Made the Baker Rifles Bom—1758
Much of Ezckiel Baker's early life remains a mystery today. As yet it has even been impossible on this side of the Atlantic to find a record of his birth. It is known, however. that he served his apprenticeship under the celebrated gunsmith Henry Nock and that he opened his own shop at 24 Whitechapcl Rd., London, in 1775. Here he produced under contract a number of muskets, rifles, carbincs. and pistols for the British government and for the British East India Company. He also did much custom gunsmithing and held the royal warrant as Gunmakcr to His Majesty George III.
Baker is remembered best by collectors today for 2 things, the famous Baker military rifles and his book Remarks on Rifle Guns. He obtained his military rifle contract as the result of a competition at Woolwich Arsenal on Feb. 4. 1S00. in which his rifle won over those of a number of European and American gunsmiths. Baker's rifle was not the most accurate of the weapons tested, but it was selected bccausc it was easier to load and maintained a reasonably flat trajectory, both of which factors were considered highly desirable for a military weapon. Baker's rifles were issued to the 95th Regiment. later called the Rifle Brigade, which thus bccamc the first line troops in the British Army to have rifles as regulation equipment.
Baker also made several contributions to the development of gunnery. In 1821 he patented a new bullet mold and clipper. In 1822 lie improved the jaws of the flint cock so that they would grip the flint more securely; and finally in 1824 he developed a lock that could be used for cither flint or percussion with the proper adapters.—Harold L. Peterson
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