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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  Spencer Shooting Society (Moderator: Two Flints)  |  Topic: Strange Spencer rifle 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Strange Spencer rifle  (Read 4131 times)
Fazer
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« on: December 08, 2015, 12:26:44 pm »


Hello I'm new here, so don't yell at me if I mess up.

A while back I picked up a Spencer rifle from am auction. I noticed some slight differences in it, cartridge guide, cut out in block section, but figured it was just another variation and I could look up when and if I got it. All good fun, for me anyway.

After it arrived, I looked at the bore and it struck me as small. A quick check quickly pointed out it was around .45, it slugged to .465. So I did a chamber cast. Again more surprises. Instead of 56-52 it came out as a 56-46 Spencer.

The barrel is Springfield Armory marked.  So, I was lost. Could not find anything in any of the books I have.
Asked on a couple of  forums if they had any information on the gun. So far the general consensus is it is an experimental gun from the Springfield Armory. No one could actually say they had seen one. I have heard of prototypes of carbines like this but this is a 3 band rifle.

On the butt is a 3/4. I thought it was a rack mark of some kind. I pulled the fore wood and there is a 3 stamped on the barrel and on the action. So "maybe" this means #3 of 4

So what do I have, who knows. But the chase is on. Any help appreciated and thanks

Makers name and VP Eagle



Cartridge guide




Lane extractor



Chamber cast



3  4

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Trailrider
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2015, 01:41:02 pm »

A quick look at Marcot's "Spencer" book, does mention, on p68, that an experimental carbine was made up with a standard size frame and chambered for .56-46 Spencer rimfire, at the Springfield Armory in 1863. But I agree, I can't find any mention of a 3-banded rifle being so made.  As the barrel is marked "Springfield Armory", and the bore is smaller than the standard military size for the .56-56 or .56-50, it had to have been made that way....unless it was relined!  Can you see any indication, at the muzzle or the breech of a liner having been installed?  If it was relined, then it could have been a post-war "sporterizing" proposition. Absent that, then it must have been an armor experimental model.  Looks and sounds like a neat, cool gun!
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Fazer
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2015, 02:02:34 pm »

The barrel is not relined. Also, I don't believe any Spencer's were made in a sporting configuration with a Springfield marked barrel. I know the 56-46 was originated by Springfield, it was adapted for the sporting models after the war. Puzzled.
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Trailrider
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2015, 06:27:03 pm »

The barrel is not relined. Also, I don't believe any Spencer's were made in a sporting configuration with a Springfield marked barrel. I know the 56-46 was originated by Springfield, it was adapted for the sporting models after the war. Puzzled.

That "3/4" marking would seem to suggest it is not what I was thinking...that it might be a "lunch box special", made up by somebody at the Armory for his own use. Since we do know that several "large frame" carbines were made up chambered in .56-46, for whatever reasons, to me it isn't unreasonable to assume that they wanted to see how such an arrangement would function with the smaller diameter bullet.  As I posted earlier, I could see boring out a smaller diameter barrel to a larger diameter, but not visa versa. Without documentation, of course, it is impossible to prove, but this might be the only Spencer rifle in this configuration extant!
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Ride to the sound of the guns, but watch out for bushwhackers! Godspeed to all in harm's way in the defense of Freedom! God Bless America!

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ndnchf
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2015, 08:13:53 pm »

Does it have 3 groove rifling? That would be typical for Springfield armory. Photos of the barrel would be helpful.
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DJ
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2015, 10:32:44 am »

Fazer--

Your rifle appears to have no blade extractor on the left side--I suspect it has a Lane-type extractor, which is why it also has the modified cartridge guide with the notch in the middle.  Interestingly, it does not have the Spencer cartridge cutoff.  Page 107 of my copy of Marcot (first R&R edition) seems to show a similar guide on a carbine and suggests it is a Springfield experiment.

Chapter 10 of Marcot's book says the Lane extractor was used in Model 1867 and New Model Spencers in 1867 before the company reverted to the spring-loaded short blade.

It would be interesting to see the sides of the upper and lower breechblock.

What is the serial number range--I'm guessing in the 90,000s.

Interesting gun.

--DJ
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Fazer
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2015, 01:19:46 pm »

Thanks all for the help.

I am away at work at present. This is the only other picture I have. The rifle in question is the top one



I have some of the serial numbers here, 15493, I think that's the Brurnside made carbine converted to 2 band rifle,
8495 A, 6123 and 94117. The last one fits your guess, if it's the right one.

I was wondering how long they worked with the Lane extractor. Could this have been a double up, try a new smaller cartridge and lets see how this new type extractor works.
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Blair
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2015, 02:04:59 pm »

Fazer,

More detailed photos are needed. (How about some photos of the forearm and barrel bands sections?)

In your last posting, there are some "cut-out" in the breach block assemblies in the upper firearm that are not common to the Spencer or Burnside made contract arms of the 1860 and 1865 Models.
Also, there are differences in how each of these two receivers are rounded along the lower edge of the frame.

The Springfield proofed, 56-46 barrel and bore is a puzzle to me also at this point as well.
My best,
 Blair
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Herbert
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2015, 04:18:05 pm »

Booth 56-50 and 56-46 Spencer rifles were tested by the 1866 Hancock board of 1866.this rifle appears to have a1867 Sporting model frame but has been cut for the Stabler cut off(something that does not make sence to me as the Spencer cut off would have had to been removed an replaced with the wide Sprinfdield cartridge guide then the frame re-cut for the Stabler cut-off)This is a very interesting rifle, more photos of markings and internals would be welcome
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DJ
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« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2015, 10:26:25 am »

It may be just me, but the frame of the upper rifle in your last photo looks thinner.  The cutouts in the breechblock are also interesting--I wonder if these were attempts to produce a lighter rifle, since a loaded Spencer rifle is a pretty hefty firearm.

The Lane extractor is not exactly rare, and it should have worked without modification on the .44 Spencer cartridge, because it had close to the same base diameter as the other Spencer round.  But after using it for a year or so, Spencer reverted back to a blade extractor.  Marcot says  the Lane extractor didn't work very well.  I have read somewhere else (and maybe in Marcot, too) that it damaged the thin brass cases on extraction.  That shouldn't really be a problem for a fired rimfire case, but I suspect it may have also damaged unfired cartridges when they were extracted, and that could have played havoc with tight post-war budgets. 

I think you have an armory prototype from shortly after the war.  At that time the U.S. military was looking for both a post-war breechloader and a new cartridge, eventually ending up with a trapdoor Springfield and the .50/70 cartridge.

--DJ
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Herbert
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« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2015, 05:44:25 pm »

The thinner frame and the extra hole in the blocks are seen on some Sporting rifles.The Lane type extractor was used after a Spencer carbine lost some metal from the Extractor cut and chamber,the Lane type extractor added strength but had no caming action in extraction(not good when chamber gets dirty)The short blade extractor fixed booth problems but by then it was to late.This Spencer could well be the one personely replaced Mr Lane to replace a failed rifle and to show the new extractor chamber fix( he brought 2 one56-46 and one 56-50 but they are stated to be carbines)
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Fazer
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2015, 07:36:26 pm »

I will get some more photos when I get back to the house.

 I do see that in the last picture that the frame appears thinner, but that could be the angle of the photo. I'll get some measurements and photos with another one of the rifles from the top and bottom. I'll admit I didn't consider it could be anything other than a normal Spencer built action used on a new set up. Does the frame seem thinner in the top photos. The fact it has the cut off seems strange for a non standard piece.

Anyway, we will see.
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Herbert
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2015, 05:22:06 am »

All Sprigfield Spencers will have the Stabler Cott off  fitted .This one is very unusual as it looks like it has been made up from a mixture  of Springfield & Spemcer parts.I really thik this is rifle could be a 1866  trials  rifle
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Fazer
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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2015, 07:06:07 am »

I found a couple more photos in an email I sent to the brother. They are of the 3 on the barrel and action with witness mark.



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DJ
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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2015, 11:51:24 am »

The rifle seems to be announcing that it is a prototype or other limited production model.  The Springfield barrel without a serial number plus the non-Spencer cartridge guide seem to say armory prototype rather than Spencer-produced trials rifle, but that's just a guess.  A few detailed photos of the breechblock out of the rifle and confirmation of the serial number would be interesting.

--DJ
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Fazer
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2015, 05:49:47 am »

Some photos as aked













Hope these help.



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Herbert
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2015, 07:10:50 pm »

Serial No from the 1867 army and Navy rifle but with the thinner sporting rifle frame.I have only seen one other Spencer with extra holes in the breach blocks (a un-numbered sporting rifle)I would bet this is a Springfield experimental rifle for the 1866-67 trials(the Spencer cut off has been replaced by the Springfield experimental wide cartridge guide,cut for the Stabler cut off and fitted) ,Has it got the 3 groove 1in 24 twist rifling that Springfield developed for there 56-46 cartridge.You have a real treasure here
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Bead Swinger
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Evans New Model


« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2015, 08:37:29 pm »

Very Cool - thanks for sharing your awesome find.  Smiley
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1860 Rifle SN 23954
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