The Volcanic Carbine

by Fred Ray on July 31, 2011 · 1 comment

I mentioned Volcanic arms in an earlier post about Smith & Wesson. Although probably not many were used in the war, the Volcanic is very important in firearms history. Take a look at this Volcanic carbine—it’s the same basic design as the Henry and the later Winchesters.

Loaded with the anemic .41 cal. “rocket ball”, the Volcanic carbine just lacked the power to be a practical alternative to the muzzle loaders of the day. This changed radically, however, when shop foreman B. Tyler Henry modified the action to accept a .44 caliber metallic cartridge, transforming it into the Henry rifle we know from the Civil War. Just to keep things in perspective, tho, the .44 black powder round would be considered inadequate today, having roughly the same power as the modern .44 Special pistol round. Back in the day construction and metallurgy were just not there to make a repeating action as powerful as a single shot rifle, and it would take nearly fifty years before that really changed.

Some other Volcanics are up on the block as well, including a .41 caliber Navy pistol.

And…a real Volcanic Rocket Ball! As you can see, it looked much like a Miniè ball with the cavity packed with powder and a primer. It came with a cork fitting to keep the nose of one round from touching the primer of the one in front of it.

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