Although it was not introduced until 1862 and was used in limited numbers until 1863, it was so popular that 94,196 were eventually provided. The -52 calibre cartridge was rim-fire copper case, seven rounds being held in a tubular magazine held in the butt-stock, one in the chamber. The magazine was loaded into the butt through the butt-plate, the cartridges being fed into the breech by a coiled spring. The Spencer could also be fired as a single-shot carbine. Depressing and raising the trigger guard dropped the breech block, extracted the empty case, and moved a fresh cartridge into the chamber. The carbine had a 22-inch barrel, 39 inches overall. Only the barrel was blued, all other metal parts being case hardened. Rate of fire was ten rounds per minute. Sighted to 1,000 yards, effective range was 400 yards, battle range 2-300 yards, 6-inch group at 100 yards. Reloading rate using pre-loaded tubes was 10-12 seconds.
General George Armstrong Custer's Michigan Brigade, consisting of 1st, 5th, 6th and 7th Michigan Cavalry, drew 2,200 of the first Spencer carbines issued and soon became the backbone of Sheridan's cavalry. General James H. Wilson's force of 13,000 troopers, who raided so successfully deep into the South, were mainly armed with Spencers, to great effect.
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