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Thread: 56/50 SPENCER brass

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    56/50 SPENCER brass

    can I cut down 50 cal. 50/70 brass to 2 inches in length and make 56/50 SPENCER'S out of them with out any problems? they are very similar in dimensions. I have a few of 50/70's that have split over repeated loading's and I don't want to discard them in the scrap bin.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Chill Wills's Avatar
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    I don't think cutting it down will work. 50-70 is not 2" long in the first place. If my memory is working, the 50-70Gov. is 1.75" long. Maybe 50-90 at 2.5"?

    I don't know what the head of the Spencer measures so is the common (er) 50-90 correct fit?
    Chill Wills

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    i will check the length of a factory 56/50 SPENCER and get the correct length of them. this old 74+++mind may be slipping a little!! and get back with the correct information.

  4. #4
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    missionary5155's Avatar
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    Howdy toot
    Been out shooting our 1865 Spencer some before returning it to hibernation at the local museum.
    Our Starline brass all measure 1.15 and OAL that cycles in our carbine (#98x) is 1.63-1.65". This length may vary a bit in yours but you will find there is a narrow window of "OAL" that must be adhered to or ammo will not cycle.
    Also bullet nose shape needs to approximate the shape of the follower or the leading edge of the breach block will not be able to slide past the nose of the following round.
    But once you get the trials done they are fun !!!!
    Mike in ILLinois
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Home built Matchlock similar to what an early 1600 Colonial soldier might have.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    elk hunter's Avatar
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    I bought new 56-50 brass for my original Spencer but the rims were too small to extract so I bought some new Star Line 50-70 cases and cut them down to 1.160" and load them to 1.645" using a Lee 370 grain .514 diameter bullet cast soft, they work for me.
    BIG OR SMALL I LIKE THEM ALL, 577 TO 22 HORNET.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    missionary5155 & elk hunter, thank you for all the help & information. armed with that i have what i need. i thought that the 50/70's were close and could be made to work. the rims being to small to extract on your original SPENCER, could that be to excessive wear? also what was the name of the new brass that would not work so i can stay away from it? i am going with 50/70, STAR LINE brass. i rely want to shoot a smokeless powder load in my carbine, do you guys shoot only black or smokeless like IMR 4198 in your guns? some of my friends use 27 grs. of IMR 4198 with a tissue filler in there 45/70 trap doors with out any problem.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    elk hunter's Avatar
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    I've been shooting 19 grains of SR4759 or 35 grains of FFF-g black behind a 370-375 grain Lee 50-70 bullet. I haven't tried any other loads. You might try here http://www.cascity.com for more loading information.

    I don't remember who made the new 56-50 brass, as far as I know there is only one maker, but it was made to fit the reproductions not original chambers and extractors. I rebarrelled my 1860 carbine to 56-50 rather than 56-56 as it had an old 56-46 barrel poorly fitted to it and 56-50 is easier to load for. I had a 50 caliber barrel blank that I turned to match the original barrel of a friends carbine and made the reamer based on measurements of original ammunition and drawings.

    Fun to shoot and fast to reload, I can see why the Cavalry liked it even if it is heavy for it's size.
    BIG OR SMALL I LIKE THEM ALL, 577 TO 22 HORNET.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    history has them being shipped after the CIVIL WAR to the western frontier out posts to kill INDIANS among other things. and the troops loved them, 7 shots. they did a fair job on BUFFALO also! i am going to check out the smokeless loads on the site you listed and also try out your load you listed, thanking you, toot.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master



    missionary5155's Avatar
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    Good afternoon
    Our carbine is a early 1865 56-50 and there is no issue with the extractor lever pulling fired brass out. The 56-50 Starline brass does have a minimum diameter rim. We may have a tighter chamber than other carbine so the rim is better held in place.
    Could also be the slot the ejector lever enters on bolt closing is better located ?? But our carbine always ejects Starline brass.

    Mike in ILLinois
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Home built Matchlock similar to what an early 1600 Colonial soldier might have.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
    John in PA's Avatar
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    .50-70 brass is substantially longer than .56-50 Spencer brass, so , yes, you can cut them down to Spencer dimensions. The defining issue will be neck thickness after the cutdown, and whether it causes a problem with chamber dimensions (neck diameter). For that answer, you will have to sacrifice a couple cases, dummy load them with a groove diameter bullet, and check fit.
    John Wells in PA

    Peabody's and Peabody-Martini's wanted
    Also shoot a 10-PDR Parrott Rifle in competition

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    i now shoot only cut down 50/70 cases that have had the 50/70 cases split over the many firings. also some of then are REM UMC balloon head with not one problem. i use them all, Yankee recycling. ya gotta love the 56/50 SPENCER. what a savings over the regular manufactured STAR LINE BRASS.

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold
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    50-70 to 56-50

    I cut down 200 Starline 50-70s to 56-50 and they worked perfectly. The Starline 56-50 may not extract properly. I did ream a few out but found that with 35 grains of 3f there was no need to do so. I would leave them about 1 eighth of an inch longer to cover the lube grooves. At the longer length I put a cookie in a few to help with the fouling, but these will be fliers as I cut the powder charge also.
    Nick

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    fiatdad, i bought some STAR- brass in 56/50 a long time ago, and found out the same thing. that they only weakly extract and not eject after firing. i also use 13 grains of TRAIL BOSS with a 350 GR. FLAT POINT BULLET .515 DIA. or same bullet with 11 to 12 GRS. of 4227, or 20 GRS of 4227 with excellent results in my SPENCER CARBINE. no flattened primers or dimpled / raised firing pin holes in the brass.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check