Thomas Turner


Tom Schiffer has kindly provided this brief extract from Turner's patent:

"My improvements in rifling consist in sinking the grooves parallel from the muzzle through about six tenths, more or less, as may be desired, of the length of the gun barrel or cannon I wish to rifle, and from there to the breech I gradually increase the depth of the grooves, the edges of which instead of being at right angles, as heretofore, I prifer to be bevilled [sic] at an angle of about forty-five degrees; the advantages of this plan are very great, as the act of loading may be done with the same ease and facility with which rifled firearms are now loaded, but in consequence of the quicker contraction of the barrel from the breech and the natural expansion of the ball in front of the charge, so impinges the barrel through the part that usually becomes foul, that all fouling left from the preceeding charge is carried away by the one following, and I effect this improved system of rifling by so fashioning the rod that regulates the cutter that according to the amount of inclination to be imparted to the rifling towards the breech so is the rod more or less twisted, the spiral of the twist increasing as the rifling deepens, and in rifling that portion from the apex of the incline to the muzzle, the rod that regulates the cutter (before referred to) is twisted in the reverse direction, the twist or spiral being perfectly regular, by which means the rifling through that portion is left perfectly parallel."

Offered for sale February 2003 for US$7750.00

Damon Mills
Fine Antique Arms

Thomas Turner Military Match Rifle

Turner military match rifle

Dealers Catalogue Description
This is a gorgeous, cased, military sharpshooter's rifle by Thomas Turner of Birmingham, England. Thomas Turner was a highly respected gun maker, barrel maker and inventor. His small bore .451 Whitworth caliber rifles were among the most popular in the early to mid 1860's, rivaled only by the Whitworth and the London Armoury Company Kerr Rifle. The Thomas Turner was imported by the South, along with the Whitworth and Kerr rifles. It is interesting that this gun, while absolutely original, has no external British proof marks. It has a hexagonal Whitworth type bore coupled with a very fine front sight and an equally precise, military style rear sight. The gun retains 98% of its original finish, with vivid case colors on the lock assembly, the tang, the nose cap, trigger guard and butt plate. It has its original nipple protector, brass tipped ramrod and quick-detach swivels for the sling. The stock is figured walnut with all the metal parts having a very high quality, floral pattern engraving. The only markings on any of the exposed metal or wood is on the lock plate (Thomas Turner/8 Fisher St/Birmingham). The case is a deluxe mahogany casing that is lined with green leather. The original flask, cap tin and bullet tin with six original, paper patched bullets are present. The case is in superb condition, inside and out. When the gun was found, the case was locked with no key. Someone broke the hinges to get it open. They did not damage the wood. There are no gouge marks anywhere and the hinges are restorable. When all is said and done, this is an extremely fine Whitworth Rifle made by Thomas Turner at the beginning of the American Civil War.

This rifle is unusually fitted with a Whitworth barrel. Turner patented his own rifling (16th April 1860 - see above). Bill Curtis describes Turner's rifling as "normally five groove, which started deep at the breech with sloping sides and got shallower up the bore to half way where it changed from sloping sides to straight sides and continued to get shallower to the muzzle."

Turner military match rifle

with permission
Turner military match rifle Turner military match rifle
© DB Minshall 2011