Naval Small Arms Fire

During WW1 the navy used the Webley 11.6mm self loading pistol {a variant of the basic model which the army used} and the Lee Enfield .303-inch rifle. In WW2, the pistol had been joined by/replaced by the Browning 9mm pistol but the Lee Enfield remained the main issue weapon.

Prior to WW1, various weapons were used as small arms and these included the .303-inch Lee Metford MK1, the Martin Henry .402-inch, the Enfield Martin .402-inch and the .303-inch Lee Metford Mk II.

Before the American Civil War [1861] all rifles were single shot and it was during this war that the famous Winchester Repeater Rifle was designed consigning all single shot rifles used by armies and navies to the rubbish bin. The pistol used throughout the Boer War [1899-1902] was the Webley Mk IV.

Moving further back in time to the Crimean War and before it [1854] we see the use of the Muskets [single shot devices] and the percussion pistols/revolvers, and not that many years before this period, the powder-shot pistols, the musket/flintlock, the swords/sabres and the cutlass.

So, in my snippet, I have chosen to show you two outstanding examples of naval small arms, one which pre dates the first naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars, the Glorious First of June {1794} and is called a volley gun, and the second, a Colt Naval Pistol, which came in exactly between the last battle {or more correctly war} of the Napoleonic Wars in 1812 namely the war between England and America and the start of the Crimean War. 

This magnificent 'beast' dates from as long ago as 1779 [when Nelson was just 21 years of age] and was called a 7-barrelled volley gun..

Volley guns were designed by James Wilson and presented to the Board of Ordnance for trials in 1779. The Board decided these guns would be of most use on board ships and consequently they were purchased by the Admiralty for use in the fighting tops of naval vessels. Henry Nock became sole supplier of these weapons to the Navy.

It appears that their first use was with Admiral Howe's fleet at the siege of Gibraltar in 1782.

However, as all seven barrels fired at once, there was considerable risk of setting fire to the sails and thus the entire ship and so these guns were seldom used on board ship.

Also as the barrels were rifled, they were difficult to load as well as delivering a ferocious kick from the recoil.

Can you imagine this weapon being used for a Feu-de-Joie ?

Percussion revolver owned by Admiral Sir Lewis Beaumont 1847-1922.

The stock has a polished wood grip with a steel butt plate. There is a solid steel frame and silver plated trigger guard. The lock is a single action, six-chambered cylinder with roll on die engraving. The barrel is octagonal, with under-lever rammer, rifled with seven grooves. A brass pin forms the foresight. The rear sight is a 'V' cut into the hammer. The calibre is 0.36in. The revolver is inscribed on the cylinder with an engraving depicting the battle between ships of the Texas and Mexican Navy dated 16 March 1843.

Beneath the panel containing Colt's Patent No is engraved 'W L Ormsby New York'. The barrel is inscribed 'ADDRESS COL COLT LONDON'. The serial number '23774' is stamped on the trigger guard, frame, cylinder and loading lever. The proof mark of the London Gunmaker's Company is stamped on the cylinder and barrel.

The revolver is in a mahogany case lined with blue velvet and contains a powder flask stamped 'Colts Navy Flask', twin cavity steel mould stamped 'Colt's Patent', 'L'-shaped turnscrew, nipple key, cleaning rod, cap tin, spare spring, quantity of round and conical balls.

Samuel Colt patented his first single action revolver in 1835. Thousands of the Colt Navy Model were produced for the British forces in the Crimea War. Colt's London Armoury was in existence from 1852-1857.

This example was owned by Admiral Sir Lewis Beaumont and taken by him when, as a Lieutenant, he served on the Arctic Expedition of 1875-1876 on the surveying vessel HMS 'DISCOVERY'.

and then a new pusser's rifle...remember it ?