Original U.S. Civil War Model 1860 Spencer Army Repeating Rifle with Bayonet & Scabbard - Serial 3313
Original Item: Only One Available. This is fantastic! These full length Rifles are much harder to find today than the more common Saddle Carbines. This is a genuine U.S. Civil War full length Spencer Repeating Rifle. All parts are completely correct, making this very nice Civil War Spencer Model 1860 Army Rifle.
The rifle is marked on the rear receiver and under the barrel with serial number 3313, indicating 1863 manufacture. This rifle comes from an order produced 1863-1864, which had 11,471 for the U.S. Army and about 200 for the U.S. Navy. The serial number ranges for this order 1,001 to 11,000 and in 22,000 to 24,000, meaning that this rifle was produced very early in the production run in 1863.
The carbine comes complete with its original 7-Shot tube magazine stored in the butt, this was the gun that advertised, "Load on Sunday and Shoot all week". Maker’s markings and patent information still partly legible on top of the receiver, which read:
RIFLE CO. BOSTON MASS
PAT'D MARCH 6 1860
Our example is in exceptional condition and functions perfectly. Little of the original blued finish remains, and the action is now polished steel showing some old staining on both the left hand side of the action and on the butt plate. The wood butt and forend are almost in unused condition, though there is a missing sliver on the rear left side. The bore is in excellent condition, with clear lands and grooves, and a bright finish, with just a bit of dirt in the grooves. Clearly this Rifle has been Arsenal upgraded and then stored from soon after the Civil War.
The rifle comes with its correct socket bayonet, 20 7/8" long and stamped with an Inspector's mark "L". With post Civil War updated scabbard of the style used with a U.S. Rosette and brass hanging hook as used on U.S. trapdoor rifles.
Overall a great example of a rare civil war weapon, with a long and interesting history! Perfect for any collection, and ready to research and display!
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.
Years of Manufacture: circa 1863
Caliber: .56-56 Spencer rimfire
Ammunition Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 30 inches
Overall Length: 47 inches
Action: Lever Action with Manual Hammer
Feed System: 7 Round Tube Magazine
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