CAS TOPICS > The Longbranch

Lever rifles back in the day, rifle vs. carbine

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I'm always interested in the "why's" of history where guns are concerned.  100+ years ago, we didn't have the gun press we have today, so researching such stuff isn't I have a question?

I'm wondering why 2 our of every 3 lever action rifles from back in the day were rifle configuration rather than the carbine that everyone seems to prefer today (and since WW2)

I seem to recall from my youth the old timers felt a longer barrel gave you enough of a velocity increase to actually make a difference, making for a perceived longer range gun..  In the black powder era barrel length had a lot more effect on velocity than today's guns, so that makes least perception wise. 

The advantages of a 24" rifle over a 20" or shorter carbine are:
- Longer barrel would give higher velocities with black powder, probably more than 100fps from a .44 or .38 WCF
- Greater magazine capacity
- Longer sight radius which is nice for longer range shots. 
So this all adds up to a rifle that could have a perceived advantage in range, and firepower.

Was this the reason rifles like the 92 sold 3x as many 24" rifles than 20" carbines?  IIRC the numbers are about the same for the '66 & '73's.  Seems to me non-cowboys just felt the longer barrel and higher magazine capacity actually brought something to the table...or at least that was the perception.   

I always recall my grandfather told me that was the reason he bought a Winchester 94 rifle vs. the carbine in 1927.  So I wonder if his thinking was typical.  He was a gun owner, but not a gun nut like us, so I don't know how much he researched the issue, if at all. 

I wonder if the advances in powders could have something to do with the barrel lengths as well. More efficient powders could give the same velocities in a handier length. Also, the extra ammo capacity could be a literal lifesaver on the frontier if under attack.
Also, I would venture that a good portion of today's guns are based on a 10 round capacity for Cowboy Action Shooting.

Cap'n Redneck:
I'm thinking the advantages of the carbine over the rifle would be most important for the men who mainly carried them in saddle-scabbards on long rides.  The carbines are lighter so they won't tire the horses as much, and they are shorter so they will clear leather in a hurry faster.
I'm thinking "The Winchester Warriors" aka. the Texas Rangers, and other lawmen (and badmen).


 :)  Actually  ;)

I don't have a clue.  WAG (Military Acronym for Wild Ass'd Guess) would be long guns of the era had traditionally been of longer barrels.

Play Safe Out There

Sir Charles deMouton-Black:
Years ago, when I thought about buying an 1873, I heard that carbines were more numerous in the US and rifles in Canada. I eventually found a rifle, locally near Victoria BC, a rifle cut down by the original owner to 20 inches. After rebarreling it became my CAS long gun. fast, accurate and could carry a LOT of cartridges in the mag. I suspect the rule is as was set out above, carbines for riders and rifles for walkers.



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