Objective comparison: The rifles of the civil war.


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Snowdog
September 14, 2003, 02:32 PM
I'm planning on buying a .58 caliber percussion rifle and would like it to be along the lines of those used in the civil war.

For the time being, I am planning on the Zouave rifle (I'm aware it wasn't widely used during the civil war, but it's a design of that era).
However, the $299 Zouave I was planning on has gone to $340, so I am now looking into the prospect of buying a three band Enfield or Springfield.

Does anyone here know of any advantages one rifle has over the other?
For example, is one generally more accurate than the other?
Also, would anyone here care to give an estimate of what could be considered "maximum range" of these rifles (miniball over 100gr FFG, for example) for deer sized game?

Thanks in advance.

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4v50 Gary
September 14, 2003, 02:45 PM
If we're talking about common muzzle loaders the Blue or Grey carried, the one found most accurate at Morris Island was the Springfield rifled musket. It was used by the Union sharpshooters against their Corn-fed counterparts (who had scoped Whitworths). As the siege lines got closer, the long range advantage of the Whitworth decreased.

For the average Corn-fed sharpshooter, the 2 band Enfield was reserved for them. In both the Army of Tennessee and the Army of Northern Virginia, tests were conducted of all arms to see which could carry the minie ball farther and more accurately. They were all about the same at 500 yards but beyond that and to about 1000 the Enfields ruled. The shorter (33") Enfield (as opposed to the 39" version) was selected as it was handier in the skirmish role.

BTW, most sharpshooters on either side served as skirmishers. Very few would with any regularity do what we would later call sniping.

RON in PA
September 15, 2003, 12:13 PM
If I were you I'd try to shoot both before I bought one or at least shoulder both. The reason for this is that they have very distinctive "feels" due to differences in stocking. The Enfield has a very straight stock (little "drop") that requires you to shoot in a very head back, straight-up position. I'm a stock crawler and hate the way the Enfield feels. The Springfield (and Zouave) have much more comfortable stocks, more "drop" to them.

As far as practical accuracy goes both the Springfield and Enfield are about equal, they are IMHO 100 yard deer rifles. By the way, 100 grains is a bit much for minnies, 60 grains was Civil War issue, too much powder and you will blow the base and kill accuracy.

Ed
September 15, 2003, 04:51 PM
Well.....I'd have to say an Enfield because I used to use them for 8 years with the park service. Plus I'm from the south, and thats who was using them primarily. As a side note, the enfield came in .577 or .58 caliber. Springfields did too but springfields also came in other calibers. At the Seige of Vicksburg a 12 or 14 year old drummer was sent to the rear for Springfield ammo. Got wounded on the way and did lots of other stuff and never made it back to the lines. Was given the Medal of honor for actions that day. If he would have made it, he would have had the wrong caliber ammo. So thats not of any relevance today but a good Springfield vs Enfield story. Orian P Howell was his name.

Dr.Rob
September 17, 2003, 01:40 AM
I looked at the Enfield Musketoon as a serious hunting arm in .58 cal (I think it was a pedersoli replica). several things:

The 58 throws a BIG chunk of lead, enough for elk.

The sights are.. rudimentary by any standard, limiting your accuracy to knock anything down with precision past 50 yards (not the limit or the rifle itself).

The .58 is harder to find than the 50/54 stuff in premium hunting bullets.

The musketoon is rifled musket, the barrel is made like a thick shotgun bore, its a LOT LESS metal than you are used to seeing on a rifle. Less wieght, but also less rigid.

Many of them have fancy nickeled, silver and brass parts, you don't want that on a hunting rifle. Hard to find a "blackened" or blued model.

Still like it, its handy and light compared to humping around the woods with a Hawken (which I have).

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