This is a simply stunning example of an 1861 era Finest Quality English Whitworth Rifle as used by sharpshooters around the world! Recently sold from the very well known and respected Confederate Collection of Lewis Leigh, Jr., of Virginia, this exceptionally fine weapon has crisp markings, superbly crafted wood and a crisp bore. The action is very tight and there are very few physical detractions evident in any respect; just a very few minor dings.
There is probably no muzzle loading rifle more renowned for accuracy than the Whitworth Patent Rifle. Sir Joseph Whitworth was an incredibly talented engineer who was responsible (among his many innovations and inventions) for the establishment of the first standardized thread system for screws. This is something we tend to take for granted today, but the standardization of thread count, thread pitch and screw diameter was a revolutionary idea during the mid-19th century when screws were hand made and hand cut.
His 530-grain, .451-caliber hexagonal bullet did not depend upon the unreliable expansion of a hollow base in order to engage the rifling of the bore, but instead relied upon the tight mechanical fit of his bullet to the .451 polygonal bore. The end result was simply AMAZING accuracy for a muzzle-loading firearm, with one test resulting in a 12” group at 1,800 yards; a group shot at just over 1 mile with a black powder open-sights muzzle-loading rifle!
Whitworth began manufacturing his revolutionary rifles in 1857 and in 1860 formed the Whitworth Rifle Company in Manchester, England. There is probably no more famous or more desirable variant of the Whitworth Rifle than the ones that were purchased by the Confederacy during the American Civil War which were put to such devastating use against the Union Army. The left breech bears the usual Birmingham commercial view, proof and definitive proof marks which are separated by a pair of 52 gauge marks, indicated .451 caliber. The left breech also bears the Whitworth serial number B678 indicating manufacture in late 1860 to very early 1861. Fewer than 1,000 of this pattern were ever produced. An excellent weapon for any advanced private or institutional collection and pure investment grade! It is noted that this particular weapon also is stamped lightly on the underside of the stock “Natchez” but there is no related history known or implied association.