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Austrian M1854 Type I Lorenz Rifle Musket

Austrian M1854 Type I Lorenz Rifle Musket

  • Product Code: FLA-3663-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is a really attractive example of the desirable Austrian Model 1854 Lorenz Rifle Musket, in very nice condition. The Lorenz was the third most used rifle musket during the American Civil War, with US purchases in excess of 250,000 and documented CS purchases of at least 100,000. While it has long been assumed that the block sighted Lorenz rifles without cheek rests were CS imports, and the long-ranged sighted guns with cheek rests were US imports, the reality is that neither the presence or absence of a cheek rest or the style of sight is any indication of which side may have purchased the gun. 


One indicator that does apply to US and CS purchases is that in general the US purchased most of their Lorenz rifles in 1861 and 1862, initially receiving the oldest guns in the Austrian military inventory. Many of these guns underwent modification or repairs in Belgium on their way to the US. Often, they were also supposed to be re-bored to the standard US .58 caliber during the refurbishment process, but this had mixed results and the guns often varied considerably form the standard. Most of the CS Lorenz purchases were made from early-1862 through the end of the war. Due to the large debts that the Confederate government accrued in England during the first part of the war, the numbers of English suppliers that were willing to extend additional credit to the Confederacy became rather limited by the end of 1863. However, Austrian suppliers were still willing to keep selling the guns, even to a client that might default on the credit extended to them. It is interesting to note researchers have recently discovered that the very first Lorenz purchases that Caleb Huse made were in early 1862 and from the firm of S. Isaac’s & Campbell Company in England. These purchases have never been included in the 100,000 CS purchases that most researchers refer to, so it is quite possible that CS purchases of the Lorenz were significantly higher than previously assumed. 


The importance of the .54 caliber Austrian M1854 Lorenz to the Confederacy might best be illustrated by the huge number of Austrian Rifle Cartridges that were imported by the Confederacy from both Austria and England. The McRae Papers contain several invoices from the famous English ammunition manufacturer Eley Brothers that include Austrian ammunition.  One such invoice is dated July 18, 1863, some two weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg, MS. The invoice is for a total of 700,000 paper cartridges. The order included: “600,000 Austrian Rifle Cartridges – Marked A” and “100,000 Ball & Buck Short Musket Cartridges – Marked M”. While the caliber of the Austrian cartridges is not specified, it seems clear that the order would be for Austrian pattern ammunition appropriate for the unaltered .547” (13.9mm) bore of the Austrian Lorenz rifle musket. This order also implies that the Confederate Ordnance Department laboratories were capable of supplying a sufficient number of .577 / .58 caliber cartridges for the guns in the field but needed assistance in providing enough ammunition for Lorenz rifles and smoothbore muskets. This invoice also helps to dispel the myth about the issuance of .54 “Mississippi” rifle ammunition for use in the Lorenz. While this ammunition could be used in extreme circumstances, it would in fact be significantly undersized in the Lorenz bore and would not expand sufficiently to correctly take the rifling. I believe that many of the period reports that describe the Lorenz rifle musket as “inaccurate” are the result of using inappropriately sized ammunition intended for M1841 rifles.


One feature that almost assures that a Lorenz was purchased and imported by the North or the South is the absence of a cheek rest on the stock. All Austrian military purchased Lorenz rifle muskets were equipped with a cheek rest. Arms made for commercial or export sale often had this feature omitted, likely as a way to save time and cost. The Lorenz saw very limited use outside of Austria, so commercial arms were almost always assembled for export to the two American Civil War combatants. These commercial guns often utilized older, obsolete Austrian military locks that were refurbished for use on the Lorenz. It is not uncommon to find locks from earlier Model 1838 and Model 1842 muskets that have been reengineered for use in Lorenz; ground down to the smaller, sleeker Lorenz profile with the Augustin Consol lock parts removed and the associate holes plugged. These locks are usually identifiable by those plugged holes in the lock, and production dates that are earlier than 1854, the year that the Lorenz rifle musket first went into production. Of course, plenty of cheek rest equipped Lorenz Rifle Muskets were imported during the Civil War, however most of these were Austrian military surplus arms, rather than newly made commercial guns.


This Lorenz is complete and original in every way with the exception of its ramrod and also includes what is generally believed to be an original Austrian leather sling; an extremely rare item. The gun is in FINE original condition is very attractive. This Lorenz variant is an Austrian K.K. Army surplus gun that has a cheek rest on the reverse of the stock, the fixed-range block rear sight and the original 4-groove 13.9mm (.547”) bore. The block sight and nominal .54 caliber bore has been considered the quintessential “Confederate” variant according to the old-time collectors and Civil War Arms researchers.  The gun has a mostly bright bore that rates about VERY GOOD, with deep, crisp 4-groove rifling in the original Austrian 13.9mm, or .547 caliber. The bore shows scattered light pitting with some small areas of more moderate pitting, but nothing so serious as to dramatically detract from accuracy with the correct ammunition. The lock is very clearly marked with the {Austrian Eagle} to the rear of the hammer and 860 to the front, indicating that it was produced in 1860. The Austrian Eagle mark is deeply struck and rather blurry, as tends to be common on these guns. The date mark is crisp and clear. The lock works very well on all positions and is very crisp, rating mechanically excellent. As is typical of these guns, the half-cock notch is a safety position that is set so low to the percussion cone that it effectively keeps the cap from falling off the cone. This meant the gun was capped at full cock and the hammer was then lowered to the safety position, unlike American military guns that were capped at half-cock with the hammer left in that position that was high enough that the cap could fall off the cone when the soldier moved or marched. The top of the breech is clearly marked with the manufacturer’s name PIRKO / IN / WIEN and is also marked with the Austrian military acceptance proof mark of an {Austrian Eagle / W}. Karl Pirko was a major firearms maker and Austrian military arms contractor who worked in Vienna from about 1831-1867.  The barrel is also marked with a raised L in a depressed oval proof on the left angled breech and with the initials of a workman or inspector, JP, on the right flat forward of the lock. Lorenz barrel markings are often weak or worn, but these remain clear, crisp and legible. As usual, there are matching assembly numbers on nearly all of the major metal components. In this case, the primary assembly number appears nearly everywhere. All the lock components have matching lock assembly numbers as well, in this case 20. The interior of the lock plate is also numbered 4 to match the balance of the gun. The gun retains both the original sling swivels and the original block rear sight. An original, period brass-tipped Austrian style ramrod in the channel under the barrel is full-length and complete with threads at the end. The rod is not the standard Lorenz rod as it does not have the usual retaining swell on the shank, like those of the US M1855 and M1861 ramrods. This rod is straight-shanked and may have been added during the rifle’s life as a collector piece to complete its display. This straight-shanked rod is otherwise the same as the standard Lorenz rod and may have been a rod used in some of the cartridge altered Lorenz rifle muskets by the Austrians. The original helical musket style front sight / bayonet lug is in place on the top of the barrel, near the muzzle.


The barrel and all the furniture and hardware are relatively smooth, with some evenly scattered pinpricking present, along with some scattered surface oxidation and age discoloration. As these were barrels made of iron rather than steel, they were far more susceptible to erosive oxidation than steel barrels, thus pinpricking or light pitting is not uncommon, even on very nice condition examples. The lock shows some scattered pinpricking, surface oxidation and discoloration as well, giving it a mottled appearance. There is also a discolored, oxidized line on the plate that outlines the edge of the hammer in the lowered position, likely from years of storage in that position without any oil being applied to the metal parts. The gun shows real world use and was likely carried and fired quite a bit but seems to have escaped any abuse or mishandling. The stock is also in FINE condition, with a wonderful yellow-orange coloration to the beech wood, with some staining and discoloration. The wood to metal fit is excellent, with absolutely no gaps or spaces. The overall workmanship quite good, showing the skill of the Vienna workmen at the Pirko facility. There is some very minor chipped loss at the rear of the breech plug tang, otherwise the stock just shows the expected bumps, rubs, dings and mars from military service, use and storage. The stock retains nice, sharp edges throughout and shows no signs of having ever been sanded. Even the very tight ramrod channel, which is prone to significant wood loss due to minor splintering remains fairly crisp and sharp with only some minor areas of small loss. The Austrian beech stocks are notorious for drying and cracking along the grain and only a handful of the over one hundred Lorenz rifle muskets that I have owned and handled have escaped this fate. This stock has essentially escaped this fate, with only the most minor, scattered light surface grain openings and none of the typical grain cracks.


The gun includes an original black leather sling that based upon the best possible research appears to be of Austrian origin. A pair of these slings were discovered more than a decade ago in a collection of Confederate imported English and Austrian arms in the Atlanta area. While the basic design of the sling with a laced end, a sliding loop and a standing loop is typical of English infantry slings for the Enfield Rifle Musket, the sling is sized for the Lorenz and made of thicker bridle leather. After examination by a number of experts in Civil War accouterments it was generally agreed that its sizing that exactly right for the Lorenz in length and for the Austrian sling swivels suggests these slings were for that gun, and of either Austrian or possibly English origin, made for the Austrian guns. The sling is in VERY GOOD condition and remains pliable and fully useable but appears to have been attached backwards.


Overall this is an absolutely wonderful condition Lorenz that is complete, original, honest and un-messed with. The .547 caliber Austrian military surplus musket with an 1860 date is more likely to be a CS purchase than a US purchase, which tend to appear with earlier lock dates from the 1850s. This could in fact be one of the early Huse purchased Lorenz rifle muskets that were obtained from S. Isaac’s & Campbell Company. Very nice Lorenz Rifle Muskets like this are truly becoming extreme rarities in the collecting market. A few years ago, I could find several Lorenz rifle muskets of this quality to offer each year, but in the last few years I rarely find one this nice to offer for sale in a year.  If you have ever wanted a great Lorenz for your collection of imported Civil War arms, this one would be a great displaying example with tons of eye appeal and an extremely rare sling. 


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Tags: Austrian, M1854, Type, I, Lorenz, Rifle, Musket