Sunday, September 25, 2016

5th Pattern Burnside Carbine

On March 25, 1856 Ambrose E. Burnside was awarded patent # 14490 for the .54 caliber breech loading Burnside carbine design. For the next several years the Burnside carbine went through a number of design improvements, mainly in the breech system, until the Fifth Pattern was perfected. The Burnside Rifle Company produced about 44,000 Fifth Pattern carbines from 1861 to 1865.

Roughly 55,500 Burnside carbines of all models were produced and delivered to the US government, making it the 3rd most used carbine model of the Civil War.

The carbine used a unique tapered cartridge with a foil or brass case and was ignited by a traditional percussion cap.

A 1863-64 survey of some 185 US military officers rated the Burnside as follows: 17 – Best, 125 – Good, 12 – Fair, 28 – Poor and it was rated “worthless” by 3 officers. This meant that 77% of those officers surveyed had a positive opinion of the gun.

Some of the cavalry regiments that received the Burnside as part of their supply of small arms were the 1st Michigan, 3rd Indiana, 5th, 6th & 7th Ohio, 3rd West Virginia, 14th & 18th Pennsylvania, 14th & 21st New York and the 2nd, 12th, 14th & 16th Illinois and 4th Wisconsin Cavalry.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Ethan Allen Falling Block Rifles

Ethan Allen was a very inventive firearms designer/manufacturer who was involved with a series of different firearms companies. This “Drop Block” rifle type was patented September 18, 1860. It was offered in the same .44 rimfire cartridge used with the much more popular 16-shot Henry repeater, but this rifle just didn’t get the same (market) respect. Less than 2,000 were made. Some short-barreled, large-caliber specimens with sling swivels served as secondary martial carbines in some Civil War encounters. Because these carbines were never officially adopted during the war, private citizens sometimes obtained these for service on both sides of the lines. While several calibers were offered it was the 44 rimfire chambering that gained limited acceptance for private purchase during the Civil War. A few years after the conflict was over, however, several northern states adopted these carbines as official militia arms for mounted troops. In either of these roles, these carbines proved to be very satisfactory.

The rifle was offered in various barrel lengths, two frame sizes in either iron or brass and chamberings in..22, .32, .42, and 44 rimfire. Sight styles varied through the years of production. 

The action is operated by depressing the latch at the rear of the trigger guard that allows the guard to swing forward, which in turn drops the breech block. A spring loaded extractor then ejects the case.