Original U.S. Civil War Era Springfield M-1855 Percussion Pistol Carbine with Rare Shoulder Stock - dated 1856

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This U.S. Martial pistol is one of the most impressive of all! The Springfield Model 1855 Pistol-Carbine was the last single shot pistol to be produced for the U.S. military. More than 4,000 were made, and at the time, it was the smallest .58 caliber pistol used in the army. It was based around the same Maynard "Tape Primer" system used on the M1855 musket, which kept a coiled tape containing primers, which were fed out when the hammer was cocked.

It was lighter because this pistol-carbine was built to use the newly designed smaller Minié bullet. It also was useful because normal rifle musket caps could be used on this firearm. Measuring 18" in overall length, the back strap is designed to attach to a removable shoulder stock, which this example still has attached! These were almost always lost over the years, and this is the first example we have had that still has the shoulder stock.

This pistol-carbine was intended to be used as a pistol on horseback and a carbine on foot. When used as a carbine, it also had an awkward weight and balance. The butt stock was prone to split during the recoil and loosen over time. Because of these deficiencies and the availability of six-shot revolvers, this type of firearm quickly fell out of favor with U.S. troops. This, combined with the obviating of the use of the insufficiently waterproof Maynard tape primer, led to a very short service life, and examples are very hard to come by.

The Lock is on this example marked U.S. / SPRINGFIELD with a Spread Eagle stamped into the Maynard tape primer's steel cover. It is dated 1856 on the lock plate tail, the year of production at Springfield Armory, in Springfield Massachusetts, and is also marked 1855 on the barrel tang, the year it was produced. All brass mounts the pistol has a Swivel Ramrod to enable the Trooper easy reloading while still in the saddle.

The steel components are all bright, not blued, showing scattered minor old rust stains. The V / P / Eagle Head proofs on the barrel nocks form are present and crisp, with almost no degradation. The bore shows original three groove rifling, with only light powder fouling and oxidation. The lock functions, however the tumbler is worn, so it can fire at half cock. It also still has the connector to the Tape primer system working, though we do not know if it is still able to properly work with the primers. There is even a short strip of intact tape primer still inside!

Overall the pistol is in very good condition, with light wear consistent with service. As with almost all of these pistols seen, there are some cracks through the stock wrist area, very common due to the stress put on the grip due to the shoulder stock. The included butt stock is also in great shape, with a lovely patina, and very little wear to the wood. It currently is stuck on the pistol, and looks to have been on there for some time, so we have not tried to remove it to avoid further cracks in the pistol grip.

Very unusual and hard to find, especially with an intact shoulder stock! Ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: 1856
Caliber: .58 inch Minié
Ammunition Type: Lead Ball & Powder with Tape Primer
Barrel Length: 12 inches
Overall Length: 18 inches
Overall Length with stock: 29
Action: Percussion Lock
Feed System: Muzzle-Loaded

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