The cost of Rifles.

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The cost of Rifles.

Postby Josh&Historyland » 15 Aug 2017 00:16

I was reading a book about American Civil War Sharpshooting rifles today, and came across a reference to the cost of manufacturing particular rifles. Between 1853-1857 Enfield Rifled Muskets cost £3.5s.1d each, and accordingly therefore defeated Whitworth's Rifle in terms of economy which was 3 times the price to make. According to my often wayward mathematics, this would mean that to arm 500 men with '53 Pattern Enfield's it would cost: £710.17s. In 2005 this equated to £41,606.5p according to the National Archives website. It got me to wondering at the cost of equipping the Crimean army with modern weaponry.

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Re: The cost of Rifles.

Postby Mark A. Reid » 15 Aug 2017 00:37

Hi Josh;

Those are some interesting figures, I learn something new everyday!

I wonder if this was a one-time-only price or an average of what was paid over a particular period? I only ask as the armaments business was, and probably still is, a pretty competitive industry with some rather sketchy marketing techniques involved on occasion. At a slightly later date, 1869, one of the largest American arms companies, the Providence Tool Company, offered the Peabody-Martini Rifle to the Ottoman Empire at the following price scale;

20,000 rifles @ $14.00 each
50,000 rifles @ $13.50 each
100,000 rifles @ $13.00 each

Bayonets, of course, cost extra and were available at a similar sliding price scale. I look forward to hearing what other members have to say.


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Re: The cost of Rifles.

Postby A.Roads » 15 Aug 2017 21:28

I wonder if this was a one-time-only price or an average of what was paid over a particular period?

The British Govt did not usually buy complete arms from the trade. Its main supply was: makers compete to provide parts, the parts were stored at the Tower, & from there issued to trades to be set up as completed guns. The price varied with the market supply & demand & the Govt was often frustrated in their attempts to get the prices they deemed fair. Of course there were times when the Govt had to resort to buying complete arms from elsewhere, when local supply was inadequate, such as the P/1853 rifles supplied from France, Belgium & America. Arms made elsewhere were usually found to lack the quality of Tower system made arms & were not favored. Prices fluctuated. Eventually the Govt set up its own facility, Enfield, & made high quality fully interchangeable P/1853 rifles & this eliminated a lot of the price fluctuations at that time.
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