Extremely Fine & Rare Pattern 1863 Whitworth Rifle

Our Price: sold

Extremely Fine & Rare Pattern 1863 Whitworth Rifle .451 caliber. This rare 1863 dated Enfield rifle with broad arrow proof has 33″ barrel with Whitworth’s unique hexagonal 52 bore. Gun is made for bayonet that attached to front band and has long range adjustable ladder sight, which is marked “C” on right and “H” on left showing two separate ranges for use of either “Conical” or “Hexagonal” ammunition.

This rifle bears the regiment number '16' stamped along with a infantry horn on the butt plate. The 16th Regiment of foot or Bedfordshire regiment was stationed in Canada during the Civil War. The 1st battalion was sent to Montreal in 1861  to defend the border with America against Fenian raiders. The 2nd are sent to Halifax in Canada on their first foreign service and spend their time in Nova Scotia. Both battalions remain in Canada in response to tensions between America and the British Empire, following the American Civil War. In 1866  the 1st battalion are involved in several small engagements along the borders around Niagara against the attempted invasion by American Fenian's.

The British military version Pattern 1863 which would eventually be adopted from of this rifle is more common with 36″ bbl and 3-bands. Subject rifle here is same configuration of Confederate used versions, however British military is of 1st quality. Tim Prince, co-author of The English Connection” stated “these 1,000 rifles were utilized in various field tests, and were commented upon favorably enough for the Board of Ordnance to authorized the production of 8,000 more rifles for field trials. These rifles, which would become the Pattern 1863 Whitworth Rifle, had slightly shorter barrels, at 33”, due to the fact that the barrels were made of steel rather than iron, and consequently weighed more than their iron counterparts. The new P-1863 also incorporated some minor improvements in the rear sight, and introduced a bayonet lug on the upper barrel band to accept a bayonet based upon the Pattern 1856 saber bayonet. The reason the bayonet lug (“bar” in English terminology) placed on the upper barrel band rather than directly on the barrel was the belief that it would be too difficult to adequately weld the bayonet lug directly to the steel barrel. As a result, the upper band was of the wide variety with a transverse pin through the band and stock for additional support. This pattern of barrel band had been introduced for the P-1856 Type II (or P-1858) “Bar on Band” series of rifles. These 8,000 rifles were produced at R.S.A.F. and were issued to a large number of regiments for field trials. In general, 68 of the rifles were issued each of the regiments that received them for trial (possibly to equip the “light companies”), and field reports were to be complied regarding the rifles in service performance over the next few years. At least 12 regiments not in service in India were issued the new P-1863 Whitworth Rifle, including the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, 1st Battalion Scots Fusilier Guards, 1st Battalion 3rd Foot, 2nd Battalion 5th Foot, both 1st & 2nd Battalion of the 60th Rifles and the 73rd Foot. Five additional regiments in Indian service were also issued the rifles, including the 42nd Highland Foot and 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade.

In general, the reports from the field were quite similar, the rifles tended to foul badly when used in hot environments. In many cases it was difficult for the average solider to ram more than a half dozen rounds before the rifle became too fouled to load. When combined with the much higher cost per unit versus a standard P-1853 Enfield rifle musket, as well as the slower rate of fire, it quickly became obvious that the P-1853 was more than sufficient for the typical needs of the line infantry, and that even though the Whitworth had tremendous advantages in accuracy, it was not practical weapon for general issue. Although the guns remained in limited experimental issue through 1867-1868 with many of the regiments testing them, they were never considered a potential replacement for the P-1853 Enfield. In the end, the Whitworth design became an anachronism that proved the potential for smaller bore rifle accuracy, but at a time when the age of muzzle loader was coming to an end and the metallic cartridge breechloader was about to change the world of warfare forever.

The Pattern 1863 Whitworth rifles were eventually returned to storage and eventually sold as surplus, becoming a sort of footnote in the history of 19th century British military small arms development. While the rifles never made a significant difference in the British military, they did manage to gain iconic status in the hands of a few of Confederate sharpshooters, and at the shooting competitions at Wimbledon, insuring that the Whitworth Rifle would never be merely a footnote to arms historians and collectors.”

Very fine condition. Barrel retains 90%+ original thinning blue finish. Lock and hammer retain 60% of their bright case colors. Mechanically excellent with crisp, bright bore. Stock has several dings and dents and an indiscernible stock marking with fairly crisp checkering.


 

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