This museum-quality piece is a true recreation of one of America's more unusual infantry weapons. The M1855 rifle musket represented a large technological leap for America's arsenal. Not only was it the first rifled weapon built for issuance to the common infantryman, it also featured an unusual "self priming" lock that utilized Dr. Edward Maynard's "Tape System". While these locks worked in theory, in combat their actions proved to be too delicate and unreliable. They were ultimately replaced by the M1861 rifle musket; a weapon with a simple cap lock that was utilized throughout the entirety of the Civil War. This piece was built by David Stavlo and features all the correct finishes and markings found on original guns.
This was another project that was sent to us having already been started by another gunsmith. As a result, there were quite a few "mistakes" that had to be addressed while the stock was being finished. The original builder had attempted to build the piece "out of order": the barrel bands had been partially installed before the barrel was seated to its final depth, the band springs had already been installed, and the sights had been mounted poorly on the barrel. David was able to save the stock, but he essentially had to start the build over, re-inletting the barrel, and the barrel bands and nosecap, before starting the stock shaping. The project really started to come together when the final shaping took place. David was able to shape the stock to near perfect dimensions, despite all of its issues. The butt stock gently narrows down to the wrist, which continues in a straight line before terminating in a round plateau that contains the barrel tang. The lock moldings are exactly the same size on either side of the stock and their dimensions are identical to the originals. The forestock "swells" ever so slightly before each barrel band and the the top of the the barrel channel is angled slightly just like the originals. These details are small, but these are things that separate this musket from a cobbled-together skirmish gun. The stock was burnished like the originals before being finished with oil. Period correct inspector's cartouches were stamped on the lock panel; just like the originals.
As an added feature, David built this gun to replicate the "Captured and Reissued" Confederate guns that are referenced in Steven W. Knott's excellent book, "Captured & Collected" Confederate Reissued Firearms. Captured and Reissued weapons were picked up from battlefields and sent back to Confederate arsenals where they would be repaired and re-inspected before being reissued into Confederate service. These repairs included everything from simple parts replacement to entirely new stock produced and fit up. "C&R" Confederate weapons can be identified by the single letter inspector's stamp found in front of the trigger assembly. This musket replicates an early 1858 production Harper's Ferry M1855 that was sent to the Danville Arsenal to be fitted with a later production M1855 lock. First Lieutenant William E. Foster was in charge of all weapon's cleaning and repair at Danville from 1862 until 1864 and his inspector mark "F" was stamped in front of the trigger guard, just like the originals pictured in Knott's book. The die set that David used is a perfect match to the original single letter stamps used by Confederate inspectors, which makes for a very convincing piece; as well as a great conversation point for the musket's new owner.
The lock plate was made by Jerry Harmon. David re-profiled the plate's edge bevels to the correct width of originals. He also custom fit a set of reproduction Maynard tape primer parts to make the priming system full functional. The barrel was made by Harmon-Large and features very good seven groove rifling. Harmon-Large barrels are famous for their accuracy, and countless medals have been won with Harmon-Large barrels in the N-SSA. David also installed a new set of sights on the barrel. Made by Rich Cross, these precision-machined front and rear sights are perfect copies of originals. The front sight was left slightly high to allow the musket's new owner to shoot accurately at 100 yds, but not so high as to distract from the weapon's historical authenticity. David finished the barrel work by stamping a correct Harper's Ferry "VP and Eagle" to the breech. These stamps were made from markings taken off an original barrel and are perfect copies. The barrel channel was also glass bedded to for maximum accuracy.
The barrel bands, butt plate, band springs, and trigger assembly are original pieces that were restored back to "armory bright" finish.
The finished piece is a real "come back story". We are pleased that despite the stock's issues, the dimensions of both the metal and wood components are near perfect, and the fit and finish is simply excellent. This musket is sure to be enjoyed by its new owner for many years