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Featured: GUNS & AMMO  July 1998 

Author: Phil Spangenberger (pictured left) 

Title: GunSmoke/Repeat Seven Times: The Spencer is Back!

  A Legendary Civil War Veteran Gets a Full-Dress Resurrection as an Eminently Shootable Centerfire.

Pages: #91 - #92   
.....Now, however, a fully functional, authentically detailed reproduction of the M1860 or M1865 Spencer–in either military carbine, rifle or custom sporting form–is being produced by the L.Romano Rifle Co. of Pennellville, New York. Based on the sample Model 1860 cavalry carbine that was sent to me for evaluation, I’d say that Larry Romano, owner and operator of the firm, has done an excellent job.

     In comparing Romano’s replica to an original M1860 Spencer in my collection, I found the full scale custom reproduction to be the spittin’ image of my Civil War-vintage carbine–except that the Romano version looks to be in brand-spanking-new condition! The action, bolt and bolt carrier are fully machined, and with the exception of the Douglas Premium Grade, 22-inch blued steel barrel, all metal parts are of beautiful, old-time color case-hardened steel. Straight-grained American walnut is employed for the stock and fore-end. Although the Romano repro uses the original six-land-and-groove-type rifling, this 1990's Spencer is chambered for a .56-50 centerfire cartridge–making reloadable ammo a viable proposition. Outfitted with the small supply of cartridges provided, I gave the Spencer a brief run-through at the range. Incidentally, the specially loaded ammo carried a charge of 35 grains of FFg black powder, Romano’s 310-grain cast-lead, flatnosed bullet, large rifle primer and moved out of the barrel at about 939 fps–about what you’d expect of this arm. For my evaluation, I was accompanied by longtime friend and fellow Civil War buff Bill Paul, who would never have forgiven me if I hadn’t invited him. To add authenticity to the photos, Bill wore his Union cavalry uniform–complete with a Spencer-style Blakeslee cartridge box he’d made up.

       Due to the shortage of ammo, we were only able to fire a couple of serious groups at the 50-yard target to get a feel for the Spencer’s abilities. However, the carbine revealed excellent accuracy at that range. As a matter of fact, the very first three-shot group measured just 1 5/16 inches in the black. Overall, our shooting suggested the carbine could average groupings of around two inches at the range. During some plinking, both Bill and I were impressed at the Spencer’s handling and accuracy potential. Loading through the buttstock by inserting the spring-loaded tube, levering, cocking and ejecting were all accomplished smoothly, illustrating why the Spencer enjoyed such popularity with the horse soldiers of yesteryear.

       Due to the carbine’s nine-pound, three ounce weight, recoil is hardly noticeable. The gun’s original-type sights (German silver, pinned-blade front and folding leaf with shallow V-notch rear) provided a reasonable view downrange, and the trigger breaks crisply and comfortably. Admittedly, thumbing the hammer to half-cock position, then levering a round into place, then pulling the hammer to full-cock position is a slower process than cycling the Spencer’s chief rival of the time–the Henry lever action. But as far as we were concerned, the cocking of the hammer and other steps in operating the Spencer added to the enjoyment of firing this legendary cavalry arm.

       Romano’s custom-produced reproductions are a bit pricey, but the first class workmanship and finish make each one worth every penny. Prices run $2,700 for the cavalry carbine, $3,150 for the infantry rifle and $3,000-plus for the sporting rifles built to your specifications (which can include engraving, special barrels, etc.).

       Because of BATF rulings, the Spencer .56-50 chambered replica is classed as a curio, so an FFL is not required and your rifle can be shipped directly to you. If you have been hankering for a shootable Spencer, Romano’s custom reproduction is well worth a look. It’s one Yankee repeater this Rebel gunner would like to capture. For ordering or more information, contact the L.Romano Rifle Co., Dept. GA, 551 Stewarts Corners Road, Pennellville, NY 13132; (315) 695-2066.  

  Article: 1998 Civil War News

Author: Joseph Bilby (pictured to right) 

  Title: Romano’s First Model Maynard - a Sharpshooter’s Carbine

Re: Romano’s 1st Model Maynard
 ....  there have been reproductions of Second Model Maynards over the years since the N-SSA instituted competitive carbine shooting. Until now, however, there has never been a new First Model. Larry Romano (Romano Rifle Company, 551 Stewarts Corners Road, Pennellville, NY 13132. Tel: 315-695-2066), who brought the Spencer rifle and carbine back to life with splendid semi-custom reproductions, has turned his attention to the Maynard, however, and is making First and Second Model guns, both of which are N-SSA approved for carbine competition. Actually, Romano’s guns look so good that I hesitate to use the term “reproduction,” with its assembly line connotations, when writing about them.

       Larry was generous enough to loan me a copy of his First Model in .50 caliber for some shooting tests. It is a dead ringer for one of the guns issued to the 1st Mississippi cavalry in 1861. The Romano First Model has all of the best features of the early Maynard arms, including a 26-inch barrel and a tang sight, which, combined, gives the gun a longer sight radius than any other carbine on the market. A longer sight radius means less aiming error and, consequently, more accurate shooting. Romano’s Maynard is indistinguishable from a mint condition original gun. The R.A. Hoyt barrel is finished with a lustrous blue, and the action, patchbox and buttplate are beautifully case colored. Larry has even milled in a Maynard primer magazine, although without internal parts as there are no primer tapes available today.

       As received, the gun has a heavy trigger pull, a common trait forced on gunmakers in this litigious age. A brass shim reduced the depth of the full cock tumbler notch and dropped the trigger down to about 4 lbs. Both brass and plastic cartridge cases are available for original and reproduction Maynards. I used both in my shooting tests and tried two loads, 30 grains Goex FFFG, a 350 grain SPG lubricated Ball Accuracy carbine bullet (RR#1, Box 241, Millville, PA 17846. (570) 458-3197. http://www.ballaccuracy.com), and a .50 caliber Wonder Wad in a plastic case, as well as the same powder charge and bullet with a card wad in a brass case. Maynard cartridges are available from most dealers and sutlers, including S&S Firearms (74-11 Myrtle Avenue, Glendale, NY 11385. (718) 497-1100. http://www.ssfirearms.com)

       Like the originals, the First Model does not take a musket cap. At my first shooting session I found that CCI and RWS #11 caps fit the nipple and fired the gun, but failed to split and had to be pulled off with the pliers. Fortunately, I had some old Remington #11 and #12 caps in my shooting box. Both sizes split on firing and were easily removed with a flick on the fingernail.

       Afer some offhand plinking at old beer cans to get the feel of the gun, I sat down at the bench to see what it would do on paper targets. My first serious group with the Romano Maynard scored a 48-3X (brass cases) on the standard N-SSA 50 yard target. A subsequent group scored a 47 (plastic cases) and I consider myself just a slightly better than average shot. Needless to say, “load development” stopped right here.

       I can state unequivocally that there is no better outside primed breech loading black powder gun on the market today than Larry Romano’s First Model Maynard. Needless to say, the same conclusion can be drawn about his Second Model. They aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every penny spent. The Romano Maynard fully lives up to its distinguished history. Somewhere, someplace, Dr. Maynard is flashing a satisfied, no doubt toothy, grin.

Featured: AMERICAN RIFLEMAN August 1998

Article: Dope Bag

Title: L. Romano Rifle 1860 Spencer

Author: American Rifleman

Pages: #55 - #56

       L. Romano Rifle Co. has a working, center-fire reproduction of the Civil War-era 1860 Spencer carbine. The gun is reverse-engineered from an original and remains true to the design. The sample rifle we received is a rugged-looking work of art.

       For the re-enactor, Civil War buff or firearms history enthusiast, the L. Romano Rifle Co. of Pennellville, New York, offers a working copy of the 1860 Spencer Repeating Carbine. The new-production gun is reverse-engineered from an original, and remains true the design. The salient difference is that the Romano gun is adapted to fire a center-fire version of the .56-50 Spencer rimfire cartridges.

       The sample we received for testing is a rugged-looking work of art. Fit and finish are excellent and case-hardened parts are made of 8620 steel alloy that readily accepts the traditional bone/charcoal case hardening process. The action, bolt, all action parts, lock plates and sling swivel are machined from solid blocks of steel alloy. The hammer, barrel band, buttplate and trigger are investment-cast from steel allow and case hardened.

       The 22", eight-grooved, rifled Douglas barrel is blued and made from 4140 chrome moly steel. A German silver front sight blade in a steel block is soldered to the front of the barrel while a V-notch, ladder-type, adjustable rear sight is dovetailed into the barrel toward the rear. Elevation adjustments are possible to 800 yds. in 100-yd. increments. In the folded position, the rear sight is set for 100 yds. Windage is drift adjustable.

       Hand-rubbed, oil-finished walnut is used for the buttstock and fore-end. Like the original, there is neither checkering nor a pistol grip. Because the original was intended for cavalry use, there is one sling swivel on the toe of the stock and a saddle ring on the left side of the wrist. A large, single-loop sling, not included with our test gun, permits the Spencer Carbine to be carried hanging under the strong-side arm for fast, one-hand, cavalry use.

       Loading is through a buttstock magazine tube with a capacity of seven rounds. For loading convenience, we also received a reproduction Blakeslee cartridge box containing 10 cartridge tubes each holding seven cartridges.

       In use, the hammer is put on the haf-cock “safety” notch, the action is closed and the magazine tube retainer rotated clockwise one-quarter turn. Next, the magazine tube assemble is withdrawn from the buttstock. The stopper is removed from the cartridge tube, and the cartridges poured bullet end first into the buttstock magazine of the rifle. The magazine tube assembly is returned to the buttstock, the lever worked to load a round into the chamber and the hammer cocked to fire.

       As the lever is lowered after firing a cartridge, a blade extractor in the left side of the receiver extracts the fired case, which is then ejected out the top of the receiver. Simultaneously, the coil-spring-loaded magazine follower pushed a cartridge forward into the breech. Returning the lever to its closed position chambers the cartridge and locks the breech. The hammer must be cocked manually for each shot. The manufacturer advises that the action lever should be worked swiftly in one fluid motion. Hesitation or slow working of the lever may cause a jam.

       Cartridges for this rifle are normally loaded with blackpowder or a suitable substitute, so the gun requires attention to detail when cleaning. To disassemble for cleaning, it is only necessary to remove the lever screw, after which the entire breech block assembly (with lever) comes free from the bottom of the receiver. Clean this assembly, the receiver (inside and out) and the bore thoroughly with a good commercial blackpowder solvent or hot, soapy water. Cartridge brass saved for reloading should be cleaned the same way. Once cleaned, thoroughly coat all metal gun parts with a rust preventative and reassemble in reverse order.

       The Romano 1860 Spencer Carbine was fired for accuracy at 50 yds. with the results shown in the accompanying table. Given the tiny V-notch rear sight and thin, silver front sight blade, accuracy was good. Recoil was virtually non-existent. Note that the low velocity and the energy of this cartridge put in the .45 ACP power range.

       The cartridge cases are made from cut down .50-70 Gov’t brass. The inside of the neck is reamed, which produces a slight shoulder inside the case on which the Romano-designed, 300-gr.cast, lead, flatnose bullet rests. This slight shoulder helps prevent the bullet from being pushed into the case under the pressure of the follower spring. Propellant is a lightly compressed charge of 35.0 grs. of Fg blackpowder. Bullets are lubed with SPG lube.

       We experienced some difficulty with cycling cartridges through the action initially. Cartridges emerged from the magazine noticeably canted to the right and considerable force had to be exerted on the action lever to chamber a round. With practice, however, shooters found a lever operating tempo and force the gun favored, and the difficult chambering was resolved. As the manufacturer stated, the lever must be worked with authority.

       Romano’s 1860 Spencer Carbine is approved for competition by the North-South Skirmish Ass’n, but Cowboy Action shooting limits its use to long-range rifle matches because the .56-50 Spencer is not a “pistol” caliber cartridge. Romano currently offers Civil War-period rifles and carbines. All are detailed in the compny’s $3 catalog.       Whether for re-enacting a great cavalry battle or just hanging the likeness of a piece of fireams history over the mantle, Romano’s 1860 Spencer carbine is well made and attractive arm.

  Feature: GUNS & AMMO   2000 Annual Edition

Author: Phil Spangenberger (pictured to Left)

Title:   The Spencer Rides Again!  

Considered by many as the best small arm of the Civil War, this legendary rimfire repeater has been resurrected in full detail–but this time a shootable centerfire!

Pages: #31 - #38

       Now, however, fully functional, authentically detailed reproductions of the Model 1860 and Model 1865 Spencers–in either military carbine, rifle or custom sporting rifle form–are being produced by the L. Romano Rifle Co. Based on the sample Model 1860 cavalry carbine and M1860 infantry rifle sent to me for evaluation, I’d say that Larry Romano, owner and operator of the firm, has done an excellent job. For serious Spencer fans, re-enactors and other vintage gun buffs, Romano also produces a quality reproduction of the early style (circa 1864), six-tube Blakeslee loader. As a side note, along with the Spencer reproductions, Romano also produces a quality replica of the Civil War Maynard carbine.

       In comparing Romano’s replica Spencers to an original M1860 Spencer carbine in my collection, I found these full-scale custom reproductions to be spitting images of the originals. On each arm, the action, bolt and bolt carrier are fully machined, and with the exception of the Douglas Premium Grade blued steel barrel, all metal parts on each arm are of beautiful old-time color case-hardened steel. Straight grained American is employed for the stocks and fore-ends.

       The Romano Spencers are cut with the period-type, six-land-and-groove-type rifling. Like the old-time Spencers, the rifle is fitted with a 30-inch round barrel, whereas the ‘60 carbine has a 22-inch round tube. Functioning exactly like the vintage Spencers, the Romano versions are loaded from the butt and are operated by bringing the hammer to the half-cock position. Next, the block is dropped with the underlever, which allows one of the cartridges in the buttstock to be pushed foward by means of the spring-loaded magazine tube. The lever is then closed, the hammer is brought to full-cock position and the gun is ready to fire.

       Over the past several months, I gave each of the sample Spencers a brief run-through during a couple of trips to the Peterson Ranch. Incidentally, the Romano Spencer’s special-loaded centerfire ammo is of the later .56-50 chambering, making reloading a viable proposition. It carries a charge of 35 grains of Ffg black powder, Romano’s 310 grain, cast lead, flat nosed bullet and a large rifle primer. This loadin moves out of the barrel at about 939 feet per second.

       Historically, the 1860 Spencer originally used a .56-50 caliber copper rimfire cartridge, with 350-grain bullet backed by 45 grains of black powder. This is comparatively light charge when compared to many of the long guns of the period–but definitley more potent that that of its chief rival, the Henry repeater, with its 26-grain charge and 200 -grain bullet.

       During my evaluation of the carbine, which arrived first, I had long time friend and fellow Civil War buff Bill Paul trek with me to the Peterson Ranch for the firing session. As a bonafide Spencer fan, he would have never forgiven me if I hadn’t included him. Later, when the rifle version of Romano’s Spencer arrived, I again headed to the Peterson spread, this time accompanied by shooting compadres Larry Brady and Al Frisch. Due to the limited supply of handloaded ammo for each firearm, we restricted our paper target work to 50 yards with each model to get a feel for the Romano/Spencer’s abilities.

       Briefly, during both shooting sessions, each arm performed admirably, revealing excellent accuracy at the range. As a matter of fact, the very first three-shot group measured just 1 5/16 inches in the black. Overall, our shooting suggested the carbine could average groups of around two inches at the range. Using a javelina target for the rifle, my best grouping here measured 1 1/4 inches in the heart area, exhibiting top accuracy for hunting this size game. Further firing with the rifle showed that it was capable of delivering similar groups.

       During each of the testing sessions, all shooters got in some informal plinking. Firing from a standing offhand position, a variety of targets were fired at and hit with regularity, including severing a brushy sapling’s slender trunk at a paced-off 122 yards. The severed main stem measured just 3/8 inch in diameter–smaller than the .50 -caliber rifle’s bullet! Each rifleman went away with a renewed respect for the Spencer’s design and admiration for Romano’s replica.

       In all firings, we were impressed at the Romano Spencer’s handling and practical accuracy. Loading through the buttstock via Romano’s Blakeslee loading tubes, then inserting the spring-loaded magazine tube, levering, cocking and ejecting were all accomplished smoothing, illustrating why the Spencer enjoyed such popularity with riflemen of its era.

       Due to the weight of the Spencers (empty, the carbine weights 9 pounds, 3ounces, and the rifle weighs 10 pounds, 3 ounces), recoil is hardly noticeable. Each gun’s original-type sights (German silver,  pinned blade front and folding leaf with shallow V-notch rear) provide a reasonable view downrange. The rifle’s front sight was extremely high, no doubt awaiting filing by its intended owner to suit a personal preference. The triggers on each broke crisply, despite being a tad heavy. Admittedly, thumbing the hammer to half-cock position, then levering a round into place, followed by pulling the hammer back to the fully cocked position, is a slower process than cycling the Spencer’s main competitor of the period, the Henry lever-action. But as far as we were concerned, this added to the enjoyment of handling and firing this historic fighting arm. In all honesty, I’ve got to say that firing this Spencer repro has turned outo to be one of my most enjoyable shooting/evaluation experiences yet!

       While Romano’s custom-produced reproductions are a bit pricey, the first-class workmanship make them worth every penny. Prices run $2,700 for the carbine and $3,150 for the rifle version. The handcrafted, six tube Blakeslee loader runs $225. Because of BATF rulings, the Spencer .56-50 replica is classed as a curio, so an FFL is not required, and your rifle can be shipped directly to you.

       Despite its short production life, the original Spencer earned its laurels on the front lines of our nation’s bloodiest struggle, while breaking ground for future repeating rifles. It was a coveted weapon by those who used it, and much feared and respected by those who it was used against.

       The Spencer garnered a solid place for itself in the annals of firearms history, and now, thanks to L. Romano Rifle Company, it lives again. Larry Romano’s Spencer replica is one Yankee repeater this Rebel gunner would like to capture!

       For more information contact the L.Romano Rifle Co., Dept. G&A, 551 Stewarts Corner Road, Pennellville, NY 13132; (315)

  Article: The Civil War News

Author: Joesph Bilby (pictured to right)

Title:Black Powder, White Smoke

Re: New Gun, Larry Romano’s Maynard/Perry carbine protoype.

New Gun, Treatment

   As an increasing variety of custom and factory-made reproduction Civil War-era arms appearon 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 re-creation 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 regrets of my shooting career (such as it is) was mailing 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 as accurate as its predecessor.

     When he appeared, 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 - so named because it superficially resembles a Maynard, with a similar trigger guard actuated breech opening and centrally hung hammer, but uses the tilting, sliding breech of the Perry action - was a Confederate carbine with a very low rate of manufacture. Keen, Walker & Company of Danville, Va., made the originals for the Confederacy in the summer of 1862, and total production is estimated at less than 300 guns.

     As we have grown to expect from Larry’s shop, his Maynard/Perry, a.k.a. 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 he laid it our 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 a least make a limited run of these guns. If you’re interested in something really exotic to shoot and consider yourself persuasive, get in touch with Larry at Romano Rifle Company (551 Stewarts Corners Rd., Pennellville, NY 13132, 315-695-2066 or email romanorifle@msn.com