JAPANESE ~M1868 ALBINI-BRAENDLIN
GENERALLY: Hunnycutt and Anthony, in Military Rifles of Japan, Fifth Edition, write that the Japanese copied the British P1855 percussion musket in .577 calibre. (See the link below to a similar and representative example identified as a P1860 percussion short pattern). They also offer a photograph of an Albini-Braendlin conversion of an "1865 Tower" (c.f., photos below for similar). Markings on that example include an Imperial Chrysanthemum (see example in photos of: A second Japanese Albini Rifle below and Kanji indicating inventory of the Hunnycutt and Anthony pictured rifle in 1871, which is about correct for the rifles illustrated here also. Additional charecters on the Hunnycutt and Anthony breechblock and tang indicate modification and issuance of the rifle to the Japanese Army. They add that "Both Tower and Enfield rifles of this period were converted to the Braendlin-Albini (sic)system, ..." and indicate that the highest serial number reported is 1368. Note that the serial numbers of the rifles represented on these pages include: 1367, 1399, 15857 (which is the serial number of the receiver and breech block, that is, of the conversion, not necessarily the serial number of the rifle itself, a different number of which appears with two numerals (_ 84) visible but is likely three or four, and _____ . (note: still waiting on an e-mail). This suggests that the rifles pictured here fall squarely within the Hunnycutt and Anthony descriptions.
It isn't known whether these rifles were British conversions or were converted by the Japanese using British and/or Europeon parts. Conversions were going on in all three places during the time of these rifles.
Caliber is .577, usually indicated by the bore size of "25" stamped on the left side of the barrel. Some rifles are proofed with Birmingham proof marks which would indicate that the underlying 25 bore percussion rifle was not a Japanese manufactured copy, but this doesn't tell us who undertook the conversion. Upon conversion to Albini-Braendlins these rifles were chambered for the .577 Snider cartridge.
PHOTO: The rifle shown above is a Japanese marked, ostensibly British built, Albini-Braendlin 5-groove short pattern rifle. Note that the checkering on the forestock of this example is not original to the rifle nor to the Japanese, but was just some dufus, futzing around, and should be ignored if not roundly condemned!
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: The key feature of the Albini-Braendlin design in general is that the hammer drives a striker longitudinally through the closed breech block, which contains the actual spring-loaded firing pin, thus the heavy striker bolt effectively locks the breech closed at the moment of ignition. The breech stays locked and unopenable until the hammer is pulled back, drawing the striker with it. Distinguishing characteristics of the Japanese Albini-Braendlin rifles are that the lock is a "standard" forward lock design as distinct from the back-action lock found on the Belgian M1853/67 Albini-Braendlin and similar rifles; they appear to all be 2-band "short pattern" models, and they usually have Japanese Kanji somewhere on the receivers. Further, with it's forward lock, the Japanese rifle is more akin to the absolutely British manufactured M1868 Italian Naval Albani and M1867 South Australia Braedlin-Albini rifles.
While there are a number of minor differences between rifles (see various examples below) suggesting that they were manufactured and/or assembled by at least several different makers, they are nevertheless all Japanese Albini-Braendlin rifles.
SPECIAL NOTE: You will sometimes encounter rifles of this action type referred to as the "Braendlin-Albini" (c.f., M1867 South Australia Braendlin-Albini). Both are correct as both share design credit, the original going to the Italian, Augusto Albini, with improvements by the Brit Francis Braendlin. Not surprisingly, rifles manufactured for the Italian Navy are breech marked "Albini-Braendlin" while the rifles purchesed by the state of South Australia (before national unification) are breech marked "Braendlin-Albini"! The Japanese rifles which are marked at all, are marked "Albini-Braendlin" and are thus referred to a such herein.
A side-by-side comparison of a couple of Japanese Albini-Braendlin Short Rifles:
A Second Japanese Albini Rifle
A Third Japanese Albini Rifle:
.The images on this page courtesy of Warren Wheatfield (copyright 2007 Warren Wheatfield)
Japanese M1860 (percussion) Short Pattern (2-band) rifle made for Japan:
Photos courtesy of noted antique arms dealer John C. Denner (http://www.denner.ca/). (Copyright John C. Denner, 2008)
BRITISH P.1860 SHORT RIFLE FOR EXPORT TO JAPAN .577 Cal. Dated 1868. Three Japanese characters stamped on the right side of the butt. Some unidentified stamps on the left side of the butt. 5 groove rifled bore
Page built August 26, 2008
Updated: Nov 5, 2021