Civil War Weapons….Civil War rifles


Civil War Weapons Springfield 1861

#1 – Springfield 1861

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.




Enfield 1853

# 2 – Enfield 1853

Type: Muzzle loader     Designer: RSAF Enfield, U.K.      Caliber: .577 (rifled)




Lorenz rifle

#3 – Lorenz 1854

Type: Muzzle loader      Designer: Joseph Lorenz, Austria     Caliber: .54 (rifled)




Whitworth Rifle

Whitworth Rifle

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.




Sharps rifle

Sharps Rifle (#1 Carbine)

Type: Breechloader(falling block)     Designer: Christian Sharps, USA      Caliber: .52

Note: Most commonly used rifle by Union cavalry in carbine version.




Spencer Rifle

Spencer Rifle (#2 Carbine)

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.




Burnside Carbine

Burnside Carbine (#3 Carbine)

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”, 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.




Colt Revolving Carbine

Colt Revolving Carbine 

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.





Civil War Weapons..Civil War Pistols


Colt Army 1860

Colt Army 1860 Revolver

Type: Revolver (6 shot percussion cap)    Designer: Colt Manuf. Co.      Caliber: .44

Note: Most widely used single action revolver of the Civil War.



Colt Navy

Colt 1861 Navy

Type: Revolver (6 shot percussion cap)      Designer: Colt Manuf. Co.        Caliber: .36

Note: The same design as the Colt Army but in a .36 caliber for the Navy.



Colt Dragoon

Colt Dragoon

Type: Revolver (6 shot percussion cap)      Designer: Colt Manuf. Co.       Caliber: .44

Note: Issued mostly to cavalry starting in 1848. Had 3 design changes until replaced with the 1860.



Colt 1851 Navy

Colt 1851 Navy

Type: Revolver (6 shot percussion cap)     Designer: Samuel Colt,USA        Caliber: .36

Note: A popular high production weapon was in production until 1873. Sold in high quantities to European countries including England. Preferred sidearm of Confederate Commanding General Robert E. Lee.




1858 Remington

1858 Remington

Type: Revolver (6 shot percussion cap)      Designer: Remington & Sons,USA    Caliber: .36 / .44

Note: Made in both .36 and .44, Remington was the second supplier to the military until the Colt factory fire in 1864 when it became the #1 military supplier. Known to be durable, dependable and accurate.



LeMat Revolver

LeMat Revolver

Type: Revolver-Over-Under design ( 9 shot + 1 )    Designer: Jean LeMat, France             Caliber: .42/.44 or .36 + 16 ga. single shot under barrel

Note: A small production revolver favored by Confederate cavalry for their firepower before reloading.  Preferred sidearm of  CSA cavalry General J.E.B. Stuart.



Beaumont-Adams Revolver

Beaumont-Adams Revolver

Type: Revolver ( 5 shot muzzle loading percussion cap / Double Action ) . Later designed for centerfire cartridges.    Designer: Lt. Beaumont & Robert Adams       Caliber: .442

Note: Only 1,750 were purchased by the Federal Army at the start of the war. First true “double action” system.  Known for their stopping power and their fast “double action” in close quarters.


Book Review.. “Guns of the Civil War”  by Dennis Adler ( .. a must for collectors !)