Original U.S. Civil War Era Yankee Sharpshooter Full Stocked Percussion Rifle by J. Hetrick & Co. - circa 1858

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Just purchased at a recent military auction! This is a very nice U.S. Civil War era heavy barreled percussion target rifle, typical of those used by early Yankee / Union sharpshooters during the conflict. This is most unusual in that it was made in the style of a Pennsylvania long rifle, sometimes referred to as a "Kentucky Rifle", with a full length CURLY MAPLE stock and all brass mounts. It features a 36 inch long octagonal barrel with 7 groove rifling and a bore of .43", one of the typical sizes seen for Pennsylvania rifles. Overall length is 53" and the barrel is very heavy for accurate shooting, much like "bench rest" rifles of the day.

As with many rifles produced during this period, it is fitted with a "trade lock", in this case marked TRUITT BROS & CO. Research indicates that Truitt Brothers & Company operated in Philadelphia as "Importers and wholesale dealers in foreign and domestic hardware". They are listed as operating during the 1850s and 1860s, and it is very possible that the lock is in fact a British trade lock, marked by the company before sale.

The top facet of the barrel is stamped on the breech end with J & D LITTLE, a known barrel supplier and gun maker based in Bellefonte, PA, operating in the mid 19th Century. The top of the barrel is also signed by the maker who built the gun, J. Hetrick & Co., in elegant cursive script behind the rear sight, though the marking is somewhat hard to see. John Hetrick (1828-1896) operated shop on Third Street in Newark, Ohio circa 1850-1870. This is exactly the correct period one would expect to see for an early Civil War sharpshooter's rifle.

As with most target and sharpshooter rifles, this example is fitted with a "set trigger", where depressing the rear trigger first until it clicks and just touching the front trigger discharges the weapon, hopefully with great accuracy. It is fully functional at present, and the rear trigger must be "set" before the lock will fire at all. There is no half cock position due to this.

The rifle is in overall very good condition, with wear commensurate with age and service. The stocks on "Pennsylvania" style rifles are somewhat thin, so cracking is common and this example is no exception. There are stock cracks on both ends of the lock plate, as well as on both sides of the fore stock along the grain lines. Tiger maple is very attractive, but not the strongest wood due to the compressed grain pattern. The bore is in good condition, with with strong rifling and and some light oxidation and fouling in the grooves. There is a simple wooden cleaning rod installed, which is just for display.

This fine rifle very likely was pressed into service in the early part of the Civil War by the Union. A very fine example in very collectable condition.


Year of Manufacture: c.1858
Caliber: approx .43" eight groove rifling
Cartridge Type: Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 36 Inches

Overall Length: 52 Inches
Action type: Side Action Percussion Lock
Feed System: Muzzle Loading

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