Exceptional Civil War RIFLE (not the carbine) and one of only 11,470 manufactured and delivered during the American Civil War. This example is serial number 22xxx, making it part of the late 1863-early 1864 US Government contract series (some were also directly purchased by the State of Massachusetts as well). 30″ round barrel with full walnut forestock, iron barrel bands, crisp markings, tight action and a fine bore–a wonderful addition to any Civil War or military arms collection.
While called a “.56-56” the caliber is actually the same as the carbine, .52–the nomenclature references the cartridge designations, (.56-56 Spencer’s first number referred to the diameter of the case just ahead of the rim and the second number the case diameter at the mouth).
The Spencer Repeating Rifles and Carbines were early American lever action firearms invented by Christopher Spencer. 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 Company and the Burnside Rifle Company between 1860 and 1869. The Spencer repeating rifles and carbines were adopted by the Union Army during the Civil War but did not replace the standard issue muzzle-loading rifled muskets in use at the time. Among the early users was Union General George Armstrong Custer. The Spencer carbine was a shorter and lighter version designed for use by the cavalry. They were also called the guns you could load on Sunday and shoot all week.
The Spencer proved itself to be very reliable in combat conditions, with a sustainable rate-of-fire in excess of 20 rounds per minute. Compared to standard muzzle-loaders, with a rate of fire of 2–3 rounds per minute, this represented a significant tactical advantage in the field of battle.
This fine weapon falls within the known serial number ranges of weapons issued to the 5th New York and 12th Illinois Cavalry units according to Springfield Research Service files and data.