Enfield pattern 1853 Musket
Pattern 1853 Enfield
Country of origin

Great Britain


RSAF Enfield
London Armoury Company

Year(s) designed


Weapon type

Rifled Musket


.58in (14.7mm) Minie Ball


Percussion lock

Overall length

30in (0.76m)-Pattern 1861 Musketoon, 55in (1.4m)-Pattern 1853 Enfield

Barrel length

24in (0.61m)-Pattern 1861 Musketoon, 39in (0.99m)-Pattern 1853 Enfield


9.5lb (4.3kg)

Magazine/Cylinder capacity

1 (Muzzle loaded)

Maximum effective range

1,250yards (1,140m)

Used by

Great Britain, Great British Empire, Confederates

The Pattern 1853 Enfield was a rifled musket produced by RSAF Enfield from 1853. Also named the Enfield Pattern 1853, P53 Enfield and Enfield rifled-musket, the Pattern 1853 Enfield replaced the older smoothbore muskets of the British army.

Design DetailsEdit

The Pattern 1853 Musket retained the length of a musket, hence retaining the use of the term Musket when referring to the Pattern 1853 Enfield. This was to allow two banks of infantry to fire simultaneously, with the barrels of the back-row protruding infront of the front row. This also provided adequate reach for the bayonet, which was a crucial part of warfare in that era.

The barrel was 39in (0.99m) in length and fastened to the stock by three barrel bands. The inside of the barrel was given three 1:78 rifling twists, designed to produce a spin on the shot improving its stability and therefore its accuracy. The muzzle velocity of the Pattern 1853 Enfield was around 900 ft/s (270m/s).

The use of a percussion lock mechanism had become increasingly common in the battlefield, its superior wet-weather capabilities saw it fully replace the flintlock mechanism of older muskets, such as the British Brown Bess which was still in use. The Pattern 1853 Enfield utilised the percussion lock mechanism and effectively removed any remaining use of the Brown Bess, as the percussion cap was a more reliable, and quicker, solution.

The Pattern 1853 Musket was among the first military muskets to be fitted with sights as standard (Muskets previously had been inaccurate, due to the smoothbore barrel and musket ball, and therefore could only shoot an effective range of 200 yards at the most, a distance of which sights are not necessary). The Pattern 1853 Enfield used an adjustable ladder sight, with increments at:

  • 100 yards (91m)
  • 200 yards  (180m) - Default / 'battle sight' 
  • 300 yards (270m)
  • 400 yards (370m)

A second, flip up sight was used for distances between 900 (820m) yards to 1,250 (1,140m)yards. 


The Pattern 1853 Enfield was chambered to fire the Minie Ball, a relatively new ammunition which replaced the musket ball in muskets. The calibre of the Minie Ball was .577in (15mm). Specifically the normal charge for the Minie Ball was a 530 grain (34g) ball with 64 grains of black powder.

Using the usual muzzle loading technique, like the majority of muskets, a serviceman was expected to fire a minimum 3 shots in a minute.

Pattern 1861 Enfield MusketoonEdit

Enfield pattern 1861 Musketoon (replica)

A Parker Hale reproduction of the Pattern 1861 Enfield Musketoon

The Pattern 1861 Enfield Musketoon was a shortened version of the Pattern 1853 Enfield measuring 30in (0.76m) in length. It was designed for Artillery troops, as well as cavalry. The shorter barrel of 24in (0.61m) improved the maneuverability massively, allowing for the Pattern 1861 Enfield Musketoon to be used as a personal defence weapon as well as the main arm of cavalry.

The barrel was also given a tighter, faster 1:48 twist, increasing the spin on the Minie Ball. Additionally an additional two twists were added, meaning the Pattern 1861 Enfield Musketoon had a total of five twists in the barrel.

Despite being given the name Musketoon (due to its manufacturers Enfield and the reproduction models by Parker Hale), the Pattern 1861 Enfield is technically a rifled musket like its older counterpart the Pattern 1853 Enfield.


Springfield Model 1861 vs Pattern 1861 Enfield

A Springfield Model 1861 shown next to the Pattern 1861 Enfield Musketoon.

The Pattern 1853 Enfield first saw use during the Crimean War (1854 - 1856) with the Pattern 1853 Enfield being issued to frontline troops from 1855. It was further issued to troops across the British Empire particularly in India and New Zealand. The American Civil War also saw the Pattern 1853 Enfield's use.

India MutinyEdit

The most notable reference to the Pattern 1853 Enfield, however, was the India Mutiny of 1857. Rumours that the Pattern 1853 Enfield's paper cartridges were greased with pig fat or beef tallow were spread as the Enfield was distributed to militia and Indian troops under the British Forces in India. Musketery books at the time recommended:

"Whenever the grease around the bullet appears to be melted away, or otherwise removed from the cartridge, the sides of the bullet should be wetted in the mouth before putting it into the barrel; the saliva will serve the purpose of grease for the time being" 

This suggested to the Indian Troops that they should break their religous code by putting something tainted with pig or beef into their mouths. This incident helped to spark the India Mutiny of 1863.

American Civil WarEdit

Whitworth Rifle

The Whitworth Rifle, one of the Pattern 1853's counterparts in the American Civil War.

The Pattern 1853 Enfield was the second most used firearm in the American Civil War, 900,000 examples exported from Britain destined for the Confederate Forces. It was only exceeded, in number, by the Springfield Model 1861, the main contender to the Pattern 1853 Enfield. The two weapons were extremely similar, the major difference being the sights (the British Pattern 1853 Enfield used ladder sights, the Model 1861 used leaf sights). Both firearms would be replaced by breech loading weapons in the mid 1860's, the Pattern 1853 Enfield replaced by the Snider-Enfield and the Model 1861 replaced by the Springfield Model 1865.

During the Civil War the Pattern 1853 Enfield would also be used alongside its modified copy, the Whitworth Rifle which had a significantly greater effective range than either the Pattern 1853 Enfield or Springfield Model 1861. Users of the Whitworth were known as the Whitworth Sharpshooters.


Instruction of Musketry, 1856

Field Exercises and Evolutions of Infantry 1861