British Sergeant’s Musket Tool

The British have a well earned reputation for quality hand tools. This extends to the musket tools they issue to their soldiers. When we took Vicksburg large numbers of British made P53 Enfields were absorbed into Grant’s Army. A few made it into our regiment for a while but we opted to keep our M1841 rifles as most thought them as good if not superior to the English offering.

I had the opportunity to see some of these musket tools and thought them a quality tool. The one I was handed was of superb quality with tools that were quite useful when dealing with any Enfield pattern arm. Though experience with the hand made nature of most of the Enfield pattern arms showed me that the threads on ramrods were not always consistent and the worm and ball puller did not fit every ramrod.

During the course of the I handled at least four different version of this tool. The two versions of the Sergeant’s tool were the more complete and generally of better quality. The Sergeant’s tool had a removable handle that when paired with the ramrod gave considerable leverage on a ramrod, an oiler, oil bottle, worm, turn screw, ball puller, mainspring vise and nipple wrench as well as a nipple pick. The various privates tools lacked several aspects of the Sergeant’s tool but were serviceable.

I found the US M1855 musket tool with it’s three turn screws, nipple wrench and mainspring vise to be every bit as useful and considerably lighter and simpler to use. But it required me to also carry a ball puller, worm and oiler as well in a small leather bag. They weren’t all contained in one tool. The advantage was that they seemed more robust and had to have cost considerably less to manufacture.

I am a simple man and generally prefer simple things to the more complicated. That said the British Sergeant’s tool had almost everything needed to service and repair a rifle in the field in one compact package. I saw a good number of them during the war and as they were good quality tools I expect many made their way home with soldiers of each army as a small keepsake that was also useful with their own civilian arms.