A Kalashnikov from Vietnam

In this monthly blog series, our collections team write about their Object of the Month, chosen from our collection. In this month’s blog, Jonathan Ferguson, Interim Keeper of Firearms & Artillery, uncovers an interesting history behind this AK-47.  The Avtomat Kalashnikova or AK (strictly speaking, ‘AK-47’ was just a prototype) and its variants are found today in every active conflict zone. It is arguably the most important firearm in the world, taking the place of the Mauser bolt-action rifle. It is certainly theRead more

History of the term Brown Bess

Curator of Firearms, Jonathan Ferguson, gives us a peek at just some of the fascinating research that has gone into his article: ‘Trusty Bess’: the Definitive Origins and History of the term ‘Brown Bess’ ‘Twas then I thought on trusty Bess; Who, tho’ I knew she was but poor, I always found a faithful Whore.’ -’Fecit Recantatio Versum’ by Thomas Brown (1730) The smoothbore muzzle-loading musket, whether fitted with matchlock, flintlock or percussion lock, was the infantry soldier’s main weapon forRead more

Vetterli Vitali Rifle

In this monthly blog series, our collections team will write about their Object of the Month, chosen from our collection. In this month’s blog Lisa Traynor, Curator of Firearms, gives us a short history of PR.6375, Vetterli-Vitali Model 1870/87 Rifle and its fascinating journey from Naples, to Terni, to Larne, and finally how it arrived in the collection at Royal Armouries. One afternoon three years ago I took great pleasure in cataloguing PR. 6375, a centrefire Vetterli-Vitali Model 1870/87, bolt-actionRead more

M-41A ‘Aliens’ Pulse Rifle | Guns from the movies

‘I’d like to introduce you to a close personal friend of mine. M-41A pulse-rifle. 10 millimeter, with over and under 30 millimeter…pump-action grenade launcher’. So Corporal Hicks tells Ellen Ripley in Aliens (1986). In reality, of course, that weapon doesn’t exist yet, and this prop ‘rifle’ disguises a .45 calibre M1 Thompson sub-machine gun with parts from a SPAS-12 shotgun. Like much of the military equipment in ‘Aliens’, the M-41A was personally designed by director James Cameron. As is usualRead more