MANUFACTURER(S): Royal Small Arms Factory / Enfield Lock - UK
OPERATORS: Brazil; Confederate States; Japan; United Kingdom; United States
ACTION: Percussion Lock; Single-Shot
CALIBER(S)*: .577 Minie ball paper cartidge
SIGHTS: Adjustable Rear; Fixed Front
Detailing the development and operational history of the Enfield Pattern 1856 Rifle-Musket Long Gun.
Entry last updated on 9/12/2016.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The British Enfield Pattern 1856 followed the original Pattern 1853 into service in an effort to produce a more "infantry-friendly" long gun. The original forms were effective man-killers to be sure however their primary physical restriction lay in their length which made them unwieldy for late-19 Century warfare. Now that barrel rifling was permeating long guns and infantry warfare was done at closer ranges than before, the length of barrels could be reduced to an extent (at the cost of range). This led to many full-length guns being cut down to more manageable sizes - particularly valued by forward-operating scouts and mounted infantry.
The Pattern 1856 was reduced by some six inches when compared to the earlier Pattern 1853. The barrel now measured 33 inches long. It continued use of the .577 ball as its ammunition and operated from a percussion cap action. The primary distinguishing mark of the line (beyond its obvious reduced length) was its two-banded design, these metal bands used to clasp the wooden stock to the barrel assembly and form a rigid, robust framework. A ram rod was contained under the barrel in the usual way and the action took place near the rear of the gun. The shoulder stock was integrated to the gun in traditional fashion with the grip area formed between it and the forend. Underslung slings allowed for a strap to be affixed and eased transporting of the rifle when on-the-march.
Both sides of the American Civil War (1861-1865) procured the Pattern 1856 and, of course, the British Empire fielded it in number - typically issued to its rank of sergeants and skirmish troops. Manufacture was by way of Enfield of England and Tower Armories.