Original U.S. Civil War Smith's Patent 1857 "Artillery Model" Carbine by Mass. Arms Co. - Serial 8072 & 8699

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Smith Carbine was a 0.50 caliber breech-loading rifle patented by Gilbert Smith on June 23, 1857 and successfully completed the Military Trials of the late 1850s. It was used by various cavalry units during the American Civil War. It was unique in that it broke apart in the middle for loading, and that it used rubber cartridges which sealed the gases in the breech. The downside was that these cartridges were difficult to remove. It was one of the many "capping breech loader" firearms that bridged the gap between percussion and cartridge firearms.

The carbines were built by three companies: Massachusetts Arms Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts; the American Machine Works in Springfield, Massachusetts; or the American Arms Company in Chicopee Falls. The name of the distributor for the manufacturer, Poultney & Trimble of Baltimore, Maryland, is often stamped on the carbine's receivers. This example has seen a lot of wear however, and the only marking still present is the maker mark on the left side, along with the serial numbers.

This is a rare Civil War era example, a complete and original Smith's Patent Carbine in very good service used condition, showing signs of somewhat extensive use and possible weather exposure. It has been fully cleaned and restored by our antique gunsmiths, making it a lovely well patinated example. Unlike most that we have seen, this is not a "Saddle Ring" Carbine for Cavalry use, but an "Artillery Model" with two sling swivels, for use in the close quarters fighting often seen by Artillery soldiers.

To the left over the hinge is the manufacturers information:


The carbine carries a four digit serial number of 8072 stamped on the underside of the barrel hinge on the receiver side, while the barrel side is stamped 8699, so the barrel was definitely swapped out at some point, not out of the ordinary for a carbine that has seen as much use as this example has.

Mechanically, this carbine is sound with a tight action, strong springs, and all original components (in our opinion). The lock functions correctly, holding at half cock and firing at full. The bore on this example is in good condition, still showing clear three groove rifling, but also showing overall oxidation and light pitting in areas. There also looks to possibly have been some reaming and modification of the chamber, which almost looks like it has a stuck cartridge in it. This definitely looks to be a carbine that did see significant use during the Civil War, and possibly afterwards.

The stock wood is in good condition, with a lovely worn look, showing wear from service. The butt stock looks to have suffered long moisture exposure over the decades, which has led to stress cracking along the grain on both sides, now stabilized. The fore stock is in a bit better condition, probably because it came with the barrel, and it shows a lovely red brown color. There is some cracking and chunk missing along the woodline forward of the barrel band.

The metalwork has an overall gray patina, which matches the condition of the wood nicely. There are some areas of minor pitting and peppering, now mostly cleaned away. The front and rear sight are both intact, and the rear sight functions correctly, though it looks to be a later replacement. Both the front and rear sling swivels are present, and move freely.

Here is an important piece of American firearm history from the time of the American Civil War, and it is available to one person only; the collector enthusiast who appreciates rare and hard to find! In nice matured condition and ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: c.1863
Caliber: .50"
Cartridge Type: Rubber Cartridge with Percussion Cap
Barrel Length: 21 1/2 Inches

Overall Length: 39 Inches
Action type: Side Action Percussion Lock
Feed System: Single Shot Breech Loading

The Smith's Patent Carbine, a single shot, breech loading, percussion .50 caliber, was one of the most important Federal Cavalry carbines of the Civil War. Production of these carbines was almost entirely consumed by government contracts. A total of approximately 30,362 Smith Carbines were purchased by the United States during the Civil War.

The part octagonal and part round barrel is 21 5/8 inches long, with blued finish. The barrel is fitted with a blade front sight and a folding ladder rear sight. The "octagonal" portion of the barrel is 6 1/8 inches long and consists of 5 flats over the top 180 degrees of the barrel and a round surface for the lower 180 degrees (the portion under the hand guard). The front 14 inch section of the barrel is round. The butt stock has a steel two-screw curved carbine butt plate.

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