Richmond Armory Model 1855 (Richmond Rifle) History

The capture of machinery and tooling in the April 1861 raid by Confederate forces at Harpers Ferry granted the South with useful gun-making equipment that was badly needed. Some of the equipment ended in Fayetteville, North Carolina and some in the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. The result was two rifles developed to the form and function of the Springfield Model 1855 (detailed elsewhere on this site). Depending on their origination, the guns came to be known as either "Fayetteville Rifles" or "Richmond Rifles".

Production of Richmond Rifles began in October of 1962 and more or less following the lines dictated by the original Springfield. However, the original gun called for support of the Maynard Tape Primer system to speed reloading of the percussion cap-based action. This feature was omitted in the Richmond Rifle for expediency and simplicity but the lockplate of some early models still retained the distinctive "hump" (Type I and Type II guns with slight variations between them). Only in March of 1862 was the die revised and the hump subsequently deleted (Type III rifles). A brass nosecap as fitted at the forend of the stock and original iron-based butt plates were superseded by brass-based ones. The patchbox in the stock was removed and different sighting gear fitted over the rifle.

The rifle fired the .58 Minie Ball and reloading was from the muzzle. A trained operator could expect to shoot two to three rounds per minute with some accuracy out to 600 yards thanks to the rifled barrel. Muzzle velocity was 1,000 to 1,200 feet per second.

Before the end of the year, the Richmond facility began manufacture of a shortened version of the Richmond Rifle to serve in the carbine role. This form had the barrel length reduced to 25-inches (from 40-inches). Shortages of wood also dictated that the original 56-inch long gun was also reduced in length to save on materials and this produced a 49-inch form with 33-inch barrel length.

Richmond Rifles were manufactured at the Richmond Armory from 1861 until early-1865. Some were reportedly also based on the Springfield Model 1863 rifle design.

Richmond Armory Model 1855 (Richmond Rifle) Specification


- Close Quarters Battle (CQB) / Personal Security


Overall Length:

1,422 mm (55.98 in)

Barrel Length:

1,015 mm (39.96 in)

Weight (Unloaded):

9.92 lb (4.50 kg)


Iron Front and Rear



Percussion Cap; Muzzle-Loaded; Single-Shot

Muzzle Velocity:

1,100 feet-per-second (335 meters-per-second)


2 rounds-per-minute

Effective Range:

1,800 ft (549 m; 600 yd)


Richmond Rifle - Base Series Name

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