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sbryce
June 18, 2000, 07:12 PM
I have a friend who is trying to determine the value of a gun that his wife's family has had for a few generations. It appears to be a breach loading, single shot, rifle. Markings on the stock read

Parkers Snow & Co
Meriden Conn.
1863

Next to the markings is a stamped eagle with arrows and olive branch in its claws and US stamped under the eagle.

Markings on the top of the action read

W.H. & G (The rest is obscured)
Patent May 183(?)-1865
Merdiden Manfg Co.
Meriden Conn

There is an external hammer on the right side of the rifle, and a rod under the barrel that made me think at first that I was looking at a muzzle loading percussion rifle. The hammer strikes a firing pin which is positioned much the same way the nipple would be on a percussion rifle.

The action flips up, exposing the chamber. Flipping the action up activates what appears to be a shell extractor. There is a deep groove at the top of the stock at the breach. When the action flips down, it locks in place. The tigger has a half-cock position to prevent the gun from firing if the hammer is not fully cocked.

There is a three part rear sight. Two higher sights lay flat against the barrel and can be flipped up into position for aiming the gun at different ranges. The two taller sights are stamped with a 3 and a 5 respectively.

There is a tag on the gun that says

Civil War musket-converted.

Any ideas?

4V50 Gary
June 18, 2000, 07:24 PM
With a breechblock which flips up and ejects the spent round, it sounds very much like a post Civil War trapdoor conversion. I'll have to look into it more.

4V50 Gary
June 18, 2000, 08:19 PM
Check out the photo in this link:
http://www.trapdoorcollector.com/index.html

fal308
June 19, 2000, 09:06 AM
I believe you have a Miller(Meriden Mfg Co) Alterations of M1861 Rifle-Musket.
OAL-48 1/4"; .58 cal with 3 groove rifling length of 31 1/4 (barrel and bore), iron furniture with "US" on buttplate tang; the lockplate is flat with beveled edge; sights-rear-U.S. M1861 rifle-musket type 3/8" from breechblock, front-iron block/blade; fastenings are two iron bands.
The marking is usually "(eagle)U.S." and "PARKERS' SNOW & CO./MERIDEN, CONN" forward of hammer; date ("1863" or "1864") on tail; top of breechblock-"W.H.&G. MILLER/PATENT MAY 24 1865" over"MERIDEN MANFG. CO./MERIDEN, CONN."
Quantities of this side-swinging breechblock design of the Miller brothers is unknown. Production was probably restricted to the period 1866-68, with probable numbers altered under 5,000.
Information from The Main Street Pocket Guide to American Longarms by H. Michael Madaus

James K
June 19, 2000, 01:22 PM
Hi, guys,

The rifle sounds like the Miller conversion, which was a "trapdoor" type action but different from the Allin conversion that was later adopted by the Army. After the Civil War, with millions of rifle muskets on hand many inventors came up with ways to convert them to the newer self-contained cartridges. Flayderman list a dozen or so, of which the Miller was one.

The Miller conversion uses a short, upward swinging "trapdoor" breechblock. The hinge part is dovetailed into the barrel behind the rear sight. Aside from the changes necessary for the conversion, the rifle musket is a standard Model 1861. Parkers' Snow made 15,000 and the original guns are fairly common. The quantity of Miller conversions is usually given at about 2000. The Maryland militia issued some (50) in 1876 and the NY militia had at least 45. Presumably the rest were sold off, as the Army expressed no interest after settling on the Allin (Springfield Armory) conversion.

Most of the Miller conversions were on Parkers' Snow rifle muskets; there may have been some connection, since both were in the same town.

The caliber is .58 rimfire. Unlike the later trapdoor, there is no "trough", the short, stubby round is pushed directly into the breech.

In spite of the rarity, the price is not high, running around $1000 for one in good condition.

Jim