Original U.S. Burnside Rifle Company Model 1865 Spencer Repeating Saddle-Ring Carbine with Stabler Cut-off - Serial 26577
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very good condition genuine Burnside Rifle Company Model 1865 Spencer Repeating Carbine, one of the best we have seen in some time. It shows honest wear consistent with service, and looks to have been well taken care of. On June 27, 1864, the Burnside Rifle Co. entered into a contract with the Ordnance Dept. to manufacture 30,500 .52-cal. M1860 Spencer carbines with deliveries completed by Aug. 31, 1865. With the changes directed to be made to the carbines, deliveries did not start until April 15, 1865, and they continued until the end of October, with a 30,496 M1865 Spencer carbines being delivered. Six additional carbines were delivered as samples, prototypes and models.
Of this number, 14,494 were equipped with the Stabler cut-off and 16,008 without. The March 1865 introduction of the Stabler cut-off attachment, which was invented by Edward Stabler of Sandy Springs, Md, allowed the carbine to be fired as a single-shot with the seven cartridges in the magazine being held in reserve. Stabler was paid a royalty of 25 cents for each carbine fabricated with his magazine cut-off device. The company also paid Spencer Repeating Rifle Co. a royalty of 50 cents for each carbine delivered to the Ordnance Dept., and $1 was paid for the 4,000 Spencer carbines sold to military individuals and civilians.
The Spencer factory manufactured nearly 23,000 M1865 Spencer carbines, of which 12,502 were equipped with the Stabler cut-off. In the post-war period, Springfield Armory retrofitted about 12,000 M1860s to incorporate M1865 features. The .56-50-cal. M1865 Spencer carbines manufactured by the Burnside Rifle Co. and the Spencer Repeating Rifle Co. weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces with 20-inch barrels, and they had an overall length of 37 inches.
Understandably this weapon became known as the one you "Loaded on Sunday and shot all week." First produced in 1860 by Christian Spencer of the Spencer Repeating Rifle Company, which remained in business until 1869.
Here we have a very good condition genuine Burnside Rifle Company Model 1865 Spencer Repeating Saddle-Ring Carbine. It is marked on the receiver tang and under the fore stock with serial number 26577, and really is a very nice collectible example. The maker’s markings and patent information are fully legible on top of the receiver:
SPENCER REPEATING RIFLE
PAT'D MARCH 6, 1860
MANUFACTURED AT PROV. R. I.
BY BURNSIDE RIFLE CO.
The metalwork of this carbine is in very good shape, with the metalwork overall faded to a lovely plum patina, showing no signs of major oxidation or corrosion damage. There are also no signs of it being refurbished or reconditioned, so this is all period patina and wear. "All Original" gently used examples like this have a great look that is simply impossible to duplicate! The saddle ring and bar on the left side are still intact and in very good condition.
The fore stock is in very good condition, with some dents and light wear, but no cracks or slivers missing along the woodline. The butt stock is in really great shape, with a lovely finish and color, and has no cracking where the magazine channel. This is definitely a rarity, as the channel weakens the wood, and makes it much more susceptible to expansion related cracking, as the metal channel does not shrink due to moisture, as the wood does. There are also still inspector cartouches on the left side to the rear of the saddle ring bolster, however we cannot quite make them out due to wear.
The bore is in very good condition, still showing clear lands and grooves with a partly bright finish. There is some fouling and oxidation, as to be expected from a carbine that did see service, most likely on the western frontier. A lot of these that we see have the bores completely oxidized or heavily worn, so this is definitely one of the better examples we have seen. The magazine tube removes easily, and is in good condition. This example is one of the 14,500 or so from Burnside that were equipped with a Stabler Cutoff, and it is still present and functioning correctly.
Overall a lovely example of an iconic weapon, with a great "been there" patina. Perfect for any collection, and ready to display!
Years of Manufacture: circa 1865
Caliber: .56-52 Spencer Rimfire
Ammunition Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 20 inches
Overall Length: 37 inches
Action: Lever Action with Manual Hammer
Feed System: 7 Round Tube Magazine
History and overview of the Spencer repeating rifle and carbine-
The Spencer repeating rifle was a manually operated lever-action, repeating rifle fed from a tube magazine with cartridges. It was adopted by the Union Army, especially by the cavalry, during the American Civil War, but did not replace the standard issue muzzle-loading rifled muskets in use at the time. The Spencer carbine was a shorter and lighter version.
The design was completed by Christopher Spencer in 1860, and was for a magazine-fed, lever-operated rifle chambered for the 56-56 Spencer rimfire cartridge. Unlike later cartridge designations, the first number referred to the diameter of the case ahead of the rim, while the second number referred to the diameter at the mouth; the actual bullet diameter was .52 inches. Cartridges were loaded with 45 grains (2.9 g) of black powder.
To use the Spencer, a lever had to be worked to extract the used shell and feed a new cartridge from the tube. Like the Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor Rifle, the hammer had to be manually cocked in a separate action. The weapon used rimfire cartridges stored in a seven-round tube magazine, enabling the rounds to be fired one after another. When empty, the tube could be rapidly loaded either by dropping in fresh cartridges or from a device called the Blakeslee Cartridge Box, which contained up to thirteen (also six and ten) tubes with seven cartridges each, which could be emptied into the magazine tube in the buttstock.
There were also 56–52, 56–50, and even a few 56–46 versions of the cartridge created, which were necked down versions of the original 56–56. Cartridge length was limited by the action size to about 1.75 inches, and the later calibers used a smaller diameter, lighter bullet and larger powder charge to increase the power and range over the original 56–56 cartridge, which, while about as powerful as the .58 caliber rifled musket of the time, was underpowered by the standards of other early cartridges such as the .50–70 and .45-70.
At first, conservatism from the Department of War delayed its introduction to service. However, Christopher Spencer was eventually able to gain an audience with President Abraham Lincoln, who subsequently invited him to a shooting match and demonstration of the weapon. Lincoln was impressed with the weapon, and ordered that it be adopted for production.
The Spencer repeating rifle was first adopted by the United States Navy, and subsequently adopted by the United States Army and used during the American Civil War where it was popular. The South occasionally captured some of these weapons and ammunition, but, as they were unable to manufacture the cartridges because of shortages of copper, their ability to take advantage of the weapons was limited. Notable early instances of use included the Battle of Hoover's Gap (where Col. John T. Wilder's "Lightning Brigade" effectively demonstrated the firepower of repeaters), and the Gettysburg Campaign, where two regiments of the Michigan Brigade (under Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer) carried them at the Battle of Hanover and at East Cavalry Field. As the war progressed, Spencers were carried by a number of Union cavalry and mounted infantry regiments and provided the Union army with additional firepower versus their Confederate counterparts. President Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth was armed with a Spencer carbine at the time he was captured and killed.
The Spencer showed itself to be very reliable under combat conditions, with a sustainable rate-of-fire in excess of 20 rounds per minute. Compared to standard muzzle-loaders, with a rate of fire of 2-3 rounds per minute, this represented a significant tactical advantage. However, effective tactics had yet to be developed to take advantage of the higher rate of fire. Similarly, the supply chain was not equipped to carry the extra ammunition. Detractors would also complain that the smoke and haze produced was such that it was hard to see the enemy.
In the late 1860s, the Spencer company was sold to the Fogerty Rifle Company and ultimately to Winchester. With almost 200,000 rifles and carbines made, it marked the first adoption of a removable magazine-fed infantry rifle by any country. Many Spencer carbines were later sold as surplus to France where they were used during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
Despite the fact that the Spencer company went out of business in 1869, ammunition was sold in the United States up to about the 1920s. Later, many rifles and carbines were converted to centerfire, which could fire cartridges made from the centerfire .50–70 brass.
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