P53 LONG RIFLE - 2nd MODEL
 

This Example Lock Plate Date: 1856
Manufacturer (s): Tower
Bands: 3
Furniture: Brass
Hammer Face: Cupped
Sights: 950 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 - more suitable to bayonet fighting.

Within this pattern there are 3 small variations in terms of the ramrods:

a.    Swell ramrod with button end

b.    Swell ramrod with jag head

c.    Straight jag headed rod with Smith's Roller Spring in the stock

A good write up on this rifle can be found at The College Hill Arsenal website.

This Example:

On the surface rifle is typical of its time. It was produced by a number of manufacturers, hence the Tower mark on the lock.  Produced in 1856 this would have been in time for the end of the Crimean war...If rifles like this did not see service there they may have been in India for the Indian Mutiny.

A brief summary of the mutiny can be found here

So what's this rifle?

The barrel: Under the barrel are the following stamps- Wm (William) Tranter, Baker, 'Rs' & Ezra Millward on the top are the inspectors marks (Crown over G over a number) on the top of the barrel, at the base of the breech, under the tang are stamped '21' and 'JM' and finally a series scratch marks, in this case  '^xx'. It is often confusing as to who did what to produce this rifle, so as far as we can tell:

Wm Tranter - Main Contractor. He was a founder and shareholder of BSA and as such may have been involved on the contracts to set up these rifles in conjunction with the Ordnance and the East India Company.

Baker - This may be Elizabeth Baker whose family had supplied arms to The EIC  up until 1853. Elizabeth Baker carried on working until Circa 1860

Rs - Unknown stamp

Ezra Millward -Barrel maker, Birmingham.

Crown over G over a number - This was possibly an inspection mark from the EIC (East India Company). Research so far has drawn a blank, though this seems quite likely.

'21' and 'JM' - Barrel Fitter.

^xx - Fit marks matching the barrel to the stock.

The Stock: Under the stock are 2 stamps - W Tranter (behind the trigger) and J.D. Goodman (further down the underside of the stock), In the barrel channel is stamped '21' and 'JM' and in the ramrod channel is scratched '^xx':

W Tranter - As above.

J.D. Goodman - Goodman of Cooper & Goodman, regular contractor mark.

'21' and 'JM' - As Above.

^xx - As above.

Two reversed R's - The Mark on the wrist is very like, but more ornate, the 'reversed Rs' of the 'Rejected Unserviceable' stamp used by the Ordnance and, more to the point, stamped just where the Ordnance used that mark, so it would seem that this rifle was rejected prior to service for some unknown reason.

This rifle does not have a sold out of service stamp or a roundel

The Lock: On the outside -'Tower 1856', on the inside 'R&W' and the government inspectors stamp:

Tower 1856 - Indicating that the rifle was produced from a wide variety of contractors.

R&W A - Robert & William Aston, In addition to being makers of a whole variety of small parts, rammers, combinations tools, barrel bands, etc., they were also lock makers.

The lock does not have an acceptance mark on in.

So in summary....

From all of the above this would indicate that this rifle has some fault causing it to fail inspection, presumably before it would have been shipped off to India, given it's condition and evident little usage. The style of the reversed 'R's on the wrist of the stock suggests the stamp was an EIC one. This might also be an explanation of the absence of the acceptance Mark on the lock and the missing stock stamp (which would not have been a roundel at this date) in that it never was accepted by the Ordinance.

My thanks to Bill Curtis and the members of 'British Militaria Forum' for their assistance identifying the features and marks on this rifle.