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Load and Fire a Regency Weapon

Load and Fire a Regency Weapon

The Baker rifle (officially known as the Infantry Rifle) was a flintlock rifle used by the Rifle regiments of the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was the first standard-issue, British-made rifle accepted by the British armed forces.

The Baker Rifle was first produced in 1800 by Ezekiel Baker, a master gunsmith from Whitechapel. The British Army was still issuing the Infantry Rifle in the 1830s.

The musket was fairly accurate at medium distances, but not at long range. To increase the odds of a hit, massed ranks of 60-80 muskets were fired in a volley which increased the chances of some musket balls hitting the intended targets, whereas the accurate Baker rifle was used by skirmishers facing their opponents in pairs, sniping at the enemy from positions either in front of the main lines, or from hidden positions in heights overlooking battlefields.

The accuracy of the rifle in capable hands is most famously demonstrated by the action of Rifleman Thomas Plunkett (or Plunket) of the 1st Battalion, 95th Rifles, who shot French General Colbert at an unknown but long range (as much as 800 yards according to some sources) during the retreat to Corunna during the Peninsular War. He then shot one of the General’s aides, proving that the success of the first shot was not due to luck.

The rifle as originally manufactured was not expected to be accurate much beyond 200 yards; that Rifleman Plunkett and others were able to regularly hit targets at ranges considered to be beyond the rifle’s effective range speaks for both their marksmanship and the capabilities of the rifle.

The Baker rifle could not usually be reloaded as fast as a musket, as the slightly undersized lead balls had to be wrapped in patches of greased leather, or more commonly greased linen, so that they would more closely fit the lands of the rifling. The average time to reload is dependent on the level of training and experience of the user; twenty to thirty seconds is often given as normal for a proficient rifleman. Using a hand-measured powder charge for accurate long range shots could increase the load time to as much as a minute. In the course of the Napoleonic Wars, riflemen used paper patched and even bare rifle balls when shooting in a hurry in battle, with an increase in speed of loading, but with diminishing accuracy.

In 1799 Baron Francis de Rottenberg wrote the British Army

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