Terry’s Breechloading Carbine: Used by Hussars and Confederates


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This capping breechloader was patented in the UK by William Terry in 1856, and adopted (in limited numbers) by the British military in 1860. Approved for cavalry use, it was issued to the 18th Hussars, and also bought by a variety of colonial organizations in New Zealand, South Africa, and elsewhere. In addition, it was used to some extent any the Confederacy; both J.E.B Stuart and Jefferson Davis had Terrys in their possession when taken into custody.

Mechanically, the system is a bolt action, with a two-lug, rear-locking rotating bolt. It uses a paper cartridge, the base of which is a thick greased felt pad to provide obturation. Not more than 20,000 were made between 1860 and 1870, when the company shut down. Unlike the Sharps (for example), Terry’s system was not really able to be converted to use metallic cartridges, and so sales dried up as the self-contained metal cartridge became widespread.

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Hey guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m Ian McCallum and I’m here today at the Rock Island auction company where we are Taking a look at a Terry breech-loading Carbine this is one of that cool Intermediate class of actions that’s Called A tapping breech loader which is to say It doesn’t use a metallic case it uses a Paper cartridge that has no built-in Priming system it uses a standard Traditional percussion cap to ignite the Cartridge but it loads from the breech Not from the muzzle so the Terry carbine Was invented by a guy named William Terry it was patented in 1856 in the United kingdom terry joined up with a Guy named bertram callow sure to create A breech-loading Armory company to manufacture these guns And they went after British military Contracts and they successfully got them In 1860 the British military adopted This for use by the cavalry in limited Numbers they bought about a thousand of Them apparently and they were issued out To the 18th Tsar’s who did go ahead and Actually use them in combat these were Then also sold on the commercial market A bunch of them were purchased by Military organizations in the colonies The British colonies so they saw use in New Zealand they saw used by the Cape

Mounted Rifles in South Africa and Interestingly they saw use in the United States by the Confederacy so in fact General Stuart JB Stewart and president Of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis both Had terry carbines with them when they Were captured interesting so let’s take A look at how this thing actually works The terry is actually an early Bolt-action rifle it’s not the first but It was a relatively early one what you Do is pull this lever out from the side That’ll open up a little loading window You then rotate the lever upwards and Pull it back That’s your bolt action you then have Access to manually load a paper Cartridge and the way this system worked You had your paper cartridge was of Course a bullet at the front a powder Charge wrapped inside a case of paper And then there was this relatively thick Heavily greased felt pad at Back of the cartridge and that was there Primarily to provide a gas seal to the System so at this early stage in Development to the breech loading rifle There were a lot of different systems Being experimented with for sealing or Operation as it’s more properly called And this one was reasonably effective as Long as the cartridges were manufactured Correctly it worked all right it also Had the second benefit of when that felt

Pad was blown down the bore when you Fired it would actually well it’d be Blown down the bore ahead of the next Bullet that you fired but it would Actually kind of do the job of lubricant It would grease the bore and it would Pull some of the powder fouling out Anyway put a cartridge in there you can Then close the bolt rotate it down and Snap it into place now in order to Actually fire you would do this then you Would [ __ ] the hammer you would put a Percussion cap on there and then you’re Ready to fire so hitting that percussion Cap with the hammer flames going to go Down through the touch hole into the Paper cartridge and ignite it this would Be a system with rear locking lugs if we Look at it from a modern perspective These two lugs right here are what Actually lock the system that are going To go into the receiver right there and Then when they rotate down they can’t Come back out and of course closing this Door both helps seal gas in and it’s Going to prevent the bolt from rotating So nice and solid lock up the markings On this one are a little bit hard to see But here on top of the chamber we have Terry’s patent and then it says again This is hard to read but it says 30 bore And that is a bore diameter in shotgun Terms so that is that means that one Pound of lead will make 30 spiracle

Round balls if we translate that into Something a little less archaic We end up with 54 caliber specifically These were 539 diameter bullets there is A serial number here on the bottom tang Which is repeated on the bolt handle This one’s $13.99 now you might have Noticed that this seems to be a rather a Fancy gun with a bunch of engraving in It in the lock plate there and the Hammer and kind of everywhere else this One is actually this is not a military Pattern terry nor is it a standard Commercial terry this is in fact a gun That was embellished up because it was Presented to one HM Ridley of the fifty Second light infantry from these six Guys were presumably friends of his in October of 1867 unfortunately I don’t Know anything about who really actually Was he shows up ten or fifteen years After this as an officer as a captain in Two different units of the hussars he Shows up in the seventh and also in the Nineteenth s arse but I wasn’t able to Find any record of him as far back as 1867 these other guys are all guys who Are in the fifty second light infantry It looks like they were deployed to England and Ireland around this time Period they came back from India in I Wanted I think it was 1866 and then they Deployed out to Malta in 1868 so Unfortunately I don’t really have any

Idea what they were doing in the interim And how Riddley fit into it just for the Record if this was a British military Issue Terry aside from not having all of the Engraving it would be marked with a Crown and VR for Queen Victoria back Here and a date of manufacture up here On the lock plate not quite 20000 terry Carbines were manufactured all told Between 1860 and 1870 primarily and in 1870 the company went out of business Shut down and that was it for the terry I thing was people stopped buying them In large part because well as a capping Breech-loader this existed in this Relatively brief period of time when That was actually the dominant Technology better than muzzle loaders But as soon as the metallic Self-contained cartridge gets developed Things like this are pretty thoroughly Obsolete now some The competitors to the tairy guns like For example the sharps were able to make The transition to metallic cartridges Because they loaded just cleanly from The back of the action you could Actually modify you could adapt Something like a sharps to use metal Cartridges and keep keep manufacturing Them keep selling them the tairy however Because of this sort of interesting open Door

You know cartridge loading window system Really was not readily adaptable to the Metallic cartridge and as a result when The cartridge took over this was just Gone So pretty cool to get a chance to take a Look at this one and it’s a little a Presentation plaque I wish we knew more About who Ripley was there or Ridley was There different person than Ripley But if you’d like to know more about This you can check it out on rock Islands catalog page in their most Recent auction and you can also check Out the description text below to find Links to rock Islands Instagram page and Their YouTube channel where they have a Bunch of cool stuff you can also take a Look at thanks for watching


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