RIA: Warner Carbine

The Warner carbine was another of the weapons used in small numbers by the Union cavalry during the Civil War. It is a pivoting breechblock action built on a brass frame. These carbines were made in two batches, known as the Greene and Springfield. The first guns were chambered for a proprietary .50 Warner cartridge, which was replaced with .56 Spencer in the later versions (for compatibility with other cavalry arms).

This particular Warner shows some interesting modification to its breechblock, which has been converted to use either rimfire or centerfire ammunition. This was not an uncommon modification for .56 Spencer weapons, as the centerfire type of Spencer ammunition could be reloaded (unlike the rimfire cartridges). With this modification, the firing pin can be switched from rimfire to centerfire position fairly easily.


  1. Well, now isn’t that a nice, real-neat, clean, good looking brass framed cavalry carbine.
    Another excellent presentation from Ian.
    No question just the above comment.
    Thank you Ian.

  2. Thanks for posting this one, Ian. I’ve always thought that the Warner was one of the more interesting of the lesser-known Civil War carbines.

    Its resemblance to the later Snider breech action is notable. The Snider could be defined as a simplified and “product-improved” Warner.

    Using one in Spencer CF should get someone some points for authenticity in a Cowboy Action Shooting match. A modern reproduction chambered in any of a number of appropriate pistol-type cartridges (such as .45 Colt, .454 Casull, .480 Ruger, etc.) would be interesting in other ways, as well.



  3. Was there anything ever lost structurally with a brass framed firearm?
    I was always told by cartridge conversion cylinder makers to only use steel framed replicas.

    • If you’re firing it in a modern caliber then steel frames will take the pressure of modern propellants better, giving you more flexibility about what you fire. The brass frames were designed for black powder loads. Brass is softer than steel, simple fact. If you’re only firing equivalent loads to the ones the firearm was designed for, it shouldn’t be an issue. But as always, YMMV.

      • Using a chrome-moly steel frame and then brass-plating it would be the best of both worlds, IMHO.

        Although I would point out that Warner carbines came in both brass and iron-framed persuasions, so a steel frame with the “color case-hardening” surface treatment found on Colt revolvers of the period would be entirely authentic, as well, and actually quite attractive.

        Not to mention being less likely to spook the game in the hunting field.




  4. Another great video… but just one question – Flayderman indicates the first 1500 were marked Warner Springfield, and the 2nd Contract of 2500 was made by Greene at Worcester. It seems that in the video it’s presented as the reverse… unless I’m mistaken. Thanks and love all of these great videos… huge fan!

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