Springfield Model 1842

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Model 1842 Musket
M1842.jpg
Springfield Model 1842 Musket
Type Musket
Place of origin  United States
Service history
In service 1844–1865
Used by United States
Wars Mexican–American War,
American Civil War
Production history
Designed 1842
Produced 1844–1855
Number built 275,000
Specifications
Weight 10 lbs (4.54 kg)
Length 58 in (1,473 mm)

Caliber .69 Musket ball
Action Percussion lock
Rate of fire 2–3 round/min
Effective firing range 50 to 75 yd effective range; 100 to 200 yd maximum range
Feed system Muzzle-loaded

The US Model 1842 Musket was a .69 caliber musket manufactured and used in the United States during the 19th Century. It is a continuation of the Model 1816 line of muskets but is generally referred to as its own model number rather than just a variant of the Model 1816.

The Model 1842 was the last U.S. smoothbore musket. Many features that had been retrofitted into the Model 1840 were standard on the Model 1842. The Model 1842 was the first U.S. musket to be produced with a percussion lock, though most of the Model 1840 flintlocks ended up being converted to percussion locks before reaching the field. The percussion cap system was vastly superior to the flintlock, being much more reliable and much more resistant to weather.

Like all Model 1816 derivatives, the Model 1842 has a .69 caliber barrel that was 42 inches in length. The Model 1842 had an overall length of 58 inches and a weight of 10 lbs.

A great emphasis was placed on manufacturing processes for the Model 1842. It was the first small arm produced in the U.S. with fully interchangeable (machine-made) parts. Approximately 275,000 Model 1842 muskets were produced at the Springfield and Harper's Ferry armories between 1844 and 1855. Model 1842 muskets were also made by private contractors. However, these were few in number. Some were made by A.H. Waters and B. Flagg & Co, both of Millbury, Massachusetts. These were distinguished by having brass furniture instead of iron. A.H. Waters went out of business due to a dearth of contracts in New England, and Flagg entered into a partnership with William Glaze of South Carolina. They relocated the machinery to the Palmetto Armory in Columbia, South Carolina. Instead of “V” over “P” over the eagle’s head, these guns were usually stamped “P” over “V” over the palmetto tree. Most of the output of the Palmetto Armory went to the state militia of South Carolina. There were only 6,020 1842 type muskets produced on that contract and none were made there after 1853.

Like the earlier Model 1840, the Model 1842 was produced with an intentionally thicker barrel than necessary, with the assumption that it would likely be rifled later. As the designers anticipated, many of the Model 1842 muskets had their barrels rifled later so that they could fire the newly developed Minié ball. Tests conducted by the U.S. Army showed that the .69 caliber musket was not as accurate as the smaller bore rifled muskets. Also, the Minie Ball, being conical and elongated, had much more mass than a round ball of the same caliber. A smaller caliber Minié ball could be used to provide as much mass on target as the larger .69 caliber round ball. For these reasons, the Model 1842 was the last .69 caliber musket. The Army later standardized on the .58 caliber Minie Ball, as used in the Springfield Model 1855 and Springfield Model 1861.

Both the original smoothbore version and the modified rifled version of the Model 1842 were used in the American Civil War. The smoothbore version was produced without sights, as they provided little value to a weapon that was only accurate to about 50 to 75 yards. When Model 1842 muskets were modified to have rifled barrels, sights were usually added at the same time as the rifling.

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