Richmond Rifle
Richmond Rifle
Country of origin

Confederate States of America


Richmond Armory, Richmond

Year(s) designed


Production began


Production ended


Weapon type

Rifled Musket


.58in (14.7mm) Minie Ball


Percussion lock

Overall length

56in (1.42m)

Barrel length

40in (1.02m)


9lb (4.1kg)

Magazine/Cylinder capacity

1 (Muzzle loaded)

Maximum effective range

600yards (550m)

Used by

Confederate States of America

The Richmond Rifle, produced by the Richmond Armory during the American Civil War, was a rifled musket  chambered for the .58in Minie Ball. Like the Fayetteville Rifle the Richmond Rifle was built using captured equipment from the Harpers Ferry US Armory in Virginia. 

Design DetailsEdit

The Richmond Rifle was manufactured in Richmond, following the Confederate capture of the Harpers Ferry US Armory in western Virginia, was almost identical to the Model 1855 Musket (produced at Harpers Ferry at the time of its capture). The barrel used the same 1:72 rifling twist, of 40in in length (as the machinery was set up) as the  stock and lock plate also remained the same.

However the major difference between the Richmond Rifle and the Model 1855 was the Richmond's lack of the Maynard Tape Primer System, designed to ease the loading process by feeding the primer directly into the breech automatically. This system appeared on the Fayetteville Rifle (where it was largely improved) but was considered unreliable and prompted the Richmond Armory to drop the system (returning to the more conventional use of percussion caps). However the Richmond Rifle retained the distictive hump of the Model 1855's lock plate (where the Maynard Tape Primer was located).

Other differences between the Confederate Richmond Rifle and the Union used Springfield Rifles (such as the Model 1855 and Springfield Model 1861) were a different rear sight and brass fittings (such as the nose cap and butt plate).


The Richmond Rifle was intended to fire the .58in (14.7mm) Minie Ball, as the Model 1855 had been chambered for. However as supplies dwindled later in the Civil War the Richmond Rifle was increasingly used with Musket balls (as its counterpart the Fayetteville Rifle had) which was less effective than the Minie Ball as it did not engage properly with the rifling in the barrel.


The Richmond Rifle was similar to the Fayetteville Rifle, as both were produced using captured machinery from the Harpers Ferry Armory, both were heavily based on the Model 1855 Musket, and had a similar effective range. Yet neither rifle could prevent the Confederate States from losing the American Civil War, being outperformed by the Union forces equipped with the most up-to-date rifled muskets of the era, such as the Springfield Model 1861 and the British Pattern 1853 Enfield.

However unlike the Fayetteville Rifle, which was not updated bar minor refinements to the Maynard Tape system and aesthetics, the Richmond Rifle was modified to bring its performance closer to that of the Union rifles.

A truly original (ie how it came out of the factory) Richmond Rifle is difficult to find, largely due to the fact that Confederate forces relied upon scavenging supplies and arms, rather than maintaining them. Components such as the ramrod are almost impossible to find, meaning that the Richmond Rifle has become a very valuable long arm, despite its virtually unknown existence. 


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