New Spencer Carbine, Work Skirmishes, New Lead Regulations Proposed & 100th National Skirmish

Hard to believe that the 100th National Skirmish is fast upon us, but it's right around the next bend in the seasons. The 100th is a cause for celebration and rejoicing, particularly in the current environment of "gun control" proposals from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. I remember traveling with the Boy Scouts out to Ft. Meade, between Washington and Baltimore, and watching an early, pre-Ft. Shenandoah Skirmish. We have come a long way baby.

The 100th National Skirmish is a milestone event, coming on the cusp of a new millennium the way it is and all, and I'm looking forward to enjoying three or four days of top notch skirmishing.

The "Grand Review" is scheduled for Saturday morning, and by the time you read this in late August, registration will be closed, or very close to it. All three or four of the guys who read this column should plan to be there to witness this celebratory walk, and I know that the N-SSA is hoping lots of teams will participate.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed just this week (Aug 4) that anyone who handles more than 10 pounds of lead at a time should be required to register/notify the EPA. The EPA gets to propose stuff like this without Congressional review, and they always publish these stinky proposals that could cause the most stir when Congress is heading out of town for a month long recess. When printed out from the website, I understand that these proposed regs are 40 some pages long, but we all know what a severe restriction on the purchase and possession of lead would do to our sport. I plan to contact my Congressman to suggest that Congress exercise their oversight capability of EPA regulations and perhaps hold hearings to determine how the 10 pound limit was reached and if it is feasible. I suggest you do the same, so that when Congress returns in September, your request is on their desk(s). I have always purchased lead in three digit quantities, so a 10 pound limit would mean a whole lot of trips to my scrap yard for this ol' shooter. Hopefully, the r egulations as drafted and published in the Federal Register will be amended before implementation. But, not if you sit on your duff and don't speak out.
O.K., now some good news for all skirmishers, reenactors and even cowboy shooters. Taylor's & Co. will be merchandising the Model 1865 Spencer Carbine starting this fall. The Carbine is being produced in Italy by Armi Sport, using the best modern techniques, including machining the block from a billet of solid steel. The fame and lore of the Spencer are legend, and if memory serves me correctly, ol' Abe Lincoln even test-fired a Spencer on the White House lawn and gave it his own endorsement! Man, it was a different White House back then, I reckon. Prototypes are due in around Labor Day, and the Spencer is listed in the brand new Taylor's catalog available from Taylor's & Co., 304 Lenoir Dr, Winchester, VA 22603 (540-722-2017)(

Three calibers are planned for production, including versions in 56-50, .44 Russian and .45 Scofield(.45 S&W). For skirmishing the 56-50 sounds just about right, but I know a lot of cowboy shooters who will want the Russian and Scofield models.

All versions of the carbine will come with 20 inch barrels with 6 groove rifling and an overall length of 37 inches. Military swivels will also appear on all three versions, which will feature case hardened metal parts and an American walnut stock and forearm.

I couldn't nail down a firm price in time for my deadline, but scuttlebutt is that the Spencer will sell for less than $1,000. This put's it in the Henry repro range, and a lot of skirmishers are going to have a hard time picking between those two repeaters. I know I can't wait to see one, and at that price, it is going to be hard not to own one as well.

A prototype is scheduled for delivery to the next session of the N-SSA Arms Approval Committee, which unfortunately will not meet for new approvals until January 2000. I would be surprised if it were not approved, particularly since the 56-50 caliber is the military caliber from the later years of the War of Northern Aggression. Look for a prototype to be somewhere around the Sutler area at the Fall National, and on the shelf of many sutlers by the next Spring National. I'm sure Joe or I will sniff one out and get a snapshot, so keep your eyes peeled to our Fall Skirmish reports.

As an aside, I must say that Taylor's & Co. has been a leader in providing acceptable alternative arms for reenactors and skirmishers alike. They provide the .69 Musket in smoothbore and rifle, and now the Spencer Carbine. When I started corresponding with you, there were two basic Muskets available - Springfield and Enfield. The demand for realistic, safe and historic arms has been recognized by many dealers, and we have so many more choices now than just the two "fields". I encourage reenactors and skirmishers alike to continue to demand choices. Someone is listening out there.

I want to commend all the skirmishers who showed up for the two Work Skirmishes conducted by the N-SSA this summer in preparation for the 100th National Skirmish. I am providing some pictures of workers in action, but I have not named anyone (which my editor abhors) because I don't want to leave anybody out. If you made it up for one of the work skirmishes, I salute you. These events never fail to bring out the best skirmishers, and it is the one skirmish where y'all deserve a medal. Things got painted and fixed and repaired and all gussied up because the men and women of the N-SSA are decent, hard working folks. On behalf of all the skirmishers and visitors who will enjoy your efforts, "thanks."

Are you ready for the 100th National Skirmish? I will be, and I hope to see you there with a smile on your face. Until then, please promote responsible gun ownership, shoot safe, and have fun.

1999 by Tom Kelley

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