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Thread: 1863 Springfield

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Ithaca Gunner's Avatar
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    1863 Springfield

    Seems as though the 1863 and 1864 Springfields are getting hard to come by lately, and when a dealer gets one in, it doesn't last long. I got lucky and found this one freshly posted on a dealer's site at a fair price. Average condition for one that's seen the final two years of the war, so no real collector value and the bore has seen better days. The barrel is off to Bobby Hoyt to work his magic on with a new steel liner with a 1:48 twist.

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  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    Why a 1:48 twist?

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Ithaca Gunner's Avatar
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    It's been proven more accurate with 450-500gr. + .58/.577 bullets. The British Pattern 1858 Short Naval rifle was the first of it's kind to use this twist although with a five groove barrel and progressive depth rifling. When the Confederacy couldn't purchase or get Whitworth and Kerr .451 rifles through the blockade for their sharp-shooters, it was the P-58 Enfield Naval rifle that stood in as a sharp-shooters long range rifle. Though the P-58 couldn't compare to either the Whitworth or Kerr, it gave a very good account of itself out to 600yds. and sometimes beyond. It's thought only up to 5,000 P-58 Naval rifles made it through the blockade.

    Standard Enfield twist for the .577 was 1:78'' while the Springfield was 1:72''. Remington made their M1863 ''Zouave'' rifle with a, (mostly) seven groove barrel with a 1:60'' twist. These were found to more accurate than the Springfield in testing after the war, but it's thought most if not all of Remington's excellent rifles were never issued.
    Last edited by Ithaca Gunner; 06-10-2021 at 10:14 PM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy

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    Please let us know how the gun shoots when you get it back.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Ithaca Gunner's Avatar
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    It may be a while, Bob while not overwhelmed is fairly busy and may take a month or more. Typical of his work though, it should group off a bench under 2'' for ten shots at 100yds with the right load. He did a Windsor Enfield .577 1:60 for me over twenty years ago that with a Lyman 575213 Old Style and 55gr. FFFg powder would put five into one hole, (a hair over an inch) off a bench at 100yds. Bon does nice work!

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    My experience with .58 rifle - muskets is dated and based upon shooting originals and not repros. My gut feeling is that the faster twist barrels are predicated upon firing lighter target loads at short range inside 100 yards in N-SSA competition. Whenn testing for Smithsonian and AFIP we fired original US Springfield and Enfield rifles with full charge service loads back to 500 yards in the 1980s with issue barrels nominal one turn in six feet and could keep 8 of 10 rounds on an Army "E" silhouette.
    The ENEMY is listening.
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    Keep it to yourself.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Ithaca Gunner's Avatar
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    No argument the original guns could be accurate and effective, I have a few Springfield models with fine rifling I've shot, and they do shoot very well. Now I'll say I don't shoot them with period type undersize bullets as issue for combat. I got as close as I could to land diameter and yes, the 1:72 will shoot well with a 213 O.S. and a faster twist will stabilize bullets with a lighter charge...and it will usually shoot longer ranges better with full charges.

    Fouling is the reason they went with the slower twist, and kept it even after progressive depth rifling became common, they could even reduce the bullet diameter even more to get more shots between cleanings. Soldiers liked the new P-53 .577 Enfield when issued during the Crimean War, the only complaint was that it fouled too quickly. After the war, the ordinance committee addressed the problem and recommended and adopted the French discovery of progressive depth rifling, .013'' at the breech to .005'' at the muzzle. This reduced the fouling, and allowed them to further reduce the bullet diameter from .568 to .550 and still maintain accuracy, (I'm not sure when the U.S. adopted the progressive depth rifling). Progressive depth rifling isn't a major concern for shooters today as we have the luxury of better lubes, mixing lube to temp, cleaning more often, and matching bullets to bore diameter. It's sport shooting, no-one is shooting back.

    Claude Fuller's book, ''The Rifled Musket'' 1958 dedicates many pages to actual targets shot by soldiers after the civil war using various long arms used in the conflict and shot in several ways from individual aimed fire to group volley fire. They could be accurate back then also.

    I'm not saying newer and faster is best, and it certainly would not have been during 19th century conflict with a riflemusket. The shorter rifles, the British Naval service went with a five groove 1:48 in 1858, their army followed suit in 1860 with their short rifles and musketoons, ( the army P-56 short rifle used three groove 1:78 rifling and didn't shoot as well as the long P-53). Remington made their short rifle, (M-1863 ''Zouave'' with a 1:60 twist) and they all shoot very well indeed. The P-58 Enfield Naval rifle so well in fact it was issued to sharp-shooters only in Confederate service. Of course these were limited in numbers and more Southern sharp-shooters used the standard P-53 or Springfield.

    As I have the luxuries listed above and no-one shooting at me, I choose a faster twist, even in the longer riflemusket when I get one in good condition, but with a shabby bore in need of relining. Why not take advantage of it? When I shoot my original P-58 Royal Marine Short Rifle, the first loads I plan on using will be service charges and a .001'' undersize 575213 O.S. bullet, just to see how well it preforms with them since the bore is like new with no wear or pits.
    Last edited by Ithaca Gunner; 06-11-2021 at 11:39 PM.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check