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M-1858 Cadet Rifle-Musket - VERY SCARCE

M-1858 Cadet Rifle-Musket - VERY SCARCE

  • Product Code: FLA-1821-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

The US M-1858 Cadet Rifle-Musket is a rather scarce and enigmatic member of the M-1855 series of long arms that were manufactured at Springfield Armory during the half-decade leading up to the American Civil War. According to arsenal records, only 2,501 of the guns were produced between 1858 and 1860. However, there are not records that indicate that the guns were ever actually issued to the Corps of Cadets at West Point. This has lead many collectors and researchers to call the “Cadet” designation of the slightly shorter M-1855 variation into question. There is no doubt that the designation is correct, as the model was produced based completely specifications submitted by the governing board of West Point. Their recommendation reads in part: “It appears to the Board that the improvements in regard to the weight and length of the arm as stated in Captain Benton’s letter may be attained by reducing the length of the barrel to 38 inches, and altering its form, and that of all other parts of this arm to correspond in shape with the patter of the new Rifle-Musket, using (for the Cadet Musket) if practicable, either the same lock as for the Rifle-Musket, or the pistol lock with the com of the hammer lengthened.” Since the Board offered the opportunity to utilize the standard M-1855 lock, the National Armory designed a rifle-musket with the appropriately shorter barrel (2” shorter than the standard M-1855) and an overall length of 53” instead of the standard Rifle-Musket overall length of 56”. Both the Cadet variant and the standard version of the gun are completely identical in dimensions between the front edge of the comb of the stock and the rear barrel band. The buttstock is 1” shorter on the Cadet musket, and the barrel is 2” shorter. In fact, Captain Benton noted that “All parts of the new arm should be precisely similar to those of the new Service Rifle-Musket”. The board also recommended issuing the 40 grain cartridge for the M-1855 Pistol Carbine for use by the Cadets when they were issued the Cadet rifle-musket. It is assumed that the 2,501 M-1858 Cadet Rifle-Muskets in store at Springfield Armory were issued to troops at the beginning of the American Civil War. Since the Cadet muskets retained the standard M-1855 automatic Maynard tape primer musket lock and were .58 caliber, they would have been easy to supply in the field, unlike earlier Cadet muskets which were produced in non-standard calibers that were not in use by the regular army.

The US M-1858 Cadet Rifle-Musket offered here is in VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE overall condition. The barrel of the gun has been lightly cleaned at some point in the past and has started to tone down to an attractive pewter patina. The barrel shows some light pinpricking at the breech and scattered age discoloration and darker peppering in small patches along its entire length. The breech is marked with legible US proof marks, including the typical V / P / (Eagle Head). The top of the breech has a partially legible 1859 production date. The lock is clearly marked with the typical Spread-Winged Eagle on the tape primer door and with the date 1859 horizontally behind the hammer. Forward of the tape primer door, the gun is clearly marked in two horizontal lines: U.S. / SPRINGFIELD. The Maynard tape priming mechanism in the lock is complete and fully functional. The lock remains crisp and mechanically excellent, functioning perfectly on all positions. The specially downsized iron buttplate is marked with the typical US on the tang. The rifle-musket retains the correct and original M-1855 pattern multi-leaf rear sight, as well as the original front-sight/bayonet lug. The original full-length ramrod is in place in the channel under the barrel, and is the correct length with a threaded end and swelled shank with a tulip shaped head. Both original sling swivels are in place as well, on both the front bow of the trigger guard and on the middle barrel band. The small furniture of the rifle was blued during production and rear sight, the barrel band springs and most of the screws retain 50%-80% of their original blued finish, with the usual fading and minor loss of finish due to use and age. The bore of the gun is in VERY GOOD condition. The bore is mostly bright, with crisp rifling throughout. There is some light scattered pitting along the length of the bore, as well as some old powder residue and dirt. The bore would probably improve with a good scrubbing with a bore brush. The stock of the rifle-musket is in NEAR FINE condition. The stock retains strong, well-defined edges and crisp lines, with no signs of having been sanded. There is a small chip of wood missing to the rear of the barrel tang. This is an old imperfection, which has been worn smooth with age. It was the result of the barrel being improperly removed from the stock at some point long ago. The stock is full length, with the correct dimensions for a M-1858 Cadet Rifle Musket, and with the correct brass nose cap. The stock is free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. It does show a number bumps, dings and bruises from issue and use, but it shows no abuse. The flat opposite the lock retains a very clearly ESA cartouche “ the mark of Springfield Armory’s master armorer Erskin A. Allin. There is a second cartouche on the stock flat that is partially visible above Allin’s, but it is not legible.

Overall this is a really nice looking, completely correct and original example of the very rare US M-1858 Cadet Rifle-Musket. Other than the very scarce M-1855 percussion carbine (only 1,020 manufactured), the M-1858 is the scarcest member of the M-1855 family of long arms. These guns are not often encountered on the market, and when they are found for sale they usually show heavy use, providing further proof that saw service during the opening days of the Civil War. This is a very attractive example that is 100% correct and original and would be a fantastic addition to a very advanced collection of US 19th Century martial long arms. Even Flayderman’s notes that this gun is “very scarce”, and those are not words that Norm tosses around lightly. If you have wanted to acquire a very nice example of this gun for your collection, this is once of those no excuses examples that I am sure you will be very happy with.


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Tags: M, 1858, Cadet, Rifle, Musket, VERY, SCARCE