Percussion rifle

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The percussion rifle is a rifle that uses a percussion cap instead of older flintlock or matchlock variants. Faster reloading and fewer moving parts made this rifle more versatile and rugged compared to other single-shot rifles. The other advantage was that percussion caps were more reliable in bad weather, flintlocks and or matchlocks rifles did not work well in rain.[1][2]

The U.S. adopted the percussion system in 1841 and produced the M1841 Mississippi rifle that same year, made by Harpers Ferry Armory, E. Whitney. This was a .54 caliber, 33-inch-barrel percussion rifle. The new arm was very popular, since it was accurate and easy to handle, and its browned barrel finish contrasting with the bright brass furniture gave it a pleasing appearance. It won fame in the Mexican-American War with Jefferson Davis’ regiment of Mississippi riflemen at the battle of Buena Vista, and its continuing popularity was such that most Confederate rifle manufacturers later copied its overall style. Some were later converted to .58 caliber and fitted with long-range rear sights, but those used at Mill Springs seem to have been the original .54 caliber variety, which had simple notch rear sights. Many early percussion rifles were converted flintlock muskets. Percussion rifles were not made for very long, as percussion rifles were replaced in the 1860s by breechloading rifles, like trapdoor Springfields and the Snider-Enfield. The Dreyse needle gun that used a firing pin, not a percussion cap, showed that rate of fire of breechloading firing pin rifles was much higher.[3][4][5][6]

Notable percussion rifles[edit]

The notable percussion rifles/muskets include:

See also[edit]