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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