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BAKER RIFLE/MUSKET AND BAYONET, 1803
In February 1800 the Baker Rifle won a competition organised by the army's board of ordnance and became the first rifle officially adopted by the British army. Superseded in 1838, the patch box in the butt is used for storing the patches that prevent the ball in the barrel from falling out
Previously, rifles had been issued on a limited basis and consisted of parts made to no precise pattern, often brought in from Germany. The war against Revolutionary France had resulted in the employment of new tactics, and the British Army responded, albeit with some delay. Prior to the formation of an Experimental Rifle Corps in 1800, a trial was held at Woolwich by the British Board of Ordnance on 22 February 1800 in order to select a standard rifle pattern; the rifle designed by Ezekiel Baker was chosen. This is remarkable because he is not known to have produced military rifles before, being involved only in the repair and production of muskets. Indeed, it is not known how much of the rifle now commonly named after him was actually the result of his own work. Numerous parts used in the pattern existed before the rifle was submitted for trial.
The rifle is referred to almost exclusively as the "Baker Rifle", but it was produced by a variety of manufacturers and sub-contractors from 1800 to 1837. Most of the rifles produced between 1800 and 1815 were not made by Ezekiel Baker, but under the Tower of London system, and he sub-contracted the manufacture of parts of the rifle to over twenty British gunsmiths. It was reported that many rifles that sent to the British Army inspectors were not complete, to the extent of even having no barrel, since the rifle was sent on to another contractor for finishing. Baker's production during the period 1805-1815 was a mere 712 rifles, not even enough to be in the "top ten".
Our example is a replica made for the TV series Sharp and is a good example of one of the many variants that were made.
Also shown, the correct bayonet. The drill term at the time was fix swords not fix bayonets.
IT became the first rifle officially adopted by the British Army. Whilst still only a flintlock Musket, it was used by Rifle brigades while the bulk of the army used the Brown Bess (item A0539).
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- I own a Baker which appears to be from 1812. It is a 'split stock version and is complete with sword bayonet and sling (which is a repro)
My hobby is shooting and old military weapons ( I also own an Enfield No:4 MkI) The Baker is a well balanced, comfortable weapon to present for firing.
Due to the value of it I have not yet fired it with a full charge but I have all the powder and shot to do so.
.......... Duncan ANDREWS, Originaly Huddersfield but now Blaye, S.W.France, 7th of May 2012