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Burnside 5th Model Carbine - About Excellent

Burnside 5th Model Carbine - About Excellent

  • Product Code: FLA-1801-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

This is an outstanding example of one of the styles of breech loading carbine that helped the Federal Cavalry to eventually achieve superiority over the Confederate cavalry. The Burnside Carbine was the brainchild of future Union General and Rhode Island Governor (as well as the first president of the NRA) Ambrose Burnside. He was awarded patent # 14490 on March 25, 1856 for the breech loading design. The .54 caliber carbine used a unique tapered cartridge with a foil or brass case and was ignited by a traditional percussion cap. The carbine went through a number of variations (known to collectors as 1st Model, 2nd Model, etc). The 1st Model Burnside carbine was the first breech loading metallic cartridge carbine to be purchased by the US Ordnance Department, with the first delivery of 200 carbines being made in April of 1856. The most common and most issued version, was the 5th Model Burnside Carbine. The 5th Model carbines were produced from late 1863 through the end of the war, and were officially referred to as the Model 1863 by the Government, even though the receivers of the guns were marked Model 1864! Roughly 55,500 Burnside carbines of all models were produced and delivered to the US government, making it the 3rd most used carbine model of the Civil War. Approximately 43,000 5th models were produced, in their own serial number range. This one has the matching serial number 17061 throughout, placing it in the first half of all 5th model production. The gun was most likely manufactured in the later part of 1863 or in early 1864. Burnside carbines saw significant use during the course of the American Civil War, with some 53,000 being delivered to the Ordnance Department. A survey of some 185 US military officers conducted between 1863-64 rated the Burnside as follows: 17 “ Best, 125 “ Good, 12 “ Fair, 28 “ Poor and it was rated “worthless’ by 3 officers. This meant that 77% of those officers surveyed had a positive opinion of the gun. Some of the cavalry regiments that received the Burnside as part of their supply of small arms were the 1st Michigan, 3rd Indiana, 5th, 6th & 7th Ohio, 3rd West Virginia, 14th, 14th & 18th Pennsylvania, 14th & 21st New York and the 2nd, 12th, 14th & 16th Illinois and 4th Wisconsin Cavalry. According to the serial numbers compiled by the Springfield Research Service, Burnside #17044 was issued to Company K the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry and #17076 was issued to Company H of the 6th Ohio Cavalry. These two carbines were the two closest in serial number to this one.

This particular 5th Model Burnside carbine is in about EXCELLENT overall condition. The metal is smooth throughout with only some very tiny patches of scattered light peppering and pinpricking. The barrel retains about 90%+ of the original blued finish, showing some fading and mixing with a plum brown patina. The receiver retains about 95%+ of the original vivid case hardened colors, with only some very minor fading. The hammer and iron butt plate have both faded to a more tobacco brown mottled color, but do retain some nice subtle coloring. The loading lever retains about the same level of case coloring as the receiver. The breech tang and triggerguard tang retain about 90%+ original vivid fire bluing as do the screw heads, which have mostly unmarred slots. The breechblock retains about 80%+ vivid fire blue, with some flaking and fading. The top of the receiver is marked in three horizontal lines: BURNSIDE PATENT / MODEL OF 1864 / 17061. The same serial number is marked on the top of the breechblock as well. The barrel is marked CAST STEEL 1864 forward of the rear sight, and as is typical the mark is somewhat light and poorly struck. The bore is about mint and is brilliantly bright with excellent rifling. There is some minor scattered pitting present in the bore, as well as some light frosting in the grooves. The lock works crisply and the loading mechanism operates smoothly as it should. The lock plate has a very legible BURNSIDE RIFLE Co / PROVIDENCE R.I. mark. The cone (nipple) is in excellent, crisp, condition. As previously mentioned, the matching serial number 17061 is stamped on the receiver and the breechblock. Numerous government sub-inspector initials are located on various metal parts throughout the carbine, primarily the letter R, but also some B>‘s and M‘s and W's. The marks are crisp, sharp and legible throughout. The gun retains the original front and rear sites, as well as the sling ring bar & ring and the swivel on the lower toe of the buttstock.

The buttstock rates NEAR EXCELLENT, with only a handful of minor bumps, dings and handling marks keeping it from rating fully excellent. The stock is solid and without any breaks, chips or repairs. A very crisp & fine inspectors cartouche is present on the left side of the wrist. They are the script initials RKW, which may be the mark of Ordnance Department Captain Robert Henry Kirkwood Whiteley, who worked from 1838 to 1874. His primary mark was a four letter RHKW cartouche, but a handful of Civil War era carbines are known with only the RKW mark (mostly 5th Model Burnsides and Gwyn & Campbell carbines), which were likely inspected by Whiteley as well. A small three letter mark, which appears to read ESF is also stamped into the top of the stock, forward of the buttplate tang. The forend is in similar condition to the buttstock, showing only some minor bumps, dings and handling marks. It is also solid, without and breaks, cracks or repairs.

Overall is a really exceptional example of a carbine that is rarely found in much better than fine overall condition. Finding a Burnside with this level of case coloring is not at all common. The huge amount of original finish and lovely wood combine to make really attractive Burnside that is very impressive to look at. It would be difficult to find a better example of a 5th Model Burnside, without spending at least $1,000 more than where this one is priced. This is a simply wonderful example that will really stand out in your collection of Civil War carbines.


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Tags: Burnside, 5th, Model, Carbine, About, Excellent