Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Springfield Model 1855 Pistol-Carbine



Surprisingly the Springfield Armory never really entered the business of producing large quantities of handguns until the Model 1911 Semi-automatic pistol.

Prior to the M-1911 they did a small production run of the M-1817 pistol, which were never actually issued.

Another attempt in 1855-56, Springfield manufactured 4021 of the unsuccessful U.S. M-1855 pistol-carbines, pictured here.

It is a classic example of the pre-Civil War US Ordnance Department’s inability to be forward thinkers and look at current and emerging technology when it came to firearms design. 
More advanced breech loading carbines and revolvers were already in use by the US military, the design was clearly a step backwards – a single shot, muzzle loading pistol carbine with a detachable shoulder stock. The end result was a weapon that was either an over-sized and ungainly pistol or an overly short-barreled carbine with a shaky attachable stock. 

It was intended as replacements for the Model 1843 Hall Carbine and Model 1847 Cavalry Musketoon.
It featured an attachable buttstock that enabled it to be utilized as a carbine with the stock attached by the dismounted trooper or a pistol without the stock on horseback.
They were issued to the newly raised 1st and 2nd Cavalry regiments and remained in service through the early part of the Civil War.



The pistol alone was was just under 18” in overall length with a 12” .58 caliber barrel, rifled with three grooves. The gun used a reduced sized version of the Maynard automated “tape primer” priming device, four-leaf tang mounted rear sight graduated to 400 yards (wishful thinking), a swivel-type ramrod with concave button tip for use with Minnie type conical bullets. Finished "National Armory Bright".






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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Remington M-1890 SA Army Revolver






They were produced as direct competitors for the Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army revolver. Unfortunately for Remington, even though the design was much more convenient for cleaning and cylinder removal, by the time they appeared on the scene Colt was already well established with the U.S. Army and civilians alike. No large military contracts were ever awarded to Remington. A handful saw service as side arms by Indian police on Western reservations.





As Remington was more known for rifles and shotguns, their distribution and advertising were inadequate, and therefore sales were slow. By the time the Model 1890 was produced, sales of large bore single action revolvers had waned substantially in favor of the more convenient double action revolvers from Colt and Smith & Wesson. After only a short run the revolver was dropped from the product line to become just a footnote in firearms history, and a highly desirable rarity for today’s gun collectors. Slightly more than 2000 were manufactured.







The M-1890 was a large frame, single action 6-shot revolver only chambered for .44 Winchester Center Fire (.44 WCF or .44-40), as that was undoubtedly the most popular cartridge during American expansion in the west. It was only produced in two-barrel lengths, either 7 ½” or 5 ½” and could be had in nickel-plated or blued finishes. Remington Arms monogramed hard rubber grips completed the aesthetic package for the revolvers, and a swiveling lanyard ring in the butt.



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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Springfield Model 1855 Rifled Carbine






Only around 1,020 of these rifled carbines were manufactured by Springfield Armory in the mid-1850s. They were the first rifled carbines produced at the national armories and differed from the other Model 1855 series firearms in that they lack the Maynard tape primer system.

The barrel was the typical 22” carbine length and rifled to use the .54 caliber Minnie ball.

It featured a captive ramrod that was retained by a swinging link system, similar to the pattern used on the US M-1842 pistol.


A basic front sight and three folding leaf rear sight. Two piece trigger guard with a large round saddle ring mounted on the rear.


An interesting side note on this carbine; 
In 1963/early 1864 the Confederate War Department contracted with Virginia arms maker, Bilharz, Hall & Co., to produce 1000 copies of the M1855. The only difference would be the caliber. Someone in the Confederacy must have thought highly of the little carbine.










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Monday, February 13, 2017

The Fayetteville Armory Rifle




The Confederate example of the Model 1855 pattern Harpers Ferry rifle that was manufactured at the Fayetteville Armory at Fayetteville, North Carolina. These rifles were manufactured using parts and machinery captured from the U.S. Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Pictured is the standard late production "Type IV" rifle.
The Fayetteville Armory was one of the most prolific Confederate small arms makers and manufactured only about 5,000 Type lV rifles. They featured a low profile lock plate, brass buttplate, trigger guard, barrel bands and forearm cap. The Type IV rifles lack the brass patch box and sword bayonet lug found on earlier Fayetteville rifles.
However, they were made to accept a socket bayonet with the front sight acting as the lug.
The lock plates were dated "1864" behind the hammer and marked with an eagle over "C.S.A." followed by "FAYETTEVILLE" ahead of the hammer.
The stocks were oil finished walnut but lacked the typical inspector cartouches.

The armory manufactured a total of 8,000 to 9,000 of all five types of this rifle from 1862 to 1865.

Most collectors feel that Fayetteville rifles were a high quality weapon and represented an improvement upon the Model 1855 Harpers Ferry rifle on which it was based. Rifles like this one would sell in the 5 digit figures at auction.






The buttplate tang












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Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Gallager Carbine




Mahlon J. Gallager, a South Carolina native, developed the weapon while he resided in Savannah, Georgia in July 1860. A patent application dated December 28, 1860 read; “An improvement in breech-loading fire-arms” The barrel is hinged and is made “to slide and tip up” to allow of the piece being charged. The charge chamber is so made that “half of the cartridge chamber is in the breech and half in “barrel.” By this means the sticking of the cartridge case is prevented. The barrel is moved by “a cranking lever joined to the “breech piece or lock frame, and carrying a stud, to which a “connecting arm hinged to the barrel is attached.”

Manufactured by Richardson & Overman of Philadelphia, from 1861 to 1865, with a total production of about 17,700 percussion, and approximately 5,000 chambered for the 56-52 Spencer round. (Production quantities vary from historian to historian)
Barrel is 22 1/4 inches long and the overall length is 39 1/4 inches.
Gallager boasted that his design would facilitate the easy removal of the spent casing from the breech, the extraction was the major defect of his weapon and the weapon was not well liked by the troopers due to this problem. A major fault of these carbines was the absence of a suitable extractor. The case had to be extracted with knife or some other sharp pointed instrument. 

When the trigger guard lever is lowered, the barrel slides out from the frame and tips downward to receive the cartridge.

These carbines saw extended service with Union cavalry during the Civil War and though 

It is believed that all went to the Federal government.















The pictured carbine is the standard percussion model which fired an unprimed .50 caliber cartridge with a brass foil and paper-wrapped case or an all-brass case. The rounded, perforated base of the Gallager cartridge looks like a doughnut. Ignition was provided by a percussion cap. 










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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

T.W. Cofer Revolvers


Cofer Second Model


We are all aware of the numerous Confederate revolvers made during the Civil War and most of us wish we owned one of the rare ones…... No, make that one of each, wish big.
For me, my first wish would be a Thomas W. Cofer revolver, and since I’m wishing, make that a second model Cofer.

Cofer’s first introduction to gunsmithing came before the Civil War in the form of an apprenticeship to his cousin, Pembroke Gwaltney, who was already an established gunsmith.
Sometime before 1861, Cofer went into business for himself in Portsmouth, Virginia. The earliest known examples of Cofer-marked guns are shotguns bearing his name on the lockplates that were made prior to the Civil War.



On August 12, 1861, the Confederate Patent Office granted Cofer patent number 9. (one of the first patents delivered by the Confederate States of America) The patent was granted for and relates only to a unique two-piece cylinder. 
Collectors feel that there are only two known examples of his revolvers with the two-piece cylinder. (sorry no pictures)

Cofer’s second model was also a percussion-cartridge revolver but utilized a single-piece "bored through" cylinder for an improved reloadable cartridge.





What is interesting about the second model is that the metallic cartridge was not a rimfire but one featuring a simple brass case with a nipple at the rear for a percussion cap.




Cofer had applied for and had been granted a Confederate Government contract which forced him to be realistic and practical. The complexities of the second model and the urgent needs of war prompted Cofer to concentrate his efforts on producing a standard percussion model. This model is referred to as the "production model" by collectors.
Portsmouth fell to the Union in early May of 1862 and it is believed that only 86 revolvers were delivered and all went to the 5th Virginia Cavalry.

The revolvers copied the solid frame principle of the Whitney model but with a brass frame and spur trigger.









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Sunday, February 5, 2017

The M-1866 Winchester Rifle







After the Civil War, Oliver Winchester renamed New Haven Arms the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. 
The company modified and improved the basic design of the Henry rifle using Nelson King's improved patent. This patent remedied flaws in the Henry rifle by incorporating a loading gate on the side of the frame and integrating a round, sealed magazine covered by a wooden forestock. The .44 Henry cartridge was retained. The result was the first Winchester rifle: the Model 1866.

It would become the first mass produced Winchester lever rifle. Nicknamed the "Yellow Boy" because of its receiver of a bronze/brass alloy called gunmetal, it was famous for its rugged construction and lever-action "repeating rifle" mechanism that allowed the user to fire a number of shots before having to reload.

France purchased 6,000 Model 1866 rifles along with 4.5 million .44 Henry cartridges during the Franco-Prussian War. (1870-1871)

The Ottoman Empire purchased 45,000 Model 1866 muskets and 5,000 carbines in 1870 and 1871. These rifles were used in the 1877 Russo-Turkish War, causing much surprise when outnumbered Turks, at the Siege of Plevna, inflicted many times more casualties than their opponents armed with single-shot rifles The Model 1866 compelled Russians to develop a new repeating rifle, the Mosin–Nagant, after the war.

When more potent centerfire cartridges were developed the M-1866 was replaced with the steel-framed Model 1873 using the .44-40 centerfire cartridge. However, due to public demand, the Model 1866 continued to be manufactured and sold until 1899, mainly because they were less expensive than the later steel-framed centerfire models. 























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