Looking into my next purchase: Brown Bess


December 6, 2010, 09:58 PM
I'm a nostalgic type a guy and looking into a Brown Bess musket, .75 caliber. Any info would be appreciated. My only flintlock I have now is the Lyman Great Plains Rifle in .50 RB.

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December 7, 2010, 12:38 AM
Been contemplating a 3rd model, India Pattern myself. Talked to quite a few knowledgeable people and still can't decide between a used Italian copy or a new Indian copy. Looking at the prices of some of the original India Pattern muskets makes me think I should just get the real thing and keep it as an antique/conversation piece rather than paying half as much for a firing copy

December 7, 2010, 11:16 AM
I'd find a used Pedersoli. They turn up for $700-$800 a lot. Mine was abused but I got it for $650 and it cleaned up OK. Still a few dark spots in the bore but it gets more shiney every time I shoot and clean it. Overall, I like the tarnish and patina on mine - makes it look like it just came off a battlefield.

December 7, 2010, 01:40 PM
There are several nice looking Brown Bess muskets on Gunbroker in the $600 range. Dixie gun works also carries several brands and Track of the Wolf has a Bess kit for the adventurous.

December 7, 2010, 09:36 PM
Gotta be careful of just buying a Bess. Some are Indian, which is OK or not depending on who you ask.
Reenactors argue over this. A lot. I brought it up once and almost started a shooting war over it. I'm pretty sure there are some who would still like to bayonet me because of that discussion.
Don't bring it up. Just research it yourself.
But there are no safety concerns with a Pedersoli as long as it's in decent shape and the shooter is educated on using a muzzleloader.

FWIW, the Long Land Bess kit at TOTW is a sweetheart. If I had the skill and money I'd love to have a Long Land Bess - it covers a longer historical period and is accurate for French and Indian War (Second Model Besses are not, but many still seem to use them).

If you can spend $30 or so, or find it at a library, check out Of Sorts For Provincials for info on guns of this era.

And everyone who handles my Bess loves it. Recoil is gentle with 85 grains of FFg and a .715 round ball, definitely more slow push than a sharp rap. I also prime with FFg and since the vent is a little low in the pan of my Bess, ignition is just a little slow if I overprime at all. It has taught me follow-through.

December 8, 2010, 12:21 AM
My current interest is the Peninsular war, thus my desire for the 3rd or India Pattern. Another good book to find is Red Coat and Brown Bess by Anthony D. Darling

December 8, 2010, 06:10 AM
goon ... since the vent is a little low in the pan of my Bess, ignition is just a little slow if I overprime at all...

goon, you can correct that situation with out a lot of expense or tools if you are somewhat handy. I had a flintlock that needed the touch hole raised from the bottom of the pan. I plugged the existing hole with a nail, filed it smooth to the face of the barrel and drilled a new hole in the proper spot. The nail in the old hole was used to prevent the drill from wandering whenI cut the new hole. I also installed a liner and that completely removed the old hole. It may nt be historically correct but it beats dealing with a buggered touch hole.

December 8, 2010, 06:13 AM
During the BiCentennial, I believe a lot of the Brown Bess reproductions were imported from Italy and maybe Japan. Some of those may be available. I handled one, cut down to +/- 32" and it was a joy to handle.

December 8, 2010, 06:53 AM
Been shooting Brown Bess Muskets since the 80s. This is one of my favorite muzzle loading long guns. You have the big patched round ball if you want to hunt large game and being a smooth bore, you can load it like a shotgun for smaller. I get good accuracy from mine within the limits of a smoothbore. I would not hesitate to take a hunting shots out to 50 ~ 60 yards. But, in reality most deer in our area are taken 30 yards or less ~ so it more than fits the accuracy bill. I have shot them with decent results out to 100 yards on the range. Lot of fun and folks are naturally drawn to the big flintlock (big boom, lots of smoke), so be prepared to spend some time visiting.

My first Bess was one of the Dixie Japanese models (no longer available). I had this gun shortened for ease of carry and had it for about 20 years. Don't know why, but, I had one of those moments where I sold it. After about a year of regret, I broke down and bought one of the Pedersoli Brown Bess Carbines. Got lucky, and mine came with a beautifully grained stock. I put multiple coats of Birchwood Casey plum brown finish on the barrel and wound up with a beautiful burgandy brown color. The fit and final finish of the gun from the factory was on par with some custom made guns I have owned.

I've been extremely happy with mine and would not hesitate to recommend the Pedersoli. Great quality guns.

December 8, 2010, 12:20 PM
Thanks. I've considered that, and may do it at some point, but as long as I prime correctly it goes off fast enough with FFg prime that I can't notice a delay. But it's definitely lower than I would like. I wondered how I'd keep the bit from wandering while drilling a pilot hole though - now I know how its done.
Did you use a drill press or will a hand drill work?

December 8, 2010, 12:38 PM
The Mikuru and Pedersolis have the best rep for quality among the factory made ones. The Indians have a growing following and are a lot easier to get. It sort of comes down to what you're going to do with it. If you're reenacting any defarbed piece should work provided it's the correct period. If you're just doing some fun shooting with it, again you won't need to buy the best. If you're shooting big game with full charges, getting one with a proofed barrel isn't a bad idea.

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