The Greene Carbine: Too Tricky for the Cavalry

James Greene patented this unusual breechloading carbine design in 1854, and arranged to have it manufactured by the Massachusetts Arms Company of Chicopee Falls. He managed to sell 300 of them to the US military, in .54 caliber and with 22 inch barrels. Field testing was done in 1857, although it was found that they were too awkward for use on horseback, and no further guns were purchased. However, a much larger order was placed by the British military, apparently with the intention of arming the Cape Mounted Rifles.

The guns ordered by the British, including the one in today’s video, had 18” barrels but were otherwise identical to the American guns. The Greene uses a locking system in which the barrel rotates 90 degrees to lock two large lugs into locking shoulders on the frame of the weapon. A paper or linen cartridge is used, and a tapered needle at the center of the breechblock penetrates the base of the cartridge when the action is closed. This needle channels the fire from the percussion cap (the Maynard tape priming system was licensed and built into the carbines) into the cartridge powder charge.

The British spent several years testing ammunition for their Greene carbines, but were unable to find a construction method which was light enough to be punctured by the firing needle but also sturdy enough for field use. But the early 1860s a superior Westley-Richards breechloader had been adopted, and the Greene carbines were put into storage in the Tower of London until eventually destroyed or sold – having never seen field use.

 

17 Comments

    • It seems a brass cartridge with a paper covered hole in the base, where a primer would normally be, would allow this gun to be used ‘as is’. Did a cartridge like that ever exist?

      • Same method of operation like in PzB M.SS.41 was also used in later Russian ОЦ-44 rifle: http://weaponland.ru/load/snajperskaja_vintovka_oc_44/88-1-0-393
        it is repeating rifle (magazine capacity: 8) for 12,7×108 cartridge, this weapon has suppressor, most silent firing is done with special sub-sonic cartridge, but it can also fire normal 12,7×108 cartridge – then sound is said to be similar to SVD (Dragunov rifle), it has suppressor of peculiar design which allow long barrel (not great length increase when installed vs not installed)

          • В-94 and its development ОСВ-96
            http://weaponland.ru/load/snajperskaja_vintovka_v_94/88-1-0-385
            http://weaponland.ru/load/snajperskaja_vintovka_osv_96/88-1-0-392
            are self-loading 12,7×108 sniper rifles, which shows another approach – rather than being short per se, they are two modes – combat and transport, in first overall lengths are 1700 mm and 1746 mm respectively, in combat mode – 1100 mm and 1154 mm, barrel lengths are respectively 1100 mm and 1000 mm, mass without cartridge 11,7 kg and 12,9 kg, both have capacity 5, sights are scaled up to 2000 m and 1800 m respectively, both rifles are free-floating barrels and can use various optical sights, both utilize gas-operation principle . Unlike some other design, when going into transport mode, barrel is folded rather than stock (see 2nd and 3rd image from top in first link)

          • Good looking rifles… but hold it – that sentence:
            На стволе установлен дульный тормоз, уменьшающий силу отдачи в 2,5 раза.
            …..means muzzle break reduces force of recoil impulse 2.5x ? I cannot believe it. Typically muzzle breaks yield 30-50% efficiency. More efficiency, more of back-blast. I would not want to shoot from it.

          • Are they in service, especially the B94? I think I have seen it before. They are called “sniper rifles”, good. But to shoot at personal target probably would not pay off, unless it is general. In common western terminology they would be “anti-material” rifles.

          • “Are they in service”
            В-94/ОСВ-96 – yes, see chapter Боевое применение В-94/ОСВ-96 here:
            https://voennoe-delo.com/osv-96.htm
            АСВК citing https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/АСВК
            В 2013 году крупнокалиберная снайперская винтовка АСВК была принята на вооружение вооружённых сил Российской Федерации под наименованием «12,7 миллиметровый снайперский комплекс 6C8»

            “In common western terminology”
            U.S. counterpart http://modernfirearms.net/en/sniper-rifles/large-caliber-rifles/u-s-a-large-caliber-rifles/barrett-m82-eng/ is said to belong Special Applications Scoped Rifle category.
            These Russian rifle are effects of project coded Vzlomshchik, which was about how to give sniper rifles possible of personal armor AND without losing accuracy.

          • “means muzzle break reduces force of recoil impulse 2.5x ? I cannot believe it. Typically muzzle breaks yield 30-50% efficiency. More efficiency, more of back-blast. I would not want to shoot from it.”
            Yes, it mean that. 2.5x mean that recoil is 2.5 times smaller than, let call, “original”, thus recoil is 1/2.5 = 0.4 = 40% of original, which would mean 60% efficiency. There exist some video of firing of ОСВ-96 for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtyzvXZV1P8
            it has amortizing stock beyond muzzle brake, but after all it is 12,7×108. Description of 12,7 СН cartridge (“sniper” version of 12,7×108 cartridge) can be found there: http://bratishka.ru/archiv/2003/10/2003_10_4.php

          • “I would not want to shoot from it.”
            Now I want to point one fragment of article I linked:
            очень сильный звук выстрела, что не только демаскирует оружие на местности, но и крайне негативно сказывается на самом стрелке, поскольку выстрел буквально “бьет по ушам”
            so main problem reported for ОСВ-96 is loud when fired

          • The OSV96 is impressive weapon; the visual recoil is not that bad. I’d say comparable with Barrett M82 rifle in 50BMG (which is recoil operated).
            I also watched following video where demonstrator shows folding feature. He says something in sense that any bigger caliber would be artillery (or Kornet ATGW which is flashed in the video).

      • Kind of similar approach isn’t it. They forgot about bolt 🙂
        You might be interested that in Czech military of time my service popular word for anti-tank weapon was “pe-zetka”. Was it remnant of panzer-buchse?

        • “Was it remnant of panzer-buchse?”
          It might be also from Pancéřovka 27 (though not z here, but it might be added) or if I understand this correctly https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancéřovka_vz._27
          Po 2. světové válce bylo v Československu ukořistěno velké množství německých protipancéřových zbraní, především typu Panzerfaust 60 a Panzerschreck.
          After 2nd World War was in Czechoslovakia captured great numbers of German AT weapons, mainly Panzerfaust 60 and Panzerschreck.
          Thus possibly Panzerschreck.

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