Every since it was adopted by the US Navy in 1861, the Whitneyville "Plymouth" rifle has been the subject of intrique for those interested in firearms. This relatively rare firearm was earned the nickname "Plymouth Rifle" after the first batch were delivered to the USS Plymouth in 1858 for testing under Captain Dahlgren. Although the Plymouth rifle was developed during a time when the US Board of Ordnance were in favor of smaller .58 caliber bores, Dahlgren believed that it was necessary to maintain a larger .69 caliber aboard ships.
The Plymouth rifle was basically an "American-ized" copy of the French Carbine-A-Tige musket and the two rifles share many of the same features. After the pattern was tested aboard the USS Plymouth in 1858, it was officially adopted by the US Navy and given the designation M1861 Naval Rifle. The contract to build these rifles was given to the Eli Whitney Company and Whitney produced a total of roughly 10,000 Plymouth rifles between 1861 and 1864 making them relatively uncommon compared to other muskets like the M1861 Springfield pattern; of which more than 1 million were produced.
The Plymouth rifle was immensely popular among sailors. So much so that they were often used to replace the more modern Spencer rifle on board many Federal ships. The Whitneyville Plymouth's were considered more useful than the Spencers as they could be mounted with either a saber bayonet or bowie-style bayonet known as the Dahlgren.
This particular Plymouth Rifle is in great condition. It is all original from top to bottom and is also all complete-a feature that's uncommon to many Plymouths as they are often missing their rear sights or bayonet lugs. The stock is sound with no crack, chips or splits and no burn out behind the bolster. All the furniture is original and matching with a nice speckled patina covering all the parts. The ramrod is full length and the swivels are both intact and movable.
The lock is in good condition and holds solid on both full and half cock. The lock plate retains all it's stamps. The barrel is in good condition inside and out. Both front and rear sights are present and functional and all the stamps and proof marks are present and legible. The bayonet lug is intact and unmodified. The bore was reamed smooth.
Included with this rifle is an original bayonet, which, despite having a different serial number than the rifle, fits very well.
This is a great example of one of the meanest-looking muskets ever produced. This rifle would make both an excellent collector's piece and shooter.