A .450 caliber single shot musket by William Soper
Serial no. 684. .450 (likely a .450 No. 2 Musket). 33 1/4 inch barrel marked, W. Soper, Rifle and Gun Maker, Reading, England. with three position tangent sight. No rear alignment line. Barrel marked Soper's Patent. indicating Soper's patented rifling. Soper's 1868- patent rotating breech single shot action. Action is opened, cocked, the spent round ejected by pressing down on a lever on the right side. Military style full length stock of contrasting straight grain walnut. Cleaning rod. Steel buttplate.
Condition: Very Good. Metal shows silver patina with staining, mostly on the barrel. Some corrosion on buttplate. Bright bore with well-defined rifling. Refreshed wood shows some minor nicks and scratches.
Data: Weight: 8 pounds 6 ounces.
This class of guns are called Military Breech Loaders or MBL. They were constructed to meet the requirements of the British National Rifle Association regulations, Class 1b, for military breech loading target rifles. The Henry (1865), the Soper (1868), and the Westley Richards (1872) were the initial actions used for these rifles in the late 1860s early 1870s. However due to the total rifle weight limitations of the regulations, future developments focused on light weight, self-cocking actions thereby allowing the weight of the barrels to be increased which lead to increased accuracy. By the early 1880s, the Farquharson, the Deeley-Edge, the Webley-Wyley and the Frazier had replaced those actions in this class of rifle.