Original U.S. Civil War Gallager’s 1860 Patent Saddle Ring Carbine by Richardson & Overman - Serial 13970

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The U.S. Civil war, aside from being one of the bloodiest eras in U.S. history, was also an era of great invention, as many innovations in mechanical design took place. One of these was the "Capping Breech Loader", an ignition design involving using a percussion cap or primer tape to ignite a self-contained cartridge. The Sharps system is probably the most well known of these, but there were many others. As with any new invention, there were some types that were well-received, and some that were not.

The Gallager Carbine is definitely one of the latter, as while well-designed, their actual use proved to be quite problematic. The cartridges could be unreliable, and often got stuck in the barrel. Only 17,782 were made, and due to their unreliability most were disposed of, so they are quite rare. This fine example is only the fourth that we have ever seen. It still has mostly clear markings on the lock plate, with the patent markings on the left:

JULY 17TH 1860

On the right side is the full manufacturer information, over the serial number:


There is also assembly number 5 7 stamped on various parts of the breech lever mechanism. The carbine is a "tip up" design, with the trigger guard lever opening the breech and sliding the barrel forward until the breech tips up. This allows the cartridge to be inserted, after which the breech is closed, and a cap mounted on the nipple to discharge the weapon. This all functions as it should, however problems usually arose when a cartridge was loaded, as there is no extraction mechanism, so it had to be removed by hand. There is a cap / patch box on the butt stock, where the spare caps were kept for when needed, as well as an extra nipple cone screwed into the wood, which is not present.

Condition of the carbine's metalwork is very good, still showing a lot of the "niter blue" finish on the receiver, lock, and breech levers, while the barrel and other components show a faded blued patina. However, there are also areas of light pitting on components such as the receiver tang and hammer, interspersed with the original blued finish. This has the look of a gun that was in dry storage for a while, and had oxidation develop where the finish was worn, while areas with intact finish were protected. The butt stock is in very good condition as well, with the usual wear from service, but no major cracks or other damage.

The lock and action function as they should, and the saddle bar and ring on the left side are fully intact. The bore still shows clear rifling, with a mostly bright finish and some light oxidation and fouling in the grooves. One of the best examples that we have seen so far!

A very rare civil war era carbine, ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: circa 1861-1862
Caliber:  .525"
Cartridge Type: Capping Breech Loader
Barrel Length: 22 Inches
Overall Length: 39 Inches
Action type: Top Action Hammer Lock.
Feed System: Top Break Single Shot

The Gallager carbine is an American black powder breechloading rifle produced in the American Civil War. The weapon was designed by Mahlon J. Gallager, who licensed the design to Richardson and Overman of Philadelphia for production. On 31 August 1861 the first weapons were sold to the U.S. Army, eventually reaching a total of 17,782

The Gallager was loaded from the rear with brass cases, which contained the projectile and the propellant. Covered by a disc made of greased felt, the projectile was inserted in the barrel after it was tilted up by a lever, followed by the case, and (like the concurrent muzzleloaders, such as the Springfield) were ignited by percussion cap, which was placed on the bolt face. The brass cases had a paper patch in the base, to prevent powder seepage and still allow the cap to fire the round. The weapon was 0.525 in (13.3 mm) caliber with a 22 in (56 cm) barrel.

The rifle was strongly made, but unpopular with troops. Frequently, the cases stuck due to expansion of the front part and had to be laboriously removed. In July 1862, Brigadier-General J. T. Boyle of Kentucky complained about Gallagher guns, calling them 'worthless'. He stated that 'They snap often, the cartridge hangs in after firing; difficult to get the exploded cartridges out often with screw-driver; men throw them away and take musket or any other arm. They are unquestionably worthless.' He then requested 'Sharps, Wessons, Ballards, or any other kind of carbine.' He mentioned that Wesson carbines can be had for $25 or less from Cincinnati.

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