Original U.S. Civil War Starr Model 1858 Capping Breech Loader Saddle Ring Carbine - Serial 13557

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Starr carbine was a "Capping Breech Loader" single-shot firearm used by the United States Army. Designed in 1858, the Starr was primarily used by cavalry soldiers in the American Civil War.

In January 1858, Ebenezer Starr submitted his design for a single-shot, breech-loading cap fired rifle to the Washington Armory for evaluation. During testing, the rifle was noted to have no misfires, and its accuracy was considered better than average. Testers commented that if the gas seal could be improved, the weapon would be better than its rival, the Sharps carbine.

The rifle was adopted as the Model 1858 carbine. Between 1861 and 1864, over 20,000 were produced by the Starr Arms Company of Yonkers, New York. The Model 1858 was designed to fire paper or linen cartridges. In 1865, the government ordered 3,000 Starr carbines chambered to use metal cartridge. These proved to be successful, and an additional 2,000 were ordered. Although the Starr carbine had proven to be effective during the Civil War, it was not successful during the trials of 1865 by the U.S. Army trials board, and no further rifles were ordered.

During the war, the Starr Arms Company had been the fifth largest supplier of carbines and the third largest supplier of .44 caliber single action pistols. After the war had ended, and with no further government contracts, Starr could no longer compete with larger manufacturers like Winchester, Sharps, and Colt, and the company closed its doors in 1867.

The barrel on this example is marked with serial number 13557 on the falling breech and on the barrel under the fore stock. It is also marked nicely on both lock and barrel: STARR ARMS CO. YONKERS, N.Y. , which are both clear. It also still has patent markings just behind the falling breech: STARR'S PATENT. / SEPT. 14TH 1858. The left side of the barrel is stamped with ordnance sub-inspector marking F.D.L., seen on other examples of Starr carbines, as well as on Joslyn carbines.

This example is offered in very good cosmetic condition, with most of the wear visible on the stock wood, which is typical. The fore stock has some dents and chips along the woodline, but no major repairs or damage. The butt sotck has been worn down on the left side by the saddle ring, and the cartouches are worn away. It also has had a letter L inlaid into the stock, with wire. Otherwise, it's in fine condition, with a lovely grain pattern and polished glow.

The metalwork on the carbine has faded to a plum patina in some areas, however there is also still some original bluing and case hardening visible. All mechanical aspects function correctly and move smoothly, and the cap nipple cone is still intact. The bore in the 21" barrel is NEAR MINT, with a bright finish and crisp lands and grooves. The cutting marks are still visible, and there are only a few small light stains keeping it from being truly "mint".

A great example of a true Civil War Capping Breech Loading Carbine, ready to fill that spot in your collection!


Year of Production: c.1863
Caliber: .54 inches (14 mm)
Ammunition type: Paper or Linen Wrapped Cartridge
Ignition: percussion cap
Length: 37.5 in (950 mm)
Barrel length: 21 in (530 mm)
Action: Falling block action
Feed system: Single Shot, breech-loading

Design and features

The Starr carbine was similar in design to the Sharps carbine. The Starr had a longer receiver and a distinctive web between the tail of the breech lever and the underside of the butt.

The Starr carbine had a .54 caliber barrel that was 21 inches in length. The weapon had an overall length of 37.65 inches and a weight of 7.4 lbs. The Starr carbine had a three-position rear sight composed of a standing block and two folding leaves. It fired paper or linen cartridges that were ignited by conventional percussion caps. The weapon fired reliably as long as the lengthy flash channel was kept clean.

Production history

Designer: Ebenezer Starr
Designed: 1858
Manufacturer: Starr Arms Company
Number built: 25,000

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