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The Vault

Burgess Folding Shotgun at RIA

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Andrew Burgess was an extremely prolific gun designer who gets very little recognition today. One of has particularly interesting weapons was a pump-action, folding shotgun. Because Spencer already had a patent on the use of the forearm as the pump, Burgess designed his gun to use a sliding sleeve on the wrist of the stock [...]

Allen & Wheelock Lipfire Navy Revolver at RIA

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Not all companies responded in the same way to the development of cartridge revolvers and the Rollin White patent. Allen & Wheelock, for example, decided to simply ignore the patent and make revolvers for their proprietary lipfire cartridges (fairly similar to rimfire) while relying on their lawyers to delay the anticipated patent infringement suit for [...]

Collected Works of John Pedersen

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John Pedersen was one of the more prolific and successful gun designers in American history, having even been described by John Moses Browning as “the greatest gun designer in the world”. And yet, many people only know about Pedersen from his unsuccessful toggle-locked rifle or his WWI Pedersen Device that never saw action. In truth, [...]

Prototype Optic on an M1 at RIA

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In the years after WWII, several countries experimented with general-use optical sights on service rifles. The Germans had pioneered the concept with the ZF-41 long eye relief optic during the war (and the ZF-4, to some extent), and the British actually adopted the EM-2 with a permanently-mounted 1x optical sight in 1951 (only to un-adopt [...]

Grant Hammond .32ACP Prototype at RIA

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Grant Hammond is best known (to the extent he is known at all) for a .45 caliber pistol submitted to US military trials in 1917 and 1918. This pistol is a proof of concept prototype embodying some of the concepts that would go into the later .45 caliber pistol, and also showing some concepts that [...]

Merwin & Bray .42 Caliber Cupfire Revolver at RIA

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One of the many revolver systems designed to work around the Rollin White patent was the Pant’s Patent cupfire revolver, made by Merwin & Bray in several calibers (.28, .30, and .42). This particular example is a nice on in .42 (which is the diameter of the cartridge case; the projectile is actually .39 caliber). [...]

Duplex .22-06 M1 Garand at RIA

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During the 1950s, the US Army ran a series of programs trying to find a better solution for infantry rifles than firing single semiauto bullets. These projects (including SALVO, SALVO II, and SPIW) would include experiments with multiple barreled rifles, burst firing rifles, flechette firing weapons, and multiplex cartridges. That is, single cartridge cases with [...]

Colt “Cloverleaf” House Revolver at RIA

The Colt House revolver, better known as the Cloverleaf (and sometimes as the Jim Fisk Model) was the first revolver Colt designed from the ground up for rimfire ammunition. It entered the market in 1871, and was only made for about 5 years. It’s colloquial name came from its unusual 4-chamber, .41 caliber cylinder.

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Pedersen GY at RIA: A Copy of the M1 Garand

Two of the scarcest and least known of John Pedersen’s designs are the Model GY and GX rifles, which are basically copies of the production model of the M1 Garand. After losing out in the Army rifle trials with his toggle-locked rifle design, Pedersen made one last attempt to garner a US military contract by [...]

Elgin Cutlass Pistol at RIA

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In an effort to take advantage of Jim Bowie’s popularity, George Elgin patented a huge knife attached to a single shot percussion pistol in 1837. The idea was simply to offer a dual-purpose weapon, and it proves that human nature never does change much. I suspect that in actual use the weapon would have been [...]