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Miller Model 1861

United States (1865)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Miller Model 1861 Breech-Loading Rifle.

 Entry last updated on 9/8/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

Basic Specifications
National Flag Graphic
United States
Year: 1865
Type: Breech-Loading Rifle
Manufacturer(s): Meridan Manufacturing Company - USA

The Miller Model 1861 was the Springfield Model 1861 Rifle-Musket converted from muzzle-loading to breech-loading using the patented Miller conversion block arrangement.

The Springfield Model 1861 rifle musket was produced in over 1 million examples during and after the American Civil War (1861-1865) and used by both sides of the conflict. However, its muzzle-loading arrangement made it obsolete in an age when the breech-loading system was growing into standardized usage. This led to some manufacturers converting the famous long gun into breech-loading forms by reworking the original flintlock system in play. One such conversion - undertaken by the Meriden Manufacturing Company of Connecticut - produced the "Miller Model 1861". The gun carried the surname of "conversion block" patent holders William H. and George W. Miller. In the system, a release catch found along the top of the barrel was used to brake the action open along a hinge, exposing the breech for inserting a cartridge. The patented arrangement was also featured in Parker's Snow and Company Model 1861 rifles.

Conversion work on the guns spanned from 1865 to 1867 and, by and large, the weapons retained their general form and function complete with the long single-piece wood body with integrated grip handle and shoulder stock. Two barrel bands were used to secure the barrel to the wood body. Sighting devices were set over the receiver and over the muzzle for ranged fire in the usual way. The trigger and loop guard were underslung beneath the action. Overall length measured 47.2 inches with a barrel of 39 inches. Weight was about 10lbs.

Despite the modification to breech-loading, the guns remained single-shot weapons as the Model 1861s before them. They were chambered for a .58 caliber rimfire cartridge. The reloading process, however, was much improved over the original Springfields as a trained shooter could manage up to six shots per minute. In the original rifle muskets, an operator could hope to reach a rate of fire of about two to three rounds per minute.
Any available statistics for the Miller Model 1861 Breech-Loading Rifle are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering initial year of service, country-of-origin and manufacture(s) involved in bringing the weapon to market. Other qualities showcased are related to physical values such as the internal action, available calibers / chamberings, weight and lengths. Global operators are also presented in A-to-Z format as are any model variants available to the series.
Supported Mission Types
Frontline Infantry
Special Forces
Close Quarters Battle
Designated Marksman/Sharpshooter
Area Effect/Suppression
Indirect Fire
Airspace Denial
Attachment Weapon
Internal Design, Weight and Dimensions
Firing Action: Breech-Loading; Single-Shot
Available Caliber(s): .58 (Cartridge)
Ammunition Count / Feed: Single-Shot
Weight (Empty): 9.99 lb (4.53 kg)
Overall Length: 1,200 mm (47.24 in)
Barrel Length: 990 mm (38.98 in)
Sighting Assist: Iron Front and Rear

Operating Performance
Muzzle Velocity: 1,000 ft/sec (305 m/sec)
Rate-of-Fire (RoF): 6 rounds-per-minute (rpm)
Typical Range: 1,000 feet (305 m; 333 yd)

Operators List
United States

Model Variants
• Miller Model 1861 - Base series name; conversions handled by Meridan Manufacturing Company of CT.