Civil War Rifles
Civil War Rifles #1 – 1861 Springfield
Type: Muzzle loader Designer: Springfield Armory, Mass. Caliber: .58 (rifled)
Note: Most common weapon of the Union infantryman. The Confederacy would copy the Springfield 1861, later manufactured in Richmond, Va. and Fayetteville, N.C.
“Rifling” meant the barrel inside had twisted grooves that “spun” the soft lead bullet or “Minie” ball as the bullet expanded under pressure and started its journey down the barrel. That increased velocity ( typically 950 fps) and accuracy up to 300+ yds. compared to 100 yds. for a smoothbore musket.
Civil War Rifles # 2 – Enfield 1853
Type: Muzzle loader Designer: RSAF Enfield, U.K. Caliber: .577 (rifled)
Civil War Rifles #3 – Lorenz Rifle 1854
Type: Muzzle loader Designer: Joseph Lorenz, Austria Caliber: .54 (rifled)
Civil War Rifles Whitworth Rifle 1854
Type: Muzzle loader Designer: Sir Joseph Whitworth, U.K. Caliber: .45 (hex)
Note: Used by Confederate Sharpshooters ( “Whitworth Sharpshooters” ) due to their accuracy and range. The “Twisted Hexagonal Barrel ” interior design and special “hex” bullets were known to whistle and became a constant threat to Union officers and artillery crews. Could be fitted with a 4x scope mounted left..but also caused many black eyes after recoil.
Civil War Rifles Sharps Rifle (#1 Carbine) 1848
Type: Breechloader(falling block) Designer: Christian Sharps, USA Caliber: .52
Note: Most commonly used rifle by Union cavalry in carbine version.
Civil War Rifles Spencer Rifle (#2 Carbine) 1860
Type: Breechloader(magazine fed-lever action) Designer:Christopher Spencer,USA Caliber: .52 Rimfire
Note: This 7 shot magazine fed repeater changed the war for the Union Cavalrymen. Up to 20 rounds per minute versus the musket at 3 rounds.The magazine was a tube in the stock. “Load it on Sunday and shoot all week” was what some cavalrymen said about the carbine.
Civil War Rifles Burnside Carbine (#3 Carbine) 1855
Type: Breechloader (breechblock) Designer: Ambrose Burnside,USA Caliber: .54
Note: Our own Union General Ambrose Burnside was the designer in 1855. A scapegoat at many battles including Fredericksburg and “The Crater” at Petersburg, he had declined command from Lincoln several times. He felt he did not have enough skill and experience to command such a large army. Possibly a better firearms engineer than a commander . His honesty..and skills are to be commended.
Civil War Rifles Colt Revolving Carbine 1855
Type: Breechloader (Cylinder) Designer: Colt Manuf. Co Caliber: .36, .44, .56
Note: An innovative design but unreliable unless cleaned constantly due to gunpowder residue building up around the cylinder.
Learn about all the weapons of the Civil War.. in our authors choice below..