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British Tower Pattern 1856 .577 Cavalry Carbine

Availability: In stock

$3,450.00

Quick Overview

This original British Tower Pattern 1856 Cavalry Carbine is in very good condition. The exposed metalwork has a smooth plum brown patina finish. The markings are clear, including the British military proofs on the upper left quadrant of the breech. The bore is in very good condition. The stock is very good condition. It has never been refinished and retains sharp lines and edges where it should.

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Details

During the early part of the 1850s, the British cavalry was armed with a variety of outdated arms. The most widely issued were the Pattern 1844 Yeomanry Carbine, a .66 calibre smoothbore percussion weapon, and the .66 smoothbore Pattern 1847 Padget Percussion Carbine, many of which were either converted from flint or made up from old flintlock parts. Several regiments serving in India, South Africa and Ireland used double-barreled carbines of various patterns that saw issue only to those regiments.

While it was clear that some form of breech loading rifled carbine was going to be the best choice to arm the cavalry, the problem was to decide which one. In 1855, a number of American made Sharps Model 1855 carbines were ordered for the British cavalry. These were delivered between May of 1856 and April of 1858, with a total of 6,000 seeing British service. All were issued to cavalry regiments serving in India. In 1855, another American design was ordered as well, the Greene Patent Carbine. Over the next 18 months or so, some 2,000 of these carbines were delivered to the British military as well, but these arms saw use only in trials. Domestic designs were also considered, including the Calisher & Terry breechloading carbine, and eventually the Westley Richards 'Monkey Tail' design. None of these arms had proved suitable. In almost all cases the primary issue was with the ammunition. The problem being that cartridges that were sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of field service tended to be too tough for the carbines to use and detonate effectively.

As a result of these issues the Pattern 1856 Cavalry Carbine was adopted, based upon the carbine then in service with the East India Company at the time and known in service as the East India Service Pattern. The gun was a compact, muzzle loading percussion firearm with a 21” barrel with the service standard .577” bore. The carbine closely resembled the Pattern 1853 Rifle Musket that it had been patterned after, with a blued barrel and barrel bands, color case hardened lock and brass furniture. The ramrod was of the captive design, mounted to stud under the barrel, near the muzzle, with a pair of swiveling arms. The rear sight was of the same pattern used on the Pattern 1853 Artillery Carbine and consisted of a fixed 100-yard leaf and two additional folding leaves for 200 and 300 yards, respectively. The sight had been developed by Thomas Turner as part of the design of the Pattern 1853 rifle musket and had originally been intended for use in conjunction with an adjustable long ladder sight marked to 1,000 yards. This pattern of sight was never officially adopted for general issue with the Pattern 1853, but the 3-leaf portion used for 100, 200 and 300 yards did see use on the carbines until a new sight was adopted for cavalry and artillery carbines in 1861. The carbine was 37” in overall length, and included an iron sling bar opposite the lock, secured to the stock with iron side nail cups that also secured the lock mounting screws. Although the majority of the Pattern 1853 family of arms utilized progressive depth rifling, the majority of Pattern 1856 carbine production did not, although the standard 1:78” rate of twist was retained in the carbine bores. In the end, the British military settled upon an essentially obsolete design and would keep it in use for a decade, until it was finally replaced by the Snider carbine.

This cavalry carbine is in very good condition. The exposed metalwork has a smooth plum brown patina finish, with some light pitting in the breech area, behind the rear sight, as well as scattered along the barrel. Under the woodwork, and beneath the barrel bands, the metal retains its original deep blue. The markings are clear, including the British military proofs on the upper left quadrant of the breech. The bore is in very good condition. It is partly bright with scattered patches of darkened light pitting and retains sharp rifling. The lock of the gun has a plum-brown patina with traces of original case coloured mottling. The lock is mechanically excellent and functions perfectly on all positions. The original cone is broken, with the vent portion missing and only the cone seat remaining in place. This defect is only visible with the hammer cocked. The original sling bar and ring are present on the flat of the carbine, opposite the lock. The ring shows some wear, as to be expected. The swivel ramrod works smoothly. The stock is very good condition. It has never been refinished and retains sharp lines and edges where it should. The stock does have a number of dings, dents and minor blemishes. There are some slivers of wood missing from the ramrod channel. This is not uncommon for any carbine that saw use. The stock is full length and solid with no breaks or repairs noted.