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First Pattern 1865 Allin Conversion – Trapdoor Springfield at RIA

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As the US Civil War drew to a close, it was quite apparent to everyone that muzzleloading rifles were obsolete, and any military force wishing to remain relevant would need to adopt cartridge-firing weapons. However, the Union arsenals had a million or more muzzleloading rifled muskets still on hand. How to modernize the weaponry without […]

Union/Reifgraber .32 S&W Autopistol at RIA

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The Reifgraber, aka Union Automatic Pistol, is an interesting mechanical design from an inventor with an interesting personal background.

Joseph Joachim Reifgraber was born in Austria in 1856, and emigrated to the United States at some point before the mid 1880s. He was a machinist by trade, and was clearly a political activist as well, […]

Allen & Thurber Pepperbox at RIA

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If the Colt Paterson was the high-end classy choice for a sidearm in the mid-1800s, the Allen & Thurber pepperbox would have been the simple working man’s alternative. While Colt was working for military contracts, Allen & Thurber ignored that market in favor of producing an affordable civilian sidearm in large volume.

The basic idea […]

Walch Double-Shot Revolver at RIA

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Consider the problem of the pocket revolver of the 1860s. In order to be small enough to be reasonably concealable and comfortable to carry, it would typically be made in .31 caliber. That’s not a lot of firepower…even back in those days when ballistics potency was rather less of a concern to buyers than it […]

Detonics MkI at RIA: The Original Sub-Compact 1911

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Today we are accustomed to seeing sub-compact 3.5″ 1911 pistols for sale from a whole bunch of manufacturers – but this was not always the case. Making a really small 1911 actually run reliably is not a trivial proposition, as the slide velocity and spring force become very touchy, and small changes can have major […]

Braverman “Stinger” Pen Gun at RIA

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The US National Firearms Act includes a category called “Any Other Weapon”, which encompasses a variety of regulated weapons, including firearms which are disguised to look live other everyday objects, such as canes, and pens. R.J. Braverman, however, devised and patented a type of pen gun which the ATF concluded was not subject to regulation […]

1847 Walker Revolver at RIA

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The Colt 1847 Walker revolver was a massive 4 1/2 pound handgun made for Samuel Walker of the US Mounted Rifles (he also served with the Texas Rangers) as a way to equip mounted troops with greater firepower than single-shot carbines. The Walker was the first true martial handgun made by Colt, and despite its […]

Colt Z40 Pistol #1 at RIA

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However, after only 800 had been sold, Colt backed out of the deal and dropped the Z40 from its catalog. Why? Because they had happened to use a Z40 as the base gun for a model “smart gun”, and the public reaction was overwhelmingly negative. In the aftermath, Colt management threw out the Z40 as […]

White Prototype Open-Bolt LMG at RIA

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Along with his two semiauto rifle prototypes, when White went to England for rifle testing he took along a work-in-progress light machine gun. The weapon was trsted by British officials, but found wanting – largely because it was really not a weapon ready for testing. The “LMG” White built was actually semiautomatic only, although it […]

White Toggle-Locked .30-06 Prototype Rifle

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This toggle-locking rifle chambered for the .30-06 cartridge is the second of two rifles submitted by White for the 1930 US military trials. It was not actually tested by the US, but White did take it to the UK where it was tested in the early 1930s. British officials liked that it was a positively […]