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Common Guns in the Civil War

577 Enfield Musket

The .577 British rifle musket made at their armory at Enfield Lock fired the same Minie ball and paper cartridge ammunition as the U.S. .58 Springfield rifle musket. The British Enfield was popular with many soldiers during the Civil War.  The Enfield and Springfield muskets were nearly the same identical length, weight, and used the same kind of bayonet.

577 Enfield

The mass conscript armies of both sides in the American Civil War overwhelmed the ability to make enough guns. Particularly during the first years of the Civil War, many foreign muskets were imported, by both sides. Sometimes the North bought them up to keep the South from getting them.

The Enfield musket was first produced in 1853 at the Royal Small Arms Factory located on an island in the Lee River, drawing the name from Enfield Lock for water transportation.  The army munitions factory opened here in 1816 and closed as recently as 1987.   The Enfield rifle musket was capable of grouping its shots into a 4 inch circle at 100 yards and could hit a man at 600 yards.  The 500 grain bullet could penetrate 4 inches of timber at 1000 yards, probably using pine.  The Enfield first saw serious service in the Crimean War and was the British shoulder arm in the Indian Mutiny.

The Enfield had a finely adjustable rear sight. The Springfield rear sight came with two leaves for adjustment to the three ranges of 100, 300, and 500 yards. The Enfield rear sight could be adjusted for any range using a friction cross bar on a standing leaf.  In recreational target shooting, my Dad enjoyed make small adjustments in the rear sight of his Enfield. The difference in actual battle was negligible.

See U.S. 58 Springfield for more information.

The Enfield was carried throughout the British Empire.  Muzzle loading Springfields were adapted to cartridge breech loading with the Allen conversion trapdoor.  The Enfield was similarly altered by a different design known as the Snider.

Technical Information

Length 56 Inches
Weight 9 pounds
Caliber 58 (.58")
Bullet Weight 500 grains
Power Charge 65 grains
Muzzle Velocity 950 feet per second
Muzzle Energy 1,000 foot pounds

More About Civil War Guns

 

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Emory Hackman

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