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....October 2007 ~~~~ Editor:  Cliff Hanger ~~~~
Spencer repeating rifle From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Spencer repeating rifle was a manually operated lever-action, repeating rifle fed from a tube magazine with cartridges. It was adopted by the Union Army, especially by the cavalry, during the American Civil War, but did not replace the standard issue muzzle-loading rifled muskets in use at the time. The Spencer carbine was a shorter and lighter version.

The design was completed by Christopher Spencer in 1860, and was for a magazine-fed, lever-operated rifle chambered for the .5656 rimfire cartridge. Unlike later cartridge designations, the first number referred to the diameter of the case at the head, while the second number referred to the diameter at the mouth; the actual bullet diameter was .52 inches. Cartridges were loaded with 45 grains (2.9 g) of black powder.

To use the Spencer, a lever had to be worked to extract the used shell and feed a new cartridge from the tube. Like the Dreyse breech-loader, the hammer then had to be manually cocked in a separate action. The weapon used rimfire cartridges stored in a seven-round tube magazine, enabling the rounds to be fired one after another. When empty, the tube could be rapidly loaded either by dropping in fresh cartridges or from a device called the Blakeslee Cartridge Box, which contained up to ten tubes with seven cartridges each, which could be emptied in the magazine tube in the buttstock.

There were also .5652, .5650, and even a few .5646 versions of the cartridge created, which were necked down versions of the original .5656. Cartridge length was limited by the action size to about 1.75 inches, and the later calibers used a smaller diameter, lighter bullet and larger powder charge to increase the power and range over the original .5656 cartridge, which, while about as powerful as the .58 caliber rifled musket of the time, was underpowered by the standards of other early cartridges such as the .5070 and .45-70.

History

At first, conservatism from the Department of War delayed its introduction to service. However, Christopher Spencer was eventually able to gain an audience with President Abraham Lincoln, who subsequently invited him to a shooting match and demonstration of the weapon. Lincoln was impressed with the weapon, and ordered that it be adopted for production.

The Spencer repeating rifle was first adopted by the United States Navy, and subsequently adopted by the United States Army and used during the American Civil War. The South occasionally captured some of these weapons and ammunition, but, as they were unable to manufacture the cartridges because of shortages of copper, their ability to take advantage of the weapons was limited. Notable early instances of use included the Battle of Hoover's Gap (where Col. John T. Wilder's "Lightning Brigade" effectively demonstrated the firepower of repeaters), and the Gettysburg Campaign, where two regiments of the Michigan Brigade (under Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer) carried them at the Battle of Hanover and at East Cavalry Field.[1] As the war progressed, Spencers were carried by a number of Union cavalry and mounted infantry regiments and provided the Union army with additional firepower versus their Confederate counterparts.

The Spencer showed itself to be very reliable under combat conditions, with a sustainable rate-of-fire in excess of 20 rounds per miniute. Compared to standard muzzle-loaders, with a rate of fire of 2-3 rounds per minute, this represented a significant tactical advantage[2]. However, effective tactics had yet to be developed to take advantage of the higher rate of fire. Similarly, the supply chain was not equipped to carry the extra ammunition. Detractors would also complain that the smoke and haze produced was such that it was hard to see the enemy.[3]

In the late 1860s, the Spencer company was sold to the Fogerty Rifle Company and ultimately to Winchester. With almost 200,000 rifles and carbines made, it marked the first adoption of a removable magazine-fed infantry rifle by any country. Many Spencer carbines were later sold as surplus to France where they were used in the war against Germany in 1870.

Despite the fact that the Spencer company went out of business in 1869, ammunition was sold in the United States up to about the 1920s. Later, many rifles and carbines were converted to centerfire, which could fire cartridges made from the centerfire .5070 brass. Production ammunition can still be obtained on the specialty market. Manufacturer Ten-X Ammunition regularly stocks centerfire .5650 Spencer[2] in a smokeless round, a black powder substitute round and a blank cartridge for reenactments.

Winchester Model 1897 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Winchester Model 1897 is a pump-action shotgun with an external hammer and tube magazine. It was offered in 12 and 16 gauge, solid frame or takedown. Numerous barrel lengths were offered.

History

Originally produced as a tougher, stronger version of the Winchester 1893, itself a takeoff on the early Spencer pump gun, the 1897 was identical to its forerunner (the 1893), except that the receiver was thicker and allowed for use of smokeless powder shells, which were not common at the time. The 1897 also introduced a "take down" design, where the barrel could be taken off; a standard in pump shotguns made today, like the Remington 870. The 1897 was in production from 1897 until the mid- to late 1950s, when the "modern" hammerless designs became common, like the Winchester Model 1912 and the Remington 870. The gun can still be found today in regular use.

Military use 

a Winchester Model 1897 pump-action trench shotgun and M1917 bayonet.

The United States military used a short-barreled version known variously as the "trench" or "riot" shotgun. It was developed into a version issued to U.S. troops during World War I, which was modified by adding an adapter with bayonet lug for affixing a M1917 bayonet.

Unlike most modern pump-action shotguns, the Winchester Model 1897 (versions of which were type classified as the Model 97 or M97 for short) fired each time the action closed with the trigger depressed (that is, it lacks a trigger disconnector). That and its six-shot capacity made it extremely effective for close combat, such that troops referred to it as a "trench sweeper". It was used in limited numbers during World War II by the United States Army and Marine Corps.
 

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