Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024)
Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

Colt Special Model 1861

Musket Long Gun [ 1861 ]

The Colt Special Model 1861 musket was nothing more than a retooled Springfield Model 1861 manufactured on Enfield machinery.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/19/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Colt Special Model 1861 Musket was nothing more than a retooled version of the Springfield Model 1861 Musket series. Colt Armaments Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut produced the type in an effort to fill the burgeoning US government need for capable firearms during the bloody American Civil War. Some time earlier in 1846, the Robbins & Lawrence Armory and Machine Shop was set up in Windsor, Vermont and undertook production of various products including firearms which were noted for their excellence in the 1851 London Crystal Palace Exhibition. In 1854, the display had netted the concern a British Army contract for 150 machine tools to stock a new Enfield military armory being built. The weapons constructed here became the Enfield Pattern 1853 Musket.

With growing acclaim, Robbins and Lawrence opened up another facility in Hartford, Connecticut in 1853 with still another facility following. However, quick expansion proved too much for the company and remaining orders soon fell, forcing Robbins & Lawrence to file for Bankruptcy. It was at this time that Samuel Colt moved in to procure some of the famous machinery utilized at Enfield and, with his usual persistence, he received government orders for new-build firearms. Production began in September of 1862 (the American Civil War was now in full swing, having officially begun on April 12th, 1861 with the Southern bombardment of Fort Sumter). The new Colt guns were musket type weapons, based on the Springfield Model 1861 but completed on the Enfield machinery used in the manufacture of the Enfield Pattern 1853 Musket. As such, Colt marketed the weapon as the "best" of both systems - giving the new-version musket the name of "Colt Special Model 1861".

The musket was of the standard percussion cap system utilized heavily during this time and featured a wooden body, integrated stock and long-running three-banded barrel. Percussion guns were a vast improvement over the preceding flintlock and matchlock forms for they did not expose primary firing functions to the elements and featured less in the way of moving parts. It was not until 1841 that the United States formally took on percussion-based firearms as something of a national standard, ushering in a new age of gun engineering across the country. In fact, many existing flintlock systems were simply modified to accept a percussion-based function, retaining their original "musket" feel. The barrel measured in at 40 inches in length and the gun was chambered for a single .58 caliber cartridge. As a musket-type weapon, the Special Model 1861 was loaded from the muzzle end of the barrel in a relatively laborious loading process that involved utilization of a ramrod to drive down the propellant and cartridge ball. The ramrod was held in place just under the barrel when not in use. All of the key working components were held in and on the sides of the receiver and included a right-handed hammer that was cocked rearwards before firing. The trigger was positioned under the receiver and featured a smooth curved contour. This unit was protected by an oblong trigger ring. Sights were noted above the muzzle and ahead of the receiver.

The American Civil War would last until April 9th, 1865 to which some 131,000 Special Model 1861 muskets were produced for the US government by Colt. The weapon then saw extensive use by both sides in the conflict for, facing a shortage of viable arms options due to the successful Union blockage of key ports against overseas arms shipments, the Confederate States became keen on reusing captured Union firearms to fill their inventories. Many long-barreled muskets that remained in the aftermath of battles were often damaged, usually at their muzzles most times caused by blocked barrels going unnoticed in the heat of action, and, thusly, had their barrels shortened and essentially made into carbine lengths. Such weapons had their applicable ramrods shortened as well to compensate for the lesser barrels.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States


Musket Long Gun

Colt Armaments Manufacturing Company - USA
(View other Arms-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the Confederate States of America National flag of the United States Confederate States; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Old style of weapon loaded from the muzzle; completely manual action located at the rear of the frame; poor accuracy forced masses of soldiers to fire at once for best results.



Percussion Cap
Utilizes the percussion cap system of operation to actuate ignition of propellant; much like a child's cap gun, small explosive caps are set upon nipples and these are actuated by a falling hammer previously cocked.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


.58 Ball

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a Musket Ball bullet
Rounds / Feed

Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.

Special Model 1861 - Base Series Designation

Military lapel ribbon for the American Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.

Images Gallery

1 / 1
Image of the Colt Special Model 1861
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)