I Have This Old Gun: Pattern 1856 “Enfield” Cavalry Carbine

carbinecal.jpg

In the 1850s, Britain’s military, like others in Europe and the New World, realized that breech-loading arms were the wave of the future and began experimenting with various systems—primarily with which to arm its mounted troops.

A number of foreign and domestic systems were looked at, and some, such as a version of the American Model 1855 Sharps and the English Calisher & Terry, were provisionally issued. While trials were going on, the War Dept. realized it would be prudent to have a more traditional muzzleloading arm available for cavalry until a final decision was made.

Earlier, the British had adopted what many consider to be the finest arm of its type ever designed, the Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle-Musket. As its name implies, the arm was designed at the Royal Small Arms Manufactory at Enfield Lock. The P’53 was a muzzleloader that fired a hollow-based, .577-cal., smooth “Pritchett”-style Minié bullet, and it was intended for standard infantry regiments in its three-banded form with a 39" barrel. Other variants were also available, including: two-banded “Short Rifles” of various models for sergeants, rifle units and other specialty forces; three versions of Artillery Carbines; and two Cavalry Carbines.

Depending upon the style and/or date of manufacture, arms were made at Enfield, some (early-on) in the United States and Belgium, or under contract by the London and Birmingham “trades.” The trades were private firms, comprised of larger makers and sub-contractors who fabricated rifles and carbines to government specifications. Upon completion, the guns would be sent to the Tower of London where they were inspected and their parts gauged. Guns that passed were dated and marked “Tower” on the lockplates. Those accepted for government service also had their locks decorated with a crown surmounting the royal monogram “V.R.” (Victoria Regina). Lockplates lacking the Queen’s initials were intended for commercial sale. As well, some makers engraved or stamped their names in place of the crown or “Tower.”


As mentioned, it was decided to produce quantities of muzzleloading carbines for mounted units, resulting in the Pattern 1856 Cavalry carbine, also known as the “East India” Pattern. This handy little arm measured 34" overall, had a 21" rifled barrel, weighed 8 lbs. and was of .577 caliber. It had a folding rear sight assembly involving notches graduated for 100, 200 and 300 yds. Fittings were of brass. The carbine was equipped with a “captive” swivel ramrod to facilitate loading on horseback, as well as a sliding ring that could be attached to a carbine sling hook so the piece would not be separated from its user during an action.

All Pattern 1856s were manufactured by the Birmingham and London trades, though the later, slightly different P’61s were built solely at Enfield. The example seen here was obtained from Tipping & Lawden, one of the “old four” original firms who provided some of the early Pattern 1853 long rifles. The stock is marked on the bottom of the butt “TIPPING & LAWDEN.” The barrel was made by J.R. Cooper, the stock by W. Flavell and the lock by Joseph Brazier. All of these components are marked by their makers and surcharged by Tipping & Lawden. On the right side of the stock, opposite the lock, is the name “BURGESS,” the person who assembled the gun.

Commercial versions of the Pattern 1856 were also manufactured, a number of them sold to both the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War, though in nowhere near the numbers of Pattern 1853s that were imported.

The 1859-dated British-issue Pattern 1856 Cavalry Carbine seen here is in excellent condition and, as such, would command a solid $2,500. If it were commercial, and Confederate usage could be proven, the price would be considerably higher.

Gun: Pattern 1856 Cavalry Carbine
Manufacturer: Tipping & Lawden
Caliber: .577
Manufactured: 1859
Condition: NRA Excellent (Antique Gun Standards)
Value: $2,500

Latest

Mossberg Maverick 88
Mossberg Maverick 88

Mossberg Maverick 88: Mossberg's Budget-Priced Pump Shotgun

The Maverick 88 is one of Mossberg's best known shotgun models and is currently available in 14 different versions.

The Men And Guns Of D-Day: 82nd Airborne Division

Watch this segment of American Rifleman Television "The Men And Guns Of D-Day" to learn more about the men of the 82nd Airborne Division, their stories and the firearms they used during "The Great Crusade."

MidwayUSA Grants $2.3 Million To Help Youth Shooting Teams

The MidwayUSA Foundation recently announced the payout of more than $2.23 million in cash grants to 612 youth shooting teams.

Review: Bond Arms Roughneck

The Roughneck derringer from Bond Arms is an entry-level option in 9 mm Luger, but don’t let that fool you, as the quality of its materials and craftsmanship rival those of the company’s top-end variants.

Book Review: The US M3/M3A1 Submachine Gun

Michael Heidler, no stranger to writing about firearm history, has produced a most impressive volume on one of this author’s favorite World War II firearms, the M3 “grease gun.”

Sniping In Korea: 1950-1953

When U.S. forces rushed to stop the North Koreans from overrunning South Korea in 1950, there were almost no American snipers. As the battle lines stabilized, that would change, and the war would become ideal for the employment of well-equipped and well-trained snipers.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.