Confederate "M Rifle" Enfield
The "M Rifle" Enfield Musket is one of the Civil War's better known rare guns. For decades, historians and arms collectors have been debating the origins of these "American Enfields" to determine who made them. Many have attributed the M Rifle to JP Moore in New York, and point out that the unique "M Shield" engraved into the tail of the likely stood for "Moore". Indeed, records made by the Board of Ordnance on June 10, 1862 reported there were "840 American rifles of a long Enfield pattern in inventory as being received by Moore". However, these records are inconclusive as the ordnance's description of the "American rifles of an Enfield long pattern" could by attributed to the ordnance's identification of an American Supplier of imported Enfields and not necessarily and American builder of Enfields. Without any other evidence to identify JP Moore as the builder of the M Rifle, his ties to this intriguing musket remain circumstantial.
Ed Holloway, in his book Confederate Longarms and Pistols makes a good case that the M Rifle was built by English Gunmaker Walter Watson in Fayetteville, NC, for the Confederate firm Murdock Morrison (thus explaining the "M" stamped on the lock plate). Holloway notes several M Rifles exist that were stamped with Watson's cartouche. Holloway also noted that many of the rifles were crudely built and seemed to have been assembled from spare parts bought from England. In describing the M Rifle he writes, "The bands are cast iron or steel with numerous sand and blow holes and flaws. The side plate escutcheons are all different in various dimensions. The stocks are walnut and mostly hand enletted. All dimensions are different. Hammers were individually made by hand and their dimensions vary. The stocks are not cured well and are not as heavy as the Enfield stock. The stock panels around the lockplate and on the lefts side come to a sharper point similar to the stock design on the arms made in North Carolina. It is a crude copy of the Enfield stock."
This particular musket was copied from the original M Rifles pictured in Holloway's book. David Stavlo did the work in building this beautiful weapon. David began the work by completely re-working an Armi Sport Enfield. He stripped the finish from the stock and re-contoured the whole stock to the correct dimensions. Special attention was given to the lock panels in shaping them to an angular point to more closely reflect the angular "North Carolinian" designs of original M Rifles. David also re-worked the wrist and comb portions of the stock to give them the correct look and dimensions of original M Rifles. The correct square eared escutcheons were then added to the stock before it was stained and rubbed with several coats of oil to seal it. As an added touch of authenticity, David stamped both sides of the stock with Walter Watson's stock Cartouche in order to replicate the markings found on many original M Rifles (see the pictures below).
We were lucky enough to locate an original M Rifle lock plate that we gave to our engraver to reproduce in extraordinary detail. The new plate is an exact copy of the original and fits a little undersized in some areas of the lock mortise. This was done intentionally as Holloway notes that many original M Rifle plates fit poorly in their mortises. David continued by removing all the Italian markings from the barrel and stamping it with the correct English 1862 Provisional markings. This is another unusual feature of M Rifles as some have been documented with a unique "ETL" proof mark on their barrels but a majority of them are stamped with English proof marks. Holloway noted that the locks, barrels and sights on most M Rifles were imported from England and most retain their English Markings. Holloway's book also contains several images of M Rifle sights that have a threaded screw hole in the slide. It's unclear what this set screw was for, but David replicated these sights exactly by re-working one of our Rich Cross Machined Enfield Sights before soldering in place. David also installed a correct center stud front swivel and an original rear swivel before lightly antiquing all the metal hardware with a smooth patina to give it a "campaigned-with" look.
The resulting weapon is an extremely accurate reproduction of the infamous M Rifle. We've even included the photos of the original M Rifles taken from Holloway's to show just how realistic this reproduction is.