Pattern 1838 Musket

The days of the flintlock action were numbered when Alexander Forsyth began experiments, in 1805 in the Tower of London, aimed at harnessing the power of exploding fulminates as a means of ignition. His work was expanded upon by others which eventually led to the "Musket, Rank and File for Foot Guards", the first percussion musket to be issued in quantity to British soldiers. Today we usually simply call it the Pattern 1838. Examples are quite rare and relatively little has been written about it, I am currently researching this pattern of musket to provide a reasonably detailed study in the form of an article.

The most significant feature of this musket was Lovell’s adoption of a "back action" percussion lock. Other features were a catch to retain the socket bayonet called a "Hanoverian Catch", the employment of a hook breech, sometimes called a "false" or "break-off" breech, and three keys to hold the barrel in place, rather than using pins. Production continued until the mid 1840s and some Foot Guards were still armed with this musket in the mid 1850s. As with many arms variations do occur and the P/1838, despite its relatively limited issue, was certainly no exception. Minor differences are to be found with lock plate markings, butt tang profiles, nipple lump profile, breech shape, breech design and lock sizes. The rarity of examples makes assembling a data base, from which to draw observations and answers, difficult, and as well as contacting a large number of international museums I am appealing to any private collectors that have an example to please contact me. I will ask for photos of specific areas of the musket, or I can provide a questionnaire if emailing digital images is not possible. Privacy is assured and a copy of the final study results will be provided.

I can best be contacted via email adrian(at)

Yours sincerely,

Adrian Roads

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