Original U.S. Civil War Era .56-56 Spencer Cartridges in Box
The .56-56 Spencer was an American black powder rifle cartridge designed for the Spencer rifle and carbine, patented 6 March 1860, it was employed by cavalry during the American Civil War, first appearing at Sharpsburg in rifle form. No Spencer carbines were on issue at the Battle of Gettysburg, though two units under Custer had the rifles. The .56-56 was loaded with a slug of 350–360 gr (22.7–23.3 g) over 42–45 gr (2.7–2.9 g) of black powder. It was loaded by a variety of companies, and was also used in the Ballard and Joslyn carbines.
The nomenclature of Spencer cartridges were unique. Unlike later cartridges such as the .44-40 Winchester and .45-70, where the first number indicated caliber and the second the charge weight, the .56-56 refers solely to the case. The first 56 is the diameter of the case at the base .56 inches (14.2 mm), measured just past the rim, and the second 56 is the diameter at the case mouth, also 0.56 inches (14 mm). Later versions of the cartridge included the .56-52, .56-50, and .56-46, which had varying degrees of taper in the cases, to accommodate smaller diameter bullets. All of these cartridges are rimfire primed. The actual bullet diameter of the .56-56 varied between .54 and .555 inches (13.7–14.1 mm), depending on ammunition manufacturer. The .56-52, made by Spencer, and the .56-50, made by Springfield, differed only in the degree of crimp, with the .56-50 having a greater crimp; both fired 350 grain .512-inch (13.0 mm) bullets. The .56-46 fired a 320 to 330 grain .465-inch (11.8 mm) bullet.
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IMA considers all of our antique guns as non-firing, inoperable and/or inert. Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 921(a)(16) defines antique firearms as all guns made prior to 1899. This law exempts antique firearms from any form of gun control or special engineering because they are not legally considered firearms. No FFL, C&R or any license is required to posses, transport, sell or trade Antique guns. All rifles and muskets sold by IMA that were manufactured prior to 1899 are considered Antiques by the US BATF (United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms). Therefore, all of IMA's Antique guns may be shipped to all US States and most nations around the world.
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