Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Palmer Carbine







Manufactured circa 1865, the Palmer carbine was manufactured by E.G. Lamson & Co., of Windsor, Vermont, under the W. Palmer patent secured December 22nd, 1863. 

It is significant as the first metallic cartridge bolt-action weapon accepted by the Ordnance Department for issue to the U.S. Army. 

The Ordnance Department contracted for 1001 Palmer carbines late in the Civil War. The carbines were delivered in June 1865, after the fighting ceased, thus were un-issued. 
They ended up being sold to Bannerman's for cents on the dollar, sometime around 1870-75. 

The carbine was chambered in .50 rimfire. It featured a short handle at the rear of the receiver; a quarter turn of the bolt handle counter-clockwise unlocks the bolt and pulling it to the rear extracts the fired case and opens the chamber. The hammer is cocked manually before opening.









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Friday, January 27, 2017

Springfield/Lee Vertical Action Rifle







Known as the U.S. Springfield Lee Model 1875 this Lee Vertical Action Rifle was designed by James P. Lee, one of the more prolific firearms inventors of the era. There were 143 Model 1875s that were manufactured at the Springfield Armory under his supervision and financed by a Congressional appropriation of $10,000 for testing.

The rifle has a 32 5/8-inch barrel with a Model 1873 Springfield Rifle rear sight and it is chambered for the Government .45/70 cartridge. They were issued to companies of the 1st and 20th Infantry Regiments for field trials. Trials completed, the rifles were withdrawn from consideration, declared surplus and purchased by Bannerman's who later sold them in his catalog for $36 .

The rifle features a Martini type dropping block action with centrally mounted spur hammer. Pulling the hammer back locks and cocks the action. After firing the hammer is pushed forward, the breechblock drops to eject the fired cartridge and allows for reloading. The breech closes automatically on insertion of the round in the chamber. Lee touted an impressive 30 rounds in 45 seconds with the rifle, thanks to the design elements that combined to make a very fast manual of arms.

The Model 1875 Lee Vertical Action Rifle is an extremely rare U.S. martial arm found only in the most advanced collections.







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The prototype for the Lee Vertical Action rifle was a carbine built, for Lee, by E. Remington & Sons and is considered one of a kind. This prototype was formerly in the Howard Troy collection and the last known hammer price (2014) exceeded $16,000.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

The Blake Rifle






Image result for Blake Rifle


On November 24th, 1890, the US Adjutant General's office constituted, by general orders, a board for selecting a new magazine rifle for US Army use. They were searching for a replacement for the Springfield M-1888 “Trapdoor”. The trials ended and January 21, 1892.
These trials would ultimately result in the adoption of the Krag-Jorgensen as the US Army's standard rifle.
John Henry Blake invented this rifle sometime prior to 1892 and submitted to the Trails. His rifle was one of 53 rifle designs submitted to the 1892 US Army Trials.
The main innovation of Blake's design was a unique ammunition "packet" system which held 7 cartridges.





The magazine is based on a cylindrical clip that the cartridges snapped into. Cycling the bolt would rotate the clip like a revolver.

Image result for Blake Rifle

The bottom of the receiver has a hinged door which allows access to the magazine. The rifle was loaded from the bottom with pre-loaded packets, which would be carried like clips or magazines by troopers. The expectation was that a soldier would carry spares of the somewhat bulky but light clips.






A pronounced magazine cut-off lever on the left side of the action toggles between single loading and the magazine. When in the single loading position the clip does not rotate and can therefore be engaged and disengaged at will. 



However, the loading was not as quick or simple as with more typical clips, and the trials board felt the packets were both too fragile and too bulky. In the trials the Chief of Ordnance wrote “the system is not suited for military use” so it was passed over, as were 51 other entries. 
Despite protests from US manufacturers the Krag-Jørgensen was selected and became the first magazine rifle of the US military, later known as the Springfield M-1892. It also marked the end of US black powder military rifles. 
Blake went on to submit his rifle for Navy testing a few years later, where it lost out to the Lee Navy straight pull. 

Blake’s last effort was commercial production of the rifles, which got him a few sales, but not enough to sustain manufacture. Serial numbers were never started and assembly records are non existent and it is believed only roughly 300, in various configurations and calibers, may have been produced between ~1890~1910.





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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

One of only eight





Colt Model 1871-72 Open Top revolvers that were factory engraved with all nickel finish and fitted with a smooth one-piece ivory grip.


Research by Colt experts indicates that the eight factory revolvers were intended for display at the 1876 Independence Day celebration and Centennial display in New York City.   





…. (recently sold at auction for 37+ Gs)



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Late WWII German VG1.5 or Volkssturmgewehr or "Peoples Assault Rifle"




These were manufactured by Gustloff-Werke in Suhl. They were produced strictly on order from the Gau of Thuringen (an administrative division of Nazi Germany in the state of Thuringia ) which is the district of the Suhl factory which manufactured them. The rifle was never officially sanctioned by the German Army and consequently will not have any acceptance proofs or markings.


The rifles were a late war development and designed along the same lines as the MP43 and MP44 series of rifles, they were intended to be an even cheaper and more simple method of supplying rifles to the home guards, especially in the Eastern part of Germany that was soon to be overrun by the Russians.

The rifles were made primarily with all stamped sheet metal parts and components that were welded together or pinned to prevent disassembly, all which minimized the use of the already depleted German manufacturing resources.


It functions on a blow-back operated basis, where the entire outside of the barrel jacket/receiver recoils. The 16 inch barrel has a fluted chamber to aid in extraction and it fires the short 7.92 mm Kurz cartridge, which is the same as the MP44 assault rifles. They rifle were finished with the late German phosphate type finish with the plain unfinished stock and forend.


There is no way of knowing the number of these manufactured, collectors estimates vary from a several hundred to several thousand. The fact that these rifles get auction hammer prices of $25,000 and up would lead one to believe that regardless of the number made the existing rifles are few.

A Forgotten Weapons video on this can be seen HERE.



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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Silverman-Maxim M1896 Prototype Pistol


As with most prototype weapons that never make it to market the provenance for this pistol is a bit murky. Hiram Maxim (of machinegun fame) and his plant superintendent Louis Silverman collaborated to file British patent 29836/1896. The patent design was the basis for three known semi-automatic pistol prototypes that came from the Maxim-Nordenfelt Machine Gun Factory development shop.
The three prototypes differ from each other somewhat but all used a simple blowback design and have only some 16 components.

They use a single spring as both recoil spring and firing pin spring, with the firing pin cocking by inertia at the end of the recoil stroke. Recoil would throw the bolt and firing pin backwards, and the firing pin would continue moving rearward after the bolt had stopped, thereby locking behind the sear and becoming ready to fire again once the bolt closed on a new cartridge. The spring-loaded sear was located on the bolt instead of the frame to accomplish this, one of the elements protected by the Maxim-Silverman patent.


Pictured here is the third known example, although rather large, it is of ergonomic construction (45° angled grip), sharply contrasting with his German contemporaries the Mauser C96 and Borchardt C-93, and an unusual chambering of .455 Webley MkI, a revolver round. (the three known prototypes are in different calibers).
It has a 7.2” round bbl and a fixed front sight. The fixed rear sight is integral to a sliding cover attached to the bolt, much in the way of the Bergmann pistols. At the rear is a cocking knob that retracts the bolt and serves as a cocking indicator. The front of the trigger is checkered and the grips are vulcanized rubber with smooth surfaces. The left panel has been milled with four cartridge indicator slots. The magazine is retained by a spring mounted at the rear of the backstrap. To facilitate withdrawal, there is a checkered knob on each side of the forward base. Smooth metal surfaces, that were never blued.

Why Maxim did not pursue further development and manufacturing I have yet to discover. The reasons are likely lost in time. 

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The MP 3008 Submachine Gun




Another last-ditch weapon produced to arm German National Militia units. The MP 3008 submachine gun was developed and manufactured during final stages of the World War 2. It is also known as "Volks Machinenpistole" (People's submachine gun). Several German factories, as well as smaller shops, produced about 10,000 (?) of these MP 3008 submachine guns in several minor variations, with several types of buttstocks, including metallic skeletonized or tubular butts, or simple wooden butts.


All were internally similar, using the simple blowback design based on the British Sten Mk.II. It was capable of semi-automatic and full-automatic fire.
Unlike the Sten Mk.II the magazine housing on the MP 3008 was welded below the tubular receiver. It used the same 32-round magazines as the German MP40 submachine guns. 




As the pictures attest they were assembled in a hour, mainly by welding.








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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Turner Light Rifle



In 1941 the U.S. Army sent out a solicitation, to various contractors, for a “light rifle” that was more potent than the Colt 1911A1 and more compact than the M1 Garand. They were looking for something for issue to support/rear echelon troops who could not do their jobs hauling around a Garand, but needed a defense against the danger of motorized raids or paratrooper assault.

In response to the U.S. Army’s request Russell Turner participated as an independent inventor, outside the conventional Armory system or the prominent commercial arms firms. According to Turner, the first model of the 1941 was produced entirely from scratch, fabricated by hand with only design sketches and no proper blueprints. 



At Aberdeen, one of the big strikes against the Turner Rifle was the furniture, consisting of a ventilated steel heat shield and a tubular buttstock, as well as the hand-made nature of the weapon. While the steel furniture was in many ways ahead of its time, and the arm otherwise had many virtues, Army experts wanted something more conventional.


Coming back for another go, Turner gutted the first model for parts and went on to build a more advanced prototype.


Turner's refined carbine was noted as showing promise with a simple design and fine ergonomics, though suffered a number of malfunctions in the field; returning home afterwards, Turner found that the ammunition provided for the actual test was significantly different than the cartridges supplied for development, reportedly because Winchester's offering (the future M1 Carbine) suffered excessive muzzle blast with the original ammo, and was able to use their pull with the Army to get the ammo changed before the test. Not having been informed of the change, he was unable to make appropriate modifications to the gas system. Heavily discouraged by this seeming display of favoritism, Turner abandoned his efforts with the Light Rifle.

The solicitation would end up Winchesters M1 Carbine being the end result.





For more on Turner's 2nd model see Forgotten Weapons video HERE
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