M1841 HARPERS FERRY “SECOND STYLE” MISSISSIPPI RIFLE

$2,500.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1093-03

This Model 1841 Harpers Ferry “Mississippi” Rifle is in very good condition with an excellent bore still in .54 caliber, a stock with nice medium color and good edges, and metal with at tight fit, smooth surface, and crisp markings. The lockplate is marked HARPERS / FERRY / 1851 at rear of the hammer, with an equally sharp Harpers Ferry style eagle with shield over “U.S.” The barrel has good V/P/[eaglehead] proofs at left breech and the barrel its own inspector and proof initials slightly forwar of that reading, WW/P which appears on barrels from 1850 to the end of production in 1855, and the breechplug tang is dated 1855.

This places the rifle’s manufacture in period when Harpers Ferry was experimenting with ways to upgrade and retrofit the Model 1841 to bring it into line with the new 1855 series of arms, particularly from 1855 to 1859, and in regard to mounting a bayonet for close fighting and improved sighting for long range use. The rifle is the “second style” M1841 using a shortened stock and narrower nosecap to mount a saber bayonet by means of a stud and guide key, but retains its original front sight and remains in .54 caliber. Moller notes that in 1855 the arsenal modified about 2200 existing rifles for the saber bayonet by the stud and guide key, the latter of which was apparently dropped in 1856. The rifle also shows signs of alteration for the use of a long range rear sight, and perhaps a subsequent alteration as well. No sight is present, but a screw hole well forward of a sight mortise points to it having been mounted with and Model 1855 long range rear sight that used a mortise and spanner screw. A second hole to the rear of the mortise is more puzzling, but may indicate a Model 1858 sight was subsequently mounted facing to the rear, and the mortise shows some roughness from reworking.

The wood on the rifle rates about excellent, with nice warm tones, good edges, few handling marks and no big pressure dents or divots, just a couple of dark spots on the left wrist and forward comb. No cartouches are readily evident in the wood, though some dark shadows on the left flat may be traces. The fit to the metal is tight. The patchbox edges are good as well. The metal is smooth and in the bright, as is appropriate for Harpers Ferry long range rifles starting in late 1858. The brass has a nice medium patina, with just some verdigris along the inside edge of the patchbox door. The mechanics are good. There is a slight bit of freckling to the breech next to the bolster from firing and a little blackening to the wood below the nipple, but nothing unsightly. The lock plate is mostly bright, with a little gray forward, and has crisp markings. The rod, bands, springs, and swivels are all in place.

The U.S. Model 1841 rifled gained fame and a nickname in the hands of Davis’s Mississippi Regiment in the Mexican War. It remained a popular arm and, in Moller’s words, “would become the basis for the widest variety of alterations of any arm in the U.S. military service.” As altered for bayonets and long-range use, they were just as popular or even more so. According to Moller, the Chief of Ordnance reported none were available for issue in February 1861.   [sr]

DISCLAIMER: All firearms are sold as collector's items only - we do not accept responsibility as to the shooting safety or reliability of any antique firearm. All firearms are described as accurately as possible, given the restraints of a catalog listing length. We want satisfied customers & often "under" describe the weapons. Any city or state regulations regarding owning antique firearms are the responsibility of the purchaser. All firearms are "mechanically perfect" unless noted, but again, are NOT warranted as safe to fire!

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