CIVIL WAR Carbine SPENCER Shotgun Conversion ~20 Gauge Antique .56-50 Rimfire Shotshell
A Likely Frontier Weapon—Smoothbored Spencer
Here we present an antique Spencer Repeating Rifle Co. Army Model Saddle Ring Carbine to Shotgun Conversion, made circa 1863-1865 in Boston, Massachusetts, during the Civil War. These lever-operated, breech-loading rifles were marvels of the time and had a lasting impact on how war was to be fought in the future. Though their service life in the U.S. military was relatively short, the Spencer story includes Christopher Spencer, the inventor of the rifle, demonstrating and shooting with President Abraham Lincoln, who gave his full endorsement of the piece. Supposedly, during the battle at Gettysburg, a captured Rebel that day said one could “load in the morning and fire all day!” This was due to the Spencer’s most endearing quality: a 7-round magazine tube in the butt of the gun. This gave the shooter phenomenal firepower in a day when most soldiers were muzzle-loading single shots or even singly loading their breech-loading carbines. This is one of the iconic carbines of the Civil War and Western Frontier.
In the latter part of the war Edward M. Stabler of Maryland invented the Stabler Cut-Off Device. It prevented the cartridge from feeding the magazine to the receiver by limiting the lowering of the breech block. The carbine could then be used as a single shot weapon. A few of these equipped carbines, as is this one, were manufactured by the Spencer factory, plus 19,000 of the 30,496 of the Burnside Spencers were equipped with the Stabler Cut-Off Device.
The Spencer was the world’s first military metallic cartridge repeating rifle, and over 200,000 examples were manufactured in the United States by the Spencer Repeating Rifle Co. and Burnside Rifle Co. between 1860 and 1869. The Spencer repeating rifle was adopted by the Union Army, especially by the cavalry, during the American Civil War but did not replace the standard issue muzzle-loading rifled muskets in use at the time. Among the early users was George Armstrong Custer. This Spencer carbine was a shorter and lighter version designed for the cavalry.
As mentioned, this example is equipped with the Stabler Cut-Off Device, has had the saddle ring bar removed, and is fitted with a shotgun barrel.
The overall condition is very good. Original patina. The action is excellent. The bore is smooth and reflective with the exception of some mild pitting in the middle—stout barrel walls. The stock shows use and remains very solid. This is a really neat piece that was almost certainly converted in the late-1860s or 1870s for commercial sale to those living on the frontier or headed West.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 28 inches.
Caliber: Spencer Shotshell (.56-50; still rimfire)
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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