Burnside 5th Model Carbine .54 Cal Civil War Breech-Loading Rifle, 1862-65

SOLD FOR: $1201

LSB#: 210218WW03

Make: Burnside Rifle Co. of Providence, Rhode Island

Model: 4th/5th Model Carbine (see Markings, Our Assessment)

Serial Number: 16273

Year of Manufacture: 1862-1865

Caliber: .54 Caliber Self Contained Belted Brass Cartridge

Action Type: Single Shot, Rotating Block, Breech Loaded Percussion Rifle.

Markings: The lock plate is marked “BURNSIDE R?F???. / PROVIDENCE R?”. The left of the nipple housing and breech-block are each marked “H”. The top of the receiver is marked “BURNSIDE PATENT / MARCH 25TH 1856.” over the serial number, which is found again on the top of the breech-block, the top of the front lever-link and the bottom of the barrel, under the forend. The top of the barrel is marked “CAST STEEL 1862” in front of the rear sight and at the rear with “I”. The rear sling swivel base is marked “H”. The left of the frame has “H” inspection mark. The left of the barrel is marked “P” at the rear. The barrel band is marked “I” on the bottom. The left of the buttstock has “BFM” hand-carved, the right has “E”.

Barrel Length: 21”

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight presents a “V” notch in the down position and when flipped up gives a “V” notched aperture for 300 yard and an additional 500 yard notch at the top of the arm.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with banded forend, straight grip, straight comb, steel crescent buttplate and a sling swivel in the belly (there is also a sling-bar with ring on the left of the receiver). The stocks have scattered nicks, dings, bruises, scrapes and scratches. There are some scattered losses and short cracks at edges. There is a patch of marring at the front of the wrist on the left. The LOP measures 12 7/8″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has gone to a light patina with scattered spots of erosion and wear at the heel and toe. Overall, the stocks are in about Good condition as Antique

Type of Finish: The finish was originally blued and case color, but little finish remains.

Finish Originality: The surfaces have been cleaned but the remaining finish is original.

Bore Condition: The bore is gray. The rifling is sharp where not interrupted by erosion. There is light-moderate erosion scattered through the bore with some light pitting.

Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 10% of its metal finish found only on protected surfaces, such as under the forend or on the interior portions of the lever assembly. Most surfaces are worn to white or gone to a light patina. There is scattered surface oxidation and erosion. There are some scattered light nicks and scratches. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. Most markings are clear, some are worn and incomplete. Overall, this rifle is in about Very Good condition as Antique.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.

Our Assessment: The Burnside Carbines are known as the ‘Best carbines of the Civil War’, made by the worst general of the Civil War, General Ambrose Everett Burnside, whose facial hair became a more positive trait than his aptitude for warfare. Regardless, this rifle evolved from a patent date in 1856 and is surely impressive in combat, enough so that 43 Union Cavalry units were equipped with them. Instead of a muzzle loaded process, these carbines could reload in a few seconds, even on horseback. The evolution of cartridge firing breech loaded rifles never stopped even after the Civil War. This example’s breech marking and lever assembly would indicate it is a 4th model, but it has the guide-screw on the side of the receiver which is characteristic of the 5th model. The 5th model started a new serial range, so the serial number could be from either range. Either way, the rifle survives with a decent bore and good mechanics. The serial numbers are matching on the receiver, barrel, breech-block and lever assembly. It should make a nice addition to a Civil War arms collection. Please see our photos and good luck!

Burnside 5th Model Carbine .54 Cal Civil War Breech-Loading Rifle, 1862-65
Burnside 5th Model Carbine .54 Cal Civil War Breech-Loading Rifle, 1862-65