Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

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Old No7
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Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#1 Post by Old No7 » Mon Mar 12, 2018 5:56 pm

Well, it was great to meet my brother at his local range a few hours south of here, as we were planning to put my new-to-me JP McCoy flintlock through its paces. It shot really well for the first 5 shots -- with very fast ignition! -- and me, my brother and his friend all easily putting our shots into the black. I was really excited though, as mine were closer. :wink:

Then just as I was about to setup for another round of 5 or more shots with the flintlock, my twin's friend announces that he brought 2 original Civil War carbines -- both leverguns -- to shoot! :!:

Yup, the flintlock quickly started to collect some dust in the corner, as I can shoot that anytime...

First up was a Spencer Carbine that has been converted to centerfire by adding a new breechblock, that is clearly marked "For Blackpowder Only". If it wasn't for that, all the rest of the gun and the "new" breechblock all looked old; as whoever made the new block put an "old finish" on it.

Spencer 01.jpg

The block was chambered for cutdown .50-70 brass, and they looked like these (on the right) next to one of the original rimfire rounds:

Spencer 03.jpg

Other than a slight glitch (took several attempts, while tilted 45 degrees right) on feeding the last round, each of us put the entire mags downrange as fast as we could cycle the lever. The follower in the removable tubular magazine had been dimpled so it would not hit a centerfire primer, and I'm thinking maybe it has a burr or causes the last round to tilt just a little. But boy -- all the smoke from this "Dang Yankee rifle that you load on Sunday and shoot all week" was really getting thick! Then I found that if you thumped the buttstock twice after the first hiccup, the last round would then feed easily. So I got all my rounds downrange faster than the other guys. :D

Here's a good image of some of the parts and inner workings of the Spencer:

Spencer 02.jpg

Next up was a gun that probably should have been shot after the flintlock -- or maybe a caplock -- and before the Spencer, as it bridged the gap between percussion guns and fixed cartridges.

I got to handle and shoot a Burnside Carbine!

Burnside 01.jpg

This one was a blast to shoot, with the fixed cartridge AND large musket cap. So it's not a repeater, but we sure could put a lot of rounds downrange in a hurry. The rounds are those odball "snow cones" maybe you've seen some pictures of, and the ones we shot were loaded with a round ball and 2F powder. There's a pinhole (about the size of the hole in the nipple of a cap 'n ball revolver) in the rear of the brass cone, and as long as you use 2F powder -- none falls out. And of course we tried to shake some out! :o

Burnside 02.jpg

The owner also had some plastic "snow cones" and while those were harder to cam closed, they shot just as well and weren't burned up at all. He just doesn't know how long the pinhole at the rear will hold up, but he's aiming to find out. The image below shows you how the locking block tilts down, exposing the chamber for loading, and you insert the load, lock it up (there's a definite click when you do it right) and then cap the large nipple with a musket cap.

Burnside 03.jpg

So that's my range report. Man, it was fun! Overall, I think I liked the Spencer the best, while my brother liked the Burnside. But for sure, after I found out what he'd paid for those, I'll only get to shoot his guns whenever he comes north again..........

Tight groups!

Old No7
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Pitchy
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#2 Post by Pitchy » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:04 pm

Wow that was something else No7 8)
What a fun day. :)
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Bill in Oregon
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#3 Post by Bill in Oregon » Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:33 pm

Darryl, I totally understand that grin on your face. There is something about the Civil War carbines that is just so darned much fun. I briefly owned a Burnside in non-firing condition, but I have owned two original Maynard Second Models in .50 Maynard, a Pietta-made Smith Carbine, an original Merrill (deepest rifling I have ever encountered) and an Armi-Sport Spencer in .56-50, which I shot with handloads using excellent Starline brass. Also played briefly with an Italian knock-off of the Sharps Model 1859 paper-cartridge breechloader in .54. Boy, they are fun to shoot. Great reference is John McAulay's "Carbines of the Civil War."

Chuck 100 yd
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#4 Post by Chuck 100 yd » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:14 pm

:D

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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#5 Post by JerryB » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:26 pm

Like Bill said I reckon that grin will be there for a while. What a joy that would be real proud for you, just enjoy you flinch lock. Muzzle loaders and real black powder are a pleasure to shoot.
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OldWin
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#6 Post by OldWin » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:34 pm

Man, that is cool as all get out! I had a chance to buy a Spencer carbine once, years ago. I didn't cause the conversion breech blocks weren't available or I didn't know about them.
I kick myself now. :(
Looks like a fun day No.7. Glad your flinter shot well.
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#7 Post by Tanqueray » Tue Mar 13, 2018 3:44 am

Wow, neat rifles. I’d love a Spencer Carbine one day, “3:10 to Yuma” and “Unforgiven” are two of my favourite films.
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#8 Post by Nath » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:06 am

Excellent range report, loads of good info and illustrations :)

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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#9 Post by Pete44ru » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:14 am

.

What a wonderful experience ! :o

Exciting, to say the least.......... Thanks for sharing ! :)

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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#10 Post by gamekeeper » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:07 pm

Pete44ru wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:14 am
.

What a wonderful experience ! :o

Exciting, to say the least.......... Thanks for sharing ! :)

.
Plus one to that, when I belonged to a rifle club I was lucky enough to try a few interesting firearms but not as interesting as those.... :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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JRD
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#11 Post by JRD » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:33 pm

What a great experience!

I'm surprised that Pete didn't mention the Burnside was designed by a famous Rhode Islander and built in the Ocean State. I've got a Burnside cartridge in my collection and would love to find a rifle to go with it someday.

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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#12 Post by barbarossa » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:04 pm

I have one of the erma gallagher carbines and it is a lot of fun to shoot.Mine has been relined to 50cal and it is quite accurate and doesn t have any cartridge ignition problems

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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#13 Post by Merle » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:16 pm

Now that is a day to remember!!! :D
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#14 Post by Sixgun » Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:28 pm

Not much stirs the soul as much as shooting an old gun...the older, the better. I'd rather shoot 5 rounds from a 150 year old gun than a hundred from a modern gun.

While a fair amount of these guns were made, not many remain and the ones that do remain are in museums or high dollar collections...very few for the average guy to play with. Good for you.---6
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Old No7
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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#15 Post by Old No7 » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:09 am

Sixgun wrote:
Tue Mar 13, 2018 10:28 pm
Not much stirs the soul as much as shooting an old gun...the older, the better. I'd rather shoot 5 rounds from a 150 year old gun than a hundred from a modern gun.
Amen to that!

Some younger guys were down at the end of the range shooting their ARs -- blasting away with 30-round mags as fast as they could pull the trigger* -- but we had better groups on target than they did, and I'm sure we had lots more fun.

......* The range used to have "5-shot mag limit" and "1 shot every 3 seconds" rules, but those got voted out by the AR crowd......

Not-so-surprisingly, when they passed by our bench on a cease fire, none of the them even glanced at the HISTORY laying right there on our bench, or asked if they could see them...

They missed an opportunity -- AND their targets too!

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Re: Range Time with... 2 Civil War Leverguns!!!

#16 Post by Ysabel Kid » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:14 pm

Very nice! :mrgreen:
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