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

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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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