A RARE .58 LEETCH'S PATENT CAPPING BREECH LOADING CARBINE, CIRCA 1860, serial number 176,
with 15in. London proofed barrel rifled with three grooves, block front-sight with dovetailed blade, small carbine pattern 1860 style ladder rearsight, the action top signed 'LEETCH 'S PATENT COMPANY / 29 GREAT PORTLAND STREET / LONDON', back-action lock engraved 'LEETCH'S PATENT / COMPANY', iron mounted full walnut stock with scroll trigger-guard, chequered wrist and fore-end, the barrel secured by just one band. A rare collector's gun.
Provenance: The Leetch system features a side swinging chamber that locked in place by a bolt on the fall of the hammer, one of the advantages claimed by the inventor was that it could use the standard Enfield P53 service cartridge. It was tested by the Ordnance in 1854/55 and recommended for cavalry adoption but the order cancelled on the death of Lord Hardinge, although trials continued to 1860. In 1860 James Leetch with Robert Scott formed The Breechloading Gun Company (Leetch's Patent) at 29 Great Portland St. London, to manufacture and sell Leetch patent arms. The company did not prosper and by 1865 had closed, this carbine which is to a style unique to Leetch was made during that period. It is estimated that total production of Leetch patent rifles and carbines was little more than 250. For further information, see 'The Capping Breech-Loader in British & Colonial Military Service' by Brian C Knapp
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