Civil War Burnside Carbine .54 Cal Percussion Falling Block Rifle Antique

SOLD FOR: $1450

LSB#: 220316CA012

Make: Burnside Rifle Co.

Model: Burnside Carbine, Fourth Model

Serial#: 8323

Year of Manufacture: Circa 1863-1865

Caliber: .54 Burnside

Action Type: Single-Shot Percussion Lever-Actuated Breech loaded Carbine

Markings: The left side of the wrist has two cartouches (please see photos). The top of the butt-plate is marked “R”. The trigger guard and bottom of the breech-block assembly is marked “R”. The top of the frame is marked “BURNSIDE PATENT / MODEL OF 1864”. The top of the frame and breech-block are marked with the serial number “8323”. The side-plate is marked “L” and “BURNSIDE RIFLE CO / PROVIDENCE RI”. The top of the barrel is marked with a faded marking “CAST-STEEL” (the date has totally worn off). The lever pin located under the right side of the frame is marked “C”. The top-tang is marked “C”. The sling bar is marked “C”. The top of the barrel is marked “C” between the rear sight and frame.  The bottom of the breechblock assembly, visible when the breechblock is lowered, is serial matched. The hammer is marked “R”.

Barrel Length: 21”

Sights/ Optics: The front sight is a dovetailed blade. The rear sight is a folding leaf that presents a “V”-notch in the down position and when raised presents a “V”-notch at the top of the leaf marked “5” with a wide aperture at the center marked “3”.

Stock Configuration & Condition/ Grip: The stocks are two-piece wood featuring a forend with a spring secured barrel band that is screwed to the barrel, a straight wrist, a straight comb and metal butt-plate. There is a sling bar on the left side of the receiver with a fixed saddle ring and sling swivel fixed to the belly. The stocks have light-moderate handling marks, scuffs, compressions and nicks. Notably, there is scattered heavy wear on the forend which includes a large ding slightly behind the barrel band. Also, there is a series of dings on the comb. The LOP is 13” from the trigger to the rear end of the butt-plate. The butt-plate is has some light handling marks, is coated in light surface oxidation and has some scattered patches of pitting. Overall, the stocks are in Good condition for Antiques.

Type of Finish: Blue and Case Colored

Finish Originality: Original

Bore Condition: The bore is mostly bright with sharp rifling. There is some light erosion concentrated in the grooves.

Overall Condition: The rifle retains 20% of its metal finish. There is trace bluing which is concentrated on the top-tang, top of the breechblock and a few other small parts. The barrel and frame are coated in light surface oxidation and have taken a patina color. There are some light-moderate handling marks, nicks and scuffs. Notably, there is finish loss around the muzzle and wear around the leading edges. The markings remain clear. The screwheads have tool-marks and remain serviceable. Overall, the rifle is in Very Good condition for an Antique.

Mechanics: TThe action functions correctly. A percussion cap is needed to fire the carbine. To load the gun, squeeze the lever release that will drop the breechblock (located in front of the trigger), load a cartridge into the chamber and replace the lever into its original position. 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 and Accessories: None.

Our Assessment: This is a Burnside Rifle Co. manufactured Burnside Carbine which was produced between 1863-1865. The Burnside Carbine was invented by Ambrose Everett Burnside whose life took some unexpected turns. Burnside graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1847 and saw service during the Mexican-American War. He resigned his commision in 1853 to work on a breech-loaded rifle but the project did not bear fruit for him, his factory was destroyed and coupled with the money he spent to fund a political campaign he went bankrupt. During his bankruptcy, Burnside’s weapon design was sold off and he never shared the ensuing profits made by his namesake carbine. He was later selected to serve as a general in the Rhode Island State Militia and when the Civil War broke out he was quick to march a unit, the 1st Rhode Island Infantry, to Washington DC in order to protect the capital. His later battlefield performance during the Civil War is generally considered to be abysmal and he resigned his commision after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. As an aside, Burnside’s hair style is where the term side burn originates.

The Burnside Carbine on the other hand, proved more effective on the battlefield than its designer. The Burnside was the third most widely manufactured carbine of the Civil War, falling just behind the Sharps and Spencer. It would be pressed into service in every theater of the conflict, and many were captured and used by Confederate forces. The Burnside Carbine was ultimately retired at the end of the Civil War, and the Burnside Rifle Co. began to manufacture Spencer Repeating Rifles.

This specimen is beautifully preserved with clear cartouches on the wrist, mostly clear markings and a fully functional action. The gun appears to be in its original configuration and notably, the bore is in extremely good shape. Despite being marked “MODEL 1864”, Fourth Model or “Standard Model” Burnside Carbines were manufactured beginning in 1863. This is a must have option for fans of historically relevant firearms and Civil War aficionados. Good luck on your bid!

Civil War Burnside Carbine .54 Cal Percussion Falling Block Rifle Antique
Civil War Burnside Carbine .54 Cal Percussion Falling Block Rifle Antique