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Historic Whitworth Prize Rifle for 1861 American Competition/NRA

It isn't very often we get an opportunity to list Whitworth target rifles on this website.    This particular rifle was one of four special presentations purchased by a group of Loyal Americans who were living in Great Britain at the outbreak of the Civil War.  At the time, it appears they hoped to establish an American version of the British National Rifle Association.  These rifles were originally intended to be given away as shooting prizes during the inauguration of the NRA.  Their hope was for Americans to follow in the footsteps of the British Volunteer movement and develop marksmen in case their country should one day need their skills.  In September 1861, the New York times published a letter from this group that specifically makes mention of this Whitworth rifle.


This rifle has the presentation plate but was never inscribed with a winner.  It appears that with the ongoing hostilities during the  Civil War prevented the formation of the National Rifle Association here in the United States; at least until after the War.  The American NRA was eventually formed in New York in November 1871 by William Church and George Wingate. 

This is a first quality Whitworth with patchbox, light engraving, and the safety catch.  The sights are plain with an adjustable windage front.  Bore is .451 diameter with special hexagonal rifling.  Mr. Whitworth was quite an engineer and he had high hopes that the British Army would adopt his rifle with his patented polygonal rifling.  Those dreams never came to fruition but they were highly successful as target rifles...even by today's standards.  Their lethal prowess on the battlefield was limited to just a few in the hands of Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.  Its been reported that the brilliant Mr. Whitworth (who was not accustomed to failure) moved his offices across from the British Ordnance Board where each day he would "spend hours glowering" at the officers who rejected his rifle.


Overall, this rifle is in NRA Antique Fine+ condition.  The barrel still shows much of its original finish.  Lockplate shows traces of faded colors with the majority of the metal turning from grey to a brown patina.  The stock has numerous light handling marks but retain much of its original high quality varnish.  Original checkering on the forearm and wrist are in very good condition.  Nice wood to metal fight.  Bore has some light pitting but hexagonal rifling is intact.  Nice markings including the Whitworth Patent marking atop the barrel.  Comes with its original wooden travelling case.  A beautiful rifle with American ties to the NRA and Civil War.

Item# 9171




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