This is a VERY FINE+ example of an incredibly scarce British rifle bullet mold. The mold is for the Brunswick rifle, and casts an elongated ball with two “wings” that engage the unique two-groove rifling of the Brunswick rifle. The Brunswick rifle was developed by the British as an attempt to circumvent the problems inherent in the use of muzzle loading rifles by the military. The standard 19th century smoothbore military musket fired a sub caliber round ball or buck & ball, which was quick and easy to load. Rifles required the solider to ram a tightly fitting patched round ball down the barrel, which took much longer than it did to load a smoothbore musket. As a result the musket could be fired 2 to 3 times faster than the rifle, making the rifle an impractical weapon for use by line infantry. The Brunswick rifle used a two-groove barrel and accepted a belted round ball that established the contact with the rifling by a mechanical fit between the barrel grooves and the belt on the ball. This allowed the ball to bore fit to be slightly less tight than on a traditional rifle, but still gave the shooters the advantages of rifled bore. The end result was the Brunswick rifle could be loaded somewhat faster than the traditional rifle. The Brunswick rifle was initially adopted in 1837 as the Pattern 1837 and subsequently superseded by the updated Pattern 1844. The Brunswick was outdated and made obsolete by the adoption of the P-1853 Enfield rifle musket and the new expanding base Pritchett ammunition, based upon the French Minié projectile. All of the standard British Army Brunswick rifles were produced in .704 caliber (with the exception of a handful of .654 prototype and early production arms). However, a .796 heavy caliber variant was made in small quantities for the British Navy. Brunswick pattern arms were also manufactured for the “Volunteer” market in England. The “Volunteers” were local militia, often organized around a shooting club. These guns tended to outwardly resemble standard military arms, but often had non-standard features or embellishments such as checkered stocks and engraving. Volunteer pattern Brunswick rifles were produced in the standard .704 two-groove caliber, as well as a with a reduced caliber .60 2-groove bore, and as a .63 gun with 7-groove Baker Rifle style rifling. During the American Civil War some 2,020 Brunswick pattern rifles were purchased by the Confederacy. According to invoices and receipts in the McRae Papers, all of the rifles were acquired from J.E. Barnett and Sons of London, through the primary Confederate military good supplier, S. Isaac, Campbell & Company. The rifles were delivered packed 20 to the case with 20 saber bayonets, two cone (nipple) wrenches and one bullet mold per case. The rifles were delivered in a total of eight lots between the fall of 1861 and the spring of 1862. As of the arms were delivered by Barnett, it is assumed that their viewing team of Curtis & Hughes inspected the arms for the Confederacy, and marked the guns with their CH / 1 viewers mark. To date, less than 10 of these CH/1 marked Brunswick rifles have been located, making them an extremely scarce Confederate import arm. Of the handful of known examples, several are the standard military caliber of .704 with a 2-groove bore, and some have the .63 caliber 7-groove Baker rifle style bore. The .704 guns are a mixture of surplus British military arms and Volunteer pattern guns. The .63 caliber guns are also of Volunteer pattern. It seems likely that at least some of the .60 2-groove Volunteer pattern guns were also imported by the Confederacy (although none have yet been located), because conical .60 bullets with 2-wings (aka .60 Brunswick bullets) have been excavated in known Confederate positions. These bullets are classified as MM-41 in Civil War Projectiles II – Small Arms & Field Artillery by W. Reid McKee & M.E. Mason Jr. and are shown on page 24 of their book. At least one Confederate document attests to Brunswick rifles having arrived in the Confederacy and having been issued. A military stores invoice from Charleston Arsenal dated August 27, 1862 lists the following items as being shipped to General Sterling Price at Tupelo, MS.:
260 British Rifles (two groove)
13 bullet molds
As the caliber of the guns is not listed, it is not clear if they are .704 or .60, but the invoice clearly states that they are “British Rifles (two groove)” so there is no doubt that they are of the Brunswick pattern. It is also documented that the 26th Louisiana Infantry was armed with Brunswick Rifles during the Siege of Vicksburg.
This is a VERY FINE+ .60 Caliber 2-Groove Brunswick Rifle Bullet Mold. The mold is in really lovely condition. The brass has a nice, untouched ochre patina, and the mold cavities remain bight and are in crisp, excellent condition. As is so often the case with British molds that were imported by the Confederacy, this one is completely unmarked. The exterior of the mold shows multiple scattered bumps, dings and mars from service and use. The original iron sprue cutter is in place and functions smoothly. The cutter retains about 50%+ of its original blued finish, which has faded and blended with a plum brown patina. The cutter is mostly smooth and shows only some lightly scattered pitting and pinpricking. As the bullet is cast with a solid base, there is no base plug, and the sprue cutter cuts the excess from the base, not the nose. The length of the mold body and arms is just less than 9” (about 11 ¾” including the sprue cutter) and has 7 ½” arms and a tapered mold block that is 1 ½” at its longest point. The mold block measures 1.6” tall and 1.35” wide. The cavity measures .60” at the widest point of the base, and the “wing grooves” in the mold are about .05” deep. The cavity measures 1.095” tall. As noted above, the cavity remains smooth and bright and would probably cast perfect bullets today.
Overall this is a great example of an incredibly scarce >.60 Brunswick Rifle Bullet Mold. The mold is almost certainly a Confederate import from England, and examples of the rare bullet that this mold casts have been dug in Confederate positions. For any advanced collector of bullet molds or Confederate import items from England, this is one of those very rare, “must have” pieces, that will not likely be offered for sale again any time soon. SOLD