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56-50 Spencer Ammo

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The .56-50 Spencer was an American black powder rifle cartridge. .56-50 Spencer cartridge, bullet diameter .546 inches Designed for the Spencer rifle and carbine, patented 6 March 1860.

it was employed by cavalry during the American Civil War, first appearing at Sharpsburg in rifle form.

The first 56 is the diameter of the case at the base .56 inches (14.2 mm), measured just past the rim, and the second 56 is the diameter at the case mouth, also 0.56 inches (14 mm).

Later versions of the cartridge included the .56-52, .56-50, and .56-46, which had varying degrees of taper in the cases, to accommodate smaller diameter bullets.

The actual bullet diameter of the .56-56 varied between .54 and .555 inches (13.7–14.1 mm), depending on the ammunition manufacturer.

About: .56-50

  • Type: Rifle
  • Place of origin: USA
  • Designer: Christopher Spencer


  • Case type: Rimfire straight
  • Bullet diameter: .550 in (14.0mm)
  • Neck diameter : .560 in (14.2mm)
  • Shoulder diameter: .560 in (14.mm)
  • Base diameter : .560 in (14.2mm)
  • Rim diameter: .645 in (16.4mm)
  • Case length: .875 in (22.2mm)
  • Overall length: 1.545 in (39.2mm)

Ballistic performance

Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
350gr(23g) 1,200 ft/s(370m/s) 1,125ft⋅lbf(1,525J)

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It was loaded by a variety of companies and was also used in the Ballard and Joslyn carbines. It is a short-ranged cartridge, ineffective on anything more significant than deer. Commercially loaded ammunition continued to be available in the 1920s.

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