The Infanteriegewehr Modell 1842 (translated as Infantry Rifle, Model 1842) was the first standard rifle utilised by the Swiss Armed Forces. In an era dominated by the musket, the Modell 1842 was classed as a rifle although in modern times, due to its long barrel, classed as a musket as well as a rifle.
The Infanteriegewehr Modell 1842 was a fairly standard smooth bore musket design, with the most popular action, the percussion lock mechanism, utilised on the Modell 1842 as it had been on other rifles and muskets of the era (eg the Springfield Model 1842). The Modell 1842 had been designed to be mass produced, meaning that the parts were standardised allowing parts to be interchanged between Modell 1842s.
The Modell 1842 featured a steel barrel measuring 41in in length and was rifled to improve accuracy. The barrel was mounted to the stock by three barrel bands, usually manufactured out of brass, while many other aesthetic features (bar the trigger guard) were made from steel. The ramrod was housed underneath the barrel via a brass muzzle cap, protruding a slight amount to allow the shooter to easily use it.
As eluded to earlier, the Modell 1842 was a muzzle loaded firearm requiring the user to push the paper cartridge down the barrel using the ramrod. From the late 1850's (following the demonstration of the Dreyse Needle Gun as the future of rifles through its breechloading mechanism) the Modell 1842 was, in large numbers, converted to the Milbank-Amsler breechloading mechanism, which involved the receiver being hinged to open upwards, allowing for the cartridge to be loaded.
The Modell 1842 was originally chambered for a 0.71in calibre lead musket ball, a huge calibre even by that era's standards (the last major rifle/musket to use as large a calibre was the Brown Bess musket originally designed in the 1700's). This would be replaced in the 1859 by a smaller 0.40in Minie ball which was more efficient to use with rifling as it was designed to deform, therefore engaging with the rifling in the barrel. Paper cartridges were used with both calibre sizes.
The Infanteriegewehr Modell 1842 was Switzerland's first standardised rifle, meaning that it would be utilised across the Swiss Armed Forces throughout it's service life. The design of the Modell 1842 was changed a couple of times during this service life, although the most significant of these was the Milbank-Amsler modification applied to the majority of Modell 1842s in the 1850's.
The only major use of the Infanteriegewehr Modell 1842 was during the Sonderbund War of 1847 when Switzerland was divided by Civil War. As a result the Modell 1842 was used by both sides of the conflict performing relatively well, although there was no real comparison for it. In modern times the Modell 1842, in its original muzzle loading format is extremely rare to find, while those that have been converted to the Milbank-Amsler format command prices around $2,000.