INITIALED, 1826 Dated US M1817 Common RIFLE-Musket
Updated for Issue During Civil War!
Here we present an antique U.S. Model 1817 “Common Rifle” from the small R. & J.D. Johnson Contract, made circa 1826 in Middletown, Connecticut. This rifle was made by several contractors from about 1817 to about 1840 with a total of 38,400 being made. The U.S. Model 1816 became the standard American infantry rifle, but the Model 1817 was made during the same period and is arguably the better of the two. It was well-built and features a rifled .54 caliber barrel rather than the M1816’s smooth .69 caliber bore. The 1820s was a time of expansion in many ways for the still-young United States, conflicts with Native Americans and other foreign powers could not stop the growth in terms of the population or territory. The Florida Territory was acquired from Spain, the fur trade was going full tilt out West, and the Santa Fe Trail was getting rather busy. Many of these rifles were used during the American Civil War, especially in the early days of the conflict when military weapons were hard to come by and these were still a solid choice.
After producing the Model 1814 common rifle through contractors, the military decided to do the same with the Model 1817. The Harper’s Ferry Arsenal produced a pattern weapon, which was then taken to gunsmiths to be copied. The rifle was built by Henry Deringer of Philadelphia (13,000 made), Nathan Starr & Co. of Middleton, Conn. (10,200 made), Simeon North of Middleton, Conn. (7,200 made), R. Johnson of Middleton, Conn. (5,000 made), R. & J. D. Johnson of Middleton, Conn. (3,000 made).
One of its most distinct features is the large iron patchbox in the stock. The lock is marked “U.S./R.&JD. Johnson” and “MIDDn CONN.” The lock and barrel tang are dated 1826. The underside of the stock is marked “SB.TK” in block letters, either a unit marking or someone’s initials. Inspector’s initials for Asabel Hubbard are located on the left side of the barrel. This rifle would have originally been made in the flintlock format in 1826. Sometime before or during the Civil War, it would have been updated to the percussion firing system, making it more reliable and extending its service life. Many of the muskets from this period were used during the Civil War as arms shortages on both sides made it necessary. Luckily, this rifle had some fairly modern features when it was made, such as the smaller caliber, rifled barrel, and getting the percussion cap update would have made a lucky soldier quite happy with his rifle.
The overall condition is good. This old rifle-musket has seen lots of use and looks like a veteran of several campaigns. The iron parts are dark brown. The markings are clear. The stock lost its toe long ago and the wood there is dark with age and smooth with use. The stock shows lots of use and remains solid. The bore is dark and well-rifled. The action remains strong. The percussion nipple is chipped off. The leather sling is decades old and in very good condition. Here is a scarce, early American percussion conversion military rifle that has seen a lot of history happen in its day. It is a handsome piece that gives a clear picture of just the kind of hard use a rifle would have been treated to in those days. To know what those initials are for!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 36 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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