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Thread: 56-50

  1. #1
    Boolit Master hoss-noogy's Avatar
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    56-50

    I have a uncle that showed me his original Spencer rifle today. It is carbine length. I told him that I would try to get him some info on this gun. He said that he thought it is 52 caliber but I think it is a 56-50. I have one of the fired cases and here are some of the measurements.

    case length- 1.128
    inside case diameter-- .514
    outside caes diameter--.557

    This case is not a rimfire. It has a primer but it looks different look than a regular rifle primer.
    If any of you has any info on this gun or cartridge that you can share I would appreciate it

    Thanks-Hoss
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  2. #2
    all original spencers were rimfier,a lot have been converted to centerfier,most by yousing a S&S conversion uper block & a flat nose magizine follower,the 56-50s yously had a groove diameter of .520 the 56-56 had a groove diameter of between 543& 534 yously slitly taperd,the cartrige you have is most lickly a made up one to shoot in the 56-50,allthough there was a Belgim centerfier 56-50 carbine made in 1873 but no known examples of cartriges that i know of,allso springfild or frankford arsonal experminted with centerfier spencers,again no known examples of carbine or cartrige,measure the groov diameter of the carbine and that will tell you what caliber it is ,56-52& 56-50 are iterchangible cartriges for the post civil war arms

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I have an Armi Sport made spencer carbine that I got from Cimeron Arms. It fires a 56-50 round but it is different slightly from the original dimensions (at least Starline list the brass as for the imported weapons not originals with CF breach blocks). I like my repro and it shoots well. I believe Buffalo Arms can supply you with brass that will fit your rifle. The original 56-50 round was designed by Springfield Armory in 1864 and spencer rifles were ordered in that caliber. As far as I know none of the carbines were delivered before the Civil War ended. These were called the model 1865. The Spencer company did not like the government designed cartridge so they came out with one called the 56-52 Which had a bottle neck. The 56-50 round had a straight tapper but both fit and fired in the same chamber interchangeably. The cartridge was a rim fire case holding about 45 gr of black powder and a 350 gr lead slug. The army armed much of its cavalry during the late 1860s and early 1870s with those carbines.

  4. #4
    Banned Bucks Owin's Avatar
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    I have what I believe is a complete 56/50 cartridge in my cartridge collection. Unfortunately packed away in storage at the moment, so I can't lay my hands on it to do any measurements. It is a fat (!) stubby rimfire, has a conical bullet and a copper case. (At least "copper looking", didn't seem that soft but it's likely tempered?). As I recall, there a "U" (for Union Metallic Cartridge Co?) on the case head, altho' it may have been an "H". That's about all I can tell you for now other than it sure is a whopper of a rimfire!. Maybe I can dig it up and post a photo, I'll see....Dennis (Another oddball in the collection is a ".455 Colt")
    Last edited by Bucks Owin; 12-27-2009 at 01:37 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Spencer RF

    Yep sure sounds like a more modern cartridge "fitted" to the Spencer so it could be fired.... not too many Spencer rimfire cases around to reload . Judging by the measurements likely the gun is a 56-50 Spencer carbine.
    Here's the specs on the 56-50 cartridge so you can compare with what you have in hand- a fired round will be slightly different from an unfired factory round:

    Bull. diam. .512
    OD neck diam. .543
    base diam. .556
    rim diam. .639
    case length 1.156
    OAL 1.632

  6. #6
    boolit diameter varied a lot on ealy rimfier 56-50s depending who made them from as small as .495 to .525,most guns will slug around .520,with the springfild relined barells being tighter,usuly around .512 to .515,the modern reproductions are .512,starline makes 56-50 brass that will work in some 56-50s but is not garented to work in all originals,i have found that if the brass is anealed it has worked in every one i have tryed so far ,try a few before going to the more expencive ones converted from 50-70 brass,CH & lyman both make dies,Bufolow arms and Rapine both make mouls for original 56-50sboolit will need to be .520 unless you have one that has been relined,these are great litle carbines to shoot low recoil 35gr to 40gr of swiss FF goes a long way and is plenty gun for pigs or meadim dear i have been yousing mine for 30 years with good results

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    JSnover's Avatar
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    Herb, what boolit weights have you tried?
    Warning: I know Judo. If you force me to prove it I'll shoot you.

  8. #8

    boolit whights

    I have a original Burncide spencer carbine& a new armi sports spencer rifle.The new armi sports spencer has a 1-20 inch twist rate and i could not get it to shoot at all with the shorter 325 to 375gr boolits,in desperation i tried a .975 inch long lyman 515-141 440gr boolit cast with WW,you can only get 28 to 30gr maximum of wano FF behind this boolit but is extreamly acurate to 100 meters,my crony is out of action but a program ihave checked with says the maximum stability for this boolit lenth & twist rate is452fts,most lickly very close to what i am geting very slow but acuracy is what i am after .In my Burncide spencer i use a .775 inch long 375gr boolit in a 1-34 inch twist barell,velocity recomended is 775fts ,i was geting 870fts with my load so i decided to drop the velocity and found that the program was right i got the best acuracy the closer i was to 775fts,this was also confired with a friends spencer with a 1-42 twist rate,recomended volicity for a .725 inch long .512 boolit was 1100fts,this rifle shot lick a dream 2 inch 10 shot groups at 100 meters ,we shot it out to 300 meters and acuracy was consistant
    Last edited by herbert buckland; 12-31-2009 at 06:38 PM.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master georgewxxx's Avatar
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    Here's some specs. First one is from 58 & 50 cal rifles & carbines by Hosmer. The secong is from Cartridges by Herschel Logan.

    http://sodcity.dakotabranch.com/main...2_itemId=12545

    ...Geo
    Last edited by georgewxxx; 01-02-2010 at 11:06 AM.
    N.R.A. Life Member

    http://sodcity.com/gallery2/

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    JSnover's Avatar
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    Thanks herb. I got it in my head to monkey around with something like that.....
    Warning: I know Judo. If you force me to prove it I'll shoot you.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by JSnover View Post
    Thanks herb. I got it in my head to monkey around with something like that.....
    could you keep us informed on your results,i am a fan of the spencers but have not got the resores to experiment,have only found out
    the faults with the armi sports spencers,in Australia it is hard to find anyone that can rebarell and chamber a 56-50 spencer

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Will do!
    Warning: I know Judo. If you force me to prove it I'll shoot you.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Weddle View Post
    My original 1865 Spencer's groove diameter is .520" . Bright and shiny on the inside. I've been shooting it 18 years. I cast Rapine 520350 and it is 3 MOA with the unholy smokeless 2400.
    I would be woried using smokless in a original spencer the ealy ones had a weak spot were the side of the barell was milled very thin for the extractor,later modeles adresed this problem but they are still very old rifles that were not ment for the shock of smokless,I like the rapine 520-350 boolit because it caries plenty of lube it is my main hunting boolit these days try geting a velocity of 713fts for best acuracy ,another boolit i like is the buffalow arms Jim 520-375 boolit,i get my best acuracy in my burncide spencer with this boolit at 775fts and has plenty of lube for the carbine though i am not shore it would have enough for a 30 inch rifle barell

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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