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 CONDITION:  Manufactured by the Whitney Arms Company under the patents and license from the designer John Webster Cochran, these Whitney-Cochran Carbines were specifically produced for submission to the U.S. Army Firearms Trials in the late 1860’s and 1870.  While the design was credible, it was not selected for the trials by the army, and the highly competitive civilian market of the time showed little interest, resulting in a very limited production – Flayderman lists the total production at less than fifty.    

Cochran secured patents on his design in 1865 and 1866, and apparently sold the rights to the Whitney Arms Company shortly thereafter, as Whitney produced at least a few of the carbines in time for submission to the US Army and the State of New York arms trials.  



The carbines were produced in .38 rimfire, .44 rimfire, and .50 rimfire (56-.50).  This specimen is chambered for .38 rimfire.      

The carbine’s breech is opened by lowering the combination trigger guard-operating lever, which in turn raises the front of the breechblock to access the chamber.  The cartridge is then inserted through the bottom of the receiver and into the chamber – much like one would load a cartridge into the magazine of a modern semi-automatic or pump action shotgun.  The lever is then returned, closing the block and upon cocking the centrally mounted hammer, the carbine is ready to be fired.  After firing the cartridge, the block is raised again and the empty cartridge case is extracted by lowering the lever located immediately to the rear of the trigger on the right side of the wrist.  Lowering the extractor lever activates the extractor located at the bottom front of the receiver, moving it to the rear where it engages the rim of the cartridge and removes it from the chamber.   

The breech block, extractor and hammer-trigger group all function properly with crisp mechanics and show no movement due to wear.  The top of the breech block is legibly stamped “J.W. COCHRAN, N.Y. PAT’D. APRIL 4, 1865 & FEB-Y 20, 1866”.   The original rear sight is intact and full form on the top of the breech block, and there is a sling ring mounted with a cross bolt on the left side of the receiver.  The surfaces of the receiver and breech block are overall bright and smooth, showing very little use or wear.  The trigger plate, levers, forearm mounting band, and butt plate are likewise smooth with the buttplate retaining some of the original blue finish.    

The barrel retains its full length 28 inches.  The exterior surface is overall smooth with no significant pits or wear, and the Whitney Arms Company is legible on the top surface just forward of the receiver.  The bore retains strong rifling throughout with only minimal sign of wear or age.  The original front sight is present and full form.    

The fore and butt stocks are full form showing only the normal small marks that come with age, but show no signs of heavy use, wear or abuse.  There are no splits or cracks, the wood to metal fit is quite tight, and the wood finish is bright and quite attractive.  There is one feature of the stock worth mentioning – more of an odd anomaly of this design.  There is a short “U” shaped piece of wood inlet into the front of the bottom of the receiver which is a separate piece from the forestock.  When the forestock is removed, this small piece of wood remains, held in place by a mortise in the edge of the receiver where it meets this piece of wood.  This is an intentional feature and based on inspecting other specimens, it appears to have been standard on all of these Cochran carbines.   

These post-Civil War Trial and Experimental firearms are in a class all their own, and provide an interesting view of the evolution of design and mechanics as gun makers made the transition from muzzle loaders to the fixed metallic cartridge firearms.  This Cochran Carbine, manufactured by the famous Whitney Arms Company, was a unique design, was one of those models submitted to the US Army Trials, and was manufactured in very limited numbers, making it a rare specimen of that period.  Well worth the investment, this is the sort of firearm which seldom appears on the market and one that would be an interesting addition to your collection.   SOLD

NOTE:  I would like to offer a special thank you and recognition to Dr. Edward Scott Meadows for so generously sharing a considerable amount of data on these rare Cochran Carbines, as well as providing a copy of the original US Army photograph of the Cochran Carbine which was submitted for the Trials. 



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