Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Franklin/Colt Trials Rifle

Colt manufactured Franklin Military Model "Trials" rifle. The rifle is the brainchild of General William Franklin, who was the Vice President of Colt in the 1880-1900 time frame and is actually credited with the patents for this design.

The design was submitted to U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance and the U.S. Army Ordnance Board in the 1887-1888 trials. The design proved to be extremely simple and reliable and was extensively tested by both. After firing over four thousand rounds with no apparent failures to feed or fire, they determined the design to be simple, reliable and was more solid and safe than any other system known at that time and satisfactory for military service but none were ordered.

The rifle represents an important step in the development of repeating military bolt actions rifles based on two features. It uses a lifting bolt mechanism (later used on numerous military rifles) and it has a multi-shot box magazine both features were very advanced for their time.

The obvious most unique feature of this rifle is the top mounted 9 round box magazine with a receiver mounted cutoff. Both were very innovative for the time. The magazine itself, albeit of a spring mechanism, has a simple loading port on the underside that once loaded, inverted and attached to the rifle. It is then fed by gravity and the slight recoiling/shaking of the rifle during firing.

The obvious idea was to increase the firepower of the standard infantry rifle by adding a simple gravity feed magazine. 

These rifles are really an enigma in the Colt collecting community as well as in the martial arms field as only a small quantity were ever produced with an even fewer number actually surviving. As noted on pages 480-481 in "The Book of Colt Firearms" by R.L. Wilson, there were exactly 50 of these rifles manufactured. 

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