Rust in Pieces
January 29, 2017 11:28 PM   Subscribe

The Enfield P53 .577 musket-rifle was the standard longarm of the British Army for two decades starting in the 1850s, and also saw service on both sides of the American Civil War. In 2011 a 600 pound crate of these rifles was trawled up in Canadian waters almost 200 miles offshore. Archaeologists at Memorial University of Newfoundland are conserving the find. It's not the only such crate of rifles to come up from the bottom.
posted by Rumple (8 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I never suspected these restoration and preservation wallahs of playing such a long game:
[...] she hopes to stabilize the crate of Enfields intact, without having to separate each rifle, but the process still has a while to go.

“This soaking process will take many years and is done to prevent the wood from collapsing, cracking, or warping once dry and also to prevent any remaining iron from staining the wood surface,” she said.
posted by pracowity at 12:45 AM on January 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's sad that they never got to shoot anyone
posted by thelonius at 2:49 AM on January 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's sad that they never got to shoot anyone

The greater point of a gun's existence is to remind people of the potential consequences should tempers fray past the boiling.

Given rising tempers just now, not a bad thing to bear in mind.

I never suspected these restoration and preservation wallahs of playing such a long game

Check out the Hunley
posted by IndigoJones at 8:02 AM on January 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Between this article and the previous Forgotten Weapons links on this site, the IT security team at work probably think I'm planning to shoot up my office now.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:33 AM on January 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Interesting - this particular rifle (or rather, the cartridges used in it) is associated with one of the first great uprisings in colonial India against British rule, the "Sepoy Mutiny".

Wiki: Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857

The spark that led to a mutiny in several sepoy companies was the issue of new gunpowder cartridges for the Enfield rifle in February, 1857. British officers insisted that the new cartridges be used by both Muslim and Hindu soldiers, but the cartridges were made from cow and pig fat. Loading the Enfield required tearing open the greased cartridge with one's teeth. This insulted both Hindu and Muslim religious practices.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:32 PM on January 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I never suspected these restoration and preservation wallahs of playing such a long game

The initial preservation phase for Vasa took 26 years. Ok, it's a bit larger and had been under water for twice as long, but this kind of work definitely requires some serious patience...
posted by effbot at 1:53 PM on January 30, 2017

You can learn a lot from old guns, even the ones that never saw active use.

My father disassembled and brought home a Japanese rifle from the final stages of WWII. It is pretty representative of arms provided to the military at a point when Japan was feeling tremendous pressure. The bayonet remains coated with cosmoline grease, never used. It's a terrible weapon--poorly constructed of inferior materials. "The thing would likely have blown up in the hands of the soldier unlucky enough to be using it," Dad would remark. "The bayonet was the only useful part, and even that isn't very sharp."

As a former competitive shooter used to guns, handling this weapon gives me a vivid sense for the desperation the Japanese fighters must have experienced as the end drew near.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:19 AM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wonder is worst, having the world's shittiest rifle or having to wait for the guy in front of you whom with you are sharing a rifle to get killed before you have a rifle (apparently this is how it worked for a while in Stalingrad.)
posted by Mitheral at 7:06 PM on January 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

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