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Russian Model 1809 Musketoon - Extremely Rare

Russian Model 1809 Musketoon - Extremely Rare

  • Product Code: FLA-3506-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1,795.00

There are few 19thcentury military arms that are scarcer on the collector market than the guns of Imperial Russia. After the ravages of two World Wars, few of these incredibly obsolete arms have survived the scrap drives that often recycled the raw materials reclaimed from these historic weapons into Model 91/30 Mosin Nagant Rifles or even T34 tanks. 


The muskets and associated small arms of the 18thcentury Russian military were a relative mish-mash of patterns from a variety of sources, with a fairly dominant French influence. The standard Russian musket patterns during the first decade of the 18thcentury were the Models 1798 and 1805, which were augmented by large numbers of imported arms from various Continental sources. During the latter part of the 18thcentury, France was considered the preeminent military power in the world. As a result, many European countries, as well as the newly founded Untied States of America, often patterned their small arms on those of the French army. Thus, it was completely natural when the Russian military adopted their new infantry musket, the Model 1808, that they would emulate the French. The Russian Model 1808 Infantry Musket was an almost direct copy of the French Model 1777 Musket. If followed the style and form of the French musket and adopted the nominal .69 caliber French bore diameter as a .70 “Seven Line” Musket. The nickname was derived from the caliber of the gun and the Russian unit of measure, the liniya, which was 1/10 of a diuym. A diuym had been established as being equal to an English inch by Peter the Great, thus a liniya was 1/10”, and seven liniya were 7/10” or .70 caliber. The following year, in 1809, the Russian started to adopt a series of specialty long arms based upon the M1808 musket, most of which were designated as Model 1809 arms. These included a cavalry and dragoon carbine, as well as a dragoon, cuirassier and an artillery musketoon. The carbines typical of the period were very short and handy saddle weapons. The musketoons were, as their name suggests, shortened versions of the infantry musket. These guns were intended for those troops who might need a substantial long arm for combat use but would be encumbered with a full-length infantry musket. While carbines rarely incorporated a bayonet into the design, musketoons usually did, to allow the users to more effectively operate as infantry if the need arose. During the period, mounted troops were usually classified into three broad categories of heavy and light cavalry and dragoons. Heavy cavalry (sometimes referred to as Cuirassiers) were used as shock troops, and usually relied upon the lance and straight-bladed heavy cavalry saber as their primary weapons when charging enemy lines. For the heavy cavalry, carbines and pistols were usually considered secondary weapons. The light cavalry were more mobile and were often utilized for scouting, screening the movements of the infantry and for chasing down a broken and retreating enemy. They typically carried compact carbines that were light weight and easy to use mounted and relied upon lighter, curved blade sabers that were handy for hacking and slashing at a retreating enemy. The dragoons were often treated as mounted infantry, a force that traveled mounted, could be rapidly deployed to a trouble spot on the line (or to support a break-through) and who would then dismount and essentially fight as light infantry or skirmishers. Their primary weapon was the musketoon, a shorter and lighter weapon than the musket, but longer and more suited to infantry style combat than the carbine. These guns accepted a socket bayonet and were really just short muskets.


The Russians adopted an Artillery, a Dragoon and a CuirassierMusketoon in their family of M1808 arms in 1809. Like the entire series of arms, based upon the French M1777, the guns were flintlock ignition, single shot, muzzleloading smoothbore arms of nominally .70 caliber. They followed the pattern of the M1777 with the middle band being double-strapped and supporting an upper sling swivel. The lower swivel was mounted on the forward end of the triggerguard bow. The primary difference between the Russian musket and its French inspiration was the use of brass furniture on the Russian guns, while the French M1777 musket was iron mounted. The French, however, tended to use brass furniture on their derivative M1777 arms. It is somewhat ironic that when Napoleon invaded Russian in 1812, that his men carried M1777 and AN IX muskets (improved M1777s) and were facing a foe armed with essentially the same pattern of muskets. As Hitler would discover more than 100 years later, the Russian military and their small arms were not to be his worst enemies; rather the great expanses of the Russian wilderness and the Russian winter would be his army’s greatest challenge. 


During the period of the French invasion, the Russian national arsenals at Tula and Izhevsk were working overtime to produce small arms. The guns were handmade and were not interchangeable. While Russian small arms would start to be clearly marked and dated  by the 1820s and were often serial (or assembly) numbered on the major parts from that time forward to the period of the AK and SKS, the guns produced during the first quarter of the 19thcentury rarely bear any markings other than the Russian Imperial Eagle on the buttplate tang. Until the adoption of the percussion ignition system, the Russian musket would undergo little change, although the M1828 and M1839 muskets would be adopted as a slightly improved versions of the M1808, again following the French patterns of the time.


In 1839, the Russian military adopted the percussion ignition system and by the early 1840s had undertaken a percussioning program similar to those in the United States and most of the European nations to alter existing stocks of flintlock muskets and rifles to percussion. Hundreds of thousands of obsolete M1808, M1828 and M1839 muskets were altered to percussion at this time, as were the derivative carbines and musketoons. Many of these percussion-altered arms would see use during the Crimean War of the next decade.


In October of 1853, the Crimean War erupted, pitting the Ottoman Empire and their allies the British, French and Sardinians against the Czarist Russian Empire and their small contingent of allies, including Bulgarian volunteers, the Principality of Mingrelia and for a short time the Kingdom of Greece. With the British entry into the war, the Russians soon found out that their conscript infantry was woefully under armed with their large caliber smoothbore percussion and percussion conversion muskets. The British had adopted rifled arms for general issue to all line infantry regiments in 1851 with the Pattern 1851 Minié Rifle, and at the same time had taken their first steps towards a smaller bore weapon, as the .708” Minié Rifle was smaller in caliber than the earlier Pattern 1839 and Pattern 1842 .75 caliber British muskets. However, the real trump card of the English was their newly adopted Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle musket, a reduced caliber .577” bore long arm with three-groove rifling and an adjustable 900-yard backsight. The superiority of the new “Enfield” versus the Russian muskets was immediately obvious. The Crimean War ended in March of 1856, but the lessons learned by the Russians from the English would affect Russian small arms design for the next two-decades. This would lead to a massive overhaul of the Russian military small arms inventory in an attempt to modernize their military and bring it up to European standards.


This example of a Russian Model 1809 Musketoon is in about GOOD+ condition. The gun is essentially unmarked, which is not uncommon for Russian small arms produced prior to the 1820s. Prior to that time, arms were not regularly dated and serial (or assembly) numbered, as became standard during the later 1820s. The only clear and obvious arsenal marking is a large Russian Imperial Eaglestruck into the upper tang of the brass buttplate. It is not immediately clear if this is a Dragoon Musketoon or an Artillery Musketoon. References and sources in English regarding Russian arms of this period are nearly non-existent. Even the internet reveals only a very limited amount of information. We know it is not a CuirassierMusketoon because those arms were mounted with a sling bar, similar to those found on cavalry carbines. As this is simply a short version of the musket, was produced with a full stock, three barrel bands, sling swivels and a lug for a socket bayonet, we know it was intended for use by either the artillery corps or the dragoons.


As noted, the musketoon remains in about GOOD+ condition, with the largest condition issues being that that barrel appears to have been shortened about 3/8”, the stock has also been shortened about 7” and is now flush with the front edge of the middle barrel band. As a result of the missing wood, the upper barrel band and its retaining spring are missing. The musketoon measures 44 ¾” in overall length, with a 29 5/8” barrel with a seven-line smooth bore that measures .704”. A small stud-style angular socket bayonet lug is present under the barrel, 1” from the muzzle. The original low, wide brass blade front sight is attached directly to the barrel 2 5/8” from the muzzle. The flat, beveled iron lock measures 6 3/16” in length, with a small teat at the rear. The lock has been altered to percussion by brazing a percussion bolster over the original flint lock touchhole and adding a percussion hammer. The bolster is partially supported by the remnants of the removable iron flash pan. The barrel is retained by two of the three original brass barrel bands, with the upper band missing. The middle band is missing its retention spring and is held in place with a small finishing nail. The lower band retains its original retention spring. The original brass triggerguard, side plate and buttplate are in place, with the buttplate tang stamped with the Russian Imperial Eagle. Both of the original brass sling swivels remain present, one located on the front bow of the triggerguard and one on a lug under the forward strap of the double-strapped middle barrel band. What appears to be the original ramrod is present. The button-head iron rod measures 29 3/8” is probably slightly short of full-length, as no threads are present on the reverse of the rod. The birch stock has been shortened as noted and has the usual recessed cheek rest on its reverse. The musketoon shows moderate wear and has been cleaned in the past. The metal has been cleaned to a dull gun metal gray color, with scattered spot of surface oxidation and freckled roughness scattered over all of the iron surfaces. The lock remains mechanically functional, and retains the very heavy, original flintlock mainspring. The bore of the musketoon is moderately oxidized with even light to moderate pitting along its entire length. The brass furniture has been cleaned as well and is now starting to tone down with a mellow golden appearance. The stock shows the usual assortment of scattered bumps, dings and mars from handling and use. There is also some minor splintering and loss at the end where the stock was shortened to meet the front edge of the middle barrel band. There are also a couple of minor hairline cracks in the forend, as well as some minor splintering along the upper edge of the forend where it meets the barrel. Some initials or letters that appear to be Cyrillic are carved into the counterpane, opposite the lock.


Despite the modifications and wear, this still remains a reasonable example of a Russian Model 1809 Dragoon or Artillery Musketoon. These musketoons saw use in their flint configuration during the Napoleonic Wars, and as percussion alterations during the Crimean War. Despite valiant efforts, I cannot find any record of one of these rare Russian musketoons selling in the United State during the last decade or so. This would be a wonderful addition to any collection of historic Russian military arms, a collection of Crimean War arms, or even a collection of Napoleonic Wars weapons, even though it has been altered to percussion. For the talented historic gunsmith, this would also make a wonderful restoration project. I am quite sure that the new owner of this rare gun will be the only collector in his circle of friends to own one of these rare, early Russian Model 1809 Musketoons.


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Tags: Russian, Model, 1809, Musketoon, Extremely, Rare