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A simply stunning example of an unaltered US Model 1841 in very fine condition. The overall condition of the finish, the nipple and bore suggest that this rifle has never been fired. Eli Whitney contracted with the US Government for 22,500 rifles, delivered between 1842 and 1854. The first US mass produced rifle, the 1841 was used extensively by Dragoons, Mounted Rifle Regiments and US Infantry “Regulars” prior to the Civil War.
After the John Brown Raid on Harpers Ferry in October of 1859 the southern states demanded additional weapons. In December, 10,000 Mississippi Rifles were sent to southern armories at the direction of the Secretary of War. When war broke out around 20,000 Model 1841 rifles were in Southern arsenals and these rifles saw extensive service for the South. As such, the Mississippi Rifle is considered a secondary Confederate firearm.
Thousands of Mississipi rifles were altered by the North and South: bored to .58 caliber; fitted with long range sights and bayonet lugs. This rifle though, remains as issued in its original .54 caliber. Because of their popularity and availabilty at the begining of the war when both sides lacked firearms, they were almost all issued and heavily used on fields of battle. Finding original, unaltered examples in high condition is very difficult.
This Model 1841 is the finest condition example I have ever personally seen in almost 40 years of collecting. Other than small marks in the wood from shipping and handling it remains pristine and mint and retains almost 100% of it’s original finishes. The upper wrist shows the small, triangular dent found on almost all Mississippi rifles that occured when boxed in the shipping crate with other rifles. How it was shipped for service but escaped battlefield use is a mystery lost to time. Perhaps it was issued to a guard unit for duty in Richmond or Washington. Whatever it’s story, this rifle’s condition is a rarity seldom encountered on a Model 1841.
Condition: The lockplate and hammer still showing strong signs of case-coloring. Almost 100% of the case remains on the lockplate with some areas of strong color combined with muted silvering. The hammer retains strong color on the top and inside surfaces with the exterior face retaining visible but muted case. The barrel retains about 98% of the original brown finish with only handling wear at the high edges at the breech and some light scratches at the muzzle. There is no pitting present. The brass is a beautiful, even and uncleaned dark mustard color which compliments the condition of the rifle. Screw heads are excellent and un-marred.The two large lockplate screws on the stock flat retain 96% of the original nitre fire blue finish. The fixed rear sight also retains it’s original nitre fire blue. The brass buttplate is correctly stamped “US” at the top with unmarred screws. The upper screw retains it’s darkened blue finish.
In addition to the 1851 date, the lockplate is correctly stamped E. Whitney and New Haven.The barrel retaining springs retain 80% of the original dark blue finish. The barrel date on the breech plug was lightly struck and only the “18” of “1851” is visible. This is obviously a factory stamping flaw and not a result of wear as all other inspector proof marks on the barrel, are present and crisp. The ramrod is the original 54 cal rod with correct brass tip.
The attached pictures of the stock reveal the wood still retains the open grain. The stock retains sharp edges at the lock bevels and barrel margins. Fine wood to metal finish is typical of the Whitney contract examples. Two inspector cartouches are well struck on the stock flat.
Please visit the gallery of pictures for more detail on condition.
The US Model 1841 “Mississippi” Rifle is my favorite antique military firearm. Many collectors consider it the most handsome of all government produced martial arms. The large, brass patchbox, brass buttplate, barrel bands, case colored lockplate and hammer and browned barrel combine to create a visually stunning rifle. Over the last 35 years I have owned several 1841s, however finding an example with the original finishes intact is almost impossible. A true “museum quality” piece deserving of a place in an advanced collection of US military firearms.
No FFL required for shipment. Please contact me at 406.640.2232 for questions regarding this rifle.