exposed breech followed by a slight overcharge of powder which was then sheared to the proper charge by the screw as it closed the breech.
As it was not a muzzle loader it had a rate of firing 7 rounds a minute. The weapon was superior and faster to load and fired compared to the American Kentucky rifles and the Brown Bess musket.
HistoryEditPatrick Ferguson designed his breechloading rifle in the early 1770's after completing earlier versions. However the British Army only had 100 of his rifles produced for service in the American revolution when compared to muzzleloader the Ferguson was expensive, complicated to produce and inaccurate compared to the Brown Bess musket which had only been recently adopted.
The gunsmiths of England could not produce them fast enough for mass deployment during the American War. As such, Ferguson only ordered 1000 rifles to be made. The combined gunsmiths of England could produce 500 muskets a month, but the 4 gunsmiths making Ferguson's Ordnance Rifle could not make 100 in 6 months at 4 times the cost per arm of a musket.
Some of the Ferguson rifles produced did manage to see service in the war. Ferguson did have an Experimental Rifle Corps armed with his guns. Which were eventually disbanded.
At the battle of Brandy Wine, Patrick Ferguson himself had the chance to kill George Washington. Ferguson aimed his rifle at Washington who was riding a white horse leading his men forward. Ferguson had Washington in the sights of his own rifle but decided it wouldn't be right for a British officer to kill an enemy officer.Ferguson himself was shot by an American sniper at Kings Montain. Most British soldiers who were using Ferguson rifles recieved muzzleloading muskets to replace their breechloaders.
Only 2 of the original 100 Ferguson rifle has survived. Although sporter versions from the p.eriod still exist