The pattern 1777 Brown Bess is one of the least encountered Brown Bess variants on the modern collector market. Noted Revolutionary War arms collector George C. Neuman wrote the following about this variation in his book Battle Weapons of the American Revolution:
"During the great emphasis on increasing production after France's active entry as America's ally in 1778, the disciplined system installed by the Board of Ordnance had to be relaxed in some instances. Several thousand firearms were accepted as final weapons from contractors without complete Tower-issued components or interim inspections, allowing the independent gunmakers to include their own barrels, locks, and brass furniture...the official form was followed but an S-shaped convex side plate without a tail was substituted, which was the design in use on the India Pattern Musket being manufactured for the British East India Company. [Additionally] the sloped "Pratt's Improvement" rammer thimble...and humpbacked profile of the cock also gained acceptance [these were also designs taken from the India Pattern gun]."
In addition to barrels and furniture, the independent gunmakers who provided the 1777 pattern guns to the crown also furnished their own locks in many instances; and because these guns were built under relaxed "wartime" conditions, these locks are often found marked with maker's names - something lock makers had been banned from doing since the Board of Ordnance began requiring all Brown Bess locks be marked simply with "TOWER" starting in 1759. In fact, locks marked with with only the maker's name, and without the East India Company's "EIC" seal engraved on the tail have become key factors in distinguishing Revolutionary War-period Pattern 1777 guns from the later Pattern 1779-S muskets that were produced after the war from 1793-1795. These later guns are most easily distinguished by their TOWER marked 3rd model lock plates, but are otherwise largely the same as the Pattern 1777 guns.
This particular musket is in good condition. It shows a lot of use but is a well preserved example.
The stock is good with no areas of rot or worm holes. There is some cracking along the top of the barrel channel on the left side of the forearm, but it is quite stable and at no risk or breaking or chipping further. The same can be said about a very old break and subsequent repair of the forestock, found between the rear and middle ram rod thimbles - it is very strong and does not move, thanks to some modern preservation efforts to stabilize it. There remnant of some original acceptance marks can be found on the belly of the butt stock behind the trigger guard, and there are some old museum inventory numbers found on leftside counterpane, and the right side of the forearm.
The lock is still in its original flintlock configuration, and the cock holds solid on both full and half cock. The frizzen spring functions correctly as well, although the frizzen is quite worn. The lock is marked "Moore", and was made by Daniel Moore a gunmaker who built both military and commercial muskets from 1772 to 1802.
The barrel is full length and still retains its original Tower barrel proofs (foregoing proof testing was one concession that the Board of Ordnance was unwilling to make). The bore is dark and rusted.
The furniture is all original, and includes some colonial modifications, like the addition of a heavy trumpet style full length iron ram rod and the removal of the sling swivels (Neuman mentions both of these modifications were of made by American colonists).
This musket just oozes Revolutionary War history. Unlike its better-known counter parts the Longland and Shortland Pattern musket, which could have been issued to troops in any number of remote Colonies around the globe, the P1777 was actually built expressly for use in North America in response to France's entry into the war. For this reason, the P1777 Brown is considered by many to be the quintessential Revolutionary War musket.