Rare Navy Modified US Model 1860 Spencer Rifle Socket Bayonet
- Product Code: EWB-TB278-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
The very first Spencer Rifles to be acquired for US military use were 750 guns purchased by the United States Navy. Two sample rifles had been tested aboard the USS Kennebec and performed well enough to justify the rather conservative Navy small arms board to approve the purchase of the guns. These were 30” barreled rifles with full-length forends that were retained by three barrel bands. The Navy would eventually purchase 1,000 of the rifles. While the large majority of US Model 1860 Spencer Rifles were produced with a musket style front sight that was intended to serve as a lug for an angular socket bayonet, those first 750 Navy purchases had a keyed saber bayonet lug under the barrel, similar to the lug found on the Sharps Model 1855 Navy rifles that had previously been acquired. While a bayonet was certainly a necessary addition to any naval long arm, allowing it to be turned into an ersatz pike that was handy to “repel boarders”, the large brass handled saber bayonet certainly made the Spencer Rifle unwieldy. The balance of the Spencer Rifles delivered to the Navy were the standard production version with the angular socket bayonet. These were no doubt much easier to handle in the confines of a ship and to utilize in the role of repelling boarders.
Offered here is a very interesting variant of the US Model 1860 Spencer Rifle Socket Bayonet, from the collection of the late Trevor Bovee. Mr. Bovee was a leading collector of Civil War era US Navy Small Arms. What is so interesting about this Spencer Rifle Socket Bayonet is that it has been modified to be able to be mounted on Spencer Naval Rifle with a saber bayonet lug under the barrel. The rear of the socket has been machined to allow the key from the saber bayonet lug to enter the socket’s body and allow the bayonet to fit on a rifle that it would otherwise not be able to mount to because the stud key would keep the socket from seating correctly.
In all other ways the bayonet conforms to a standard US Model 1860 Spencer Rifle Socket Bayonet. It is unmarked with the exception of a small L inspection mark, which is found on the obverse of the socket, forward of the standard bayonet mortise cut. The bayonet is finished in the bright. The Spencer 1860 bayonet was essentially a US Model 1855 socket bayonet with a couple of small dimensional differences. The bore diameter of the 1860 was nominally .812” instead of .783” for an 1855 bayonet and the bridge of the 1860 was slightly taller than on the 1855, allowing it to clear the slightly taller front sight on the Spencer Rifle. This bayonet conforms to the standard Spencer bayonet dimensions with a nominally .812” socket diameter, a 3” long socket, and 18” blade and a nominally 21” overall length.
The bayonet remains in FINE condition and shows much of the original bright polish with some lightly scattered surface oxidation and minor age discoloration which has dulled some of the metal. The bayonet is full length, and the original locking ring is in place and functions smoothly. As would be expected there are some lightly scattered minor dings and nicks in the metal, but this is typical of a bayonet that saw any level of handling and use.
Overall, this is a really attractive and fine condition example of a scarce variant of the US Model 1860 Spencer Rifle Socket Bayonet. The bayonet comes from a well-known and important collection and retains Mr. Bovee’s small paper tag identifying the variant and special use for this bayonet. This would be a wonderful addition to any Civil War era naval collection or simply as an accessory for your Spencer Navy Rifle.
Ex-Trevor Bovee Collection
Tags: Rare, Navy, Modified, US, Model, 1860, Spencer, Rifle, Socket, Bayonet