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Of all the rifles and muskets used in the Civil War, only the Springfield Model 1861 was more widely used than the 1853 Enfield rifle musket (also known as the P53 Enfield). Great Britain exported nearly one million of the guns to America during the conflict, and it saw widespread use on both sides in every major battle from Shiloh in 1862 through the end of the war.
Like many rifle muskets of the period, the P53 Enfield was a percussion-ignition firearm developed to fire the .58-caliber minie ball conical bullet. A special adjustable rear sight helped shooters compensate for the rainbow-shaped trajectory of the 530-grain projectile that left the barrel at a relatively modest muzzle velocity of 900 fps. The sight was indexed for ranges from 100 to 400 or 500 yds. in 100-yd. increments, but also had flip-up sights for longer ranges. The P53 Enfield was prized for its accuracy and could consistently produce 4" groups at 100 yds. (excellent for an 1850s firearm), and hitting a man-sized target at 600 yds. was not terribly difficult for an accomplished marksman. The big, slow-moving bullet also demonstrated excellent penetration capability. Tests on pine boards revealed a minie ball fired from a P53 Enfield could pass through 4" of wood at 1,000 yds., a degree of penetration that would make taking down an enemy soldier at that range easy.
Perhaps the most famous Civil War engagement involving the P53 Enfield took place at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. The 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry, led by Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, successfully used their P53 Enfields to hold back relentless Confederate assaults on the Union lines at a strategic hill called Little Round Top. When ammunition ran low, Chamberlain ordered his soldiers to fix bayonets on their rifle muskets and charge downhill into the Confederates - an action that took his opponents by complete surprise. Many Confederate soldiers were captured, the Union lines held and Chamberlain ultimately earned the Medal of Honor in 1893 for his actions.
Cabela's is proud to offer a fully functional replica of the famous firearm with all the features of the design used in the Civil War. It has a color case-hardened lock, blued 39" barrel, traditional military sights, three steel barrel bands, a walnut stock, a V-style lock spring and a brass trigger guard, nose cap and buttplate. Overall length: 55". Weight: 8.8 lbs.
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