Black Powder Notes - May 2001

New Romano Guns

by Joseph G. Bilby

As an increasing variety of custom and factory made reproduction Civil War era arms appear on the market, the present becomes more and more of a golden age for the Civil War era shooter. Some of these guns can be downright esoteric, and none more so in my book than Larry Romano’s recent recreation of the so-called Maynard/Perry Confederate carbine.

Larry’s Spencer and Maynard rifles and carbines are well known and prized by those in the Civil War shooting community lucky enough to own them. One of the great regrets of my shooting career (such as it is) was shipping back the First Model Maynard Larry loaned me for testing, and which I reviewed in these pages some time back. At the North-South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) 2000 Fall National, however, Larry personally delivered my new Second Model Maynard, which has, in its initial tests, proved every bit as accurate as its predecessor.

Although a superior carbine, which could be fired at a rate of twelve rounds a minute, wartime Maynard production was hindered by a factory fire and did not resume until 1864 when shipments of the .50 caliber Second Model, with its simpler sights, began. Over 20,000 original Second Model Maynards were delivered to the US Government between June 1864 and May 1865.

When he appeared, Second Model Maynard in hand, at the 69th New York’s campground, Larry was also carrying a prototype brass-framed Maynard/Perry reproduction. The original Maynard/Perry was so named because it superficially resembles a Maynard, with a similar trigger guard actuated breech opening, centrally hung hammer, lack of a forestock and “perch belly” forestock. Unlike the Maynard, however, the carbine’s lever does not raise the barrel for loading, but, like the Perry, tilts a sliding breechblock up for loading.

The Maynard /Perry was a Confederate carbine with a very low production rate. Keen, Walker & Company of Danville, VA made the originals for the Confederacy in the summer of 1862, and the total number of these guns made is estimated at less than 300. They are extremely rare on the modern collector market.

In 1860-1861, prior to the outbreak of hostilities, various Southern states bought almost the whole supply of Maynards in existence. The Maynard was very popular in Confederate service as both a cavalry arm and a sharpshooter weapon, partly explaining, perhaps, the design and production of the Maynard/Perry.

Why the gun used a Perry style breech is less clear. Although it had some degree of popularity as a sporting arm prior to the Civil War, the Newark, New Jersey made Perry’s military career was very limited in US service. In 1855, the Federal government bought 200 Perrys for Naval and cavalry trials, but did not follow up with larger orders. Surviving specimens are as rare as their Confederate hybrid namesakes.

As we have grown to expect from Larry’s shop, his Maynard/Perry, AKA Keen/Walker is superbly machined and finished. The action, with its sliding gas seal breech, is a fascinating piece of technical ingenuity, and the gun drew a good deal of attention and more than a few “oohs and aahs” at the 69th New York Pavilion when we laid it out for some photos.

As of this date, Larry does not plan a production model of the Maynard/Perry, but I have it on good authority that a number of people who saw the prototype at the Nationals are prodding him to at least make a limited run of these guns. If you’re interested in something really exotic to shoot in the black powder line and consider yourself persuasive, get in touch with Larry at Romano Rifle Company. (551 Stewart's Corners Road, Pennellville, NY 13132. Tel: 315-695-2066).

© 2001 by Joe Bilby

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