Wm. Muir M1861 Contract Musket
Another M1861 musket custom-built by David Stavlo. This museum quality piece is a true recreation of the weapons made by the more than two dozen contractors that provided M1861-type rifle muskets for the Union Army. This piece was copied off of original weapons made by William Muir of Windsor Locks, CT; and it features all the correct finishes and markings found on original guns.
This project 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 rear band was installed before the barrel was inletted to its final depth. The front band had been installed before the nose cap had been put on, meaning there wasn't enough wood left at the stock tip to properly seat the nose cap. And the shoulder for the middle band had been filed to almost nothing. While David was able to save the stock, he essentially had to start over, re-inletting the barrel, then the nose cap, and finally the barrel bands 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.
The lock is original. David restored it to it's original "armory bright" finish. The barrel was made by Dan Whitacre. David extensively re-profiled the breech flats and bolster of the barrel to be the correct dimensions of originals before re-mounting a custom M1861 rear sight (the original sight had been mounted crooked). The barrel was then stamped with an "1863" date to match the lock and a correct contractor "VP and Eagle" was also applied to the breech. These stamps were made from markings taken off an original barrel and are perfect copies. David also shortened the barrel by 1/2" as Whitacre barrels are all made slightly longer than originals. The barrel was recrowned and a front sight was added.
The barrel bands, butt plate, band springs, nose cap, 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