Confederate Read & Watson-Modified Hall Carbine
The guns made by Read & Watson are the only instance in which a breechloading arm, in this case the Hall Carbine, was converted to muzzleloader for military use. The firm of N. T. Read and John T. Watson of Danville, Virginia converted some 900 Hall rifle and carbines for the state of Virginia between 1862 and 1863. A majority of these carbines were built using M1833 Halls, however there are a few original records that indicate that some later models were converted in late 1863. These carbines were built by replacing the original Hall breech block and frame with a new one piece brass breech piece, or receiver, having a centrally-positioned iron breechplug with a rearward-facing flash shield into which a percussion nipple was threaded. A centrally-hung hammer completely the alteration. The rest of the components, including the barrel, trigger guard and buttplate were used in the alterations; although the stocks were newly made. The Virginia state Journal or Disbursements records the price for these carbines was a whopping $17.50 each; which was approximately the same price that the US Government paid its contractors to build M1861 muskets.
This Read & Watson was assembled by Steve Krolick; one of the foremost leading experts on Hall Rifles. Steve built this carbine using the same methods that were applied in making the original Read & Watson's; and as a result most of the components of this carbine are original Hall parts. Steve purchased the brass breech section from a collector who had them copied by a foundry in New York. He finished the brass casting and installed an original 1843 Hall carbine barrel. He then fit the hammer assembly and breech plug to the breech and tested their functionality.
The next task was to mount the components to a stock. Steve used a piece of straight-grained American walnut for this task - the same type of wood used in the originals. Steve installed all of the hardware to the stock, including: an original Hall butt plate, an original hall trigger guard, an original set of Hall bands, and a custom-made ramrod. He also carved the inscription "WV Co. H 43rd VA. Cv" into the stock to replicate the original camp art of some of the members of the 43rd Virginia Cavalry, or "Mosby's Raiders".
Steve lightly patined the stock to match the patina of the original parts before staining it and sealing it with several coats of hand-rubbed oil finish. He also patined the brass breech components to mach the barrel.
The final product is an excellent reproduction of an extremely rare Confederate carbine. This stock is in great shape with an excellent finish. The hammer works flawlessly and holds perfect on both full and half cock. The 52. caliber barrel still retains all of its original Hall markings and the bore is in great condition with sharp rifling and only a few small areas of light, scattered pitting.
This carbine is a must for any Confederate collector or Hall enthusiast. Steve test fired this carbine and was able to produce excellent groups with a 35 gr. charge; making it a great shooter as well.