Patrick Ferguson (Inventor)
Patrick Ferguson was a brilliant marksman. His innovative ideas led him to improved Chaumette's breechloading mechanism. Used in sporting guns, Ferguson employed it in a military rifle. In 1776, the Ferguson Rifle was tested, at his own expense. The weapon was a sucess having a range of 250 yards, bettering the musket whose range was about 50 yards. Using the Ferguson Rifle, light infantry troops could continue loading and firing without breaking cover, even when lying prone.
Dimensions / Weight
Dimensions: 7.5" H x 49.5" W x 2.5" D
Ferguson breech loading rifle, .63 caliber.
This rifle is believed to be one of the prototypes Patrick Ferguson had made in 1775. He presented it to his friend Frederic de Peyster, a Loyalist officer from New York. It was given to the Smithsonian by Frederic's grandson, John Watts de Peyster in 1905.
This was one of the first breech loading rifles used in battle. The rifle employed a vertical rising screw breechlock. The breechlock was lowered by rotating the trigger guard. This exposed the chamber so the ball could be dropped in, the gunpowder poured in after and the breech closed without the use of a ramrod. This improvement allowed the rifle to fire four to six shots per minute.