The reality is that the origin of the term "Brown Bess" is disputed. People have differing ideas. Here are some of them:
- "Brown" came from the brown color of the rifle stock.
- "Brown" came from an anti-rusting agent put on the metal that turned it a brown color.
- "Bess" came from either the word "Blunderbuss" or "arquebus," both early types of rifles.
- "Bess" came from the nickname for Elizabeth I.
- The "Brown Bess" is just a counterpart to an earlier rifle that was called "Brown Bill."
Personally, I prefer the explanation that the name comes from the German words "brawn buss" or "braun buss", meaning "strong gun" or "brown gun". That's just my 2 cents, but it seems to me most probable.