A Whitworth Prize Rifle of 1860

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Written by: David Minshall

Wigan Volunteer Rifles were formed in January 1860, and were the 21st Corps of Lancashire Rifle Volunteers. Their first rifle contest commenced on Thursday 29 November 1860 at Wigan practice ground, with a moderate attendance of spectators. 

Henry Woods MP presented a Whitworth military target rifle (serial number B40) as a prize. The rifle is cased with accessories, including mould, wad punch, powder flask, percussion caps, oil bottle, nipple key and cleaning jags.

Whitworth military target rifle

It was to be shot for at 200 and 300 yards, each competitor firing five shots at each distance. The entrance fee was 2s. 6d., two-thirds of the whole amount received going to form a second prize. Shooting was likely with the .577 P.1853 Enfield Rifle Musket and from the standing position – Volunteer rifles had to accept the Government cartridge and percussion caps.

Whitworth military target rifle

Thirty nine volunteers entered the list and the following are the top scores:

 200 yards300 yardsTotal
Private R. Waddington9413
Lieutenant Marshall7512
Sergeant Swift6612
Private R. Lea7512
Private M’Cann6612
Private Whaley8412

Private Robert Waddington made the highest score of 13 and was declared the winner. For the second prize there were five ties. Despite failing light, and at the competitors request, the tie shoot proceeded, which resulted in the second prize being awarded to Private M’Cann.

Whitworth military target rifle

Images courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company