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College Hill Arsenal :: Edged Weapons :: Bayonets :: American Copy of British Brown Bess Bayonet

American Copy of British Brown Bess Bayonet
American Copy of British Brown Bess Bayonet 

This is a very nice example of an early American made copy of a British “Brown Bess” Socket Bayonet. While the bayonet follows the basic pattern, and has the general appearance of the British socket bayonet that it is based upon, there are a substantial number of minor differences that clearly indicate that it is not of British manufacture, some of which are indicative of American made socket bayonets of the Revolutionary War era. The bayonet is made in a very workmanlike fashion, and was certainly produced by a competent maker, but does not show the quality of workmanship of an English made bayonet.

The bayonet measures about 20 Ό” in overall length, with a 16 5/8” long flat faced blade with a rather extreme taper and two flutes on the reverse of the face that measure about 13” in length. The socket is just under 4” in length, measuring 3.89” and has simple “Z” shaped mortise, cut for a top bayonet stud. The mortise has a long, 2 Ύ” entry cut that is .225” in width and terminates near the muzzle of the bayonet with a short Ύ” muzzle to stud length. The right-hand mortise cut at the point of rotation is .348” long, suggesting that the lug was about .34” in length. The socket has a muzzle diameter of about .895” and the rear of the socket is about .940” in diameter. The rear of the socket has a heavy reinforcement ring and is bridged. The rim measures .191” thick, and the rear of the rim shows the only markings on the bayonet, two sets of Roman numeral mating marks. One appears to be X V, while the other is also a X V, flanked by a pair of single angled slashes.

The most obvious difference between the British made Bess bayonet and this example is the visually shorter socket with an extraordinarily long mortise cut and a very short muzzle to stud distance. The socket of a typical Brown Bess bayonet of the period measures a full 4” in length, and has a typical muzzle to stud distance of between 1 ½” and 2”, resulting in a mortise that ends around the center of the socket, or slightly past the mid-point of the socket. The muzzle diameter of the socket is smaller than the nominal muzzle diameter for a .75 Brown Bess, but larger than .65 caliber “carbine bore” diameter of the various light infantry fusils and carbines in British service. However, the diameter is perfect for the nominally .69-.70 bores of American made musket fowlers and French imported firearms of the period. Another obvious visual difference between the British bayonets of the era and this example is the radical taper found along the length of the blade. Like most bayonets of the period, the socket, neck and rear most portion of the blade were made of iron, with the last few inches of the blade made of steel. A clearly visible angled weld mark, between 4 7/8” and 5 ½” from the neck, shows the transition between the iron and steel portions of the blade. However, unlike British bayonets, the forward portion of the blade is much narrower than most English bayonets, suggesting a desire to conserve the more valuable and scarce steel.

The bayonet is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition. It shows an old, light cleaning and now has a medium dull gray patina with some lightly toned oxidation and brownish coloration. The blade shows some scattered light pitting, particularly on the forward portion of the blade and on the socket. The mouth of the socket is slightly dented on the top, reducing the bore diameter vertically to about .853”, roughly .4” smaller than that actual bore diameter. This could probably be fixed if desired, but is likely a period modification to make the bayonet fit a smaller bore musket more tightly. The bayonet does show some minor tool marks, as would be expected of a Colonial era socket bayonet that was more than likely made by a workman who had not spent a lifetime producing socket bayonets.

Overall, this is a nice example of an early American socket bayonet, based upon the British patterns of the last quarter of the 18th century. This would be a nice addition to any American socket bayonet collection or to a collection of Colonial and Revolutionary War period arms, and is very reasonably priced for a weapon from that period.

SKU EWB-2348
Quantity in stock 1 item(s) available
Weight 2.00 lbs
Price: $550.00


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