Nelson's squadron was remarkably homogenous, consisting almost entirely of fast-sailing 74s, the most economic way to get a battery of 32-pdr cannon to sea and the mainstay of the British fleet. At the ranges at which the Nile was to be fought, a 32-pounder cannonball would easily penetrate over a yard of solid oak, generating a shower of lethal splinters on its passage.

Close in, British firepower was further supplemented on some ships by the addition of carronades - short range weapons nicknamed "smashers". These lightweight guns fired a heavy shot while needing less gunners than a long gun, a particular advantage to a navy perennially short of men.

Although laid down to a fixed "establishment", an individual ship's armament could vary widely during her career, depending on what was available at the time of any refit and to some extent on her current captain's preference. 

Wherever possible, information is taken from contemporary ordnance reports, where these are not available the establishment armament is quoted .