View Full Version : Here's an oldie

John Y Cannuck
February 16, 2001, 06:42 AM
Can you identify it?
bore .641" inside
smooth bore
34" bore length
50" overall length
Round tapered barrel Measures 1 1/8" across short flats at the breach a little over 3/4" at the muzzle
Front sight small Brass (?) blade about 1/16" high 1/4" long
Rear sight none.
3/8 wooden ramrod held in a small band beneath the bore, and extending into a round metal socket in the fore end.
no barrel band, the stock tapers to an end 11" ahead of the trigger guard
barrel is retained with a small pin, not a wedge, and a single screw at the breach
Lock bears the American Eagle with a sheaf of grain and a vine(?) in its talons.
1864 is stamped to the rear of the hammer.
US BRIDESBURG is stamped below the nipple just ahead of the eagle.
Trigger guard starts off 1/4" round flattens out to 1" below the trigger, then returns to 1/4" round
But plate is slightly curved one screw on top, one in the butt.

Mike Irwin
February 16, 2001, 12:30 PM
Sounds like a contract standard Springfield 1861 or more likely an 1863 model rifled musket.

Bridesburg is in Pennsylvania, the home of Alfred and his son, who contracted with the US Army to provide rifles. By 1865 they had provided nearly 100,000.

The Eagle is actually holding a clutch of arrows and an olive branch, just as it is on the Great Seal today.

Here's a link to some information...


Hard Ball
February 16, 2001, 03:01 PM
Can't b a rifle musket because the caliber is wrong and there is no rear sight. Possibly a contractor produced version of the Model 1840 Musket but if I remembr correctly they were caliber .68.

Mike Irwin
February 16, 2001, 03:17 PM
A problem with that, Hard Ball, is that Jenks never produced 1840 contract muskets, and the lockplate is incorrect for an 1840.

What I'm beginning to think is that this gun COULD have been "Bannermanized."

Francis Bannerman & Sons converted many civil war era rifled muskets into shotguns simply by boring out the barrels.


I just recognized another problem with it being a rifled musket...

The 1861s and 1863s had 3 barrel bands.

I'd say it's now possibly a case of the lock having been used on another gun entirely.

John Y Cannuck
February 16, 2001, 04:13 PM
Mike Irwin
The lock pictured as the late model is exactly like mine, but I have no rear sight, and there are no sling provisions on my gun at all.
Other than the sling, the trigger and guard also match.

Mike Irwin
February 16, 2001, 05:05 PM

Does it appear that there was a provision for a rear sight, such as a notch in the barrel that may have been filled in?

What I'm really beginning to think is that your gun used the lock and trigger mechanism with another stock and barrel to create a "shotgun."

Not an uncommon practice with all the surplus available after the Civil War.

Had I paid more attention to your original message, instead of focusing on your description of the lock, I would have realized the obvious differences.

My bad. :)

James K
February 17, 2001, 12:04 AM
It is a shotgun made from a cut down and bored out rifle musket. Many, many thousands of ex-Civil War rifle muskets were "sporterized" in this manner after that very un-civil unpleasantness. Unfortunately, they have little value, even though by being used in hunting to feed those who went West after the war, guns like that probably did as much to "win the West" as any Winchester or Colt.


John Y Cannuck
February 17, 2001, 06:08 AM
If it is a conversion, it is very well done. The metal guide for the ram rod to go in the end of the fore arm looks factory. It has one light metal ferrule on the bottom of the barrel to support the ram rod. It's clear there used to be two of them, there is a mark where the other one came off.
The ram rod has metal bands around the plunger held there by tiny nails.
As to a rear sight, I can't see anything that would indicate there ever was one.
How were they originally attached?
There are some very small marks at the base of the barrel I can't make out, look like proof, or makers marks.
I hesitate to get out the steel wool.

Harley Nolden
February 17, 2001, 08:21 AM
To bring up the marks, use a #2 graphite pencil. Mark over the marks and this may make them appear.


John Y Cannuck
February 17, 2001, 02:52 PM
The letter V and the letter P magically appeared using Harleys pencil (Thanks)
The V is on the small flat of the barrel opposite the hammer bottom of the V towards the butt)
The P is towards the butt from the V bottom of the P towards the butt also.
There is another mark between these two and the butt, but under a jewlers loop is just a rough elongated hole.
a mark ahead of the hammer on a flat might be a camp fire, might be nothing too.
What's the chance that this gun might have made it's way north durring the Fenian raids?
That's right I'm Canadian.

Mike Irwin
February 17, 2001, 04:23 PM

Sounds like the original barrel that has been bored out.

VP was the initials of the inspector for Bridesburg contract rifles.

James K
February 17, 2001, 11:05 PM
The barrel was originally attached with bands, but when the stock was cut short and shaped to shotgun style, the bands could no longer be used, and a lug was soldered on to use a stock pin. The ramrod thimble was put on at the same time. This work was done on a semi-production basis, and was often done quite well.

64 caliber is about 18 gauge, but of course, there was no fixed ammunition and shooters cut their own wads with a device like a cookie cutter. (The holes made in a target by "wadcutter" pistol target bullets look like the holes made in cardboard by a shotgun "wad cutter", hence the name for the bullets.)

The "VP" is the abbreviation for "viewed and proved".


John Y Cannuck
February 18, 2001, 02:22 PM
Test fire!

tried several light loads.
Then from a safe distance
100 grains ffg
3 1/2" greased felt wads
100 grains #4 shot

then from the shoulder, same load, kicks like a 12 guage not much smoke.

must pattern it, no apparent choke.

Jim Keenan
lug under the barrel is dovetailed, but it was too thin a dovetail, and broke out, so sometime in the past someone has (silver?) soldered it.
There is another small hole in the stock that might suggest it had a band on the forearm. The gun has no patch box, and feels a little butt heavy