MODEL 1841 HALL BREECHLOADING RIFLE: A SCARCE RIFLE, MADE IN PERCUSSION, AND THE LAST OF THE BREED

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Item Code: 490-3498

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The breechloading Model 1841 Hall rifle retained the .52 caliber 32 5/8” rifled barrel of the Model 1819, but finally caught up with Hall carbines in the use of percussion priming. These are fairly scarce since production at Harpers Ferry soon shifted to the US Model 1841 rifle, the “Mississippi.” Flayderman gives production as 4,213 in 1841 and 1842. Schmidt, however, gives the total as just 3,000, with perhaps three pattern rifles, actually made in fiscal years 1843 (7/1/42-6/30/43 - 300 rifles) and 1844 (97/1/43-6/30/44 - 2,700 rifles) with the last of the rifles likely completed in February 1844. Earlier dating likely comes from the breechblock markings, most of which are dated 1841, with some dated 1842: it is known that 1,500 had been forged by May 1841. Schmidt notes the change to percussion may have been the first design change in the Hall system made without the inventor’s involvement: he had left Harpers Ferry in 1840, and died in 1841. His departure is marked by elimination of his name in the breechblock stamping.

In addition to the change to percussion, the M1841 differs from the M1819 in some other details, such as using seven-groove rifling, rather than sixteen-groove, and having it extend all the way to the muzzle, where the earlier pattern had a short smoothbore section apparently intended to make loading from the muzzle easier if it became necessary. Other changes were introduced gradually as older parts were used up, resulting in Schmidt’s division of the model into three types: 1A, retaining the earlier spur latch for the breechblock the triggerguard with handrail; 1B, eliminating the handrail, using a simple triggerguard bow and moving the rear sling swivel aft; 2, eliminating also the spur latch in favor of the flat “fishtail” pattern latch.

This is a very good example of the Type 2B, complete with all bands, swivels, and rod on place, all original parts, and showing strong markings on the breechblock- “H. FERRY / US / 1841.” The metal shows as a mix of gray and brown, some of which may be part of the original brown lacquer finish, and is smooth overall, showing just some corrosion on the buttplate and dings on the top of the breech and forward edge of the breechblock, likely from a frustrated user trying to loosen a frozen breechblock. The wood has good color and edges, but rates a bit under the metal in the number of dings from use, with scratches, some shallow divots and hairlines on the buttstock. Mechanics are good. The bore is dark and dirty but has good rifling.

Halls had led the way in manufacturing techniques and the use of interchangeable parts and served in the Black Hawk, Seminole, and Mexican Wars. Arms shortages at the beginning of the Civil War also led to their reissue, at least for a time. Although relegated to storage by the end of 1862, not a few saw early war service in the hands of volunteers on both sides. McAulay notes the State of Virginia issued 2220 Hall rifles to its militia between October 1859 and October 1861, with others seized from US arsenals in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana seeing Confederate service. Some Union troops had them for a time as well. The Union Defense Committee of New York even purchased 1,575 in August 1861.  [sr] [ph:L]

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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