“5th Model” Burnside Civil War Carbine



“5th Model” Burnside Civil War Carbine – This unique Civil War era carbine, and its various models, were initially manufactured by Bristol Firearms Company and later by its successor, the Burnside Rifle Company, during the pre-war and war period, from1857 to 1865. This .54 cal. breech loading carbine is of abiding interest because of the identity of its original designer, Ambrose Burnside, a later well known general in the Union army, during the Civil War. Once the treasurer of Bristol Firearms, Burnside resigned his position when personal financial issues plagued him, in June of 1859. The Burnside weapons fired a rather unique cartridge of tapered or cone-like copper or brass. There were several models of this carbine manufactured; this example, referred to as the “5th Model”, although this term is not a period term, as it is actually a refined version of the “4th Model” – this so-called “5th Model” exhibited some minor improvements over previous models, most notably the addition of a guide screw on the right side of the receiver; this screw facilitated the loading action of the weapon. This particular model of the Burnside carbine was the predominant model sold to the U.S. government during the Civil War, from 1863 to 1865; approximately 43,000 were manufactured. The serial number of this example is – 17714 – there are two of these matching serial numbers that appear on the carbine’s loading block and breech block; the number is indicative of a mid-war issue. Stamped markings on the gun are as follows:

  • breech block – “BURNSIDE PATENT / MARCH 25TH 1856”
  • barrel legend – “CAST STEEL 1862”
  • lock plate – “BURNSIDE RIFLE C / PROVIDENCE = R.I.”

Overall, this is a very good example of a war period Burnside, in very good condition; it is mechanically sound, with a decent bore.