Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hopkins & Allen Army Revolver




Rather rare and one of Hopkins & Allen's finest products, the 44 rimfire XL 8 Army. 

Around 1877 Hopkins & Allen introduced their line of large frame, single action revolvers to compete with Colt and Smith & Wesson, the two major American handgun manufacturers of the period.
These guns constituted the “XL No 8” line of handguns, which included the XL Army (.44 caliber, both rimfire & WCF), XL Navy (.38 RF caliber) and XL Police (also .38 RF caliber). It is believed that a total of 2,700 of the large framed XL No 8 revolvers of all models were produced by Hopkins & Allen between 1877 and 1885. 
They were all six shot with heavy solid frames. They had a spring loaded ejector rod that was located under the barrel. When the catch on the left side of the frame was depressed, the rod could be withdrawn from the center of the cylinder arbor and then automatically moved into position to eject cartridges from the cylinder, through the loading gated on the right side of the frame.


Seems the cowboy on the right has a Hopkins & Allen


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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Schwarzlose 1898 Semi-Auto Pistol



During the late 1800s there were several companies developing semi-automatic pistols for the world market but only a handful would actually prove to be successful, consequently any of these early semi-automatic pre-1899 pistols are extremely rare. 

One of the most interesting pistols you will ever see is this one. It was designed by Andreas Schwarzlose of Prussia who was most noted for his early water cooled machine gun designs. 
Although the Schwarzlose 1898 pistol was not one of the most successful pistols, the uniqueness of the design was actually revolutionary and could almost be considered a prototype with very few ever manufactured.

The functioning of this model is based on what is termed a rotating bolt mechanism and is actually very similar in design to the current M16 series of rifles, only 110 years earlier.

I was going to attempt to describe the complicated workings of this unique pistol but as luck would have it I ran across this excellent Forgotten Weapons video that not only describes some of the pistol's history and the mechanics but also the pistol in action. Well worth watching.



              




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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Evans Model 1826 Navy Pistol


 



Surprisingly the US Government never really entered the business of producing handguns at the various National Armories until the 20th Century.
Harper’s Ferry did produce an estimated 2050 brace of M-1805 English Light Dragoon style pistols. Springfield Armory did a small production run of the M-1817 pistol, which were never actually issued. Springfield also manufactured 4021 of the unsuccessful US M-1855 pistol carbines.
With these minor exceptions, the US government relied almost exclusively on private firms to supply sidearms during the 19th Century.
The firm of Simeon North of Middleton, CT was the primary provider of handguns to the US military from 1799 to 1826. North’s M-1826 Flintlock Naval Pistol was the last pistol he produced and it became the pattern for other 
manufactures to follow.




The W.L. Evans Model 1826 Navy pistol is nearly identical to the pistols made by North. It is estimated that less than 1000 Evans pistols were produced making them rather rare as compared to M-1826 pistols by better known makers.  
I find the exact origin of these pistols a bit murky. 
John Rogers was a gun manufacturer and owner of the Valley Forge Armory. Sometime in the late 1800s he obtained a government contract for the pistols. Rogers was unable to fund the contract, so he went into business with William L. Evans of Evansburg, a practical gun maker.
Apparently about 1830, the Valley Forge Armory was leased by William L. Evans, who assumed the contract and manufactured pistols between the years 1830-1831, 

The pistols are marked "W. L. Evans V. Forge 1831 USN". 
It is a .54 caliber smoothbore flintlock with iron mountings including an iron backstrap from the tang to the buttcap with an iron belt hook.The barrel bands are secured by springs. It has a swivel type steel ramrod and a brass flash pan.



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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Allen & Wheelock Lipfire Revolvers




lipfire2.jpg

Like many other arms makers of the era, Ethan Allen saw that the "bored-through cylinder", which allowed for rear loading of self-contained metallic cartridges, as the wave of the future. Unfortunately, the patent holder Rollin White, had sold exclusive rights to this patented innovation to Smith and Wesson, preventing other companies from making firearms to this design.
This legal constraint proved no barrier to Ethan Allen, who made two different rimfire revolvers that hit the market possibly as early as 1857 - Simultaneous to the Smith and Wesson model 1.

As a holder of many patents, it is unlikely that Ethan Allen was ignorant of patent law - he simply chose to ignore it. Perhaps, he reckoned that he could outlast the upstart Smith and Wesson in legal maneuvering.

He soon invented the 'lipfire' cartridge, a modified rimfire that only held the priming compound in approximately 1/8th of the circumference of the base of the cartridge.

lipfire3.jpg

This made the cartridge base much stronger, as early rimfire cartridges had a tendency to split at the base, causing extraction malfunction. It was also more economical, as only 1/8th of the expensive fulminate was required.

lipfire5.jpg

Production of lipfire revolvers likely began around 1859. With the coming of the War Between the States, Allen likely smelled immense profits for his 'better mousetrap'. However, the conservative procurement agents of the US Government awarded only small contracts - likely not trusting the technology or the supply of cartridges. By 1863, Rollin White finally won his patent infringement lawsuit, and production of all Allen and Wheelock cartridge revolvers ceased.

Pictured below is the 1st Model Lipfire, (loading gate hinged at the top), this revolver was manufactured in the early 1860s with a total production of only about 250.  The lipfire is sometimes confused as a conversion from percussion but was actually manufactured before the percussion model. It has no manufacturing stamping other than assembly numbers.



Pictured below is the 2nd Model Lipfire, (loading gate hinged at the bottom), this revolver was manufactured in the early 1860s with a total production of only about 250. The left side barrel flat is marked "ALLEN & WHEELOCK, WORCESTER, MS. U.S./ALLEN'S PAT'S SEP. 7, NOV. 9, 1858" and the matching serial (batch) number is marked on the frame, loading gate, grips, and cylinder.





Pictured below is the Navy or "3rd Model". Only a total of around 500 total Center Hammer Lipfire revolvers were manufactured by Allen & Wheelock in the early 1860s. This example has the longest barrel length available: 8 inches. It is stamped "ALLEN & WHEELOCK. WORCHESTER. MS. U.S./ALLEN'S PAT'S. SEPT 7. NOV. 9. 1858." same as the 2nd Model.







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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Savage M-1899-D Military Musket















It's believed that the entire Savage production of this arm was shipped to Canada during World War I to arm the Montreal Home Guard.


The rifles in "musket" form incorporated a bayonet lug and military style stock with a handguard. 
They were chambered in the 303 Savage cartridge so as not to delay delivery which would have resulted if the design was altered for the standard Canadian 303 British Mk II cartridge. 

The Guardsmen were responsible for purchasing their own rifles and had the option of having their names stamped on the stock. Many also chose to have their names engraved on the left side of the receiver (not the case with this rifle).  

Blade front sight and folding leaf rear sight graduated to 1,300 yards. The front barrel band is fitted with a bayonet lug. Blue finish with casehardened lever and mounted with a smooth full length walnut forearm with grasping grooves, matching hand guard, sling swivel on the rear barrel band and a straight grip perch belly stock with a steel carbine buttplate and sling swivel. The buttplate tang is marked with the rack number "328".
This particular rifle is stamped "F.A. STEVENSON" and "MHG/1914" on top of the stock.







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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mershon and Hollingsworth Self-Cocking Revolver



This is a patent model of the Mershon and Hollingsworth revolver. The patentees were Ralph S. Mershon and Jehu Hollingsworth of Zanesville, Ohio and patent number 39,825 for a self-cocking mechanism was granted Sept. 8, 1863.
The patent model was essentially a modified Colt Army Model 1860 revolver. The designers argued that standard single-action revolvers like the Colt 1860 and even double-action revolvers like the Beaumont Adams revolver, when in field combat conditions, required too much effort to cock and fire.



This was submitted to the US Army without success. It was turned down stating what little benefit the design had to offer in lighter, faster trigger pull, it has lost in added cost of manufacture and complicated functionality.




It used a wind-up spring to power a ratchet inside the hammer. A fold-out handle on the left side of the revolver’s frame (shown above) facilitated winding the spring. With the spring wound the device worked as follows: When the trigger was pulled, the hammer fell, struck a percussion cap and set off the round. As this happened a lug at the rear of the trigger slipped into the device and kept it motionless. When the trigger was allowed to reset, the lug slid out of the device, allowing its spring to rotate an internal wheel which moved the hammer back to full-cock and at the same time, unlocked, rotated and re-locked the cylinder.


This is from their patent application.

“To pull the trigger [on the Self-Cocking Revolver] requires no greater effort than in any arm cocked by hand, nor does the trigger require any longer sweep.  Hence it admits of an accurate aim, not subject to be defeated or disturbed by a violent muscular exertion in pulling the trigger.  In this very important particular consists its great superiority over all other self-cocking arms, all of them requiring so much muscular effort in pulling the trigger as to wholly defeat or disturb the aim and object of an arm, except at very close quarters.”
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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Roth-Sauer M-1900 Pistol





















The late 1890's saw the beginning the semi-automatic pistol era. Designers from the four corners of the world feverishly producing the unique to the weird. It was an engrossing period for the gun nut.
Here is a perfect example, a little semi-automatic pistol that was designed in the late 1890's and very much ahead of its day. 

The joint work of famous gunsmiths virtually always ends with only a positive result especially when both gunsmith differ in imagination, experience, and some of them practiced in the design of ammunition. The Roth Sauer M-1900 pistol was designed by Karel Krnka, financed by Georg Roth, and manufactured by J.P. Sauer & Sohn in Germany.

It uses a stripper clip-loaded internal magazine in the grip and is chambered for the 7.65x17mm Roth-Sauer cartridge.
Also note that the outer form of the gun has no protruding parts which would make the gun fairly flat and comfortable to wear.


The pistol is mechanically quite complex – much more so than strictly necessary. The action is a long-recoil type, in which the bolt and barrel remain locked together through the full rearward travel of the bolt. The bolt then stays to the rear while the barrel recoils forward, clears the empty case, and ejects it. Once the barrel is fully forward, the bolt is released to strip a new cartridge from the magazine and chamber it.

The bolt has a single locking lug, which rotates into a recess in the barrel extension to lock. The firing mechanism is very similar to the later and modern style pistols such as the Glock and others. It uses a striker to fire, which is tensioned to half-cock by the bolt and barrel recoiling with each shot. Full tension on the striker is delivered by the trigger pull, resulting in a approximation of a double-action system.


Now if all this nuts bolts stuff is a bit confusing the following Forgotten Weapons video does a fantastic job on this little pistol and well worth watching.





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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Japanese Hamada Military Pistols


This is a rarely seen WW2 Japanese military pistol. It is a Type I Hamada pistol that is somewhat of a copy of the original Browning Model 1910 pistol, only using a larger capacity magazine. The Hamada family were one of Japan’s first manufacturers of modern firearms with their gun shop founded in Tokyo in 1895.
The Type I were manufactured circa 1941-44, this one has a Showa date of "18" (1943) stamped on the frame. Even though there were an estimated 5,000 made in total, they are somewhat rare in that all of the pistols were issued to units being sent to China during the early part of WWII. The few surviving examples were captured in the Pacific Theater from officers or units that were transferred there before the end of the war.

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This is a Japanese Type 2 "Hamada" pistol. It was a continuation of the earlier Type 1 Hamada pistol. These Type 2 pistols were actually only produced from late 1944 until the fall of Japan in late 1945. It was designed and developed as a low cost substitute for the Type 94 Nambu pistol. They are a simple blowback design with the recoil spring around the outside of the barrel and housed inside the upper slide. 8mm Nambu chambered.



In a unique partnering arrangement, the Type 2 pistols were manufactured by the Notobe factory using tooling provided by Nagoya Arsenal and then shipped "in the white" to Nagoya's Toriimatsu factory where they would be inspected, blued, and issued to the various Japanese military units. The original production contract was intended for 500 guns.

However, collectors feel only 10 guns of the original 500 production pistols actually exist today. C.F. Author of Military Pistols of Japan, Fred Honeycutt Jr. identifies the highest known serial number of a Hamada, pg 124, Hanada type II as 50, this very pistol.
It is speculated that most assembled pistols were saved as souvenirs by various GIs and the remaining original unfinished pieces destroyed after the war.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Bergmann M-1896 Pistols











The late 1890's saw the beginning the semi-automatic pistol era. Designers from the four corners of the world feverishly producing the unique to the weird. It was an engrossing period for the gun nut.

The Bergmann M-1896 was a 19th-century semi-automatic pistol developed by German designer Louis Schmeisser and sold by Theodor Bergmann's company. Bergman was a pioneer in developing semi-automatic pistols in Europe in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

A contemporary of the Mauser C96 and Borchardt C-93 pistols, the Bergmann failed to achieve the same widespread success.
These M-1896 commercial pistols are seldom seen as very few were produced with even fewer examples brought back by GIs after WWII. 
The first pistol pictured is a rare late production No. 4 pistol. The No. 4 is chambered in 8 X 22 mm Bergmann caliber.

The M-1896 was manufactured right at the end of production as it is estimated that approximately 1000-1500 total were produced between 1897 and mid 1898 with most examples being in the 6.5 and very few examples manufactured in the scarce 8 X 22mm cartridge. 

The No. 4 has the integral 5 round magazine that sits in front of the trigger. A distinctive flat top bolt and top cover with a magazine side plate with two angled cuts on the right side. It is provided with a means of attaching a shoulder stock.





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Bergmann 1896 Target Pistol



Another very scarce early Bergmann is this target pistol with the long barrel, target sights and rare set trigger. Chambered in 5 mm Bergmann. Only a handful of this rare long-barreled target models were ever produced. 
Additionally this example is fitted with a rare set of fully adjustable target sights. The rear sight can be drift adjusted laterally and also the aperture can be adjusted for elevation. It is fitted with a semi-hooded target front sight that is also adjustable for windage that is fitted with a pin-head front sight blade.





















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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Browning-Winchester Prototype





Likely one of a kind, Browning prototype bottom feed  musket. Similar in design to the Model 1895. 
Winchester's partnership with John Browning began in 1883 and lasted 16 years. Browning's legacy at Winchester is marked by the company's most notable late 19th century firearms such as the Model 1885 single shot rifle, Model 1887 lever action shotgun, Model 1897 slide action shotgun and lever action Models 1886, 1892, 1894 and 1895. 
Speaking to Browning's success, firearms historian and author R.L. Wilson stated, "No other gun inventor or designer can rival John Browning's string of achievements. He owned 128 gun patents covering eighty different firearms; he sold approximately forty gun designs to Winchester." 
Of course, not every Browning patent Winchester purchased made it to the factory production line. The trail leading to even the most successful designs is often steeped in documented and undocumented trials and errors. 
This action has a fixed magazine and stripper slots in the top. The thick, high breechblock is striker feed. The lever contains the trigger assembly. The receiver has a bolt with double extractors and a follower. There is no safety. When the action is opened, the breechblock rises and slides backwards. When closing the action, the breechblock rises and slides forwards, locking into place via a spring loaded detent. Part of the lever supports the back of the breechblock. The breechblock has a cocking indicator. The action is similar to that found in Browning's patent 619132, which was applied for on February 21, 1898 and issued on February 7, 1899. Browning had several lever action rifle patents purchased by Winchester with many of the patents not being used in production firearms. There are two barrel bands with the front band having a bayonet lug like a Krag rifle. 







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Sunday, October 23, 2016

A. B. Smith Belted Ball Rifle










This original Abias Butler Smith flintlock long rifle has a most unusual feature: it is designed for a belted ball.

Belted balls are believed to have been first experimented with around 1725 in Spain but were not widely used until they were used in the Brunswick rifles designed by George Lovell in 1836. 
Belted rifling was never widely used in the U.S., and the system in general was made obsolete in the 1850s by the introduction of the Minie ball which was more accurate and easier to load. This rifling would have been an extreme rarity in the U.S. and ammunition would have been hard nearly impossible to come by without a mold specifically made for this rifle. 




The barrel is signed "A. B. Smith" in script. Abias Butler Smith (b. 1818- d. 1900) Tax records list him as a gunsmith in Clinton, Allegheny County (1838-66).

The lock plate is marked "M. MASLIN/ PARTRIDGE WARRANTED" and is engraved with scrollwork and a bird scene. Michael M. Maslin was a lockmaker located in Baltimore (circa 1822-1833) and in Philadelphia (1833-1847). The use of a Maslin flintlock and belted rifling suggest the rifle was manufactured in the late 1830s or perhaps very early 1840s. 

The rifle is pictured on page 157 of "The Kentucky Rifle" by John G. W. Dillin and on page 60 of "The Longrifles of Western Pennsylvania: Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties" by Richard F. Rosenberger & Charles Kaufmann  In the latter, the authors note "this is the only American longrifle of its type known" and was produced after the percussion system was widely available, but the fact that it is pictured in the earlier book indicates that it was almost certainly produced as a flintlock and not later enhanced. 







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