The Model 1814 Common Rifle was an early rifle design by Robert T. Wickham. The Model 1814 would then be manufactured by gunsmiths Henry Deringer and R. Johnston for military action until the release of the Model 1817 Common Rifle. The Model 1814 was also classed, at the time, as a musket.
The Model 1814, being among the first rifles to be designed in America, was heavily based on the more primative (but more common) musket, with a 33in long barrel. Likewise the ever popular flintlock mechanism was fitted to the Model 1814, as this simple design meant that the Model 1814 would operate as any other musket/rifle of its day, meaning that no special training would be required to use it.
Yet, unlike a contemporary musket (which were typically smoothbore firearms), the Model 1814 featured an heptagon to round shaped bore on the inside the barrel. At the corners of the heptagon the rifling was cut to form a slight spiral pattern down the inside length of the barrel for each corner creating the rifling that the Model 1814 required to become a rifle. Later designs by the Springfield Armory would have fewer grooves as it was later found to be as efficient (but less costly) to have fewer grooves (eg the Springfield Model 1855 Rifled Musket).
The Model 1814 was also fitted with basic sights, an important improvement in accurate shooting over common muskets of the day. These consisted of a simple dovetail front sight (made of brass) and a simple non-adjustable rear sight. The Model 1814's stock featured a cheek piece and an oval shaped trigger guard, with most detail or aesthetic parts mode of iron.
The Model 1814 was designed to use the most common ammunition of the era, the lead musket ball. The Model 1814 was bored to a diameter of slightly above .54in to accept the .54in calibre ball which was intended to deform slightly to engage with the rifling cut in the barrel, creating spin to improve the accuracy of the Model 1814.
The Model 1814 was produced in several different versions during its production (as well as pre-production) life, meaning that several versions of the Model 1814 are known to exist, produced by several gunsmiths across America.
Wickham TypeEditThe Model 1814 "Wickham Type" was essentially the basic design of the Model 1814 as designed by Robert T. Wickham. Wickham ordered Henry Deringer, a gunsmith from Philadelphia, to manufacture 1,000 Model 1814's in this designation in 1814. Later R. Johnston would recieve a Model 1814 to be copied 1,000 times.
The Model 1814 "Pre-Production" was a modification that Henry Deringer made to the "Wickham Type" design prior to the US Army adoption of the Model 1814. A longer 38in barrel was fitted to the 51 prototypes as well as non-iron fittings and could also be identified by the long brass patch box mounted in the butt-stock.
The Indian Rifle was a modified version of the Model 1814 "Wickham Type" lacking the rifling in the barrel as the US Government sought to sell the Native American tribes rifle-like firearms that lacked rifling to maintain a tactical advantage (as smoothbore weapons were less accurate than rifled firearms).
The Model 1814 Common Rifle did not become a very common rifle (despite the name's suggestion) being replaced in the US arsenal by the Model 1816 Musket (of Springfield origin) and it's successor the Model 1817 Common Rifle. Exact numbers of Model 1814 production are unknown, bar the 2,000 or so that were initially manufactured between Henry Deringer and R. Johnston with a few surviving to this day.
The Model 1814 would remain in use through to the American Civil War of the 1860's. By this stage the Model 1814 (in the hands of the 2nd Mississippi Infantry) had been converted to percussion lock to keep it as up-to-date as possible with more modern percussion rifles. As a result of this virtually all modern day examples of Model 1814's are found in percussion lock format rather than the original flintlock mechanism.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Barrel_and_rifling.jpg - Image of bore