Sunday, September 25, 2016

5th Pattern Burnside Carbine

On March 25, 1856 Ambrose E. Burnside was awarded patent # 14490 for the .54 caliber breech loading Burnside carbine design. For the next several years the Burnside carbine went through a number of design improvements, mainly in the breech system, until the Fifth Pattern was perfected. The Burnside Rifle Company produced about 44,000 Fifth Pattern carbines from 1861 to 1865.

Roughly 55,500 Burnside carbines of all models were produced and delivered to the US government, making it the 3rd most used carbine model of the Civil War.

The carbine used a unique tapered cartridge with a foil or brass case and was ignited by a traditional percussion cap.

A 1863-64 survey of some 185 US military officers rated the Burnside as follows: 17 – Best, 125 – Good, 12 – Fair, 28 – Poor and it was rated “worthless” by 3 officers. This meant that 77% of those officers surveyed had a positive opinion of the gun.

Some of the cavalry regiments that received the Burnside as part of their supply of small arms were the 1st Michigan, 3rd Indiana, 5th, 6th & 7th Ohio, 3rd West Virginia, 14th & 18th Pennsylvania, 14th & 21st New York and the 2nd, 12th, 14th & 16th Illinois and 4th Wisconsin Cavalry.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Manhattan Revolvers

The Manhattan Fire Arms Manufacturing Co. was founded in 1856. The company's goal was to take advantage of Colt’s patent for revolving firearms that was due to expire in 1857. 
While waiting for Colt’s patent to expire, Manhattan first made copies of other American firearms that no longer had patent protection. 
The initial Manhattan product line consisted of a variety of single shot percussion pistols  in .31, .34 and .36 calibers with bar hammers. They also produced a line of double action percussion pepperbox pistols. These pistols helped to establish the company and were produced from the beginning of business in 1856 through the late 1850's. 
In 1858, Manhattan introduced their first traditional single action percussion revolver, a .31 pocket model whose design closely copied the Colt M-1849 Pocket model.

Pocket Model
Shortly thereafter, they turned their attention to making Colt-style Navy revolvers in .36 caliber. Manufacturing began in Norwich, Connecticut and in 1859 moved to Newark, New Jersey. One notable feature of the Manhattan is their patented extra set of cylinder safety notches and can be easily identified by the many notches on their cylinders.
Although the .36 caliber “Navy” revolver was a late comer to the Manhattan Firearms Company’s product line, it would become the mainstay and would eventually represent more than 50% of the total output of the company during their 12 year lifespan. 
During their existence, Manhattan Firearms produced approximately 175,000 pistols. Only Colt, Remington, and Winchester produced more guns during this era in which included the Civil War. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Raphael Revolver

Raphael revolver2.jpg

The Raphael revolver is one of those revolvers that could’a, would’a, should’a depending upon what historian/collector you read. One thing that is for certain is that the revolver’s name came from the broker that imported these revolvers, George Raphael & Company of New York. Their manufacturing and design history are relatively unknown but most feel that they were manufactured in France. Raphael is said to have supplied other French and European revolvers and swords to the Federal Government and was involved with James Richard Haskell in presenting one of the earliest machine guns to the government in 1862

One source stated, According to US records, approximately 106 of these French made, double action, 6-shot revolvers were purchased for US military use on September 21, 1861. 

Another source stated, 1,000 of these large frame double action 11 mm Raphael revolvers were purchased on the commercial market by the Federal Government during the Civil War. Some Raphael revolvers may have been privately purchased by officers during that same time period. It is assumed that the revolvers were manufactured in France. George Raphael was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and he supplied revolvers and swords to the Federal Government.

Quoting a 3rd source, Even the many of the most advanced collections of Civil War handguns are unlikely to have a Raphael in it. It would be equally appropriate in a collection that centered on US or CS handguns, early cartridge guns, or imports arms.

My findings lead me to speculate that Raphael almost certainly imported more than the 106 figure and sold them on the commercial market prior to and/or during the Civil War. Known samples indicate some revolvers may have been privately purchased, perhaps by Confederate agents. The revolver below is stamped CSA, was it done so post war? Maybe a Bannerman special? Who knows? Draw your own conclusions. 

The revolver is famous for very precise machining of their complex mechanism. It fired an early version of a centerfire cartridge that was 11mm (or roughly .42 caliber). The back plate had six holes through which the firing pin on the hammer could contact the primer in the cartridge. They feature a very interesting design with a loading gate on the upper right side. The cylinder and breech plate rotate at the same time when the hammer is cocked, however the cylinder can also be rotated separate from the breech plate when the loading gate is open for loading and unloading. The revolver has a solid open top frame design, dovetailed front blade sight and a dovetailed notch rear sight mounted on the breech end of the barrel and six round cylinder. The usual butt cap lanyard bolt doubles as an ejector rod.


Raphael revolver3.jpg

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Gwyn & Campbell Carbine

The Gwyn & Campbell carbine, also known as the 'Grapevine Carbine", was the invention of businessmen Edward Gwyn and partner Abner C. Campbell and manufactured circa 1863-1864.
There were two types manufactured. Type I and Type II, for a total of 8,202 produced.
A main difference between the Model I and Model II Gwyn & Campbell carbines was cosmetic. Model I’s hammer and guard lever curved more than Model II and were considered more “serpentine.” Model II sported a flatter handle and a slightly-rounded lever. Also, the two models’ lockplate screws entered the lockplates at different sides: from the right on Model I and from the left on Model II. Pictured here is the Type II.
The U.S. Ordnance Department granted over a dozen contracts to Gwyn & Campbell 

The breech end of the barrel is octagon and is fitted with a folding leaf rear sight graduated to 600 yards. Sling bar and ring on the left side of the receiver. The rear lock plate screw enters from the left side of the stock wrist. The hammer is flat with beveled edges and the lever is the shorter Type II pattern with the vertically mounted claw-like latch.

Many Calvary Regiments were issued the Gwyn and Campbell with a few being the 2nd and 3rd Arkansas; 5th, 6th and 16th Illinois; 3rd and 4th Indiana’s; 4th and 8th Iowa; 2nd, 6th and 14th Kansas; 10th, 12th, 14th and 40th Kentucky; 4th and 8th Missouri; 5th and 8th Ohio; 7th Tennessee; and the 3rd Wisconsin.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Now This Is Interesting

The Mauser C96, was one of the earliest and most successful semi-automatic pistols. Introduced in 1896, by the time this photo was taken, likely between 1902 and 1904, western lawmen were already carrying semi-autos.

In this photo, Anadarko, Oklahoma Territory Sheriff James Thompson and his deputies are displaying their guns for photographer Annette Ross Hume. Take a close look at the guns. At the top is Sheriff Thompson’s shoulder-stocked C96. (Photo courtesy Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Ethan Allen Falling Block Rifles

Ethan Allen was a very inventive firearms designer/manufacturer who was involved with a series of different firearms companies. This “Drop Block” rifle type was patented September 18, 1860. It was offered in the same .44 rimfire cartridge used with the much more popular 16-shot Henry repeater, but this rifle just didn’t get the same (market) respect. Less than 2,000 were made. Some short-barreled, large-caliber specimens with sling swivels served as secondary martial carbines in some Civil War encounters. Because these carbines were never officially adopted during the war, private citizens sometimes obtained these for service on both sides of the lines. While several calibers were offered it was the 44 rimfire chambering that gained limited acceptance for private purchase during the Civil War. A few years after the conflict was over, however, several northern states adopted these carbines as official militia arms for mounted troops. In either of these roles, these carbines proved to be very satisfactory.

The rifle was offered in various barrel lengths, two frame sizes in either iron or brass and chamberings in..22, .32, .42, and 44 rimfire. Sight styles varied through the years of production. 

The action is operated by depressing the latch at the rear of the trigger guard that allows the guard to swing forward, which in turn drops the breech block. A spring loaded extractor then ejects the case.