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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Best Replica Brown Bess?

Section for re-enactors and those interested in the re-enacting of the Napoleonic period.

Best Replica Brown Bess?

Postby PerthHighlander » July 12th, 2015, 9:08 pm

Hello folks,
In the near future I would like to buy a replica Brown Bess. I have seen a number listed online which are inert, but which can be Proven to fire at a later date. However, it is often hard to get good images of the items being offered and is a whole new field of interest to me. I was hoping that some members of the forum might be able to point me in the 'right' direction. I do not want to buy something, which at a later date turns out to be a poor representation of this classic weapon.
Basically, I would like to buy a historically accurate inert Brown Bess. I think I would prefer one which could be, in the future, activated as my son is keen to join a group in the future.
Do any members have any recommendations and good images of the weapons they recommend?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and advice.
PerthHighlander
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Re: Best Replica Brown Bess?

Postby 348 White » July 13th, 2015, 7:30 am

PH,
I'd get a license fixed (for yourself if your lad is too young at the moment) and a working piece as there is little price difference with decent quality pieces if you are contemplating having work done to proof a piece at a later date you will be racking up the cost considerably as well! It takes time to get a license, so you might find having the license ready by the time you join a group means you can add to the firing line from the start when your lad joins.

It might be well to look at what particular groups you are considering joining, as some ask members to use a specific 'Bess' eg India Pattern, whilst some might have a collection of Napoleonic redcoats in a variety of matchlocks, dog locks, flintlocks, percussion pieces and cap firers, dummies of various levels of realism and even carbines! They might stipulate what style of sling is used as well. Some groups (certainly mine, have a pool of second hand firelocks, some of which are for sale to members).

Realistically, for the late period of the wars most British line infantry used an India Pattern (not Guards or 4th foot, whilst many Light Regiments used a light infantry version of the New land Pattern).

If you buy one, try have a friend with experience along if you are unfamiliar with firelocks, it's not unknown for dealers to try sell you the worst examples they have in stock (quality of mechanisms can vary tremendously in hand made pieces). Be aware that a lot of pieces need a 'tweak' to wrinkle out problems like slight miss-alignments, oversized screws, loose pins and frizzens that prove too soft, the dealer might fix this gratis, but don't rely on this...locating a reliable and economic gun smith is a good move, wherever you buy a piece from.

A lot of second hand ones might start cropping up new the waterloo200 re-enactment bandwaggon effect weakens...though its even more vital you check quality (and safety) of a piece. Good second hand pieces can save you a lot of extra expense if the owner has given it TLC, though make sure of the barrel interior and the inside of the lock if you can, plus check the stock for cracks and repairs.

Try purchasing a gun with a bayonet or that fits a bayonet you have, trying to find a bayonet to fit a piece can be tricky at times and might involve a bit of engineering work. Some suppliers offer the wrong style of bayonet and scabbard to fit their firelocks, so try check.

Henry Krank sells decent pieces, both working AND repro, though they often need a tweak and mine needed a lot of dark varnish and bits of filler removed.

If you want a fuller list with comments on price/accuracy etc drop me a message.

Good tip for a working gun is to get the piece's ID number stamped in a discreet place but accessible (if it's not already there) as unscrewing pieces at airports etc to get to a number at the bottom of the barrel can be a balls ache at times.

Try get someone with a clean piece that fires well to show you how he cleans it..some re-enactors have no idea or inclination.

Hope this helps.
348 White
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Re: Best Replica Brown Bess?

Postby PerthHighlander » July 13th, 2015, 12:43 pm

Hello,
Thank you for your very full answer. You have covered a number of points that I had not considered. I will send you a P/M with my email address as I would be interested to here your thoughts on makers and what is the going rate for a nice example.
I think that at first I would like to get an inert one, to hang on the wall. Over the years I have collected a number of swords and bayonets from later periods and one or two deactivated weapons. I always fancied getting an original Brown Bess, but have never been able to hide away enough money to get one! Maybe one day.
Many thanks.
PerthHighlander
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