The Most Iconic Civil War Weapons

Guns of the Civil War tend to fall into two categories: mass produced weapons used in huge numbers by both sides, and experimental or small-run weapons made in limited numbers. But weapons manufacturing was much easier for the Union, as virtually every major foundry and factory was north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Those that weren't had trouble getting raw materials due to the Union blockade of the South.

So the Union was able to crank out over 1.5 million of the iconic Springfield 1861 and 1863 model rifle muskets, along with hundreds of thousands of Colt and Remington revolvers, and smaller numbers of more sophisticated weapons like the Henry and Spencer repeating rifles. But the Confederacy had to make do with rifles imported from Europe, converted flintlocks, cheap knockoffs of the Springfield, and small batches of their own designs.

Both sides also experimented with early versions of the weapons that would dominate 20th century battlefields - quick-firing carbine rifles, machine guns, and grenades. All of this added up to massive firepower, and hugely swelling numbers of dead and wounded. Peruse the weapons of the US Civil War on this list and upvote the guns and other devices that were most influential during America's war with itself.

  • 1
    298 VOTES

    Springfield Model 1861

    Springfield Model 1861
    Photo: Smithsonian Institution / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    The most widely produced rifle musket of the Civil War, the Springfield was used by both sides.
    298 votes
  • 2
    306 VOTES

    Colt 1851 Navy Revolver

    Popular naval version of the Colt, used by both the Union and Confederacy, as well as many other countries.
    306 votes
  • 3
    328 VOTES

    Henry Rifle

    An early model rapid-fire carbine that was greatly prized by men on both sides. Was an early version of the famous Winchester 1866 repeating rife.
    328 votes
  • 4
    286 VOTES

    Spencer Rifle

    Spencer Rifle
    Photo: National Park Service / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Reliable and quick-firing repeater rifle used by Union forces at the end of the war.
    286 votes
  • 5
    253 VOTES

    Colt Dragoon

    Heavy-firing revolver used by Union cavalry.
    253 votes
  • 6
    280 VOTES

    Gatling Gun

    Earliest version of the devastating multi-barreled rifle. Proved extremely effective, but used sparingly because of antiquated fears about wasting ammunition.
    280 votes