Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery firarms.

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Hi Coinneach,

When they changed to .49 caliber, it was on the brand new rifles built for the new contract, so it would not have been due to a worn barrel.

Gus
Point taken, but it seems very odd to increase the calibre from .47 to .49 (.46 to .47 patched Ball or thereabouts) when such an increase would have little to no effect on ballistics and knock down power.
Seems to me in an era of Economy and strict budgeting hardly practical CBA wise (although the term wasnt used in those days, the concept was understood).

Little wonder why I've always been fascinated by American History, and treasure my families Southern link.
 
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Point taken, but it seems very odd to increase the calibre from .47 to .49 (.46 to .47 patched Ball or thereabouts) when such an increase would have little to no effect on ballistics and knock down power.
Seems to me in an era of Economy and strict budgeting hardly practical CBA wise (although the term wasnt used in those days, the concept was understood).

Little wonder why I've always been fascinated by American History, and treasure my families Southern link.
I agree it was odd and even more so when one realizes they did not have affordable precision calipers that were accurate to .001" until the 1840's.

Could the answer have been that they wanted .47 caliber and the manufacturers couldn't get that close so they increased it to .49 caliber? I'm not so sure that is correct, but I guess it is possible as well.

As far as I know, the U.S. Government didn't send out minimum and maximum GO and NO GO gauges to be used by each manufacturer to check the bore sizes for quite some time after that period.

Gus
 
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Part 3

OK, here is the fifth point that none of the authors addressed. The number of the work force is not known exactly and that's because the old records had either been thrown away in later years or lost when the Armory was burnt by Confederates. The estimated work force was a minimum 21 workers to as high as 25 from what I've found. That includes the Master Armorer and one clerk.

Again, since the records were burnt, we don't know how much musket production dropped while they were making things for Lewis. That would give us some idea on how many of the workers were assigned to making things for Lewis. I seem to recall the numbers of muskets Harpers Ferry made increased in 1803 vs the preceding year?

If we knew the numbers of workers assigned and to what jobs while they worked on the rifles, it would tell us more about which rifle came from Harpers Ferry.

OK, so here is the sixth point none of the authors or any of the articles/books addressed. Folks, as far as I'm concerned, this one is part of what I call "the Gorilla in the room" that no one seems to have even thought about.

Where did they get the RIFLING machine, with which to cut the rifling in the .54 caliber bores?

After all, supposedly they had only worked on smooth bore musket barrels up to the time Lewis arrived at Harpers Ferry Armory. Now those barrels required boring machines, but not rifling guides.

Yes, they could have made and attached a rifling guide, but remember folks, this wasn't a small gunsmith shop with maybe one Master, maybe no or only one Journeryman worker and maybe one or two apprentices. Their boring machine should have been on an industrial scale and not already set up with a rifling guide. So, it would have taken longer to make the rifling guide and set it up to use with their boring machine.

Further, they would not have had the twisted boring reamers nor finishing reamers in the right size for .54 caliber already on hand. So they would have had to have made those in the first floor blacksmith's area, along with other unusual items Lewis needed that they did not make up to that point. MORE time needed to make those.

The point has been made they could not have made fifteen brand new rifles in the time Harpers Ferry completed the task, so that proves they only modified old/severely worn out/broken/busted 1792 rifles, but NO one seems to have considered much about what it took to get the work done on either rifle possibility.

OK, once again I have no documentation to back the following up, so this is only speculation on my part. I would like to suggest the possibility they were already working on rifle R and D and may have already HAD the rifling machine and associated boring tools for .54 cal when Lewis showed up at the Armory.

Now, I admit this is NOT enough evidence to prove they made brand new prototype rifles for Lewis, even if they did already have the equipment ready for .54 cal boring and rifling. They may have already had it and used it to enlarge the bores and rifle them in the 1792 rifles.

Even if they did not already have this equipment when Lewis showed up, it would also not preclude them from making brand new rifles, though.

Gus
 
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Phil Coffins

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A fair point that they were already working on a prototype of the 1803 since they did complete some 1803s that year.
 
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John Zimmerman would be the person too contact, he was or still is the master armorer for the national park service at Harpers Ferry, I bet he could clear up some of the information and questions being ask about the Corps of Discovery weapons and how they related to the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Just a thought.
 
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John Zimmerman would be the person too contact, he was or still is the master armorer for the national park service at Harpers Ferry, I bet he could clear up some of the information and questions being ask about the Corps of Discovery weapons and how they related to the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Just a thought.
Well............ I knew of him from many years of working at the NSSA Spring and Fall National Championships. In my case off and on when the Marine Corps didn't have me transferred away from 1974 to 2005. Let's just say a lot of people didn't/don't share that opinion.

Gus
 
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He is a sort of different kind of personality is he not. I never had a problem with John. He done some work for me on two different weapons, top notch work. And seemed too know his business. Just passing along what I thought might be helpful. Not looking too dis credit a person, I always found there is a lot of dis-agreement in the ranks of the NSSA when it comes too issues reguarding the period, weapons and such matters.
 
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He is a sort of different kind of personality is he not. I never had a problem with John. He done some work for me on two different weapons, top notch work. And seemed too know his business. Just passing along what I thought might be helpful. Not looking too dis credit a person, I always found there is a lot of dis-agreement in the ranks of the NSSA when it comes too issues reguarding the period, weapons and such matters.
Please understand I did not intend anything against you.

Yes, as a person who shot NSSA period guns both with live rounds and blanks, but only worked on NSSA guns at the Nationals, and was a dedicated reenactor myself - I saw a lot of disagreement over the years, which is natural in any group as big as the NSSA.

The first time I showed up there to work guns in 1974, I could not help but notice folks shot the guns well, but many were pretty sloppy in wearing "Gas Station" Grey or Blue work clothes on the line. However, I was very pleased over the years when more authentic uniforms and clothing took over for the matches. I had to stuff my fist in my mouth a couple of times to be diplomatic and not laugh when even some the more "curmudgeonly" ones finally admitted it was a good thing.

I learned a LOT from the Weapons Committee over the years and have to admit I appreciated their documentation.

Gus
 
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No problem, was a reenactor for close too 30 years, always strived too represent the period and the soilders as authentic as I could, been too ft. shennadoah a few times as a visitor a few years back and was kind of surprised at things I saw, for the most part nice folks but approach at representation at those times was lacking, Been a while since being there may have too make a trip and see how things have changed. Good shooting too you. Who were you with in the corps in 74 thats when I went in. First tour was 1bn./4th Marines,3rd Marine Division C-Co. weapons plt. Participated in Saigon evac. done 8 years and out should of stayed for 20 but it was not in the cards.
 
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No problem, was a reenactor for close too 30 years, always strived too represent the period and the soilders as authentic as I could, been too ft. shennadoah a few times as a visitor a few years back and was kind of surprised at things I saw, for the most part nice folks but approach at representation at those times was lacking, Been a while since being there may have too make a trip and see how things have changed. Good shooting too you. Who were you with in the corps in 74 thats when I went in. First tour was 1bn./4th Marines,3rd Marine Division C-Co. weapons plt. Participated in Saigon evac. done 8 years and out should of stayed for 20 but it was not in the cards.
My last trip to the NSSA Nationals was in the Fall of 2005. After that, I could no longer afford to go there to work guns and lose business/money on my gun work/repair business, as of course I was no longer getting a full time check from the Marine Corps.

I began reenacting as a buckskinner at the Friendship Primitive Range in the Spring of 1974. I did that, Continental Marines and Northwest Territory reenacting up through the War of 1812 for the rest of the decade. I got into Confederate Marine reenacting in 1980 for a couple years before raising Company I, The Stafford Guards, 47th VA infantry regiment until I was transferred to California in 1988. When I returned to Quantico in 1994, I was too busy running the RTE Shop as Shop Chief, but got a little living history in until I retired in 1997. After getting settled here in Richmond for a while, I decided I wanted to get back in the 18th century and decided to go "Brit" for a change. Well, when I found the Major's Coy, of the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, I did that as a Private Soldier until sometime around 2007-8 when I could no longer be active due to my health. I still help reenactors of different periods from time to time since.

In '73 I took a brief "side trip" from Okinawa into Cambodia as a Corporal/Armorer and a Squad Leader (we didn't have near enough Sergeants and senior Corporals) on a detail to destroy a CIA base. My third Fire Team Leader was a PFC, to give you an idea how "under-ranked" we were there. I came to Quantico in Dec. 1973 to apprentice as an RTE/NM Armorer and was there until transferred in early 1976.

Gus
 
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Einsiedler

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Interesting read. Thanks contributors!!! Much appreciated. From my point of view, I believe all of the rifles mentioned have a rich and interesting story to tell regardless of any Corps of Discovery affiliation!

( oh, meant to mention. Bravo 1/23, USMCR, 75-81)
 
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I have always heard that when the government settled with Harper's Ferry for the 1803 rifle contract, they paid for 15 more rifles.

The 1792/1794 rifles were made by a number of different manufacturers. Replacing the various locks with the interchangeable locks developed for the new US rifles would have been very unlikely with all the modifications that would have likely to have been made and the stocks wouldn't have been able to support the modifications. Those rifles were basically far closer to being unserviceable than suitable for upgrade.
 
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I have always heard that when the government settled with Harper's Ferry for the 1803 rifle contract, they paid for 15 more rifles.

The 1792/1794 rifles were made by a number of different manufacturers. Replacing the various locks with the interchangeable locks developed for the new US rifles would have been very unlikely with all the modifications that would have likely to have been made and the stocks wouldn't have been able to support the modifications. Those rifles were basically far closer to being unserviceable than suitable for upgrade.
Actually, ALL the 1792 rifles stored at Harpers Ferry were indeed unserviceable/needing MAJOR repairs/rebuilding to downright junk, the latter only fit to be stripped for the metal of their parts.

The rifles that only needed minor fixing was done either by the one or two assigned Artificers/Armorers at Philadelphia Arsenal or farmed out to local gunsmiths there, as it was not cost effective to send them to and back from Harpers Ferry for minor repairs at that time.

Gus
 

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