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British Military Pattern 1856 No 2 Bar on Band Enfield Short Rifle

British Military Pattern 1856 No 2 Bar on Band Enfield Short Rifle

  • Product Code: FLA-3619
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

On January 25, 1856 one of the first, and most important long arms to be derived from the Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket was officially approved for use in the British Army. The Pattern 1856 “Short Rifle” was an iron mounted variant based upon the P1853 Rifle Musket with the same .577 caliber bore, the same 3-groove rifling with a 1:78” rate of twist, but with a shorter 33” barrel and an appropriately shorter stock. The most important new features that were debuted on the Pattern 1856 were an improved, “double freed”, lock that was designed to minimize friction within the internal parts, an 1,100 yard rear sight and a bayonet stud brazed to the barrel that accepted the new Pattern 1856 saber bayonet. The “Short Rifle” was intended for issue to the 60th Regiment of Foot, the Rifle Brigade, the Cape Mounted Rifles and the Royal Canadian Rifles, as well as sergeants in all line infantry regiments. The shorter barrel and slightly lighter weight were both considered substantial improvements, in the handling of the rifle versus the rifle musket for skirmishing and similar activities. By late November of 1856, the first contracts for the new Pattern 1856 short rifle were being let to the Birmingham contractors, with more contracts to follow with both Birmingham and London makers. Almost immediately concerns began to develop regarding the stability of the bayonet stud on the barrel, and the possibility that the stud could be damaged or broken when the bayonet was used, or more seriously the barrel itself could be damaged. There was also concern about the damage that could be done to the barrel when the lug was brazed on, due to excessive heat. The remedy that was almost immediately suggested was that the bayonet lug be mounted on the upper barrel band, rather than the barrel itself. In order to make this a workable solution the redesigned rifle was stocked to within 1 ¼” of the muzzle with the front band placed where the old bayonet stud had been located. Additionally, a metal pin was added, passing through both sides of the barrel band and the stock beneath the barrel to support the band and prevent it from deforming or rotating when the bayonet was mounted upon it. 


This new design was officially approved on July 6, 1858 and became known as the Pattern 1856 Rifle No 2, also designated the Pattern 1856/58 Rifle and sometimes as the Pattern 1858 Rifle as well. This last designation only created confusion, as the Royal Navy had adopted their rifle, designated as the  Pattern 1858, which was a brass mounted short rifle with a heavier 33” barrel, rifled with 5-grooves and a much faster 1:39” rate of twist; twice as fast as the rifle musket. As a result, the War Department very quickly resorted to calling the gun what it would be known as by future collectors and arms enthusiasts, the “Bar on Band” rifle. It is not clear how quickly the contracts for the new No 2 rifle were let, or whether the existing contracts were modified to meet the new “bar on band” specifications. However, the speculation is that only a few thousand of the rifles were manufactured. With the inherent lag and sluggishness by the Birmingham arms trade in adopting new pattern changes, it is unlikely that many (if any) short rifles of the “bar on band” configuration were manufactured before the summer of 1859. It is further likely that it was sometime in 1860 before bar on band rifles were being “set up”, inspected and accepted for service. 


At about the time the new rifle was being brought on line with the contractors, the War Department cast a spanner into the works, and changed the specifications again. On February 22, 1860 the War Department officially recommended the adoption of the army version of Pattern 1858 Naval Rifle to replace the Pattern 1856 and Pattern 1856 No 2 rifles, to be officially designated the Pattern 1860 Short Rifle. Since the acceptance of the short rifle pattern, it had been felt that the overall accuracy was not on par with that of the rifle musket. The navy designed 5-groove barrel with a rate of twist twice as fast as previously adopted turned the lack luster short rifle into a highly accurate tack driver. The heavier barrel with slightly larger exterior diameter resolved the issues related to barrel strength and bayonet lug problems and less than two years after being officially adopted, there was no longer any reason to produce the Pattern 1856 No 2 Bar on Band Short Rifle. Again, the contractors slow walked the changeover in specifications, reverting to the older pattern stocks that were shorter and producing the new, heavier barrels, rifled in a new way. Pattern 1858 No 2 rifles continued to be delivered in spurts though 1861 and early 1862, but after that date the Pattern 1860 Short Rifle, and its immediate replacement the Pattern 1861 Short Rifle were produced for the British military and existing stocks of leftover “bar on band” parts were left to be used up on Volunteer pattern rifles and commercially made rifles. A number of these guns made from left over “bar on band” parts were purchased by the Confederacy, and during 1861-1862 a significant portion of the JS/Anchor inspected and inventory numbered short rifles to be purchased by the South were of the “bar on band” pattern, with both iron and brass mountings.


The Pattern 1856 No 2 Bar on Band Short Rifle is a VERY GOOD, untouched attic example of this scarce British military rifle. Due to the delays in manufacturing the new pattern and its almost immediate replacement by the Pattern 1860 and then Pattern 1861 short rifles, extant examples of British military accepted and marked “bar on band” rifles are quite scarce. The lock of the rifle is clearly marked 1862 / TOWER forward of the hammer, and with the usual English {CROWN} / VR government ownership mark to the rear of the hammer. The 1862 dated lock suggest that this may well have been one of the last of the “bar on band’ rifles to be delivered to the British military. The upper edge of the lock plate is marked with the assembly mark 23, which is also found under the barrel, with the initials R.C. and B&S and the military inspection mark {CROWN} / 83. The name R. PARTRIDGE is stamped in an arc around the mainspring boss, indicating that Robert Partridge of Darlaston, Staffordshire made the lock. The interior of the hammer neck is also marked with the military inspection mark {CROWN} / B / 5. The lock of the rifle functions perfectly. It remains crisp and is mechanically excellent. The hammer screw is an original screw but is a replacement on the gun that matches the lock almost perfectly. The rifle also retains an original snap cap (nipple protector), secured via the original brass chain and iron split ring. The original snap cap swivel ring is mounted just forward of the trigger guard, but the snap cap is missing. The barrel has a thickly oxidized chocolate brown patina that is attic, untouched and uncleaned. The barrel shows scattered light pinpricking and peppering along its entire length with some areas of light pitting as well. The most significant area of light pitting is around the breech and bolster area. The left breech is clearly marked with the usual British military proof and inspection marks, consisting of a small {CROWN} / {BROAD ARROW} War Department ownership mark, a small B / 69 Birmingham inspection mark and a {CROWN} / TP / {BROAD ARROW} military “Tower Proof”. The bottom of the rifle is marked W. MILLWARD, who was the barrel, with the same 23 mating mark found throughout the gun and with multiple B over # inspection marks, various workman initials and various numbers. The bore of the rifle is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition. It is somewhat dirty and dark, with visible fouling and accumulated dirt and gunk. However, it retains clearly visible rifling. The bore shows scattered light pitting along its entire length with a few patches of what appears to be more moderate pitting. A good scrubbing would probably improve the bore quite a bit. The original 1,100 yard rifle sight is in place on the rear of the barrel and is fully functional. The sight is complete with the exception of the sliding elevator, which is missing. The rifle retains its original iron sling swivels on the upper barrel band and in the rear in the toe of the stock at the end of the extended triggerguard tang. The ramrod in the channel under the barrel is a modern replacement cut to length, with no threads at the end. The upper barrel band retains the original saber bayonet lug on its right side, which is numbered 3 to mate it to the saber bayonet that fit the gun. The both barrel bands retain their original doughnut shaped screw protectors and retainers, these tiny parts are often missing from the bands.


The stock of the rifle is in about VERY GOOD+ condition and has a slightly dry, uncleaned and untouched, dark brown patina. The wood to metal fit of the stock is excellent throughout. The stock retains sharp lines and fine edges throughout and shows no indications of having been sanded. The stock does a large number of significant bumps, dings, bruises, scars and mars from use in the field. The obverse butt bears a clear War Department storekeeper’s roundel that reads BIRMINGHAM 1862 in a circle around a {CROWN} / W O / {BROAD ARROW} mark. The obverse butt is also deeply struck with a 1 adjacent to the roundel. This indicates a “First Class” rating that was not typically given to a Birmingham made rifle that was non-interchangeable. The toe of the stock is stamped BROOKS & SON,  the name of the master contractor who delivered the gun to the War Department. The same contractor mark is found inside the barrel channel, along with the name J. RIDLEY,  who was probably the stock maker. The stock also shows inspection marks in the barrel channel and the mating mark \ \ | | | in the ramrod channel, no doubt to represent the “23” mating assembly mark. That same “23” assembly mark is also found on the necks of the lock and tang screws. The stock remains full-length and solid and is free of any breaks or repairs. As noted, there are numerous bumps, dings and mars in the wood from handling and use, most notably a deep dent that runs from the bottom to the top of the counterpane, just in front of the rear lock plate screw.


Overall, this is a nice, solid example of a relatively scarce British military marked Pattern 1856 No 2 Bar on Band Short Rifle. The gun has very nice eye appeal and is 100% complete and correct in every way, with the exception of the replaced ramrod and correctly replaced hammer screw. Very few Pattern 1858 Bar on Band Short Rifles were produced, and even fewer have survived, making them rather difficult to add to a collection. This is only the second British military “bar on band” I have had in the last few years and I don’t know when another might pop up for sale. I am sure you will be incredibly pleased with this very interesting rifle on display in your collection.


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Tags: British, Military, Pattern, 1856, No, 2, Bar, on, Band, Enfield, Short, Rifle