RARE CIVIL WAR U.S. 1855 Pistol w Maynard Primer
1 of ONLY 4,021 Made at SPRINGFIELD for CAVALRY
Here we present an antique Springfield Armory Model 1855 Pistol, made in 1855, five years prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War. Only 4,021 of these were made, making them very rare, especially considering that many would have been lost during the war. The concept was for all U.S. Army troops to have a common caliber, so that logistics would be simplified, and have a pistol that cavalry could use while mounted, with an attachable stock for use when on foot.
The chosen caliber was .58, and it utilized the cutting-edge cone-shaped Minié ball with the hollow base instead of ball. Also, relatively new and short-lived was the Maynard tape priming system, to which Springfield had purchased the rights. Instead of directly priming the nipple by hand for each shot, the user would simply install a roll of paper percussion caps, and a single cap would be exposed, sheared and carried by the hammer to detonate on the nipple. Of course, the standard rifle percussion caps could also be used. The ramrod is captive on a swivel, so that it was not easily lost in the field, with a hollow tip for pushing the Minié ball. All of these features were included in this compact package to be issued to Cavalry and some Artillery, and it sounded like a brilliant idea. Then U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (soon to be President of the Confederate States of America) approved the adoption and production of the entire Model 1855 line of rifles, carbines and pistol carbines. However, reports from the field painted the pistol carbines as rather unwieldy, the tape primer system unreliable, and the carbine stock a detriment to accuracy. By this time, Colt had developed lines of very handy and reliable 6-shot revolvers and a plethora of breech-loading cartridge fed carbines would bring a swift end to production. Nevertheless, these very interesting weapons were very much utilized on both sides during the Civil War, and are highly valued in the collector’s market today.
The Model 1855 is otherwise distinctive in U.S. Military firearms history for being the last single shot percussion pistol issued, as well as the only pistol other than the Model 1911 made in significant numbers by Springfield Armory.
The lock is marked “U.S./SPRINGFIELD” and dated 1855. The top of the barrel is also marked “1855”. The barrel is stamped with the proof marks “V/P/Eagle head”.
This specimen is in overall good condition. The metal surfaces have been lightly polished. Markings are clear and legible. The walnut stock shows wear, including indentations where the detachable stock was attached. The bore is strongly rifled and clean. The small door to the Maynard tape primer does not snap shut. The action is strong.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 12 inches in length.
Caliber: .58 percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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