Sunday, April 16, 2017

The "New" Model Evans Military Musket

The Evans rifle was first introduced in 1873, invented by Warren R. Evans, a dentist from Thomaston, Maine. 
With the help of his brother George, they perfected the rifle and started the Evans Rifle Manufacturing Company of Mechanic Falls, Maine. 
Their rifles were marketed by Merwin & Hulbert. 
From the beginning. Evans primary goal was the military market with hopes that the rifle would be issued by the United States Army.
When Evans designed his rifle he also had to design his own cartridge. What he came up with is now known as the .44 Evans short. 
This is noted in the factory catalogs as being a 1” shell. The original cartridges were loaded with 33 grains of black powder and a 220 grain lead bullet. This gave a velocity of about 850 fps.
When submitted to the military the rifle was promptly rejected for several reasons but mainly for the poor cartridge preformance. 
From 1873 to 1876 Evans would produce about 500 of their 1st Model rifles for the civilian market. 
Discouraged, Warren Evans had given up active participation in the company. However brother George had not been idle. He was in control of the company and busy developing improvements.
First came a transition model and then the "New" Model, as pictured here. 
Both these models were submitted to the military but once again, neither would be accepted.

The rifle has a radial block receiver similar to the Spencer, but the rounds were fed from an Archimedean-screw magazine which formed the spine of the rifle stock and could hold up to 34 rounds. The fluted cartridge carrier made a quarter turn each time the lever was operated, feeding a new cartridge into the breech.

The New Model Evans rifle used the 1 1/2” case. This was known as the “.44 New Model” cartridge. They were loaded with 40 to 43 grains of black powder and lead bullets ranging from 275 to 300 grains. With a 280 grain bullet velocity was about 1200 fps. 
Both Evans cartridges were loaded by Winchester up to the early 1920’s.

Although the later models gained somewhat of a following, the company went bankrupt in 1879.
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