Austrian 1842 (or '51?) Carbine

kotkinjs1

Private
Joined
May 25, 2017
Just picked up a neat little - really little - Austrian cavalry carbine. I've seen them named the 1842 or 1851. I'm not sure what the differences are. Also the ‘Kammer-Karabiner.’ Anyway, I can't believe how small and light this is compared to all other US CW carbines I've handled. As I understand the Union imported about 10,000 of these. This one seems to have escaped the 'aftermarket' ramrod installation that was done by the importers or US depots, or both. I think it has the Belgian style percussion conversion from the original tube lock. Sadly it's missing the saddle ring.

The odd thing is its complete lack of a rear sight. Every other one I've seen photos of all have the big Potsdam musket style ramp at the rear of the breach that seems integral to the tang. Maybe it was shaved off during the conversion process if it was too close to the nipple lump? Has anyone else ever seen one of these without a rear sight?

It's got few markings - standard Austrian Imperial eagle on the lock (but no date oddly?), and on the bottom of the butt is an LF that's very neatly stamped. Makes me think it was a maker's mark. A few numbers near the woodline of the barrel and on the barrel band there's a series of numbers preceded by an A maybe? It's very worn. It ends with a cross in a circle. That's not like any unit marking I've ever seen on Prussian or Austrian arms but I don't think they serial numbered these. It's strange to me.

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kotkinjs1

Private
Joined
May 25, 2017
Took it apart to apply BLO and lightly clean up the inside of the lock, etc. It turns out those numbers on the barrel band are some kind of assembly numbers. The same numbers/symbols show up on the inside of all the metal parts - trigger guard, sling rail, barrel under the woodline, inside the lock on all the parts. Mystery solved I guess. Would still like to hear if anyone knows what LF signifies and if anyone has ever seen one of these without the rear sight.

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Don Dixon

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Location
Fairfax, VA, USA
In 1851 Austrian Kaiser Franz Josef approved the production of two cavalry carbines; one rifled and one smoothbore. You have the rifled Muster 1851 Kammerkarabiner. Only the rifled version was imported during the Civil War, with 10,000 Kammerkarabiner being purchased in Europe by Colonel George Schuyler for the Federal Army's cavalry in late 1861. They were transformed from System Augustin tubelock to percussion using two transformation techniques. You have the "lump-of-iron" version originally developed by the Piedmontese Army in the early 1850s. The transformation work was probably performed in Liege, Belgium, however. The Austrian Army manufactured Kammerkarabiner with an enblock rear sight on the tang. But, it is fairly common to find one with the sight ground or filed off. I'm not sure why. In some cases the "lump-of-iron" is so large that it partially blocks the sight line and that may be why the sight was removed on those guns. The lock should be marked with a 851 to 855 date code. No one that I know of, including the Austrian Army Museum in Vienna, has a crib sheet for the manufacturing, assembly, and inspection marks on the System Austrian and System Lorenz guns. The "LF" mark on the stock may be the mark of Laurenz Florianschutz, one of the Austrian Army's arms contractors. If the carbine was contractor manufactured the contractor's name or mark should also be found on the top of the barrel forward of the Kammer breech section. Your carbine is missing the two sling rings which should be found on the sling bar on the left side of the weapon. In Austrian service the ramrod for the carbine was carried on two loops on the trooper's cartridge box strap and secured with a leather lanyard. The stocks for some significant, but unknown, number of the imported Kammerkarabiner were drilled for carriage of the ramrod under the barrel. Yours is one that was not.

You have an interesting piece which was a failure in service in the Federal Army. The Ordnance Office stupidly issued American standard ammunition for them rather than using the Austrian ammunition types for which the carbines had been designed.

Some unknown number of the carbines were also in Confederate service. The only ones who's provenance is documented, however, are 500 which were captured aboard the blockade runner Nikolai I.

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

Lanyard Puller

Sergeant
Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Location
South Carolina
Don Dixon posted a very detailed and informative reply while I was sorting out my photos. Sorry for the duplication of info:

You're well on the track to have 100% of it all ID'ed.
Using the highly recommended book; European Arms in the Civil War; Schwalm &Hofmann to keep me out of trouble here's a bit more information and some photos of some CSA purchased carbines.
**The "LF" is probably Laurenz Florianschutz, a Vienna furnisher of Austrian arms. S&H. page 91.
**10,000 were purchased by George Schuler {New York} in late 1861.

The following photos are some from the other side. CS items which made it through the blockade. The McRae papers offer no help in separating "carbines" into countries of origin. All were marked by Isaac Curtis, a Sinclair & Hamilton employee, who held many different contracts for the CS buyers. Mr. Curtis most likely had a team of inspectors in his employment, as stamping the thousands of different arms for the CSA would have taken years to complete.

NC obviously got carbines.
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IC
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As issued there was no provision for ram rods, which were worn around the neck on a lanyard. This alteration solved the lost ram rod problem.
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As you can see from the photos, the CS examples are usually found in poor condition, but are very rarely seen any more for sale.
 
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