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The Vault

Maryland Council of Safety Revolutionary Flintlock at RIA

In the buildup to the US War of Independence, “Committees of Safety” were organized in the colonial state to form shadow governments for the independence movement. These committees (our councils, as a few were named) had, among other tasks, the responsibility of sourcing arms for the local militia forces. This was done both by purchasing [...]

M3 Infrared Sniper Carbine at RIA

The first US military night vision system used in active combat was the T3 Carbine system – an infrared light-amplifying scope and IR floodlight mounted on an M1 Carbine. About 150 of these were used on Okinawa, and were quite effective. The system was refined over time, and by the Korean War this version was [...]

Bethlehem Steel 37mm Cannon – Looking for Data

I recently got an email from a young man named Paul who is working on restoring a Bethlehem Steel 37mm cannon as an Eagle Scout project. The gun is sitting outside an American Legion post, where I expect it has been for many, many decades. It appears to be mostly complete with the major exception [...]

Pedersen Selfloading Rifle at RIA

When the US military decided to seriously look at replacing the 1903 Springfield with a semiautomatic service rifle, two designers showed themselves to have the potential to design an effective and practical rifle. One was John Garand, and the other was John Pedersen. Pedersen was an experienced and well-respected gun designer, with previous work including [...]

“My Friend” Knuckle-Duster Revolver at RIA

The “My Friend” knuckle-duster revolver was a defensive weapon sold on the civilian market from the late 1860s until the early 1880s. It functioned both as a revolver (this one is in .22 caliber, with a 7-shot capacity) and a blunt weapon for striking. These were made in upstate New York (in the Catskills, specifically) [...]

Spencer Rifle Conversion at RIA

The Spencer repeating rifle was a major leap forward in infantry firepower, and more than one hundred thousand of them were purchased by the US military during the Civil War. The Spencer offered a 7-round magazine of rimfire .56 caliber cartridges in an era when the single-shot muzzleloading rifle was still predominant. This particular Spencer [...]

S&W 320 Revolving Rifle at RIA

The Model 320 Revolving Rifle was one of Smith & Wesson’s least successful commercial products, and as a result has become one of the most collectible of their guns – less that a thousand were ever made. The problem with the guns was the same problem that has plagued virtually all other revolving rifles: the [...]

Chicago Palm Protector Pistols at RIA

“The Protector” was a very discreet palm pistol developed in the late 1800s by a French inventor, produced in bulk by the Ames Sword Company, and sold by the Chicago Firearms Company. They are mechanically double-action turret revolvers with a unique grip design meant to be to be fired by squeezing. The first few were [...]

Online-Only Auction at RIA

It is worth pointing out the RIA has added a third type of auction in the last year or so; online-only. The idea is to have a lower-overhead way to sell some of the things that don’t really fit into the Premier and Regional auctions. The next one is coming up next Saturday (the 15th), [...]

Colt Offensive Pistol at RIA

I had the opportunity to visit Rock Island Auction again to check out the guns they have up for sale in their December 2014 Premier Auction, and put together a big batch of videos, which will be publishing daily between now and the auction itself (which is the weekend of December 5th, 6th, and 7th). [...]