Lamson & Ball Carbine: Henry Meets Spencer (Sort of)

The Lamson & Ball repeating carbine was one of the last Civil War arms manufactured, as an initial order of 1,000 units was placed in June of 1864 but not actually delivered until April and May of 1866. The delay was in large part caused by the government changing the caliber after the order had been placed, from .44 to the newly standardized .56-50 Spencer cartridge. The manufacturer was E.G. Lamson, who was an industrialist who had puchased the defunct Robbins & Lawrence rifle factory in 1858. He had done this with the intention of making sewing machines and other mechanical products, and jumped at the opportunity to take arms contracts once the Civil War erupted.

The Ball carbine is in some ways a mixture of Spencer and Henry elements, with an independent hammer and lever like a Spencer, but an under-barrel tube magazine (capacity of 7 rounds) like a Henry. The most interesting feature of the Ball was how it split the chamber into two separate pieces, and used the lower one as a cartridge elevator. This system apparently worked quite well when new, but suffered accuracy problems as the components started to wear with use.

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Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons calm imean McCollum and I’m here today at the Rock Island auction company taking a look at Some of the guns that they are going to Be selling in their upcoming May of 2017 Premiere option and today we are taking A look at a Lamson and ball carbine this Is a civil war-era repeating carbine Pretty cool I think this is one of the Best looking of the Civil War Europe Repeating cartridge carbines Unfortunately for the Union troops who Would have gotten this none of them are Actually delivered during the Civil War Now the backstory on this thing the gun Was actually designed by a guy named Albert ball of Worcester Massachusetts Came up with this design it was a 44 Caliber carbine had an under barrel tube Magazine that held seven cartridges it Was manually cocked and a lever action So you [ __ ] the hammer cycled the lever Fire [ __ ] to hammer cycle lever fire etc In this way fairly similar actually to The Spencer in terms of operation However the Spencer had a magazine in The buttstock the ball carbine has Magazine under the barrel the other half Of this project was a guy named Iggy Lampson he was a financier industrialist Sort of guy and in 1858 he bought the Old Robbins & Lawrence rifle factory now Robinson Lawrence had manufactured

Enfield muskets for the British during The Crimean War for export and Lamson Bought this Factory intending to use it For other things primarily he used it to Manufacture sewing machines just hey you Know we’ve got the factory space we’ve Got some machine tools all set up to Make stuff so we’ll make stuff well he Bought it in 1858 1861 of course there’s A minor little conflict the US Civil War Kicks off and being a good business Minded industrialists of course Lamson Starts looking for rifle contracts and One of the first ones he gets is a Contract to make fifty thousand rifled Muskets for the Union and this was an Interesting it was a hybrid pattern sort Of basically using all of the 1853 Enfield must get tooling which he Already had that was easy to set up and Use we’re gonna have a hybrid between The current Springfield musket designed That U.s. had used and this British one so Made a bunch of those but he then also Went out looking for other potential Guns to manufacture and that’s when he Ran into Albert ball now Lamson also Bought a patent from a guy named Palmer For a single-shot carbine and took Samples of the single shotgun and this Lever-action repeating gun to the US Military and loaned the whole paint got Contracts for both and got contracts for

A thousand of each gun to be delivered In January of 1865 these contracts were Signed in the summer of 1864 and Everything looks pretty good gets back And during production a changes made the Government decides that they would like To standardize on the 5650 Spencer Cartridge for new cavalry carbines like The ball carbine and the Palmer carbine This of course they’ve been making Barrels and the whole mechanism for a 44 Caliber cartridge so this requires a Substantial amount of retooling it’s not So bad on the Palmers because they’re Single shotguns there’s a lot less that Has to be changed but it’s a real pain For the ball carbines so this ends up Substantially delaying delivery of the Guns Lamson ends up delivering the Palmers first the Lampson guns aren’t Actually delivered until April and May Of 1866 so the war is over they never See actual combat use in fact they Pretty much never fired a shot in anger These guns were delivered to to the US Government in New York they were put Into storage in an Arsenal in New York And they pretty much stayed there until 1901 and in 1901 the government went Through and surplus off a lot of its old Now obsolete firearms including like 90,000 Civil War era carbines while the US Army had had been very stodgy about About replacing the the infantry rifled

Musket with anything during the Civil War they didn’t they weren’t interested In all these newfangled repeating guns However the cavalry experimented with a Lot of different new technologies guns Like this one and it was a lot of those Guns that were now obsolete and not Necessary not useful and they were sold Off the thousand Lamson carbines or ball Carbines were sold for a whopping Yet this 12 cents each that’s it and That was in 1901 and after that they of Course went on to the commercial market You know the guy who bought them was a Wholesaler and and they matriculate it Out and spread around and we have this One here today now like I said I think This is a really cool design I’d love to Do some shooting with one of these Someday which is going to be tricky Because they’re all rimfire 56 50 Caliber but we can at least take a close Look at this one and check out how its Action works this one in particular has Just some really gorgeous case hardening On the receiver I really like the way That looks at any rate in order to Operate this what we do is first [ __ ] The hammer this by the way is the firing Pin right there on the edge of the Hammer that is going to hit a sliding Firing pin which you can’t see at the Moment because it’s fully forward right There in the sight of what is the bolt

And open this we’re going to pull the Lever back that is going to extract the Fired cartridge the rear end of the Fired case sits in this little shelf and You can see right at the end there’s a Really deep groove cut that holds the Rim of the cartridge so there is no Small independent extractor this is Actually extracting by grabbing almost The entire bottom half of the cartridge Case the cartridge rim you can see a Curved surface right there that is where That top half of the chamber and this Bottom half of the chamber meet up now As we open this farther and farther we Have an ejector right there that is Going to pop out that is spring-loaded So what’s going to happen is as this Pulls the case out that’s going to come Up and kick the case the empty case out The side of the action you then are Going to have the magazine follower Right here push the next cartridge out Onto this lifter right there that is Going to run it up onto the bottom half Of the floating chamber Right there and that just is done by Spring tension from the magazine spring Then as we close this and see it’s going To push the cartridge all the way up Into the chamber where it then locks up And is ready to fire we have a pretty Typical Civil War Europe style of rear Sight here this notch is a 100 meter

Sight and then you can flip it up the One at the bottom of that circle is for 400 and the one at the very top of the Site is for 600 600 meters with or yards I suppose with a carbine like this is Very optimistic but why not you can even See the four and the six on the site There there’s our front sight this Little blade dovetailed into the barrel And we also have this rod on the barrel Which is a little unusual one would Normally expect that to be a cleaning Rod however it is actually connected to The magazine follower and so what you Can do is pull this out and you can hold Tension on the magazine spring while you Then drop cartridges in through the Action to load the magazine so it’s just A way to to ease loading snap it back in Place when you’re done we have the Ubiquitous carbine sling ring here used With the single point carbine slings and Then this has a really interesting Aftermarket addition here this is not Normally on these carbines the fact that This goes right through the middle of Patent date markings is a good hint that It’s not original while we’re here by The way these markings are a little bit Worn but up here this would say eg Lamson and company Windsor Vermont us Balls patent and then the two patent Dates now what this is is actually a Magazine cut off so we have a position

There and we can rotate it 90 degrees up And if we look inside the receiver right Down there when I rotate this lever you Can see that little semicircular piece Coming down and going up what happens is In that up position that is going to Interfere with cartridge and prevent it From sliding out of the magazine so it’s A really simple but effective magazine Cut off when you want to use the Magazine again You drop the lever down I’ve got it in The downward position now and that block Has now dropped out of position it Doesn’t interfere with the cartridges so Lets you keep seven rounds in the Magazine tube and simply fire by opening This and dropping cartridges in manually Until you want to use the magazine Magazine cut offs were kind of a common Occurrence on repeating military rifles Up until about World War one now this Really is a little Bulldog of a rifle It’s compact and dense and heavy and I Think it would probably work pretty well Although of course there are no combat Reports to tell us one way or the other Now this would certainly not have been a Superior carbine to the Henry because The big big disadvantage of this and the Spencer both is that the lever and the Hammer have to be operated independently So you cannot get the rapid rate of fire That you could with a Henry with this

You of course have to [ __ ] it first then You can cycle the action and then fire With the Henry all you had to do was run The lever and a much more comfortable Lever to run by the way all you have to Do is that and it would perform all of The operations for you of course this Does have the advantage of being 56 Caliber instead of a poultry 44 needless To say these are worth a bit more than 12 cents today probably even more than The roughly $20 or $25 so they would Have cost the government originally in 1866 not only is this one coming up for Sale here at Rock Island but I believe There are two others in this auction so If you take a look through their catalog You can find those there is a specific Link to the catalog page for this one in The description text below if you’d like To take a look at Rock Islands pictures And description of the gun thanks for Watching

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