The Model 1817 Common Rifle was flintlock rifled musket, produced by Henry Deringer. The Model 1817 was based on the older Model 1814 Common Rifle, although Deringer made modifications to the design, leading to the new designation.
The Model 1817 was not particularly revolutionary in its design, having not been developed or benefitted from major developments since its predecessor was conceived. The major change in design was the removal of the half-octagonal barrel, in favour of a seven groove rifling pattern inside an entirely round barrel. The barrel was also increased to 36in in length, while the calibre/bore remained the same (.54in).
Other than a minor tweak to the flintlock mechanism (a slight modification to the shape of the cock (effectively the hammer) to better grip the flint) the Model 1817 remained virtually unchanged from the original. The stock mounted oval shaped patchbox was retained as were most of the other fittings. Despite a slight modification to the barrrel bands, the overall appearance of the Model 1817 remained the same.
The Model 1817 retained the use of the .54in (14.2mm) calibre musket ball, as its predecessor had done. The ball itself was forced down the barrel (along with the paper cartridge that held it and the blackpowder) from the muzzle using the ramrod.
Later the Model 1817 would often be modified to fire using a percussion lock mechanism, improving the Model 1817's wet weather capabilities. This modification, however, was never a factory fitted option, despite the fact that the use of percussion caps became widespread in the 1820s (while production of the Model 1817 continued into the 1840s).
UsageEditAs mentioned previously, the Model 1817 was the direct successor to the Model 1814 Common Rifle. Perhaps the most significant fact about the Model 1817 was that it was the first successful design by a certain Henry Deringer, inventor of the Deringer pistol which bore his name. Deringer manufactured the Model 1817 himself, although he also negotiated contracts with Harpers Ferry (whom made the original), Nathan Starr & Co. (Connecticut, US), Simeon North (Connecticut, US) and R. Johnson (also of Connecticut, US). Between them 38,200 Model 1817s were produced from 1817 to 1842.
The Model 1817 would not be used in a major battle or conflict during its production life. However the design did last, and following a spate of conversions (to percussion lock) in the years up to the American Civil War, the Model 1817 was used (in limited numbers) during said conflict. The demand for firearms grew throughout the conflict, leading to the majority of remaining Common Rifles (ie both the Model 1814 and Model 1817) to be converted, meaning original flintlock examples are very difficult to find.