During the early 18th century, the brig represented a compromise between the more powerful classes of ship, such as the frigate and Man O' War, and the faster, but less well-armed schooner and gunboat. A brig bore two masts, and was capable of fielding, on average, twenty-four guns over a single gun deck and the main deck; on top of this, they were commonly fitted with a naval ram.
In battle, brigs typically alternated between delivering broadsides and ramming. They could move faster than most ships but could be easily checked by fire barrels.
One notable brig in operation during this time was the Jackdaw, owned by a pirate named Edward Kenway. The Jackdaw was unique in that it was significantly more well-armed and armored than others of its class, fielding armaments on a par with the Man O' War.
Another notable brig was the Aquila, captained by Edward's grandson, Ratonhnhaké:ton. The Aquila was the one-time flagship of the Assassin fleet, but after decades at sea, her damaged shell was left to erode and decay in the bay at the Davenport Homestead. During the American Revolution, she was rebuilt and participated in many naval engagements on the East Coast and in the Caribbean.
- When incapacitating a brig, the rudder (the rear of the ship used for steerting) simply disappears rather than fall when it was being demasted unlike frigates or Men O' War.