Calisher & Terry Carbines

We are based in New Zealand (NZ) and compiling a register of Calisher & Terry (C&T) Carbines (and rifles). This is now turning into a World Database because of the interest from Australia, the USA and UK.

We are seeking the Serial Number engraved on the trigger guard tang, marks on the butt tang and wooden butt, also the marks on the lock plate, plus any provenance. We would also appreciate images of lock plates and left and right sides of the complete carbine or rifle.

So far we haven’t been able to locate any C&T Factory production details / dates, hopefully this will come. We assume C&T made the Carbines from 1858 to 1869.

When the NZ Colonial Government was faced with War in 1860 and later adopted a self reliant policy on the 1st Jan 1865 there were very few arms available to buy. It purchased a few from the NSW and Victorian Colonial Governments / Police and placed further orders with C&T and other(?) Birmingham gunmakers to supply Terry carbines which came to NZ in small quantities from 1861(?), the bulk of the NZ Terry carbines coming into NZ in 1863 / 66. The NZ Colonial Government encouraged the Military, Settlers, Militia etc from 1860 to buy their own arms and although I have no proof presently, probably 3-4,000 Terry carbines were in use in NZ by 1869. The NZ Government had 1736 on issue or in store in August 1869. This does not include Terry Carbines owned privately or owned by the Provincial Governments.

We are also researching in the US to locate Terry Carbines used by both sides(?) in the Civil War.

In the Terry register there are a group of very low serial numbers. We believe these were made by other Birmingham Gunmakers to help C&T fill the NZ orders. The lock plates are either not marked or have a crown or another makers name, but there is discussion going on in NZ about these – probably made in 1863 / 66 but no proof yet.

Terry Carbines were in use by the NZ Colonial Defence Force (NZ Forest Rangers) from July 1863 but there were two listed in the NZ Colonial Government returns as on issue or in store in August 1861, probably procured from NSW or from private Australian or New Zealand Arms Dealers.

Hopefully with everyone around the world providing information we will be able to put together a comprehensive register for everyone to benefit from.

Any information you are able to provide would be much appreciated. If you can assist with this project, please contact: John Osborne



Calisher & Terry ~ A Brief Review

by J Stan Robinson

Top: Terry Rifle, 33” Barrel with bayonet bar on barrel.
Lower: Terry Carbine, 21” barrel with sling swivels for foot use.

The basic patent Terry design resulted in its acceptance and War Office approval on 13th. November 1860, for an arm to issue to cavalry, and was a distinct departure from his previous submission. Its calibre was .539 (30 bore) with a barrel length of 21 inches from nipple to muzzle, with five groove rifling, making one turn in 36 inches. Its overall length was 3 feet 1.5 inches with the barrel being retained to the stock by an action screw, barrel band and a flat wedge. An overall weight of 6 pounds 4 ounces is recorded for this arm. A side bar and sliding ring of standard cavalry pattern was fitted to the left hand side of the stock replacing the side cups. A ladder back sight, designed by Colonel Dixon, and graduated to 500 yards, replaced the previous pattern of hinged wings. Though unconfirmed, it is accepted that a 1,000 stand of arms was ordered, giving the company a bulk order to promote volume production.

On issue to the 18th Hussars (cavalry) in 1861, they were kept on station in England until 1864 when they were returned to Pimlico for refurbishment, before being shipped to South Africa for issue to the Cape Mounted Rifles, who retained them until disbandment in 1870. A second model (if such it can be called) is identified mainly by the replacement of the front band and swivel, by a band without swivel, to eliminate damage to the leather carbine bucket. Cavalry usage dispensed with the use of the sling as they relied upon the ring of the saddle bar to retain the arm. All of these carbines were marked on the lock plate with a crown V R and date of 1860 or 1861. There is no indication that the War Office ever considered purchasing or issuing this arm in rifle form. It was superseded by the rapid advance of cartridge technology, and is not known to have been converted to the use of the metallic cartridge.

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