Sold For: $1,295.69
Make: Spencer Repeating Rifle Company
Model: 1865 Carbine
Serial Number: 15264
Year of Manufacture: According to the Springfield Research Institute’s 2nd Volume of U.S. Martial Serial Numbers, Page 145 has rifle serial number 15129, which is only 135 off from this serial number, having been shipped to the 6th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry in 1865.
Caliber: .50 Caliber Springfield Carbine Cartridge
Action Type: Lever Operated Rotating Breechblock Repeating Rifle With Tubular Magazine Loaded Through The Buttstock
Markings: The top of the receiver at the chamber is marked “SPENCER REPEATING / RIFLE CO. BOSTON, MASS. / PAT’D MARCH 6, 1860”. The top rear of the receiver is marked “15264” and the top of the barrel at the receiver is marked “M. 1865”. The right of the block, lever boss and lever are marked “A/A / H / M”. The right of the barrel is marked “LP MM”. The left of the receiver is marked “J”, the left of the wrist’s saddle ring bar is marked “M”.
Barrel Length: The round barrel is 20” in length.
Sights / Optics: There is a short blade fixed to a rectangular base on the barrel. The rear sight is a folding ladder sight. There is a shallow “U” notch in the bottom of the sight for use when the ladder is folded down. When the ladder is raised, there is a “U” notch at the bottom of the ladder, a “V” notch at the top of the slider and another in the top edge of the ladder. The ladder is marked from “2” at the bottom of the ladder for use with the lower “U” notch, “3” to “8” for use with a slider, and marked “9” next to the notch on the top edge.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are a two piece smooth walnut set. The forend is secured with a barrel band, the screw spins freely in the hole, it looks like the bottom of the screw’s threading is worn away and will not go into the receptacle, a re-threading job may fix this. The forend’s surfaces have scrapes and gouges but no major damages. The butt stock has a strait wrist and left side mounted saddle ring bar. The butt has nice fit to the receiver and plate, a few scattered chip losses at the edges and scrapes on the flanks are found. The stocks appear in better condition than the metal and may be a replacement set but we wouldn’t be surprised either way. The butt has cracks near the toe, the toe also shows rounding before the plate. The LOP measures 13” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. A brown patina has spread on the plate, with some areas of pitting; this said, there are a few spots of still bright case coloring, please see our pictures. The plate is in Good condition. The stocks rate in about Fair to Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: The barrel is blued and the rest of the finish is case colored. A dark plum colored patina has formed over the barrel band, lever and hammer, with a dark patina formed over the barrel and a light patina on the receiver.
Finish Originality: All Original
Bore Condition: The six groove rifled bore is dark and the rifling is still defined, though interrupted by spots of pin prick and building surface erosion.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 15% of its metal finish, the remainder is seen as case coloring left on the butt plate and shell lifter; we believe the lifter may be a replacement from the distant past as its finish is still highly visible in contrast to the rest of the metal items; the lifter does have some spots of erosion, suggesting it was a swap in the distant past. The other surfaces have a mottled gray patina with moderate erosion found in patches throughout the surfaces. Heavy bruises are found on the receiver and barrel, the metal under the forend have deep scratch marks, perhaps an indication that the barrel was removed at some point (though it is serialized to the rifle). The top of the receiver and hammer components have deep marks, the hammer has a very dark patina with pitting, more advanced than the other surfaces. The screw heads are all serviceable, a few have mild tooling. The markings are slightly faded in areas, most are clear. Overall, this rifle rates in about Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The hammer has a half-cock safety position. The hammer spring is strong, the trigger has light take up before breaking. We have not fired this rifle. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: The sling bar, lanyard ring and tube magazine, all items are in similar condition to the rest of the firearm and rate in about Good condition. Also included is a copy of Springfield Research Institute’s 2nd Volume of U.S. Martial Serial Numbers, Page 145 which documents rifle serial number 15129, which is only 135 off from this serial number, having been shipped to the 6th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry in 1865.
Our Assessment: The inventor of the Spencer Carbine was Christopher Miner Spencer, one of the leading figures of the machine tool industry. The Spencer carbine was different from any other firearm of its time. It was accurate; fired rapidly; had a long effective range; and held seven metallic cartridges that weren’t affected by moisture. It could be fired more rapidly than a Colt style revolver and reloaded in one-tenth the time. By the end of the Civil War, more than 144,000 Spencer rifles and carbines had been manufactured; over two-thirds of which were purchased by the U.S. government. To keep up with demand, Spencer subcontracted some production to the Burnside Rifle Co. of Providence, Rhode Island. Spencer rifles and carbines met with high praise from those who were equipped with them, and with respect from those who faced them in battle. In its first combat test, Spencer-armed Union troops under the command of Colonel John Wilder earned the nickname “Lightning Brigade” when they defeated a numerically superior Confederate force at the Battle of Hoover’s Gap, Tennessee on June 24, 1863. This is Model 1865 Spencer carbine that differed from its Civil War predecessor by having a 20” barrel instead of 22”, while chambered in .50 Springfield Carbine Rimfire. Springfield Research Institute’s 2nd Volume of U.S. Martial Serial Numbers, Page 145 has rifle serial number 15129, which is only 135 off from this serial number, having been shipped to the 6th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry in 1865. The unit was assigned to New York after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln to keep order. The country was just recovering from the horrific Civil War, which remains the bloodiest conflict in America’s history. The 10th fought in many famous battles with valor and were disbanded at the end of 1865. We don’t know where this rifle ended up after the war but it probably continued to serve on the plains during the Indian Wars. The stocks look to be later replacements but retain nice fit to the metal. This is a nice find for collectors of Civil War carbines and other early American cartridge rifles. Had more of the Union troops been issued with this carbine, the war would have undoubtedly ended a lot sooner with a lot fewer casualties.