The term 'Enfield' describes both muskets and rifles (the difference obviously being that a rifle has a rifled barrel and a musket is smooth bored). To start with they were termed are 'Rifle-Muskets' denoting that they were the same length as a musket so could be fired in ranks.
With the advent of the Enfield Pattern 53 for the first time in history this enabled the common infantryman to have an effective accurate range of up to 900 yards - enabling them to fire upon artillery batteries without fear of being in effective range themselves. Although the military authorities did not have access to or encourage development of telescopic sights this improvement in common arm gave rise to the idea of snipers, which hither to were unheard of.
As an interesting note to history the Pattern 53 Enfield also welcomed in the new mechanical technologies of mass production. The American Windsor contract (2nd model Pattern 53's) were almost entirely built with parts made by a machine and thus had fully interchangeable parts -machinery of this nature was introduced into Britain, from America and was used from around 1857 onwards. This simple advancement in manufacture had two effects:
1. Less armourers and thus equipment was needed by operational troops as the parts from broken arms could be used to repair others (as the parts were interchangeable).
2. With the mechanical advancement and mass production of standard parts this was then used, as so often is the case, for other industries and items of mass use - this enabled consumers to purchase standard items cheaply.
The reader may wonder why there
are so many odd variances (such as high quality stocks and
chequering) on Enfield rifles. Until 1862 volunteers in the
volunteer movement had to provide their own equipment and arms.
This was primarily achieved by donations from the wealthy and
public subscription...The only condition, for obvious reasons,
was that these arms must be of military type and use the
standard service cartridge of the day. As such there was a
thriving secondary market in the Birmingham Gun trade and
elsewhere providing military spec. rifles and pistols to the
movement, these arms are often of high quality as reflected by
the wealth of the purchaser . In 1862 the British government
agreed to arm volunteers and an end of an era came to an end.
An interesting web site to look at is 'The Enfield in the Civil War'. This web site looks at old and reproduction Enfield's as well as markings, accoutrements and history.
From their first issue in February 1855 over 1.5 million Enfield's were produced - and this is ignoring the thousands of rifles privately purchased by the militia and volunteer movement and those made in the Empire and within it's 'Sphere of influence', such as Nepal.
The topic of 'Enfield Rifles' is better covered elsewhere on the web and I would recommend looking at Bill Curtis' article written in 2001 which pretty much covers the subject and published on the 'Research Press' web site.
Below are a series of page links covering some of the 30 or so major changes (this excludes the trials rifles and non military versions that were created) that the Enfield went through before it became obsolete in favor of breach loading rifles.
Enfield Pattern 53 - 4th Model LACo Long Butt
Enfield Pattern 53 - 4th Model Enfield Factory Short Butt
Enfield Pattern 60 Short Rifle
Enfield Pattern 61 Short Rifle
Private Purchase Examples:
Enfield Pattern 58 - Private Purchase (Dougall)
Enfield Pattern 58 - Private Purchase (Ingram)