Sold For: $3,630.00
Make: London Armoury Co. (L.A. Co.)
Model: Whitworth Match Rifle (Based on the 1853 Enfield 3-Band Model)
Serial Number: 144319
Year of Manufacture: 1862
Caliber: .451 Caliber Ball
Action Type: Single Shot, Muzzle Loaded Percussion Match Rifle
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “281”, the left appears to be marked “L 3088”, (which is found again on the butt plate) with crisp stamp of “WR / 144319”, a “V” and what appears to be a faint London proof mark, the lock plate has a crown over “V.R.” and “L.A. Co.” over “1862”. The trigger guard has a highly detailed but muted grouping of crossed canons behind a globe, with military accouterments, with fine scroll engraving found on the forward portion; this beautiful work is also found on the front and rear barrel bands, main screw heads, lock plate and roll-over tang of the butt plate, please see our pictures of this absolutely stunning rifle! The hammer engraving gives hint to some sort of canine beast, with fine cross hatching in the negative spaces. The rear sight markings are mentioned below.
Barrel Length: 35”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a small triangular blade, integral to a forged base. The rear sight is a Whitworth graduated latter type with a “V” notch in the downward position, giving range for both conical and hexagonal bullets with indicated “H / C” engraving on the top of the sliding leaf which has a “V” notch as well. The right side of the sight is marked 100 to 400, the rear of the latter is ranged from 500 to 1100 meters, the leaf is also marked “E” crown “8”. The stock, aft of the upper tang has a sight base and leaf spring installed, however the rest of the sight is missing and appears to have been an aperture of some sort.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The near full length deluxe walnut stock has absolutely beautiful fiddle-back grain and is set with three barrel bands; the front band has a hole for a sling swivel which is missing, the rear swivel is missing from its hole on the wrist and other mounting option on the trigger guard. The stock has checkering on the wrist and rear back from the last barrel band , with a rich smooth finish to the wood. The stock shows some chip losses near the rear-of-tang rear sight base, with chips lost around the left side through bolt escutcheons (the areas around are very dark in contrast to the rest of the stock), an insert repair at the rear of the lower tang. There are some thin cracks and chip losses around the ram rod channel, the wood has scattered dings and compression marks, a few deep gouges are present, please see our pictures, the stock still remains beautiful and instantly catches the eye. The LOP measures 14” from the front of the trigger to the back of the metal butt plate; the stock looks to have shrunk from age. The stock rates in about Good Plus to Very Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: It is difficult to tell what this rifle’s original finish was, since there is no discernible finish remaining, however there appears to be bluing on the upper tang, protected by the large screw, the trigger guard, on the inner portions hint that it may have been case colored. Please see our pictures.
Finish Originality: All Original
Bore Condition: The bore is light gray and the Whitworth Hexagonal Match rifling is still highly defined. There is no visible erosion.
Overall Condition: We believe there are hints of bluing on the barrel on the upper tang by the screw head and there is faint evidence of case coloring on the trigger guard, please see our pictures. The barrel has some deeper pitting on the rear portion at the breech, along the flanks by the stock and drizzled on the top. The metal has nice patina with some faint abrasive marks suggesting cleaning done long ago. The rear sight has some advanced erosion, with dark patina and some compression on the edges. The engraving details on the lock plate and hammer are still crisply defined, the trigger guard, 2 of 3 barrel bands and butt plate engraving is slightly faded but still beautiful. The middle barrel band does not have engraving and its profile varies from that of the other two, please see our pictures. The trigger guard has spots of brown patina and pin prick erosion, the butt plate has similar marks and dark erosion. The screw heads have mild tooling but are still highly serviceable. The markings are clear unless otherwise noted. Overall, this rifle rates in about Good Plus to Very Good condition for its age.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The hammer still has a strong spring, the trigger pull is extremely short and smooth. The lower tang has a checkered finger rest that helps stabilize the rifle. We have not fired this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: Included is a 33” long ram rod which looks to have been re-blued, as there is erosion and marks under the finish, please see our pictures; the rod is in about Good condition.
Our Assessment: From http://guns.wikia.com/wiki/London_Armoury_Company “The early 1860s were the most valuable years for the L.A.C. as the American Civil War engulfed America. The L.A.C. negotiated a contract with Major Caleb Huse and Captain James D. Bulloch of the Confederate States of America to supply the Confederacy with rifles and revolvers. This resulted in 70,000 Pattern 1853 Enfields and between 7,000 – 11,000 Kerr Percussion Revolvers being shipped to America (although how many actually arrived is unclear due to the Union’s Blockade). The CSA often recognised L.A.C.’sfirearms as the best from Britain. However the L.A.C. became too entwined with the CSA (even being loosely associated as it’s British base) and the defeat of the CSA hit the group hard. The L.A.C. struggled on for a year before closing in 1866, with the majority of its work force heading to the new London Small Arms Company Ltd.” This rifle was made in 1862, in the Whitworth Match Rifle configuration, with a surprisingly strong bore, beautiful stock and phenomenal engraving! We can’t verify 100% if this rifle was one sent to the Confederates during the war, however there are some marks on the left side of the barrel that appear to be military rack numbers, which is also match that of the butt plate; the trigger guard has a crossed canon motif that one might find on a military saber of the day, the lower tang forms a finger rest with nice checkering. Within a feasible timeline of actual Confederate service, beautiful mechanics and attention to detail in construction, this could have very well been a Confederate Sharpshooter’s tried and true battle rifle and would certainly have been a sight to behold (Still is, actually). The barrel has Whitworth rifling and incorporates a .451 caliber Minie-type projectile that was slightly longer than the conventional military profile, with either round or hexagonal features. The 1857 test trials put the Whitworth against Britain’s beloved Enfield, with barely a sweat broken by the Whitworth’s performance, even out to a mile! For a beautiful rundown of this projectile’s influence had on the evolution of ballistics, firearms and eventually the American Civil War, leading to the rise of Confederate snipers (eventually known as the Whitworth Sharpshooters), visit http://www.americancivilwarstory.com/whitworth-rifle.html. With a 1:20 twist rate, these match rifles were among the most accurate and feared of their day. This would have been and still is, a coveted item, given its potential history and obvious clout. Whatever the life of this rifle looked like, it has survived quite well for its age, the action is still crisp with an incredibly smooth trigger. This rifle stopped all in their tracks, who passed by during this write-up and is sure to be the highlight of your collection. Please see our pictures and good luck.