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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
..that .520 swaged roundballs work great in a Smith Carbine? Huh? Why did I have to figure that out for myself? ;)


Since I don't do my own casting I thought "why not try 'em" as a less expensive alternative to the cast .515 bulets. Mind you I only plink with the thing. I don't compete or reenact etc.
With the taller front sight I added I can hold on at 50 yards without 12" of underhold. First time out with a 25gr charge of 3f it held a 3" group on paper and clanged any steel we pointed at. Recovered slugs showed sharp rifling and a flat base.

BTW, I used both brass and plastic cases. I prefer the plastic even though they go in very snug with the .005 larger projectile. They give a much better gas seal and they extract easily once fired. Hardly any leakage if any compared to using bullets.
The brass cases were tougher to seat and swaged the ball but showed no difference in accuracy.

I doubt more serious shooters will appreciate it due to the ball being seated so deeply behind the rifling. For us casual shooters it turns out to be an easy alternative. Probably shouldn't have mentioned it until after I stocked up on more RB's eh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Clyde. The Smith might be moved from the occasional shooter safe over to the regular shooter safe now. I may have a spot for it in between a 45-70 and a 303 Brit.
 

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Shooting an Original Smith Carbine

Back around the time of the Spring (?) N-SSA Nationals of 1971 (?) I had learned that the association was going to be holding Team Carbine Matches with original and replica, cap fired, Civil War Carbines for the first time. Back in those days, I was a member of the Oglethorpe Light Infantry of Savannah, GA.

My mentor on the OLI was the founder of the unit, Col. Lindsey P. Henderson, Jr. (U.S. Army, Retired.) Lindsey had started collecting Civil War firearms, uniforms and memorabilia in Savannah back in the 1930's when he was still in High School, when a lot of original arms and items were available at very reasonable prices.

I called Lindsey and asked him if I could borrow a carbine from him to shoot in the Nationals. Lindsey said "Certainly" and then told me about an original Smith carbine of his that was on display in his museum on Factor's Walk in downtown Savannah. Lindsey had founded the museum as something of a "Retirement Project" ;and it contained much of his collection, displayed in the facility.

He told me that he would call the Docent at the museum and and tell him I would be dropping by to pick up the Smith. Now, when Lindsey told me that I was going to be borrowing his original Smith Carbine-I had no idea what the heck a Smith Carbine was.

Well, the next morning, around 10:00 A.m. I had my car loaded for the trip to the N-SSA Home Range near Winchester, VA and the last item on my "list" was to stop by the museum and pick up that Smith Carbine. When I arrived at the museum, I walked in and an elderly gentleman was sitting in a chair behind the museum's souvenir counter reading a newspaper.

I walked up to the counter and introduced myself. I told the old gentleman that I was there to pick up the Smith Carbine. The old man simply reached to a bottom shelf of the souvenir counter and than handed me a screwdriver.

I was somewhat mystified by the screwdriver, but the Docent told me that the Smith was in a glass case across the room-and pointed at the case. I walked over to the glass case and not only was the Smith Carbine I was there to borrow "under glass" but it was in the case with several other personal items of a young man that was staring back at me from out of a daguerreotype!

The young man in the photograph was wearing a Confederate uniform and sitting rather stiffly in a Victorian chair. According to one of the placards in the glass case, the Smith Carbine I was borrowing belonged to that Savannah cavalryman in the picture. I unfastened a few screws and carefully removed the carbine from out of the case. Then I fastened the glass lid back down and returned the screwdriver to the Docent.

When I got out to my car, I carefully wrapped the carbine in a thick wool blanket and gingerly placed the wrapped carbine on the back seat of my car, and headed North for Virginia. Fourteen or so hours later, I checked into my reserved motel room in Winchester. I was sure to bring the blanked wrapped carbine into the room with me. Under no circumstances did I want to chance losing Lindsey's carbine.

As the Carbine Team Matches were not until the following day, I went out to Fort Shenandoah and immediately hit Sutler's Row. From one vendor I purchased a hundred Smith carbines and from another a hundred cast Smith bullets. Then it was back to the motel to "Load Ammo" as I had brought a couple of case of DuPont FFFg up with me from Georgia.

In the motel room, I sat down at the desk and prepared to load Smith ammo. What load to use? I did not have the foggiest clue. Since the Smith cases had an open hole in the rear, I rammed a tiny piece of toilet tissue in the bottom of the cartridge case to prevent the powder from literally "Leaking out" of the bottom of the case. The powder charge I settled on-just enough to fill up most of the case so I could then thumb seat the bullet. For "Lube" I just used some water pump grease on the bullets.

The next day, I got to the Fort with plenty of time to spare before the Carbine Team Matches. I found a team that was short one shooter, so they were glad to have me. In effect they were getting a shooter with "unknown abilities" and since I had no earthly idea where that Carbine shot-I simply kept to myself. My thoughts were IF I couldn't anything with the Smith, after the match was over, I could slink off back into obscurity as far as they were concerned.

The 1st Event was 24 Clay Pigeons mounted on a 4 ' x 8' cardboard backer board on a target frame @ 50 Yards. When the horn blew to commence shooting (all N-SSA Team Matches are "Time Elimination Events," the faster you break all of your targets, the greater your chances of winning. All times are recorded with Stop Watches-so in some cases a quarter of a second can determine the difference between 1st and 2nd Place.)

As I was on the left side of my team's line, I picked the top left clay pigeon, aimed carefully and squeezed off a shot. I held on the very center of the clay and my bullet hole magically appeared in the backer board about three inches ABOVE the 12 O'Clock position of the face of the pigeon! (BAck then, I was young and had the eyesight of a healthy young buzzard) I quickly reloaded the Smith and held just a "Tad" below the 6 O'Clock position on the face of that very same clay and squeezed off a round. The clay blew apart!!! Suddenly, I was very happy because I was looking at a ragged hole in the cardboard backer board that a moment before had been behind the center of the clay.

I quickly reloaded, aimed and fired, and another clay pigeon blew up! I was overjoyed. I was loading and firing as fast as I could and miraculously the clays I aimed at blew up into a thousand bits!!! Suddenly, I developed an affecting for that Smith Carbine-shooting it was more "FUN" than a "Barrel of Monkeys." The next Event was the hanging, water-filled Styrofoam cups @ 50 Yards. The ones I aimed at exploded...matter of fact, the spray of water from one I blew up showed the colors of the rainbow for an instant because the sun was just right.

Now, don't get me wrong-I did miss a few targets, (including a couple in the 100 yard event) but that was my own fault. When I held the Smith right on-the target I aimed at was a "Goner." It was just that simple. Before I had even run through over one half of my Smith ammo supply, the Carbine Matches was over and I felt very, very good. One thing about shooting as a "Pick-Up Shooter" at a Skirmish and hitting a lot of targets: you make a bunch of GOOD FRIENDS very fast. Several team members came over and shook hands with me and I got some warm invitations to shoot with them again at the next Nationals.

I went back to the motel room, carefully cleaned and oiled Lindsey's Smith Carbine and put it away. The next morning I shot in the Musket Team Matches and decided to spend the night at the Fort rather than heading for Georgia that afternoon. I got up bright and early Monday morning and headed back home. Tuesday Morning I went into the Factor's Walk Museum to return the carbine to Lindsey and personally thank him for loaning it to me.

When I walked into the museum, Lindsey was working on an exhibit. He greeted me and as we shook hands I thanked him again for the use of the carbine and then commented to him: "You did a great job 'Sighting' this carbine in."

Lindsey looked at me with a puzzled look and his face and then said: "The last time this carbine was fired before you borrowed it, was probably during the Civil War." "I have owned it since the 1930's and I never have fired it." That bit of information was a big surprise to me. Lindsey continued: "The Smith Carbine spent decades in an old trunk in the attic of the home here in Savannah that was owned by the daughter of the man in the daguerreotype." Then Lindsey told me the whole story.

The owner of the Smith had been from Savannah and had been an officer in General J.E.B. Stuart's legendary Confederate Cavalry. In one of the battles outside of Richmond in 1864, he had been severely wounded and was sent to the main Confederate hospital in Richmond. A few days later, he died of his wounds. His personal possessions, including that Smith Carbine, had been placed in his trunk and the trunk with all of his personal possessions had been sent back to his family in Savannah.

At the time he died in Virginia, his little daughter was an only child in the family. She grew up never knowing her father. When her mother passed away, she inherited the family home in Savannah. When Lindsey met her in the 1930's she was an old lady and offered her father's trunk to Lindsey.She had never been married and had no family. She sold the trunk to Lindsey. She knew her time was coming soon and wanted Lindsey to have her father's possessions because she knew he would take care of them-which Lindsey did.

Lindsey commented: "Guess that the man in the daguerreotype 'Sighted In' his Smith Carbine for you." I looked at the cavalryman's picture and a chill went down my spine. From the picture, he seemed to be staring right at me. After all, I had borrowed and shot his carbine.

So often, we pick up an old gun and comment: "Only IF this gun could talk and tell us its history." With that Smith Carbine, I knew its history. Obviously it had been captured from a Yankee Cavalryman and used by the the young man from Savannah.

Since then, I have owned at least one original Smith Carbine and 3 or 4 replica Smith Carbines including both Yeck and Pietta replica Smiths. For a design that has a two piece stock and a SPLIT receiver, Smiths (both replica and original) can be "Tuned Up" to shoot amazingly well in N-SSA Skirmish Competition. As a friend, that has won a wheelbarrow full of shooting medals with his Smith in N-SSA competition says: "Theoretically, Smiths should be lousy shooters-but with a little TLC in the gun smithing department and some load development-they can be real Tack Drivers."

Some Smith shooters that shoot Right Handed put a welding glove on their left hand and support their Smith by resting the trigger guard on their left hand. They think that IF one holds the fore stock, that will degrade accuracy. Some other "Smith Tricks:" IF your Smith is "Sighted In" for 50 yards and then you place a dime on the rear sight base and then lay the ladder down on the dime-that will elevate the ladder sight enough to put your carbine "Dead On" at 100 yards. (It works for others, but not for me!)

Some Smith shooters claim that the most "Accurate" Smith loads are in the 20-25 grain range of black powder. They dump in their measured amount of FFg or FFFg in the case and then use a "Cream of Wheat" filler or IF from the SOUTH, use a GRITS FILLER! Another Smith shooter I know that is a machinist got on his lathe and made up a set of "Smith Loading Dies" that he uses in his Lyman "C" Press. He claims that way he can precisely seat his bullets in his Smith's cases!

You can extend the life of your neoprene plastic Smith cases by inserting a metal grommet in the flash hole in the case. One of the problems with the neoprene cases is that after some use, the flash hole in the case tends to enlarge. I think Lodgewood Manufacturing sells a "Grommet Kit" you can use to extend the life of your plastic Smith cases by installing a grommet in the flash hole.

Regardless of how carefully you inspect your Smith cases, the day will come when you load up your Smith with a cartridge case that has been reloaded "one time too many." When you aim and shoot, a mighty puff of black powder smoke will erupt from the receiver joint that joins the front and rear part of your Smith receiver together. Your bullet will go about Half as far as it normally would.

When you open your Smith, you will find a ruptured plastic case-throw it away, the case if beyond repair or salvation. It is a "Goner."

Anyway, have FUN, FUN, FUN with your Smith Carbine....they are more FUN to Shoot than playing with a Barrel of Monkeys!!!

If you have any other questions about shooting your Smith, go to the N-SSA website and then to the "Civil War Small Arms" page for shooting advice.

www.n-ssa.org/


NOW, GO OUT AND HAVE SOME FUN WITH YOUR SMITH!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What a story. I only wish some of my originals could "speak" to me like that. I have a couple where the markings tell where it has been but nothing at all about an individual. Thanks for sharing that.

I'll need to get a lot more cases then. If one lets loose then I'll scrap the rest of the batch after shooting since they will have been fired an equal amount of time. I just hope they don't all decide to let go on the same day. That would make for a lousy afternoon.
 

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Some of the Sutlers that handle Smith Cases are: Lodgewood Manufacturing, S & S Firearms on Myrtle Avenue in Glendaly, N.Y., and The Winchester Sutler. You can Google up their websites.

Try the "Grommet Flash Hole Liner Trick," as it will definitely extend the accuracy life of your Smith Cases.

Personally, I think if more people knew how much FUN Smiths are to shoot, Pietta would sell a heck of a lot more replica Smiths.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You piqued my curiosity so I googled the grommet hole thing using a variety of search keywords. No joy. Only references to powder spillage which isn't a problem for me. Is this "trick" something that's used by reeenactors and passed along at events?I found a single mention of a rivet reinforced flashole on an old thread somewhere, but nothing in particular.

Thinking the plastic cases are so inexpensive to begin with, and given my shooting habits, it's probably not really worth the additional cost and effort on my part.
Doesn't mean I don't want to know what the "trick" is. I like to putz so if it's cheap enough...I'm there! ;)
 

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Smith Tubes

I checked the website of Lodgewood Mfg:

http://www.lodgewood.com

He is only listing plastic Smith Tubes @ $34.00 per hundred and not the ones with the Grommet Lined Flash Holes.

I purchased about 200 Smith Cartridge Tubes that had the Grommet Lined Flash Hole on Sutler's Row at the Nationals at Fort Shenandoah about 5 years ago, but cannot recall which Sutler it was. (I kinda thought it might have been Lodgewood-but it wasn't.)

The "Trick" of the Smith Tubes with the Grommet Lined Flash Holes is that the hole does not erode, allowing the cartridge case to be reloaded many more times than just a regular plastic Smith Tube.

Back during the Civil War the original Smith Cartridge tubes were made out of India Rubber. An Ordnance contractor came up with a Smith Cartridge that was a "one time use" cartridge that had a cartridge case made out of cardboard and tin foil.

Apparently, that greedy contractor was "Ripping Off Uncle Sam." Thank Goodness Uncle Sam hasn't been ripped off by greedy contractors since the Civil War!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have all those dealers you listed already in my bookmarks along with a several others. Didn't take me long to check their sites first before going to the google machine.

If you picked them up at an event, then it could be that's the only market where they're being offered. Limited production for a select client base.
 

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A few years ago I made up a bunch of powder tubes for a friend who has since left AZ - Simply a length of soda pop straw from the Quickie-mart. I fit & glued in a piece of dowel on the bottom end, then just tapered down a piece of dowel as a plug for the other end. Nice thing about the plastic straw tubes is that they are of small enough to pour easily & cleanly for use with Colt revolvers where it's a PITA to remove the cylinder.

Fast forward to this very minute: surveying all the crap lying about all over the desktop here in my Computer Bunker, I noticed that a simple .308 shell will work just as well as the straw & only needs a friction-fit plug at the pour end. It will easily hold more than the usual 25 Gr. black powder I use for most of my cap & ball revolvers.
 
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