This is an example of one of less than 300 total First Model Burnside carbines manufactured by Bristol Firearms Co. circa 1857-58. A reported 200 First Models were purchased by the U.S. government, with most issued to the 1st U.S. Cavalry at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in January 1858 and carried on various expeditions. This example is marked with sub-inspector initials "ADK" (Andrew D. King, the K is faint) on the left of the barrel at the breech. A tape primer device located inside the frame is actuated by a breechblock release lever mounted on the right side of the frame (currently not working properly); unique to the First Model Burnside carbines, with subsequent models absent both the primer system and this style of lever. According to "The Burnside Breech Loading Carbines" by Edward A. Hull pg. 15-17, "...on April 21, 1856, Col. [Henry] Craig [Chief of Ordnance] ordered 200 carbines of Burnside for field trials... By the terms of this first Army order for carbines [Ambrose] Burnside was to provide carbines of .54 caliber having a barrel 22 inches long and weighing less than seven pounds overall. The carbines were required to have a swivel bar with ring for cavalry use. In a change to the design, Col. Craig required that the carbine be configured to use Maynard's tape primer…This requirement presented Burnside and Foster [Burnside's partner and head gunsmith] with the problem of developing a primer feed mechanism which would work reliably, could be readily manufactured and avoided infringing on Dr. Maynard's lock patent (to avoid paying royalties)." Like the second model after it, it correctly lacks a forend. Blade front and flip up ladder rear sight. Matching numbers are on the frame, breechblock, and underside of the barrel. The stock is fitted with an unmarked German silver oval plaque on the left of the stock and a brass trapdoor buttplate. "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. Provenance: The George Moller Collection
Good, exhibiting genuine use with a mottled brown patina on the barrel, some dings, gray patina on the frame with scattered moderate pitting. A repair is visible on the forward portion of the lever. The stock is also good with period wear, some light scratches, scattered handling marks, a small crack at the toe, and numerous light chips around the lock. Mechanically excellent. These early First Model Burnside carbines are one of the most highly sought after U.S. arms and very rarely turn up in any condition, with only a handful known to still exist!
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