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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Ferguson Rifle:

I've just started reading yet another 'Frontier Story' by Louis L'Amour - called "The Ferguson Rifle" and this set me to wondering just what was a 'Ferguson Rifle'.

That is a Cleaning Rod Under The Barrel - NOT a 'ram-rod'.

It seems that they were an English  breech loading flintlock rifle from 1776 that could fire six to ten shots a minute. The guns were made in 65 calibre - .650" but are also noted as being 5/8" and 3/4" bore.

The reloading breech was opened by cranking one full turn of the screw-plug using a handle at the rear of the trigger-guard.

Well designed within the technology of the day - the tapered rapid twist screw-plug gave a more gas-proof seal to the breech than had been achieved earlier - but despite successful trials of  a hundred rifles in action, the rifles were withdrawn from service and "mothballed".

British Major Patrick Ferguson was granted his English patent No.1139 in 1776 for his re-design of an earlier 1720 gun by Isaac de la Chaumette  - this earlier rifle needed three full revolutions of its trigger guard to open (- and then 3 to close the breech again.)

Ferguson successfully persuaded General Clinton to double the size of the experimental 100 man corps - but when he was incapacitated by a wound to the right elbow from a musket shot the trials were dropped.

The rifles - which were hampered by fouling black-powder residues clogging the action - were difficult and expensive to produce at that time - and the wooden stock was very weak in the area close to the action - proving unable to survive rough handling .. so much so that remaining examples have a U-shaped iron re-enforcing band to strengthen the weak point.

Firing a Replica Ferguson Rifle.
- That should be a 'Redcoats' Uniform eh)

Well done that man

Marty K.

P.S. L'Amour slips-in an interesting wee quote into his 'Ferguson Rifle' story : "It takes two people to make peace - but only one to attack".  Hmm.