Ultra-Rare Morse Inside Lock Rifle


Description and Photograph




     The Morse Inside Lock Rifle is one of the rarest Confederate rifles in existence.  Only sixty were ever produced.  It was manufactured in Greenville, South Carolina at the State Military Works, under the direction of the inventor, George W. Morse.

     Only 80 muskets and 60 rifles of the Morse Inside Lock design were ever manufactured and it is estimated that only seventeen of the two combined survive today.  With these small numbers, George Morse would be virtually unknown if it were not for the thousand carbines of his own design that were produced.

     The breech loading carbine was invented by George W. Morse.  In December of 1862, South Carolina recommended that one thousand or more of G.W. Morse’s patented carbine be manufactured.  Morse first set up a manufactory in Nashville, Tennessee but shortly moved the machinery to Atlanta, Georgia.  While it is generally assumed that all Morse carbines were manufactured at the State Military Works in Greenville, South Carolina, a reporter for the Atlanta Intelligencer wrote in late 1862 that he had been shown a carbine made by H. Marshall in Atlanta.  He goes on to describe the carbine in great detail and it is without a doubt a Morse patent carbine.  However, virtually all were made at the State Works in Greenville.  By November of 1863 a hundred carbines were complete, but it took until 1864 to get production up and running at the State Works. 

     Besides getting the production of the carbine up and running smoothly in 1864, Morse began production of his “Inside Lock” rifles and muskets.  The Morse lock used approximately half the material and cost half as much to produce as a standard lock system.  Its simple design consisted of the tumbler riding on a lateral shaft which was supported on each end by a cast brass plate.  Not only less expensive, but this simple design was also faster to produce and resulted in a stronger stock because much less wood had to be removed to make it functional.

     The example shown here is number VII.  The number can be found on the stock, barrel, triggerguard, hammer, and buttplate.  The rear sling swivel is missing. The inside lock mechanism works well, but the hammer spring is a little weak.  The rifling remains strong.  The handmade stock is in very good condition with only minor dings and scratches.

     Of the seventeen examples of these rare inside lock firearms that are known, only five remain in private hands.




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