Original Afghan Made "Khyber Pass" British Pattern 1856 Enfield Two Band Percussion Rifle with Soviet Sling - 2004 Civilian Contractor Bring Back
Original Item: Only One Available. Here we have a fantastic piece of Middle Eastern firearms history! This is a locally made Afghan copy of a British Pattern 1856 Two Band Percussion rifled musket, often referred to as a "Khyber Pass" copy. These were made in the mountainous border region between what was then Emirate of Afghanistan and British-Controlled India. One of the few ways through these mountains was the Khyber Pass, and the area has long had a reputation for producing unlicensed copies of firearms using whatever materials are available; more often than not, railway rails, scrap motor vehicles, and other scrap metal with basic hand tools. The quality of such firearms varies widely, ranging from as good as a factory-produced example to dangerously poor.
This is one such example, and while at first glance it looks to be correct, close examination of the markings shows that while they are intended to look like British Proofs, they are in fact all incorrect replicated markings. These were sold to travelers, as well as to the locals, as a much more economic alternative to firearms from Europe or elsewhere. Many of these were kept and cared for, and actually ended up being used by Afghan Tribesmen when fighting the Soviet army, which invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and stayed for some 10 years. This example is fitted with a Soviet equipment strap, which has been adapted into a sling, so it is very likely that this example was used during the conflict.
After that, it returned home with its owner, and eventually found its way back into the market after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terror. Like many similar examples, it was then purchased and brought home in 2004 by a U.S. Civilian Contractor stationed in the area, after which IMA purchased it at a military show. Definitely an interesting piece of firearms and military history!
History aside, like all of the "Khyber Pass" copies, it is hard to easily distinguish it from the real thing. It is made very much like a British 3rd Model Pattern 1856 Enfield Short Rifle Musket, with brass butt plate, trigger guard and nose cap. The two steel barrel bands are held on with screw pressure, typical of the 3rd model. The screws are not recessed, as they would be on the "Baddeley" type bands used on the later 4th model.
The lock is marked 1850 / TOWER below the cap bolster, and it is marked with a QUEEN'S CROWN over VR to the rear of the hammer. However, the crown is not well executed, and the font and style of the markings clearly identify it as a copy. The engraving on the hammer is not quite right, and the lock plate is slightly smaller than it should be. The markings on the barrel are also not correct, and while they have "Crown Like" markings and a BROAD ARROW, numbers and letters are upside down and/or nonsensical. However to people who did not read the European style numbers and letters, it would probably have looked just fine.
The gun is in good condition, with a nice stock and metalwork with a lovely polished patina. It does show signs of past pitting and powder burn, especially near the cap bolster. It still retains both barrel bands, and both sling swivels, with the Soviet strap/sling still attached. The stock is in good condition, with a lovely polished patina, though there are definitely some wood graft repairs on the spine of the butt stock, as well as on the left side near the lock screws. It looks like there was leather or rope wrapped around the wrist area for a time, now removed.
The lock actually still functions correctly, holding at half cock, and firing at full, with a strong and crisp dry fire. The cap nipple is present but bent over from being hit by the hammer, which also has deformation to the front. We checked the bore, and it it is completely oxidized, so we cannot see if there is any rifling. We have not cleaned it to preserve the history of the piece.
A very nice example of a "Khyber Pass" Two Band Enfield, brought home from Afghanistan in 2004 by a Civilian Contractor. Ready to display and research!
Year of Manufacture: circa 1860-1870
Caliber: .58 inches
Ammunition Type: .577 Lead Ball & Powder with Percussion Cap
Barrel Length: 33 inches
Overall Length: 49 1/2 inches
Action: Side Action Percussion Lock
Feed System: Muzzle-Loaded
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