Original U.S. Civil War Spencer M-1860 Repeating Rifle - Serial Number 22733
Original Item: Only One Available. The serial number 22733 of this wonderful Spencer repeating rifle is in the range of Spencer rifles that were issued during the U.S. Civil War!
Probably no one weapon of the US Civil War is more representative of the overwhelming force of industry and technology brought to bear by the North against the South than the US M-1860 series of rifles & carbines known more commonly simply as the Spencer. While the standard cavalry arm of the pre-Civil War era, the single-shot, breech-loading percussion carbine was still in heavy use through the closing days of the war, the era of the repeating metallic cartridge carbine was firmly established by the end of 1863.
The horizontal shot tower, as some affectionately referred to the Spencer Rifle, was in essence the original assault rifle. While the Henry Rifle offered more shots in the magazine, the .44RF Henry round was essentially the ballistic equal to a pistol cartridge. The .52 caliber 56-56 RF Spencer round was much more comparable to a real service rifle load and delivered far greater downrange stopping power. The Spencer was also very fast to reload, with a 7 round tubular magazine that fed through the buttstock, soldiers could carry pre-loaded magazine tubes and changes magazines almost as quickly as today’s shooter exchanges them on a modern magazine fed rifle or pistol. While the Spencer shooter did have to manually cock the hammer for each shot (the Henry had a speed advantage here, since the toggle action that operated the bolt to eject and load a new round also cocked the hammer), the robust design and powerful cartridge combined to make it the most prized and most feared long arm of the American Civil War.
11,470 of the Spencer military rifles were delivered to the US military between 1863 and 1865, and nearly five times that many carbines saw service as well. The rifles were produced in to fairly specific serial number ranges, with the early order being found in the 700 to 11,000 range and a later order found mostly in the 22,000 to 24,000 range.
A handful of rifles were intermixed in the serial number ranges of the carbines, but the large majority of rifles extant exist in these two specific ranges. The 30 barreled, 3 band rifle was designed to take US angular socket bayonet which was almost identical to the standard US M-1855 socket bayonet, although it has a slightly larger socket diameter and is completely unmarked. The rifles were the first of the Spencer repeaters ordered by the Ordnance Department and were the first Spencer’s to see service in the field. While no Spencer carbines were in the field at the time of the battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), the 5th Michigan cavalry (part of Custer’s brigade) was armed with the Spencer Army rifle and used them very effectively on July 3 against General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry. Spencer rifles also saw significant service in the Western Theater, most notably by Colonel Wilder’s Lighting Brigade of mounted infantry. Wilder was so impressed with the Spencer that he arranged financing to purchase enough Spencer’s to outfit his entire brigade, and allowed the men to purchase their own rifles on credit, with the cost of the guns deducted from their pay over time. Wilder’s confidence in the weapon was well founded, but his willingness to risk financial ruin by personally guaranteeing the loan to purchase the weapons truly underlines how confident he was in their success.
This is a NEAR FINE example of the US M-1860 Spencer Army Rifle. The gun is in complete and 100% original condition. The gun is in its original Civil War configuration and has none of the post war modifications or alterations that were made to some of the Spencer rifles. The action works perfectly, with the lever cycling the action smoothly and the extractor working exactly as it should. The hammer cocks as it should and responds to the trigger crisply.
The original magazine tube is present and in very good condition, it is the correct Civil War era style with a smooth base plate, not the Indian War era grooved base plate version. The gun retains both of its original sling swivels, both the one in the lower butt stock and the one on the middle barrel band.
The original front site, complete with the brass insert is present at the end of the 30 barrel. The gun retains markings on the receiver. The top of which is marked in three lines:
RIFLE CO BOSTON MASS
PAT’D MARCH 6, 1860.
The serial number 22733 is very clearly stamped into the rear of the upper receiver, in front of the butt stock joint, and the matching number is present under the barrel, forward of the receiver, hidden by the fore end.
The gun has a very attractive gray patina to most of the metal. The metal is very smooth throughout with only some very small, scattered areas of very light peppering and pinpricking.
The receiver even retains some very light traces of swirled case colors in just the right light. Overall the metal is much nicer than most Spencer’s encountered today. The barrel band retaining springs in the bottom of the fore end retain about 80%+ of their original blued finish.
The bore retains very strong and sharp 6-groove rifling and rates about VERY GOOD and would likely clean to better with a little effort and a bronze brush. There is some light scattered pitting present in the grooves, but overall the bore condition matches the outside of the gun very well.
The stock is in very good condition. The butt stock and fore end are in NEAR FINE condition and are solid without any breaks, cracks or repairs. Both show minor bumps and dings from use in the field.
The overall condition of this Spencer rifle is really much nicer than the condition the typical Spencer rifle is seen for sale. This gun is very attractive and is 100% correct and original. It is in its original Civil War configuration and has no post-war alterations. The rifle displays wonderfully and has the great look of a gun that really saw service, but was never abused either during or after the war. Significantly fewer Spencer rifles were produced than the carbines, and their association with Custer’s cavalry and Wilder’s famous Lightning Brigade make them very desirable collector’s items. This is a great rifle that will be a wonderful addition to your collection.
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