Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Prototype Browning Lever Action

This Browning designed prototype lever action centerfire rifle has front and rear locking lugs, a design reminiscent of no other Winchester rifle of the late 19th century.

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 30 caliber Browning prototype carbine is fitted with a pinned blade front sight and a ladder rear sight marked "1873" and graduated from 2-9. There are no external markings on the rifle. The upper tang is drilled and tapped. The rifle was left in the white. Mounted with a smooth forearm and straight grip stock. There is a single barrel band and a carbine buttplate. The receiver has an exposed hammer and a bolt, which slides back when the action is opened. When closing the action the bolt slides forward to lock. A true one of a kind prototype showcasing Browning's partnership with Winchester.

The action is similar to that found in Browning's patent 492459. Patent 492459 is for a .30 caliber lever action rifle, which was applied for on March 22, 1892, and issued on February 28, 1893. Browning had several lever action rifle patents purchased by Winchester and patent 492459 is one of those patents but was not used in a production Winchester firearm. In fact, Winchester purchased many Browning patents that were not used in production firearms.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The first U.S. martial pistol, the North & Cheney Model 1799.

During the Revolutionary War, the Americans fielded a mix of British, French, German, Dutch and home-grown pistols, which created an inventory of different styles and calibers of varying degrees of serviceability. In the late 1700's the United States decided to standardize its military arms.  
The US government issued two different contracts to Simeon North of Berlin, Connecticut, to manufacture the first U.S.martial pistol, the Model 1799 North & Cheney. North would build a total of 2000 pistols between 1799 and 1802. 

It was the first official model of pistol adopted by the United States. It is also the first of the numerous U.S. contract pistols manufactured by Simeon North.
As you will note the pistol closely resembles the French M.1799 flintlock pistol but has several distinctive features including a one-inch longer barrel, rounded breech assembly and extra barrel screw on the lower front edge of the frame. It has a distinctive brass frame with no fore stock, frizzen spring with rear facing apex, side mounted iron button head ramrod and one-piece walnut handle. 
The round, iron, smoothbore barrel does not have front or rear sights. The pistol has a convex, reinforced, hammer and an integral brass pan with no fence. The back strap is iron and the buttcap and trigger guard are brass. 

Collectors estimate that only about 20 Model 1799 pistols still exist today; surviving examples are of great historical significance and are among the rarest U.S. martial arms. (the last auction price I saw was in the high five figures)

First contract pistols are marked as pictured below.

The second contract markings consist of only: "NORTH & CHENEY BERLIN" and lack the initials in front of each name as seen on the next two pictures.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

There were several experimental Springfield Model 1903 semi-automatic rifles and here is one example.

A prototype and possibly one of a kind semi-automatic rifle built on a Model 1903 Springfield Action. 
It is illustrated and briefly described on pages 6 and 7 of "The Gas Trap Garand" by Billy Pyle. The caption describes this rifle as an "enigmatic M1903 conversion, inventor unknown. This rifle, which has a fixed barrel and no gas system, appears to be primer-actuated." 
The rifle has a standard Model 1903 barrel, rear sight, upper and lower barrel bands, buttplate and front sight. The barrel and receiver have standard Model 1903 Springfield markings; the barrel is dated "1-10". 
The bolt, receiver, trigger guard and stock have been extensively modified. The receiver has been extended by approximately six-inches to accommodate the modified bolt. A seven inch section of walnut has been added between the original Model 1903 buttstock and forearm to fit the extended receiver. The trigger guard finial has been extended several inches. The stock and most of the rifle components are early Springfield Model 1903 pieces ca. 1910. However the rifle has a post-WWI course checkered buttplate and flat faced rear sight windage knob which, as the Billy Pile description suggests, may indicate that the actual modification took place in the 1920s using a pre-WWI Model 1903 rifle. The bolt is polished bright and the receiver, trigger guard and other furniture has a professional commercial blue finish. The early style "S" stock has been refinished and has traces of the original circled "P" proofmark on the wrist and a small "S" on the forearm tip. The stock modifications are professionally done and are barely visible on initial inspection. The added section matches the butt and forearm very closely in grain and finish. This is a rare and unique rifle that appears to have been modified in the early 1920s as one of the first attempts to design a semi-automatic rifle to replace the bolt action Model 1903 Rifle.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Joseph Medbery New York Style Percussion Target Rifle

Medbery was a gunsmith, as well as a dealer in jewelry and military goods, in Rochester, New York, around 1840.

The rifle has a .45 caliber heavy octagon barrel, 40 inches in length, equipped with a small post front sight on a wide base and a "lollipop" style peep sight.
The lock is an engraved H.W. Delavan & Co. with high fence secured by a single screw. 
(Delavan were hardware merchants in New York)

Monday, April 2, 2018

A post-WWI Springfield Armory prototype semi-automatic rifle.

This rifle was manufactured at the same time that John Pedersen and John Garand were developing and experimenting with their early 1921/22 test rifles and it appears to have been an alternate redesign using a standard Model 1903 rifle.

This design was probably developed internally by Springfield as an alternate so they could use up the thousands of standard Springfield Model 1903 bolt action that were sitting in storage after World War I, much like the same logic as the post-Civil War conversions of percussion rifled muskets to Allin conversions.

Clearly they were intending this not to entail a significant modification to the receiver but instead it consisted of a simple kit produced in-house by Springfield that would be attached to the rear and right side of the 1903 receiver and barrel.

The modification included the removal of the standard bolt handle and then with the installation of a new round rear housing on the rear of the receiver and right side. The new housing was attached by two screws on the right side of the receiver ring and probably by the rear trigger guard screw. The housing totally encloses the rear of the receiver and also includes the modification of the extractor by lengthening it slightly so that the rear of the bolt could slide back into this housing. The bolt still cycled and rotated in a normal fashion using the standard front locking lugs during firing, however firing was initiated by a single fixed pin that would telescope inside the front section of the bolt. During firing this front section would slide reward to unlock the bolt so that the entire bolt would retract inside the new rear housing section and allow a fired cartridge to be extracted.

The right side of the receiver also now has a square housing that held an internal, sliding operating rod. The rear end of the operating rod was attached to the side of the bolt (where the bolt handle was removed) and the front section was mounted on the right side of the barrel via a small circular ring mount. The operating rod has a small folding cocking handle, positioned towards the front of the operating rod (just behind the lower barrel band).

A 20 round detachable box magazine similar to a BAR magazine is used.

The design is certainly unique with probably only a handful (at best) ever actually manufactured, as this design was rejected and a completely new action was designed by John Garand in-lieu of using the old 1903 action.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Savage .45 ACP Military Model 1907

In 1905, when the United States Army expressed an interest in replacing their issue revolvers with semiautomatic sidearms Savage entered their .45-caliber Model 1907 in the military troop trials. The trials were conducted between 1907 and 1911. After the of field testing the Savage pistol was one of two finalists but ultimately lost to the Colt entry, which became famous as the Colt Model 1911.

Savage made a total of 288 .45 pistols for competitive tests, after tests were completed 181 of these pistols were returned to Savage who reconditioned and refinished the pistols. Most of the reconditioned pistols were eventually sold to a firearms dealer, E.K. Tryon of Philadelphia, who sold them to the civilian market.

They are rare and historic military pistols that sell at six digits when in good condition, a key addition to any advanced U.S. military handgun collection.

As a side note.
Savage later scaled down the design, for the civilian pocket pistol market, which became their civilian Model 1907 chambered in 32 ACP. Although the later Model 1907 was designed for civilian use, the French government purchased over 40,000 .32 ACP Model 1907s between late 1914 and 1917 for the French military in World War I. These pistols are recognizable by the lanyard ring.

A much smaller contract of 1,150 pistols in the same configuration were purchased by Portugal.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tokyo Gas and Electric Co. Prototype Semi-Auto Rifle


This is a rare Japanese rifle as manufactured Tokyo Gas and Electric Co.

In July of 1932, the Japanese ministry invited the Nippon Special Steel Company, the Koshikawa (Tokyo) Army Arsenal and the TG&E Co. to develop their own prototype rifles for testing. They were shown the American Pederson and the Czech ZH-29 semi-auto rifles as examples.

TG&E somewhat based their design on the Czech ZH-29 rifle but chambered in 6.5 Japanese.

The rifle is very unique in that it used a gas-operating mechanism with the breech bolt similar to the Belgian FN-FAL rifles only it's mounted sidewise and uses the rear of the breech bolt as a locking lug to lock inside the receiver. During the firing sequence, the rear of the bolt actually cams to the right (inside the bolt carrier), extracts and ejects the spent cartridge. During the loading sequence, the bolt is moving forward, strips a round from the magazine, chambers the cartridge and then the rear of the bolt moves to the left and locks in place. The rifle is extremely well made and used 100% machined parts that were held to close tolerances with final hand fitting, polishing and bluing.

The action is designed to be disassembled using only the tip of a bullet as all the major takedown pins are non-tapered, and two large pins hold the upper and lower receiver groups together making field disassembly very easy.

At the 1935 trials, both the Nippon Special Steel Company and the Koshikawa (Tokyo) Army Arsenal designs passed the various tests.

However, the TG&E designed rifle was considered the least accurate of the three, and they withdrew from the competition.

Shortly after completing the military tests Japan invaded Mainland China and further development was halted until later in the war.

It is estimated that 12 rifles were actually manufactured for testing with only a handful of these captured after the end of the war.

(Originally, it was fed via a detachable box magazine which is absent.)