Civil War Spencer Rifles & Carbines

by
posted on April 11, 2014
qanda2015_fs.jpg

Q. I am inquiring  about an 1860 Spencer Repeating  Carbine  for my brother. Some information states this carbine went into service in July 1863 at Gettysburg-other sources state it went in service in 1864. Could you verify for  me when  it did go into service and tell me what other military Spencers there were?

A. The first delivery of Model 1860 Spencer carbines was on Oct. 3, 1863. The shipment consisted of 1,000 carbines, and they were chambered for the .56-56  rimfire cartridge. Although the carbines were produced in greater numbers and saw much wider issuance, a rifle variant of the Model 1860 Spencer was also manufactured. During the Civil War, a total of 45,733 Model 1860 carbines and 11,471 Model 1860 rifles were produced under U.S. Army Ordnance Department contracts.

Approximately 1,000 additional Spencers-mainly rifles-were purchased by the U.S. Navy during this period. Near the end of the war, the Model of 1865 Spencer carbine was introduced. It differed from the Model of1860 in several respects, including ashorter barrel.The Model of 1865 was chambered for the improved .56-50 Spencer rimfire cartridge.The first shipment of Model 1865 Spencer carbines was on April 3, 1865.Approximately 34,500 Model 1865 Spencer carbines were produced by Burnside Rifle Co., along with another 24,000 made by Spencer Co. No Model 1865 Spencer rifles are known to have been made for the U.S. military, although a relatively small number, perhaps 1,000,  were produced for civilian sale.

undefined

After the close of the Civil War, the Spencer carbine remained the primary U.S. Cavalry arm. Most of the Model of 1860 Spencer carbines  still in inventory were modified for the .56-50 cartridge. The Model 1865 Spencer carbines and the  converted Model 1860 carbines remained in front-line service  until the early to mid 1870s  when they were replaced by the Model 1873 “Trapdoor” Springfield carbine.

-Bruce N. Canfield

Originally published July, 2006

Latest

Josey Wales
Josey Wales

“I Reckon So”: The Guns Of “The Outlaw Josey Wales”

It was one of the most iconic Western films of all time, starring one of the most successful actor/directors of all time—and it immortalized one of the most historic handguns ever made. Today, they all live on in the wildly popular exhibit “Hollywood Guns.”

The Armed Citizen® March 4, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Preview: ATI Monte Carlo Enfield Stock Set

Gone are the days when firearm enthusiasts routinely “sporterized” full-stocked military-surplus rifles such as the No. 1, Mk III Lee-Enfield, but many examples of previously cut-down and modified rifles can be found at bargain prices in gun shops across America.

European Countries See Rise In Firearm Training, Ownership

A trend gaining momentum after Russia’s unprovoked 2022 invasion of Ukraine made headlines this month when Finland announced it was establishing 300 additional public shooting ranges.

Preview: ROAM Adventure Co. 55L Rugged Case

The ROAM 55L Rugged Case provides adventure-bound firearm enthusiasts with a premium heavy-duty storage option.

Choosing .22 LR Match Ammunition: What You Need To Know

Looking to improve the accuracy of your cherished .22 LR? Simple: use match-grade ammunition. Before committing to a bulk-buy, though, read these tips, as not all competition-worthy ammunition is right for your rifle.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.