|Spencer repeating rifle From Wikipedia, the free
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 .56–56
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 .56–52, .56–50, and even a few .56–46
versions of the cartridge created, which were necked down versions of the
original .56–56. 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
.56–56 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 .50–70 and .45-70.
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. 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.
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.
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 .50–70 brass. Production
ammunition can still be obtained on the specialty market. Manufacturer
Ten-X Ammunition regularly stocks centerfire .56–50 Spencer 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.
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.
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.