.56-56 Spencer Rimfire

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

.56-56 Spencer Rimfire

Christopher Miner Spencer was the inventor of the Spencer Repeating Rifle. He also invented a steam powered horseless carriage and the first fully automatic turret lathe. He learned his arms making skills while working at Samuel Colt’s factory in Hartford Connecticut.

Developed in 1859 and patented on March 6th, 1860 the Spencer rifle was not initially used by the Union. On August 17th, 1863 Spencer walked into the White house, past Abraham Lincoln’s sentries, and into his office. The next day Lincoln, the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, along with other officials walked out to the Mall and began target shooting. Subsequently, Spencer received an order for 13,171 rifles and carbine along with 58 million rounds of ammunition. Wartime production of the Spencer rifles and carbines was close to 100,000 and General Ulysses Grant called it “the best breech-loading arms available”.

The Spencer rifle first appeared at the battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam) fought on September 17th, 1862. Two of units, serving under Custer, used the Spencer Carbine during the Battle of Gettysburg fought on July 1st – 3rd, 1863. After the war many veterans took their Spencer’s with them and it saw widespread use on the western frontier.

The Spencer has unique nomenclature as cartridges of the era indicate the caliber and charge weight, such as the .45-70. The Spencer’s first 56 indicates the diameter of the case at the base and the second 56 is the diameter of the case mouth. It is more than adequate for taking medium size game at up to 500 yards. It is capable of propelling a .550” dia. 350 grain bullet at 1,200 fps with 1,119 ft.-lbs. of energy at the muzzle.

The .56-56 Spencer is a rimfire cartridge. RCC has manufactured a reloadable rimfire by creating a primer pocket that is offset to the edge of the rim of the cartridge and a webbing to give it the ability to be reloaded. It is designed to accommodate a .22 blank as the primer and must be indexed to the firing pin to use.

Roberson Cartridge Company is a custom manufacture of Vintage, Obsolete, Hard to Find and Wildcat calibers.

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