The Musket Modèle 1777 was a French designed, French built musket dating from 1777. The musket would form the basic equipment of Napoleon Bonaparte's Grande Armée during the Napoleonic Wars of the late 1790s and early 1800s.
The Modèle 1777 was a flintlock musket, whereby the trigger mechanism would make a piece of flint in the cock (equivalent to a hammer on a modern firearm) strike the frizzen (steel lid over the powder), creating a number of sparks to ignite the powder and fire the musket ball .
Improvements were made to the lock, bayonet and stock in 1800, commissioned by Napoleon, and the Modèle 1777 was reissued as the Modèle 1777 Corrigé (Model 1777 Corrected). These components would be further refined in 1816 and 1822.
A musketoon version was designed for cavalry units. Musketoon's feature a shorter barrel and hence are the equivalent to a modern carbine.
The musket ball was made from lead (the standard ammunition for muskets at the time) and measured 17.5mm (0.69in) in diameter.
As with any musket, the Modèle 1777 was muzzle loaded, and took an average of 20 seconds to reload.
As mention previously the Modèle 1777 was used primarily by Napoleon Bonaparte's Grande Armée during the Napoleonic Wars. An estimated 7 million examples were built during these wars, with Austrian and Prussian copies appearing from 1798, following the French Revolutionary Wars. This was the first example of mass production of any weapon, and remained the only incidence until the First World War in 1914.
Nations to use the Modèle 1777 were:
- First French Empire (1800 onwards) - Modele 1777 Corrigé
- French Empire Satellite States
- Confederation of the Rhine
- Prussia - Captured units
- Austria - Captured units
- Russia - Captured units
A trained member of the Grande Armée would be expected to hit a human sized target at 80 yards (73m) and fire three shots in a minute. All unit types were trained to use the Modèle 1777 though it would be light infantry and artillery would would use the Modèle 1777 most often. A musketoon version was produced for the cavalry.
The Modèle 1777 would serve the French Army from 1777 until 1826, replacing the renowned Charleville Musket and itself replaced by the Delvigne Rifle. In Britain the equivalent to the Modèle 1777 at the time was the 'Brown Bess', with Prussia and Austria reliant upon copies as well as captured examples of the Modèle 1777.