There's a nice discussion going around about muskets on the Camp Chase Gazette site. It initially started out as an opinion gathering post on Loyalist Arms' Lorenz reproduction musket. Now it seems that the discussion is about to lapse into the over commonality of Enfield RMs on the reenacting field, especially in comparison to historically more common arms like the Springfield Muskets and RMs.
This is an important discussion, because it reveals a flaw in reenacting - the over use of certain items. As with many things today, some reenacting purchases is driven partly by two factors 1) Uniqueness or 2) Expense . These two factors lead to the over representation of some items on the reenacting field today.
Uniqueness is akin the "trendiness" in the hobby. Hey, I event fell for it too. A fine example is the Fork/Spoon/Knife combos that seems to have flooded the market. Probably not often seen in the historical ranks, it's now a common item in the hands of today's reenactors. The reproduction is dead-on accurate, but its use probably is a bit too inflated in the ranks of reenactors.
More applicable to this post though is the Enfield issue, which is about expense. Long arms are usually the single most expensive purchase in a reenactor's kit, and one that isn't likely to be duplicated by most reenactors. The Enfield reproductions are less expensive and more user-friendly than the historically more common '61 Springfield repros, and thus the over representation in the hobby. I personally love Enfields. A snap to clean and bit more durable than the Springfields seem to be, the Enfield is a good consumer choice. BUT the typical soldier was stuck with what he had, trading up when the opportunity arose. The trade-up would have been in all likelyhood the Springfield. So what to do?
The best course of action in my opinion is to encourage the use of other, historically abundant weapons. Although more expensive, the Springfield RM is not that much more, usually no more than $20. The musket version is somewhat more than that. This where Loyalist Arms products would be a nice alternative. The price of their 1842 musket is on par with a new ArmiSport Enfield, and a bit more authentic. They also offer a nice 1840 model flintlock to percussion conversion for a great price.
I like Loyalist Arms' spirit - they're trying to offer more than just what Euroarms and Armisport have to offer and without too much modification to make them authentic. Many reenactors aren't too keen on them, but I think they merit a second look and some support. They produce common arms at decent prices, and make the possibilty of buying a second long arm a distinct possibility, and expanding possible impressions immensely.
I think one day I'll bite the bullet and buy one of their musket creations to have another common arm in the Mntineer Arsenal.