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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  The Barracks (Moderators: Major Matt Lewis, Pitspitr)  |  Topic: Reproduction Spencer Rifle 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Reproduction Spencer Rifle  (Read 9723 times)
RattlesnakeJack
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« on: February 19, 2012, 05:39:21 pm »


Well, I seem to be up to my usual silliness ....

As if I haven't spent too much on guns (if that is possible) my hankering to have a reproduction Spencer rifle (or carbine) is returning.  (Some of you may even recall my abortive attempt to buy a Spencer carbine from Marshal Halloway a few years ago ....)

Anyway, the urge is back.  I am doing my best to resist ..... but can't predict the outcome.   Roll Eyes

Since the GAF website seems to be presently "for let", I can't review the standards for "Battle Rifles" - so my question is this:  would I have to hold out for one chambered in 56-50 (albeit the centerfire version) or would it be permitted as "MilSpec" in GAF if chambered for one of the substitute cartridges, such as .45 Colt?  (One dealer in Canada currently has one of the rifle-length repros in stock, but it is chambered for .45 Colt .....)

Although I do lots of reloading for it already, in one sense .45 Colt is actually less attractive to me, because I gather that the magazine tube will only hold 7 rounds in that chambering, whereas it will apparently take 8 of the stubbier .56-50 cartridges!

This hankering has been renewed because of involvement in some recent discussions and communications about the Model 1865 Spencer rifles (2,000 of them) and carbines (2,300 of those) acquired by Canada in 1866 so it could arm at least some of its Militia Battalions with breechloaders to meet the Fenian Raids threat.  As many of you are aware, I already do an 1885 Queen's Own Rifles of Canada impression, and the QOR were one of the units armed with Spencer rifles in 1866.  Here is the cover of  the november 1986 issue of the Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting, which had an article on these "emergency breechloaders" - the rifle on the left is a Canadian Contract Peabody (Canada also acquired 3,000 of those at that time - indeed, I already own an original Canada Militia-marked Peabody.)  The studio portrait is of a circa 1866 QOR rifleman, with his Spencer rifle -





Wouldn't this be a great excuse for a new uniform and related kit?   Grin
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« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2012, 05:47:18 pm »

All reproduction Spencers in all calibers are currently allowed.  The .56-50 will only hold 7 in the magazine BTW, same as the .45 Colt. 
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2012, 06:21:45 pm »

Jack,
    I've had some experience with both.  I'd go with the .56-50, not only because it's more authentic, but they seem to be more reliable.  Some of the early .45'd had problems with the extractors, but they've probably got that fixed by now.  The thing I found to be vital in getting a Spencer to work reliably is to operate the lever like you mean it.  If you try to baby it, the cartridges tend to hang up.  Good luck in getting a Spencer!
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« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2012, 10:42:57 am »

RJ - I like your way of thinking.

Now that I am leaving my R&S revolvers as C&Bs for now.  I will probably get back to my hankering for a pre WWI french outfit and finish my kit (I have most of the leather already) to go with my French 1873 St Etienne revolvers.

I already have a pre-early WWI Berthier carbine, but routinely keep an eye out for a nice shooter grade lebel or an early single shot 11mm rifle.

My oldest sister's husband is a former french national & retired soldier.  His family in the southern country side of France would get a great kick out of seeing one of their american family all dressed out in a french army set-up.

PR
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2012, 11:47:39 am »

I had a Spencer carbine repro for several years in .45.  I never shot it "competitively" but did plink around with it.  I did not suffer any operational problems that were not caused by the "primary actuator" (i.e., me).   Wink

It's my experience that the mechanism must always be operated "with authority."  If you "limp wrist" it it will not function correctly (usually a failure to eject).  This one had the modified "two prong" ejector (I'm not a Spencer expert so I may not have the terms precisely correct).  You don't have play "Incredible Hulk" with it but you can't "baby" it, either.  You have to operate it with a purpose and it will do just fine.

I sold it a year or so ago as I was not using it and needed the funds for other "toys."  It was a fun gun to shoot. 

SQQ
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2012, 08:18:30 pm »

If it were me Jack I'd wait for the 56-50, just seems right. 
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2012, 08:33:51 pm »

I am going to agree with Del and the others.

I just bought one and went with .56-50, I debated .44-40 and .45LC for a long time, the pros and cons of each and while doing the research the most common thread was that almost everyone who buys a .44 or .45 eventually sells it off for a .56-50.  As I shopped for used ones that thread became apparent as most people I found selling the .44 or .45 did so because they bought a .56-50!  Now there are a few ferociously loyal to their .44 and .45, but I figured than since the trend is to upgrade anyway, and now that I need to get into reloading for my .50-70, that I might as well get the .56-50 and dies sets.

That's just me though.

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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2012, 10:11:29 pm »

Thanks for all the responses!   

My first preference is definitely 56-50, but I have a nagging fear that I may not be able to get one in Canada.  Some of you may recall my abortive attempt a few years ago to purchase a 56-50 carbine from our host here in Cas City, Marshal Halloway.  He got me a mould, brass and loading dies, and tried shipping ithe whole package to me twice, after jumping through hoops to get the necessary paperwork in order.  Both times, it was bounced back to him by U.S. authorities, due to the restrictions on exporting firearms of .50 caliber and larger ..... an odd little restriction enforced by the Dept. of State (not BATFE).  Ultimately, he could not get this export exempted from the restriction (which is really aimed at the stuff chambered for .50BMG and such, of course) and ended up having to refund my money.

I could soon be "up and running" with ammunition for a 56-50 Spencer, because I consoled myself by spending the refund from Marshal H on the original Peabody with Canada Militia mark mentioned in my first post.  It is chambered for the very similar Peabody .50-60 rimfire cartridge, and I have it fitted with a one of the 'New Old Stock" breechblocks Dixie used to sell, converted to centerfire.  I load shortened .50-70 brass in a set of .50-70 dies obtained expressly for it, but do not shoot it a lot.  If I can get a 56-50 Spencer, I would simply have to get a separate batch of brass, as I understand that the Spencer cartridge is a bit shorter.  (Interestingly, records show that when Canada had both Spencer and Peabody rifles on issue, they issued only Spencer cartridges, which apparently functioned fine in the Peabody .... albeit with less than stellar accuracy, due to excessive 'bullet jump', apparently.
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Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2012, 10:18:14 pm »

Jack,
      I really hope you can get a .56-50.  I used to shoot one occasionally in our local cowboy shoots, and they really smack the steel targets with some authority!  As an aside, after handling both the rifle and carbine, I really prefer the rifle.  It's still not overly long, and it helps to have some of the weight out in front.  I believe Custer's Spencer-armed cavalry at Gettysburg actually had rifles, not carbines, statues notwithstanding!
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« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2012, 10:29:45 pm »

Jack
Several years ago I got a carbine in .45 schofield and all the components to load that caliber but just never got around
to working up a load. Also have a pair of schofield revolvers that I need to shoot sometime also.  One of my goals this year
is to finally get both the carbine and revolvers working with some home rolled schofield ammo.  The carbine is supposed
to hold 8 of the schofield rounds. You might check out the Spencer board here in CAScity.
Scout
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« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2012, 11:44:09 pm »

.... As an aside, after handling both the rifle and carbine, I really prefer the rifle.  It's still not overly long, and it helps to have some of the weight out in front.

Yes, despite the greater cost I am really leaning toward the rifle, which is clearly what was issued to The Queen's Own Rifles - or to one of them, at least!  I shouldn't have any difficulty with length .... not exactly being a 'small' individual, as you know! Undecided

Although I don't think that the Peabody and Spencer rifles are quite the same scale in the cover image above, by measurement my Canadian Contract Peabody rifle is 55" OAL - which is 8" longer than the Spencer rifle.
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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2012, 10:27:31 pm »

Well, Gentlemen ......

I can confirm that, as of today, a Cimarron Firearms dealer located about 90 miles west of me has managed to get the last .56-.50 rifle they had in stock included in the next order being shipped to him!
Quote
"I am expecting shipment mid March at the latest."
 
Grin    Grin    Grin

By the way, this screen shot from the Armi Chiappa website shows where I got the understanding that the .56-.50-chambered arms have a magazine capacity of 8, versus 7 for those chambered for pistol cartridges (their specs for the carbine also say "8+1" for .56-.50, and "7+1" for the other chamberings .....)



However, Cimarron's website does say 7 for all versions .....  Huh
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Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
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« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2012, 10:32:39 pm »

Another question:  does anyone know what rate of twist the rifling has on these?

I saw a post somewhere which said that only the .44-40 Spencers had a slow enough rate of twist for good long range accuracy, but I hadn't really heard that from anywhere else.

If anyone here happens to know, I'd be obliged.  Meantime, I guess i better go sign up on the spencer forum and commence to learning' .....
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« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2012, 11:27:01 pm »

Well, Gentlemen ......

I can confirm that, as of today, a Cimarron Firearms dealer located about 90 miles west of me has managed to get the last .56-.50 rifle they had in stock included in the next order being shipped to him!  
Grin    Grin    Grin

Congratulations Jack, let us know when it's in your possession.  Pics will be in order also.
Scout
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« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2012, 08:04:58 pm »

Jack, you need to join us on the Spencer Shooters society.  ALL your questions can be answered there.
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« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2012, 09:11:22 pm »

Jack, you need to join us on the Spencer Shooters society.  ALL your questions can be answered there.

TL, I joined the SSS a few years ago when I tried to buy a Spencer carbine from Marshal Halloway, but the US authorities kept sending it back to him because he didn't have the right export permit and he couldn't seem to get one ......

I guess I have just gotten used to posting mostly here in the Barracks ..... gotta try to remember there are other boards!  Undecided
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Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2012, 07:35:44 am »

    One suspects the replica maker's "8+1" .50-56 Spencer capacity is a typo. Saying that, however, during our Civil War, it was discovered that one could fit an extra round in a Spencer's magazine tube by discarding the follower, using a cork to seal the tube, and functioning the action with the muzzle pointed down. But THAT was with people shooting back. Why obsess over eight vs. nine shots? Eight worked fine in the M.1 Garand and is seven more than your Peabody holds!
    For what it's worth, as authentic as your persona appears otherwise to be, one would expect you'd never be quite satisfied with any other than an authentic .50-56 chambering.
    Aside from Spencers, I have and shoot an original Sharps M.1863 carbine and rifle. The carbine is fun, but the rifle, with a barrel a mere eight inches longer than that of the carbine, is just more visually impressive and a novelty on the range. Think: "Spencer rifle".
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« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2012, 10:04:07 pm »

Yes indeed!  As mentioned above, I have a full rifle in .56-50 on order ..... could have gotten a carbine (and/or a pistol caliber chambering) more quickly and for less money, but decided to go for the "full meal deal" .....

And just today at a gun show I picked up an original .56-50 rimfire cartridge  with S.A.W. headstamp, same as the Canadian 1866/67 cartridges!  (I already have a 250-pack of Starline .56-.50 CF brass sitting at a friend's place in Montana for pickup ..... I ordered it as soon as I heard they had produced more.)
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« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2012, 06:59:16 pm »

I think you should get it and outfit yourself with an Illinois 7th Infantry outfit...Just saying... Grin
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« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2012, 10:32:30 pm »

Well, Richard, the rifle has definitely been ordered so if the dealer comes through I'll have it!

Thought the Illinois 7th Infantry had Henry rifles ........

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« Reply #20 on: April 13, 2012, 06:22:30 pm »

Jack,

It must of been the folks not in the picture that had the Spencer's Shocked  Just kidding.  I obviously got my units mixed up....I should have said 17th Indiana. Wink
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« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2012, 10:59:05 am »

Richard:

I'm more partial to rifle green than blue for a uniform ......    Wink

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« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2012, 08:06:38 am »

I reckon I knew that... Wink
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Major Matt Lewis
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« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2012, 10:06:20 am »

Although I've been posting on the Spencer forum about it, I thought perhaps an update here in the Barracks would be in order ....

I did receive my reproduction ArmiSport/Cimarron Spencer rifle some time back, and have since then acquired (from Blockade Runner) a reproduction 6-tube Blakeslee cartridge box and also a reproduction Pattern 1853 Enfield bayonet, which I hoped would fit the rifle (or at least could be adapted to fit it) since my understanding is that Canadian militiamen issued with Spencer rifles in 1866 used Enfield bayonets - as would appear to be the case from the photo of the QOR rifleman posted above.

The repro bayonet did not quite fit .... which I had expected would be the case, having tried an original P'53 bayonet on it.   When I did that, I could see that the primary problem was that the front sight block on the reproduction Spencer was rather higher than on an Enfield (and presumably also higher than on an original Spencer, if P'53 bayonets did fit them).  I appeared to me that there would be enough "meat" in the arch which passes over the sight blade and block to permit me to increase the height of the slot, so that I wouldn't have to alter the sight on my rifle.  Yesterday I did some filing and fitting along those lines (also needing to square up the slot in the locking ring and dress down the center of its tightening bolt to permit more room for the sight blade and block to pass through) and succeeded in adapting the bayonet to fit the Spencer and lock in place.  The inside diameter of the socket was just a bit too big, resulting in a "rattling fit", but I soon cured that by flowing some silver solder into the socket and then dressing that down until it fit snugly and securely.

Here are a couple of photos of the rifle, with bayonet and Blakeslee box .... this forum automatically reduces the size of photos, but if you right-click on each image and then use the "open image in new tab" command, or equivalent, you can view the images in somewhat larger size -



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Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
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« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2012, 10:20:49 am »

Very nice, great initiative in fixing the bayonet (pun intended).

Please post pics when you assemble the rest of the Kit.
I expect the Kit will make the rifle seem inexpensive says one who just dropped a bundle to Dirty Billy's for my US 1872 Infantry officers shako with the "76" crossed rifles.  May receive it in the next month or two.
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