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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