M1843 Navy musket/pillar breech rifle

M1843komplettvertThe Kongsberg naval percussion musket from 1843 is truly a beautiful, well-designed and aesthetic gun. It was also one of the first military percussion long-gun in the world to be approved.

Any Kongsberg produced long-gun from before the kammerlader is rather scarce, but this is a musket you actually might find every now and again. Whilst the other Norwegian muskets from the first half of the 1800’s really only were copies of Swedish guns, the M1843 is a true Norwegian design. As far as I know, there were produced less than 900 of this musket.

You more often than not find the M1843’s in close to perfect condition (either that, or as complete relics). Usually they have never been restored, there is not even a trace of rust, the stock is without nicks and dents, 90 % or more of the original milk-chocolate coloured staining of the barrel is still there, the original grease from the 1800 might still be on, but the ramrods are just about always missing. The reason for this being that the ramrod sticks some 2 cm further out than the muzzle and ends in a sharp, twisted tool with two sharp spikes for pulling out stuck bullets. These will get caught in and tear up just about anything. No wonder it was removed and lost.

In addition to the smooth bored musket, the M1843 was also made as a sniper rifle with advanced sights. These are extremely scarce. I can only remember having seen one (my own), but I know that our military museum and another collector also has one each.

When I first saw this rifle, I was surprised that it had such an advanced rear sight, but it did not occur to me that it might be a rifle. First after sticking a finger in the muzzle, I noticed that the shallow rifling.

Why at all make a rifled version? I’ve tried the question out on a number of potentially knowledgeable people. The best suggestions so far are that they were to be used by an artillery assistant (similar to a petty officer), a “vaktkompani” (Guard Company) or by naval soldiers (a predecessor of the navy seals/green berets etc. established at about this time). The condition of the rifle indicates that it never were put into use.

The rifle might of course be a later conversion of the M1843. The rear sight “looks very 1850’s” and there seems to be a pillar in the barrel. This could indicate that the rifle was converted to a pillar breech in the early 1850’s. On the other hand, with a production year as late as 1848 it might well have been produced as a rifle.

M1843munning

The smooth bored musket I have today is number 842 from 1845. I also used to have # 188 from 1848. My rifled M1843 (or whatever it should be called) is # 265 from 1848 and the one at Forsvarsmuseet is three-hundred-and-something, also from 1848. The serial numbers of this long-gun seem about as logical as the ones on the M1859 kammerlader!

Although the M1843 is a somewhat scarce musket, Norwegian naval arms tend to be less expensive than the army’s guns. All navy documentation was burned during WW2 and the usual main source of collectors’ information thereby is non-existing. With a bit of luck, you can pick up a M1843 musket without the ramrod for just a little bit more than a common kammerlader in the same condition.

What the rifled version is worth? Probably a lot less than one would believe, considering how scarce it is. It is too scarce and too unknown to have generated any degree of interest and with the lack of documentation on the rifle and its use, the value is probably a maximum of 50 % above the “common” smooth bored version. If, on the other hand, a couple more of these rifles pop up and there are published articles on it, the value just might soar!

The picture shows the M1843 smoothbored naval musket on top and the pillar breech rifle with a snipers rear sight at the bottom. The rifle is covered by a thin layer of grease from the 1800's that now is as hard as varnish.
The picture shows the M1843 smooth-bored naval musket on top and the pillar breech rifle with a snipers rear sight at the bottom. The rifle is covered by a thin layer of grease from the 1800′s that now is as hard as varnish.

I’m always interested in more Kongsberg muskets/rifles, so if you by chance should have one, please mail me at .