Author Topic: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison  (Read 12881 times)

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Attached is a photo of original rimfire Spencer rounds next to thier modern centerfire conversion counterparts.

56-50:

On the left is a Taylor's 56-50 with .512 Modified LEE 350 grain bullet in a Starline case.  Next to it is a military 56-50 rimfire with no headstamp  

Besides the orignal being rimfire and copper, it is slightly longer and heavily crimped over the ogive of a .515 to .520 diameter bullet to insure maximum combustion (Christopher Spencer thought this was too much crimp, and introduced his 56-52 rimfire with a healed bullet like the 56-56.  It is interchangable with the Military 56-50)

.56-56:

On the far right is a modern centerfire .56-.56. It loaded with 4-D dies and uses a Buffalo Arms modified 50-70 case cut to just over an inch (about 1.012"). It is loaded with the Rapine 370 grain, .535 diameter healed  bullet (.512 heal),  outside lubed (like 22 rimfire) with Alox lube on the exterior of the bullet, though I rubbed off most for the picture.

Next to it is an original Civil War vintage .56-56 rimfire (which was actually designated as "No. 56 cartridge for Army and Navy Spencer repeaters"  The number .56 refered to the case diameter at both base and mouth.  It was actually nominally .54 caliber, with bullets I have checked ranging from .536 to .542. You will notice it is copper, and only .85 inch with a 375 grain outside lubed bullet.  

The reason it has a shorter case than the modern cases is that its bullet had a very short heal with a deep groove that the very mouth of the copper case crimped tightly into.  The Modern Rapine bullet ( RAP 535370) has a longer heal than the original, so BAC makes the cases .2 inch longer to help grip this longer heal.  Modern brass cases can not form the same way copper did, and rely on a shallow taper crimp.

With the .56-56, I find that very hard cast .535 bullets (I use wheel weight lead with some linotype added) stay crimped better and lead the barrel far less.  I tried pure lead, but the crimp would not hold  (especially with heavily compressed loads), and they tended to come apart feeding in some original Spencers.

Note:  GAD custom Cartridges offers original length .85 inch case, though these must be used with the Rapine 546375 mould that has a shorter heal.  You would need to cut down the 4-D crimp die to use the shorter GAD casess, as 4-D is regulated for the BAC 1.12 cases.



TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
CO. F, 12th Illinois Cavalry  SASS # 6127 Life * Spencer Shooting Society #43 * Motherlode Shootist Society #1 * River City Regulators

Offline Tuolumne Lawman

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2007, 02:12:56 PM »
I might add that my 1860 pimp gun likes the hard cast 535370 bullet over 38.5 grains volume of 777 FFG.  Last night, after replacing the front sight with a taller one,  I shot a 1" center to center 5 shot group from a rest at 25 yards.  It was basicly a large, ragged hole.

Later, I had gone back to the house, about 125 yards+ from the burm on the range below the house. It was at about 45 degree angle from the back deck to the burm. I found I had 6 rounds left in my jacket pocket.  I loaded up the Spencer on the back deck, and aimed at a pop can on the burm, 125 yards away.  All six shots either hit the can or bounced it around.
TUOLUMNE LAWMAN
CO. F, 12th Illinois Cavalry  SASS # 6127 Life * Spencer Shooting Society #43 * Motherlode Shootist Society #1 * River City Regulators

Offline Crazeyiven

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2007, 05:02:24 PM »
Tuolumne Lawman-

What OAL on the center fire...esp the 56-50?

Thanks

David

Offline Appalachian Ed

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2007, 07:38:03 PM »
David -

My 1860 Romano likes OAL 1.590. That's a 280gr. Romano custom mold over 37gr. FFF Goex in a Cut down BB 50-70 case with the rim turned down a bit. Feeds like butter. Lead is hard 19-1 Linotype to Pure lead.
"We believed then that we were right and we believe now that we were right then."
- John H. Lewis, 9th Va. Infantry

Offline Fox Creek Kid

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2007, 07:49:18 PM »
Ed, I had some Romano bullets once and I had always thought his were 320 gr. Granted, I never weighed one.  ???

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Offline Crazeyiven

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2007, 10:40:54 PM »
Appalachian Ed-

Thanks for the information.  The details were helpful.

Thanks again,

David

Offline Appalachian Ed

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2007, 06:26:24 AM »
I just weighed a bunch, and with the alloy I am casting using they are 307gr. The mould blocks are marked 280, so I have always assumed they were 280 gr.  Thanks for the input!
"We believed then that we were right and we believe now that we were right then."
- John H. Lewis, 9th Va. Infantry

Offline Black River Smith

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2007, 12:34:33 PM »
Appalachian Ed,

I am curious, What make is the rifle you are firing in your attached photo.

Looks like a brass frame, centered hammer, no forearm, a dropping lever/block.

Looks like a Maynard
Black River Smith

Offline Appalachian Ed

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2007, 01:26:58 PM »
It's a Keen & Walker Confederate carbine. Sometimes refered to as a Confederate Maynard or Perry. approx. 282 were made in 1862 for the confederacy by Keen & Walker of Dansville, VA. Mine is a Romano copy. Larry Romano is the only person to ever reproduce this carbine, and he did so in VERY limited quanities. He has made around 37 of these. They are exact in every detail to an original.
The gun has a tilting breech that is loaded with either loose powder and a bullet, or with a paper cartridge. There is a brass sliding seal that is 'dragged' forward by the expanding skirt of the bullet that seals it up when fired. It leaks NO gas when fired.  I shoot a .54 Lyman improved minie over 35 gr. FFF goex.








"We believed then that we were right and we believe now that we were right then."
- John H. Lewis, 9th Va. Infantry

Offline Fox Creek Kid

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2007, 04:32:07 PM »
If I'm not mistaken, Stonewall Jackson was reputed to have been mortally wounded with one, Ed.

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Offline Black River Smith

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2007, 05:09:08 PM »
Very nice and unique.

Thanks
Black River Smith

Offline Appalachian Ed

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2007, 05:42:08 PM »
That's the story, it was a Keen that killed Jackson.
"We believed then that we were right and we believe now that we were right then."
- John H. Lewis, 9th Va. Infantry

Offline Militaria-books

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Re: 56-56 & 56-50s - Originals and centerfire - a basic Comparison
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2020, 04:46:14 PM »
Thanks Tuolumne Lawman - this information on the 56-56 was very helpful to me and I am looking into getting a reloading set.

 

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