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American Civil War Muskets

Both the Confederacy and the Union showed a preference for .58 and .577 caliber rifle muskets. The advent of rifling made these weapons superior in terms of accuracy when compared to the smoothbore muskets. These rifles were primarily percussion-based weapons that fired a single shot before they were required to be reloaded, which was a relatively slow process in and of itself.

The Confederate cavalry was devastatingly effective with their double-barrel smoothbore musket shotguns. Colt, Springfield, and Remington all produced rifles for the Union army, and these models were often known as the superior rifle in terms of accuracy, reliability, and durability. The Confederacy imported rifles from several different countries including Belgium, France, Prussia, and the UK, making it a difficult task for collectors to amass a full assembly.

Quick Facts

  • While the vast majority of rifles were single shot muskets, the Colt revolving rifle offered six shots
  • The Confederacy had little gun-making equipment until they seized it at the U.S. Armory in Harper’s Ferry in 1862
  • Rifles at the time weighed as much as ten pounds, and were often the same height as an average infantryman with the bayonet affixed

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