×
Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Pay Scale Military Ranks
HOME
INFANTRY
MODERN ARMIES
SPECIAL FORCES
COUNTRIES
MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE
BY CONFLICT
BY TYPE
BY DECADE

Whitworth Rifle


Percussion Lock Rifled Musket (1857)


Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

1 / 1
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

Jump-to: Specifications

The British hexagonal rifled Whitworth rifle-musket - rejected at home - found service with Confederate forces during the America Civil War.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/26/2016 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
Sir Joseph Henry Whitworth developed a twisted, hexagonal barreled rifle-musket when attempting to bring the concept of hexagonal barreled field guns to a portable, infantry-level long gun form. The main advantage lay in a conformed bullet shape better gripping the rifling design and leading to a more effective, accurate long gun. The British Army, already having taken on stocks of the new Enfield Model 1853 rifle-musket, took some interest in the product. During evaluation against the Model 1853, Whitworth's gun held firm and outperformed the entrenched Enfield design. However, the Army thought the barrels too temperamental and the guns, on the whole, too expensive to procure in the numbers required. As such, the Whitworth Rifle was rebuffed at home but the Whitworth Rifle Company was able to interest the Confederate States of America in some quantity. Total production of Whitworth Rifles ultimately reached 13,400 units with the French Army being its only other operator.

Despite British neutrality in the American Civil War, private British gun firms were not restricted in offering their wares to interest buyers. The South, desperate for any effective long gun, gladly purchased many foreign types to level the playing field against the industrial-supported North.

In the American Civil War (1861-1865), the rifle proved exceedingly accurate for the period and was generally passed to Confederate sharpshooters who could take advantage of such an instrument. The rifle held excellent accuracy at range and went on to lay claim to killing several Union generals during the war. The maximum listed range of the gun could reach 1,500 yards with effective ranges within 1,000 yards and under. In its evaluations, it placed shots on target at out to 2,000 yards. A shooter could only fire off between two and three rounds-per-minute due to the weapon's cumbersome, muzzle-loading action. Sling loops aided in transporting the rifle during marches and could also serve in steadying the next shot. Some shooters devised special frontal supports to better brace their weapon.

The Whitworth Rifle was given a basic design arrangement consistent with the period. A long-running, single-piece wood stock made up the body, buttstock, grip handle, and forend while all metal components were inlaid as normal. Barrel lengths varied from 33-, 36-, and 39-inches long to suit needed engagement ranges though the 33-inch model was highly typical in Civil War use. This, in turn, led to either a short-form or long-form rifle that used either two or three barrel bands on the design for the needed strength. The cartridge was a .45 caliber bullet which held plenty of man-stopping power and came in both the original hexagonal and a modified cylindrical form. In the latter, a hollowed out lead base conformed to the hexagonal rifling of the barrel.

Most Whitworth sharpshooters tended to rely on the included iron sights though even this installation could be borrowed from other weapons. The front sight was typically adjustable. Some shooters eventually bypassed iron sights altogether and mounted a telescopic sight over the receiver for advanced sniping.

As a muzzle-loaded weapon (still consistent even during the Civil War), the operator loaded charge and bullet down the muzzle and rammed the contents firmly home with the included ramrod. The rod was then slipped away in a channel under the barrel when not in use. A hammer was managed along the right side of the gun's metal works and cocked rearward when readied. A trigger pull actuated the hammer, falling upon the awaiting nipple with a percussion cap seated on it. The resulting ignition, and its associated pressures, then sent the bullet on its path down and out of the barrel towards the intended target.

Specifications



Service Year
1857

Origin
United Kingdom national flag graphic
United Kingdom

Classification


Percussion Lock Rifled Musket


Whitworth Rifle Company - UK
National flag of France Confederate States; France
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Musket
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.


Overall Length
1,200 mm
47.24 in
Barrel Length
840 mm
33.07 in
Sights


Open; Adjustable Front Blade; Optional Telescopic Sight


Action


Percussion Lock; Muzzle-Loaded

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)


Caliber(s)*


.45 Bullet

Rounds / Feed


Single-Shot
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.
Max Eff.Range
2,700 ft
(823 m | 900 yd)
Rate-of-Fire
2
rds/min


Whitworth Rifle - Base Series Designation; varying barrel lengths of 33, 36 and 39 inches for varying overall rifle lengths.


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 Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
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.

Advertisements





Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies


2022 Military Pay Scale Army Ranks Navy Ranks Air Force Ranks Alphabet Code DoD Dictionary American War Deaths French Military Victories Vietnam War Casualties

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.

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, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.


Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-