Object Title

Model 1805 New Land Pattern Light Infantry Musket


With the proposal for the adoption of a new musket in 1804, the New Land Pattern, it was inevitable that other new arms would be considered to accompany it. With the conversion of the 43rd and 52nd Regiments into light infantry in 1803 the Adjutant General sent to the Secretary of the Board of Ordnance a pattern of lighter musket which the King had decided should be adopted and  produced to arm these specialist troops. Orders were then issued for a modified version of the New Land Pattern to be produced, specifying “The barrel shall be browned, [and] a grooved sight shall be fixed at the Breech end of the barrel and a canvas cover similar to that used by the Austrian troops shall be provided for the purpose of covering and protecting the butt and lock of each piece.” It was the desire that the Light regiments have a musket suitable for their new role. Interestingly there is here a stated requirement for ‘browned barrels’, clearly an admission that light infantrymen should be as inconspicuous as possible – no glinting barrels in the sun.


A number were delivered for trial in 1804, unfortunately they were poorly made and their use was therefore limited. With the resumption of hostilities in 1804 both models of the New Land Pattern musket, the 1804 and the lighter 1805, had to give way to the simpler India Pattern that could quickly be made in quantity. In August 1804 the Master General informed the Commander-in-Chief “that the extreme pressure of business at present in every branch of the Ordnance Dept. precludes the possibility of the sort of Fuzee [musket] you propose being furnished for the Light Infantry Regiments.”


The British Army’s experience during the campaigns in Spain proved the usefulness and utility of light troops, so interest in a light musket to arm them was rekindled. By 1810 the Ordnance had revisited the earlier 1804 design and added some refinements especially to enhance its lightness, in particular a reduction in barrel length from 42 to 39 inches, a small block back-sight, the introduction of a scroll type pistol grip and a smaller lock. Initial orders from the Ordnance were issued in 1812 and production of 20,000 Model 1805 Light Infantry muskets commenced. They were to see service, not only in Spain with Light Infantry battalions and the light battalions of Kings German Legion, but also in the American campaigns of 1814.

Use and Effect

In terms of use, the Model 1805 New Land Pattern Light Infantry musket was little different from either the contemporary Pattern 1804 musket or the earlier India Pattern musket especially as it had the same barrel length. Analysis of the use of muskets in 19 battles between 1750 and 1830 show that the average engagement distance for infantry was 64 yards and that closing fire, when infantry was advancing and firing was delivered at a mere 30 yards. The Light infantry version was deemed to be more accurate and with better range, being ligher to boot.   In terms of rate of fire a British infantryman was expected to manage 3 rounds a minute when in combat.  In terms of effect tests carried out by the East India Company in 1834-5 at Bombay using a Light Infantry musket showed that it could penetrate three one inch thick deal planks set 12 inches apart at 60 yards and then passed through the third three layer set of planks. This set of results was with the service charge of 6 drams of good quality British powder and when you observe the slow motion footage of a musket ball penetrating a gel block and shattering a simulated bone you can well understand the damage that musket balls wrought on the field of Waterloo.


Barrel length 99.5 cm (39 in)
Calibre 19 mm (0.75 in)
Country of manufacture Britain
Date entered service 1812
Loading Muzzle-loading
Overall length 140.6 cm (55.3 in)
Weight 4 kg (9.6 lb)


Mark Murray-Flutter