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Thickness of barrels on the 1842 musket

Discussion in 'Civil War Weapons and Ammunition' started by kevikens, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. kevikens

    kevikens 2nd Lieutenant

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    For many years I have owned an 1842 Springfield musket. The lock is dated 1848, the barrel 1851 and a not uncommon arsenal match (or mismatch). I noticed right way when I got it that the barrel was pretty thick (and heavy) for a smoothbore, much more so than the barrels on an 1816 or 1795. I later learned that 1842's were made that way so that in the future they could be readily rifled and many, indeed, were in the 1850's. Recently I acquired another Springfield 1842, the lock dated 1846 and thought the barrel looked thinner. Since these arms were the first muskets to have completely interchangeable parts I wondered about that.
    Today I did a bit of measuring with a digital caliper I use in reloading modern brass cartridges. The interior bores of both arms were exactly 0.692 in diameter but the thickness of the barrels was different. The earlier 1842 did, indeed, have a thinner barrel, namely 0.079 inches while the later arm did have a thicker barrel, 0.090. Is this by chance? Is there some significance to the difference or just inconsequential manufacturing tolerances?
     

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  3. johan_steele

    johan_steele Colonel Retired Moderator

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    Harper's Ferry arms had quality control issues. You may have a Springfield barrel & a Harper's Ferry. IIRC Springfield barrels did become some thicker after 1847 but I may well be wrong.
     
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  4. Craig L Barry

    Craig L Barry Sergeant Major

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    I know of nothing in terms of written evidence that supports that theory, but it makes sense and the evidence is right there. There are slight differences in terms of the barrel thickness between different years of manufacture. That is about all that can be said about it. There could be other reasons other than possibly rifling the barrels at a later date...only a small percentage had that modification done.
     
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  5. kevikens

    kevikens 2nd Lieutenant

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    If you Google, "Springfield Model 1842 thick barrels" several references to that reason for the thicker barrels will come up including one from American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume III . Right now I am going to check my book shelf for other documentation.
     

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