Surplus and or outdated rifles/muskets

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32 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Jul 23, 2018
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I use a .648 in a paper cartridge in my .69 muskets, lubed with Lanolin.

Works great, I've fired 50 of them in a row, glide right down the pipe. I can print a fist sized group at 50.


MLF Supporter
May 6, 2014
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This thread got me to thinking about John L. Burns, a 69 year old resident of Gettysburg who joined in the battle on the first day it was fought. The famous daguerreotype of him sitting in his shirt, suspenders and trousers with his half stock Musket; is the first photo in the top right of the following link.

That Half Stock Musket is either a U.S. Armory made or Civilian Contractor made Musket, the latter that probably conformed to a U.S. Model. I can't see enough details to tell which, but after studying "Springfield Armory Infantry Muskets 1795-1844," I think it is a Model 1816 or later Musket by what I can see of the lock plate and the shape of the wrist and butt stock, the latter looking to be the shape that did not come into use until 1817.

I used to think this was John's Musket he was issued in the War of 1812, but since a musket wasn't made with the lock and butt stock shape that early, then it may be the Musket John was issued during the Mexican American War.

I don't know how John got to keep that musket, but I would guess it was issued by the State and then he took it home with him after the Mexican War, as part of the State Militia. I doubt he was given permission to turn it into a half stock, until it was considered too outdated for Militia Use, since the percussion system was adopted in the early 1840's.

It seems John didn't fight with that flintlock musket at Gettysburg, though. He asked permission to borrow an Enfield from a wounded Federal Soldier and used that for his fighting on the first day until he was wounded so badly. Then he buried the Enfield and cartridges, so he could claim he was an innocent bystander when caught. That saved him from being shot as a spy or an illegal civilian combatant fighting for the Federal Forces.


ugly old guy

40 Cal
Feb 18, 2019
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I don't know how John got to keep that musket, but I would guess it was issued by the State and then he took it home with him after the Mexican War,
Actually, The military used to allow troops to keep their small arms (rifles) and side arms (pistol) if they wanted them, when they were honorably discharged as late as WW II, and maybe as late as Korea, provided the rifle wasn't selective fire or full auto only.
I don't think my Uncle who served in Viet Nam had the option to keep the Colt 1911 he was issued, and I doubt he had tbe option to keep the select fire M-16-A1 he was issued. (he was honorably discharged in 1964 or 1965)

Smokin' Joe

32 Cal
Sep 9, 2019
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Regarding Mr. Burns,
It is hard to tell, but it does look like post 1812 surplus (which doesnt help much.) After the War of 1812 there was a major overhaul of arms by the National govt and the states. What could be repaired and servicable were kept, others given to the states honoring the 1808 Militia Act requirements of arming the states. That resulted in giving the states junk the Feds did not want to keep, beginning in the early 1820s and were promptly refused. The rest were sold off by public auction. The states likewise sold off these worn and outdated arms. Those sales increased with the arrival of percussion arms. The 1840s was when many of these public auctions occured.

With that, Mr. Burns' musket could be "unofficial" Models 1808 or 1812, could be a Harpers Ferry arm due to the stock, or a contract. It could also be an 1816. The trigger guard doesnt help as it is too difficult to see the sling swivel location. If it had the stud typical of early '16s and the various 1795s, its not visible now. The hammer looks to be rounded and not flat like the 1795s, increasing the likelihood of a model 1816 in some form.

Im actually intrigued by his modification of cutting the forestock, yet, keeping the barrel length. Im not sure if the barrel retains the rear band or altered for a key... she seems a bit short.

Referring to the post regarding militia men walking off with an arm, that most certainly happened. Sheriffs were responsible for collecting militia fines and cooperated with various militia officers to collect these "public arms." Most returned in terrible state. Some states were quite loose with their militias and armaments, hence so many Rev War arms being issued down south during the Civil War. Augmented by donations and purchases of "civilian arms" which many were surplus. The Civil War was the last conflict where this reissuing of surplus was implimented in any real scale, and seen much more often in previous decades back to the colonial days. Dont forget the massive usage of fussils and fowlers pre Mexican American War, save for the Texans which used everything.

Interchangeable parts due to standardization with the industrial revolution, along with the capitalistic prosperity killed the muzzleloader. One of the reasons why the cheap Belgian shotgun won the west, and the desire for breachloading arms. Revolvers were expensive! Sure cheap surplus arms, esp. post civil war resulted in tons of muzzleloading shotguns, but no one can deny the zillions (almost literally) of small arm manufacturers appearing in the latter half of the 19th c., and none of them, save for Bannerman and Whitney, selling muzzleloaders, and those two selling under the quantity vs quality models.

In all state troops kept whatever they had begrudgingly until better breachloading rifles became the norm. Even then... I recall troops in Alaska still carried versions of the trapdoor during WW I. We essentially had no artillery during that conflict, using French 75s once we got there... we still had newer but obsolete 3.2 inch bag guns and vaunted 3 inch ordnance rifles!