Springfield Model 1863

The Springfield Model 1863 is a .58 caliber rifled musket manufactured by the Springfield Armory between 1863 and 1865.

Model 1863 Rifle-Musket
Springfield 1863 and Enfield 1861 rifles.jpg
An 1863 Springfield Rifled Musket and an Enfield Musketoon.
TypeRifled musket
Place of originUnited States of America
Service history
In service1863–1865
Used by
Production history
ManufacturerUnited States Armory and Arsenal at Springfield
No. built700,000
VariantsType I, Type II
Mass9 lb (4.1 kg)
Length55.9 in (1,420 mm)
Barrel length40.0 in (1,020 mm)

CartridgePaper cartridge, Minié ball undersized to reduce the effects of powder fouling and for the skirt to get grip of the grooves when firing
Caliber.58 in (15 mm)
ActionPercussion lock
Rate of fireUser dependent; usually 2 to 4 rounds every 1 minute
Muzzle velocity1,000 to 1,200 ft/s (300 to 370 m/s)
Effective firing range800 to 1000 yards, in reality 200 to 300 yards
Maximum firing range?
Feed systemMuzzle-loaded
SightsFlip-up leaf sights/single leaf sight
Springfield and Enfield Actions.
Minié balls.

The Model 1863 was only a minor improvement over the Springfield Model 1861. As such, it is sometimes classified as just a variant of the Model 1861. The Model 1861, with all of its variants, was the most commonly used longarm in the American Civil War, with over 700,000 manufactured. The Model 1863 also has the distinction of being the last muzzle-loading longarm produced by the Springfield Armory.

The Model 1863 was produced in two variants. The Type I eliminated the band springs and replaced the flat barrel bands with oval clamping bands. It also featured a new ramrod, a case-hardened lock, a new hammer, and a redesigned bolster (percussion chamber). Several of these modifications were based upon Colt's contract model 1861, known as the "Colt special". 273,265 Type I variants were manufactured in 1863.

The Type II is sometimes referred to as the Model 1864, but is more commonly referred to as just a variant of the Model 1863. This version re-introduced band springs, replaced the clamping bands with solid oval bands, and replaced the three leaf rear sight with single leaf sight. A total of 255,040 of these were manufactured from 1864 to 1865.

By the end of the Civil War, muzzle-loading rifles and muskets were considered obsolete. In the years following the Civil War, many Model 1863 muskets were converted into breech-loading "Trapdoor Springfields". The breech-loading weapons increased the rate of fire from three to four rounds per minute to eight to ten rounds per minute. The Model 1863 could be converted to breech-loading for about five dollars, at a time when a new rifle would cost about twenty dollars. The conversion of Model 1863 rifles therefore represented a significant cost savings to the U.S. military. (The US Military never adopted the converted Springfields although many were used by various European militaries)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  • Earl J. Coates and Dean S. Thomas, An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms
  • Ian V. Hogg, Weapons of the Civil War