Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Simeon North, “the first official pistol maker of the U.S.”

Following the Revolutionary War the United States decided to standardize its own military arms. The first U.S. pistol was the Model 1799 North & Cheney. It was an ungainly-looking flintlock that was modeled on the equally unprepossessing French Model 1777. Manufactured between 1799 and 1802, only about 2,000 of the unique, brass-framed smoothbores were made.

M-1799 North & Cheney

Simeon North would end up manufacturing over 50,000 flintlock pistols for the United States Ordinance Department in the coming years. 

M-1808 Navy

In June 30, 1808, North received a contract for boarding pistols. He showed his inventive genius by proposing changes to the government pattern pistol and producing all parts of all pistols with mostly interchangeable parts.

M-1811 Army

M-1811 Transitional 

Some historians credit North with inventing the milling machine. Although I have not seen that documented. One thing for sure was that he did incorporate interchangeable parts early on using machinery of his own design.

M-1813 Navy

As part of the North's successful effort to make truly interchangeable parts, the filing gig was invented by Simeon’s son, Selah, as was the first milling machine to be used in his factory. 


The M-1816 would be the last North pistol to use a wooden  ram rod and the first to be produced with case-hardened locks.


The M-1819 introduced the captured swivel ramrods which would become a standard on following militia pistols. 


The M-1826 would be the last model pistol produced by North and production was halted around 1828-1829. The M-1826 would be the basic pattern for all following martial pistols until revolvers replaced the design.

North was instrumental in helping John H. Hall, superintendent at Harpers Ferry Armory, to introduce his methods of achieving interchangeability to the Armory.
In 1828, North received his first contract to produce Hall rifles with parts interchangeable with those produced at Harpers Ferry. He would go on to produce over 30,000 Hall rifles and carbines.

Simeon North had a 53-year contractual relationship with the US government.


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