The Jezail - underrated ?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Goatman, Dec 31, 2009.

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  1. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Grinding my way through " The Afghan Wars " by Tony Heathcote .

    Never handled or fired a jezail - and from Kipling's lines:

    A scrimmage in a Border Station -
    A canter down some dark defile -
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail -
    The crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride
    Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

    - I'd got the impression it wasn't up to much.

    Reading Tony Heathcote's book I was struck by the fact that during the Retreat from Kabul, the Britsh infantry (44th of Foot, now Royal Anglians) armed with the workhorse Brown Bess/Tower musket were outranged by the tribesmen attacking them.

    Disadvantage was that according to Heathcote , the weapon took three or four minutes to load, so well-drilled infantry using volley fire had the upper hand on an open battlefield.

    Ten Rupees might sound like tuppence....but I suspect in 1840s British India it would have bought you a horse ( or several women)

    Any of the black powder shooters out there ever fired a jezail ?

    Be interesting to hear a first hand account.

    Lee Shaver
  2. No idea about first hand accounts, but the fact of the matter is that Jezails are long barrelled weapons, especially compared to the Brown Bess - longer barrels as we all know confer greater accuracy and range, so i'm really not surprised that the British Infantry were outranged, or that the Jezail was a b@stard to reload. Length of a barrel - advantages and disadvantages.

    I guess that those PBI were wishing for a Baker Rifle or somesuch ;)
  3. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    The TWO most dangerous things in the world?

    1) An officer with a map

    2) A Sailor with a gun

    Thanks Yeo - calm seas and light winds ( and don't hit the sprogs with ACP1C Vol 2 too hard when they can't remember who takes Guide on a Search Turn !)

    Black powderites ? - prove!
  4. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    I posted this on the 'Shot by a Sniper' thread, it pretty much tells the story of them:

  5. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Yup seen via a quick search on Google images.....what the lil graphic doesn't say is that the ball was typically 0.60 calibre.....lot of knockdown..... which I suspect Tunic, Red Campaign Service was not proof against.

    Anyone fired one ?
  6. The stock looks weird.
  7. On the retreat from Kabul, the Brits were mostly following a track along the bottom of deep mountain gorges; they were fired on from above. Most of their casualties just came about when stragglers (women, children, servants and wounded) were butchered with swords and spears.......
  8. Not fired a Jezail... ( Even I am a bit wary of putting such a dodgy piece of ironwork next to my face..)

    I have however fired Kentucky rifles, which are roughly equivalent in terms of caliber (nearer .36 than .50 Goaty..), barrel length and build technology. They are capable of considerable accuracy, and I would rate them as effective easily out to 500m.

    Bakers were never that accurate as they traded loading speed for precision with a short barrel and slow twist, and were really only good out to 200m...
  9. 4(T)
    "On the retreat from Kabul, the Brits were mostly following a track along the bottom of deep mountain gorges; they were fired on from above. Most of their casualties just came about when stragglers (women, children, servants and wounded) were butchered with swords and spears."

    As I understand matters out of approx 16,000, there was a single Brit Battalion, The Military & Civilian Staffs and the Camp Followers who where the vast majority.
    Johnny Afghan had a field day butchering mainly arm less folk and have bragged about it ever since.
    Apologies Goatman I know nothing exotic weapons such as Jezail.
  10. Tell that to General Colbert :lol: LINKY

  11. I have fired a jezail, all be it a modern copy, with the Brown Bess lock, and at about .50 in caliber, it kicked like a donky but was reasonaby accurate at about 300yards which is over twice the range of a Brown Bess, some of the Jezails I have seen were almost 7ft long, the reason for this length , I was told was so they could be loaded from horseback by putting the butt on the ground. Some also had a sort of polyaganal rifleing, made be useing the Damascus twist technique of forgeing the barrel onto a polyagnal drift. this gives the weapon pretty good range for a weapon of that time.If ever you get the chance to visit Darha in Pakistan you can see the local gunsmiths make everything from a state of the art AK/M16 to a matchlock musket, and most are quite happy to let you try out there products, weel worth a visit, but perhaps not at present
  12. Well, the article you quote gives the range of the Baker as 150 -200 yards. The Colbert shot seems to have been remarkable even at the time.. :roll:
  13. I seem to remember that on the wall of The Kingshouse on the A84 north of Callender in Scotland there was a musket of a length about 6/7 feet a bit like a jazail
  14. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    no mate.......sorry, the 'if they had been up against PROPER soldiers, result would have been different " theory is not tenable .....the Regular Line battalion concerned, 44th of Foot (subsequently Essex Regt now Royal Anglians)lost 22 officers and 645 other ranks.

    More like a brigade than a battalion.


    Good book, worth a read......more relevant to understanding the current conflict than 'The Bear went over the Mountain'
  15. The largest recorded musket in Scotland is the Breadlbane gun, currently in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. It was appparantly used as the footrest in a banqueting table for many years and so survived..

    Scottish muskets are very rare beast as your average Heilander was a sword and pistol man by choice...

    Strangely enough Scottish rifles have a very jezail like "paddle" butt and mostly have snaphaunce locks rather than flintlock ones...

    It is one of my ambitions to manufacture reproduction Scottish rifles, however even the mention of such things sends the "Scottish Government" :roll: into a vertical launch sequence.... :evil: