This is a really attractive, 100% complete and correct Austrian M-1854 Lorenz Rifle Musket, in wonderful, untouched 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 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, 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 built up 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 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 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 M-1854 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 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.
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 M-1838 and M-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.
This Lorenz is complete and original in every way and is in VERY FINE condition. This Lorenz variant is a commercial gun for export that does not have a cheek rest on the stock, and has a block sight on the barrel; the quintessential “Confederate” variant according to the old-time collectors. The gun has a brilliantly bright bore that rates about EXCELLENT, with perfect 4-groove rifling in the original Austrian 13.9mm, or .547 caliber. The lock is very clearly marked with the (Austrian Eagle) to the rear of the hammer and 861 to the front, indicating that it was produced in 1861. 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. The top of the breech is clearly marked with the manufacturer’s name G. SCHLAGER and is not marked with the Austrian military acceptance proof mark of an (Austrian Eagle) / W. The gun is also devoid of any Austrian military rack number markings, another indication that this is a commercial production export arm. The markings near the breech on the top of a Lorenz barrel are typically illegible, but these markings are very fine and crisp. As usual, there are matching assembly numbers on nearly all of the major metal components. In this case, the primary assembly number 38 appears nearly everywhere. All the lock components have matching lock assembly numbers as well, in this case 41. The interior of the lock plate is numbered 38 to match the balance of the gun. The gun retains both the original sling swivels and the original block rear sight. The original brass-tipped Austrian ramrod in the channel under the barrel is full-length and complete with threads at the end. The original helical front sight / bayonet lug is in place as well.
The barrel and all the furniture and hardware are quite smooth, with only some very minute scattered areas of very minor pinpricking and light surface oxidation present. The lock shows some minor scattered pitting, but is otherwise smooth. The metals parts exhibit an attractive, untouched smoky gray patina, with some scattered areas of darker discoloration from age and light surface oxidation. There is a significant amount of greasy dark residue that appears to be from being stored in a smoky environment, much of which was apparently wiped off at some point, with the remaining residue in the nooks and crannies of the metal and the stock. The flats and edges of the octagon to round barrel are still quite sharp and the gun can best be described as very crisp overall. The stock is also in VERY FINE condition, with a wonderful orange toned brown color to the beech wood, with some staining and discoloration from the smoky residue. It would likely be possible for some time and effort spent with a rag and denatured alcohol would remove the balance of this greasy residue. The wood to metal fit is excellent, with absolutely no gaps or spaces. The overall workmanship is much higher than on most Austrian military issue Lorenz rifle muskets or those that were purchased by US agents. Other than the typical light handling marks and service bumps and dings from use and a couple of tiny chips around the lock mortise, the stock is in really outstanding shape. It retains sharp edges throughout and shows no signs of having ever been sanded. The stock does show those usual scattered minor bumps and dings from handling and storage, but nothing significant. There is also some of the typical wood loss due to minor splintering in the very tight ramrod channel. 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 exhibits none of these typical drying cracks of note.
Overall this is an absolutely wonderful condition Lorenz that is complete, original, honest and un-messed with. The .547 caliber, commercial production features and lack of Austrian military marks make me believe that this may well have been 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 rarities in the collecting market and this one is simply a great example. If you have ever wanted a great Lorenz for your imported Civil War arms collection, this one would be a great displaying one with tons of eye appeal. This is one of those wonderful, “no apologies’ guns that we used to be able to find on the market on a regular basis, but are now very difficult to locate. This would be a very hard gun to upgrade from, and is worthy of any advanced collection of Civil War import arms.SOLD