Susat Civil War Antiques
  • 1841 Harpers Ferry Rifle


    1841 Harpers Ferry Rifle   SOLD

    Harpers Ferry did not start producing the 1841 Rifle until 1846 when 700 were produced.  Production of the 1841 rifle ended at Harpers Ferry in 1855.  Total production at the armory was 25,296.  The rifle was originally produced in 54 caliber with seven groove rifling and had no provisions for a bayonet.  These rifles were also produced by several contractors.  With the adoption of 58 caliber,  work began on adopting a bayonet and boring out the rifles to 58 caliber.  The first alteration (Snell) consisted of producing a bayonet with rings on the front and rear of the handle with a locking mechanism - that minimized alterations necessary to the rifle itself.  It also had a screw patter long range sight added.  About 1600 bayonets were made and presumably a similar number of rifles were altered.  The second type of alteration took a more usual bayonet and required modifying the front of the rifle.  The upper band was replaced with a shorter band and a bayonet lug was attached to the barrel.  The first pattern of this alteration had a new rear sight soldered on the barrel and the bayonet lug had a 1" guide on the front of the lug.  There was a new bayonet produced for this pattern.  The second pattern used the same basic concept, but used the rear sight from the 1855 rifle which screwed into the barrel.  Also they used the 1855 rifle lug and front sight.  

    This example is of the second pattern Harpers Ferry Alteration.  This rifle has the 1855 rifle rear sight screwed to the barrel and the brass front sight has been replaced with the iron front sight of the 1855 rifle.  Also the bayonet lug is the 1855 rifle pattern.  These alterations were done concurrently with the start of the brass mounted 1855 rifle production.  Another aspect of the alteration process was that many of the Harpers Ferry rifles were left in 54 caliber.  It was found that the grooves of the 54 caliber rifling were too deep to allow for the bore to be enlarged to the new standard caliber.  

    This 1841 rifle is all Harpers Ferry production.  Both the lock and barrel are dated 1849 so this was made in the 3rd year of production.  Often with the barrel being removed from the stock for the alteration the barrel and lock dates do not match.  Since there were  other contractors making these rifles and the parts are interchangeable you want to make sure parts are all from Harper's Ferry.  The lock is marked and dated and has the Harpers Ferry Eagle.  The barrel has the VP and the Eagle proof and the Harper's Ferry inspectors mark on the Barrel  It usually is either AW over a P or WW over a P.  This barrel has the AW over P.  The stock has the JLR block letter inspection stamp opposite the lock.  Also it has the pilot holes in the drill bit used in the patchbox.  When the rifle was altered it was marked with WCK on the barrel in front of the bolster and in the stock near the JLR stamp.  In addition the butplate has no US which is correct for Harpers Ferry production.  Interestingly this rifle has the original ramrod.  The alteration was intended to use a new metal ramrod cupped for the 58 caliber minni nose.  This ramrod is original and may have been left since it is in 54 caliber.  

    The condition of the rifle is very good to fine.  There are only a few patches of fine pitting.  The marking are all deep and readable and the bolster is smooth.  The stock has some dents and dings but no cracks or gouges and both inspectors stamps are quite readable.  The barrel is a brown patina as is the lock. The rifling is strong and deep.   The front sling swivel is broken and all other parts are original and complete.  

    Many of the altered 1841 rifles were issued to the 9th and 10th Rifle regiments in the late 1850s and saw service before the Civil War.  When the war broke out these were issued and used being the rifled and having long range rear sights.  

    I have a 1855 rifle bayonet listed as well and it fits this rifle nicely..   SOLD