The Brown Bess, also known simply as the Flint Musket and mistakenly as the Rifle, is a muzzle-loading, flintlock musket that served as the standard long gun of the British Army for over a century.
As the foremost infantry weapon of the United Kingdom throughout their era of imperialism, it saw service in conflicts such as the Seven Years' War, the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolutionary Wars, and the First Anglo-Afghan War. Among the first firearms in human history to undergo standardization, the Brown Bess was classified into a variety of distinct "land patterns", such as the India Pattern utilized by the East India Company, each of which were produced to specific standardized lengths and weights.
An epitome of flintlock muskets, the Brown Bess consists of a long, smoothbore barrel and a gunstock, both of which are carved from wood. Shots are loaded through the muzzle—a trait universal among muskets. This reloading process can be exceedingly long owing to the need to clear the barrel of residue before using a ramrod to insert another musket ball. With the ability to load and fire only one shot at any given time, the rate-of-fire of a Brown Bess, like any firearm of its day, is inferior to that of even a traditional bow.
"Brown Bess" itself is a nickname whose origin is unknown but some speculate that it is derived from Queen Elizabeth I of England. While early muskets were not built to standard specifications, the British Empire quickly came to see their necessity. Thus, the Brown Bess was a pioneer in this venue, with a variety of standardized derivatives, known as "land patterns", designed based on the geography of their intended deployment. Functionally identical, Brown Bess land patterns were distinguished chiefly by a variance in barrel length and overall weight and length. Aside from this, to stay relevant, Brown Bess muskets received numerous upgrades over its more than a century of use.
First developed in the early 18th century, the Brown Bess muskets had become the standard service long gun of the British Army by the Seven Years' War. Decades later it was the predominant musket seeing action in the American Revolutionary War, for the conflict was waged by rebels in the British colonies. Accordingly, it was the principal musket of the Continental Army as well. Although the French developed their own musket, the Charleville musket, the Brown Bess was commonly used in the French Revolution; one particular model was popularly known as the National Guard Musket for its service with the National Guard. So popular was the Brown Bess with the British that as late as 1841, their soldiers still employed the musket even in spite of advances in firearm technology. The East India Company deployed "Riflemen" equipped with the musket in their wars against the Sikh Empire and Afghanistan, notably the First Anglo-Afghan War.
|Seven Years' War||Musket||N/A||N/A|
|French Revolution||Flint Musket||2||2||1||8||250₣||Additional damage: +25%|
|French Revolution||National Guard Musket||2||2||1||8||250₣||Additional damage: +25%|
|French Revolution||Rifle||3||3||1||8||1,000₣||Additional damage: +25%|
|Sikh Empire||Indian Pattern||N/A||N/A|
- Although the Brown Bess was the predominant musket used throughout the American Revolution, the long gun in Assassin's Creed III is actually a hybrid. It has the distinctive stepped handguard shape and flintlock mechanism of the brown bess combined with the barrel hoops of British Army Pattern 1853 Enfield Minié rifle and the highly curved stock with decorative brasswork on the buttplate of a Kentucky flintlock rifle. However, a proper Brown Bess is used by the British in the E3 UK cinematic trailer.
- In the promotional screenshots of Unity the guards wield the Assassin's Creed III hybrid version of the gun which was replaced with more visually authentic model in the final game.
- The Unity and Rogue versions of the Brown Bess are the most faithful to the real weapon in terms of appearance.
- In Assassin's Creed: Unity, the term rifle is not properly distinguished from musket, and the most powerful of the three variants of Brown Bess muskets in the game is incorrectly named "Rifle".
- In Unity, the first two of three variants of the Brown Bess muskets, the Flint Musket and the National Guard Musket are entirely identical in appearance and stats and yet are two distinct weapons.
- It is historically inappropriate to have the British Brown Bess as the standard issue weapon of the French National Guard as seen in Unity. A more appropriate musket would have been the Charleville musket and in fact the Charleville is appropriately seen used by the National Guard in the E3 cinematic trailer.
- The Brown Bess is used by the German soldiers in the time anomaly in Unity. Most likely it stands in for the K98k rifle.
- The Brown Bess used by the East India Company Riflemen appears to be based on the Denix produced replica as evidenced by the brass barrel hoops and the non-stepped shape of the handguard.
- Assassin's Creed III (as an erroneous model)
- Assassin's Creed: Rogue
- Assassin's Creed: Unity
- Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India (first identified as "Brown Bess")