ENFIELD P53 LONG RIFLE - 2nd MODEL (FRENCH CONTRACT)
 

This Example Lock Plate Date: 1858
Manufacturer (s): French contract
Bands: 3 solid bands
Furniture: Brass
Hammer Face: Cupped
Sights: 900 yards
Barrel Length: 39"
Overall Length: 55"
Weight: 9 Lbs
Bore: .577
Rifling: 3 groove
 
Notes:
 

This is an improved rifle on the 1st Model. It was developed as a direct result of reports from troops using the first pattern guns in the Crimea (one of the first times in British military history that this happened). It has three main changes from its predecessor -

1. Spring retained barrel bands. The board of Ordinance had worried with the screw bands on the 1st Pattern were liable to breakage from over tightening and the retaining washer or nut could easily be lost.

2. Improved heavier hammer, for more reliable ignition of percussion caps

And

3. A heavier built, and thus stronger, stock.

Due to shortages and the inability of the Birmingham gun trade to supply the required arms, the British government awarded contracts to French gun makers in St Etienne to supply 20,000 2nd Model rifles... these arms were subsequently delivered between May 1856 and March 1858.
 
Upon delivery they were of course considered by the Board of Ordinance and the British gun trade as inferior...there is naturally little foundation to this claim, however as was the practice at the time, they were immediately issued to front line troops, so few remain today as they would have had a hard working life.
 
It is not untypical to find that the surviving arms today were refurbished at Pimlico prior to re-issue to volunteer corps and militia after their service in front line regiments.
 
French contract rifles will have the following:
 
1. The date on the lock in italics
2. Below a crown 'V+R' behind the hammer on the lock.
3. The roundel on the stock is simply two rings (one inside the other) with a date stamp (in line with the muzzle)
4. The inspection stamps are 'Crown' above and 'F' and then the inspectors number (which can be seen closely on the Markings area of this web site)
 
The above specifically identify there origins, otherwise appear exactly like British manufactured rifles.
 
The French Contract Pattern 53ís that are not associated with the South Australian batch of 2,000 are quite rare.

 
On This Example
The Butt Plate is stamped with 'V Lk5  538'. Essentially this means 5th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps with the rifle / rack number of 538...Further research as shown that they were 'raised' in Glasgow in 1859.
 
 
Further research:

During 1860, a number of independent rifle corps, then existing in the City of Glasgow, were merged as the 19th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteer Corps. By the end of the year, the 19th had reached a strength of nineteen companies, and included contingents provided by Glasgow firms, the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, and the newspaper and printing industry. The 19th was renumbered as 5th in 1880, and later provided the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Highland Light Infantry.

Extracted from "The Territorial Battalions, A Pictorial History 1859-1985" by Ray Westlake - web reference