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Fine & Rare Imperial Russian Brunswick Rifle

Fine & Rare Imperial Russian Brunswick Rifle

  • Product Code: FLA-1266-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

While it may be a little bit of a stretch to argue that this particular rifle saw American Civil War service, it is a fantastic example of a very rare Victorian era long arm. This fine Brunswick Rifle was produced in Liege, Belgium by PJ Malherbe & Cie under contract for the Russian government. The Russians adopted a copy of the British Pattern 1837 Brunswick Rifle as their rifled arm for limited issue to rifle regiments in 1843, and called it the M-1843 Luttich Carbine. Until the adoption of a smaller bore, rifled long arm in 1856 for general issue to the entire Russian infantry, this was the only rifled long arm in Russian service. These unique rifles were roughly .70 and used a special two groove rifling that turned at a very fast rate of one complete turn in the length of the 30” barrel. The very deep rifling grooves were designed to accept the molded belt that went around the round ball that the rifle was originally designed to fire. The Russians adopted a belted sugar loaf conical bullet instead of the British round ball, and used this conical projectile and these rifles to good effect against the British during the Crimean War. According to the Congressional Report on imported arms, issued by the second session of congress in 1862, approximately 22,000 Russian arms were imported by the US government in the early days of the American Civil War, most in December of 1861. It is generally assumed that these were all large caliber, smooth bore arms. However, since it is known Russian arms were purchased, and since it is also well known that the arms were often misclassified (arms that looked similar were often grouped together even if of different origin), there is the possibility that some of these rifles were imported. The Ordnance Department may have categorized these rifles as Belgian (based upon the maker mark) or a British (based upon their appearance). The important issue is that by the time the war broke out the Russians considered these guns obsolete, and there were arms purchased from Russia by the US government.

The rifle is in fine overall condition and is 100% complete and original. The gun has a 30” barrel and is stocked nearly to the muzzle in what appears to be beech wood. The barrel is retained by three flat keys and the upper sling swivel screw, and has a patent breech like the early British Brunswick rifles did. The barrel has a heavy saber bayonet bar numbered 7 (to match it to the hand fit bayonet), designed to accept the Russian version of the British Brunswick saber bayonet. The original long-range rear site (that was supposedly developed by Colt) is present just forward of the breech, and the iron blade front site present at the end of the barrel. The gun is trimmed with brass furniture, including the butt plate, nose cap, trigger guard and patchbox. The rifle retains both of its original sling swivels, the as well as the original brass tipped, heavily cupped rammer and the original screw-in bras jag is located in the patchbox. The back action lock is clearly marked PJ Malherbe & Cie / A Liege and the bolster is marked 854. The same number is engraved on the brass butt plate as well. The butt plate also has an Imperial Russian Eagle engraved on it as well. A small oval brass disk is located on the wrist of the gun, with the Imperial cypher of Czar Nicholas I engraved on it. Nicholas I ruled Russia from 1825 through 1855. The action of the gun works crisply, with both full cock and half cock operating perfectly. The barrel is of fine twist steel as were the early British made Brunswick’s and the Damascus pattern is still quite visible on the barrel, especially close to the breech. The barrel retains about 20%-30% of the original browned finish, with the balance a mixture of brownish and gray patina. There is some scattered peppering over the barrel, but overall the condition of the metal is fine. The brass furniture has a medium yellow patina to it, with some age discoloration spots. The stock is fine and complete with no breaks, cracks or repairs. The stock does exhibit the normal bumps and dings from service, but is in fine condition, matching the metal condition well.

While we may never know for sure if these Brunswick rifles ever made it to the US for Civil War use, we do know that they were rare and special weapons during their time of use with the Russian army. We know that they served well in the Crimean War, and that today only a handful of these rifles are known to exist. Other than the one pictured in Whisker, Yantz & Noe’s Firearms From Europe most collectors have never even seen one. Whether your collecting specialty is simply European long arms of the Victorian Era, the Crimean War, English arms and their derivatives or Civil War era arms, this is a rifle that could easily be the centerpiece of an advanced collection. It is 100% complete and original and in truly fine condition. I honestly believe that it would be nearly impossible to upgrade from this fantastic and rare rifle.


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Tags: Fine, Rare, Imperial, Russian, Brunswick, Rifle