Knoble Automatic Pistol, Cal .30 (Video)

The Knoble in .45 caliber was one of the pistols in the US pistol trials of 1907. Unfortunately for Mr. Knoble, his pistol was deemed to crude for the Ordnance Board to consider even test firing, and it was dropped from the trial like a hot potato.

Knoble only made a handful of pistols in total, and this is an example in .30 Luger caliber which is essentially identical in function to the .45 trials gun. it uses a short recoil, toggle locking system to operate, and is definitely a pretty crude piece of workmanship. Cool to take a closer look at, though!


    • That was my thought, as well. After the Army testing report a while back I looked into these, desperate for more details, and found that they’re basically nowhere in private hands and only a couple examples exist! Now, we have color video of one. Fascinating, and I wonder if a disassembly video or photograph series could be possible in the future.

  1. Makes you wonder who did the adaptation of the magazine, the inventor or a gunsmith for the owner that lost the original magazine. Now, as for somehow carrying a single action no safety no trigger guard gun with a round in the chamber – the guy was just ahead of his times by making an “Israeli carry” only gun.

      • Americans are bad for safeties, the original Glock had a safety. Revolvers had harder trigger pulls, a sort of safety. You need a safety, speaking of Israel… The latest publicized event- Involved scissors, and said kids accidentally stabbed a Palestinian but not fatally, wasn’t likely… One kid was shot dead, could have been about anything- Sexual molestation etc, but the climate is terrorism.

        • “Americans are bad for safeties, the original Glock had a safety. Revolvers had harder trigger pulls, a sort of safety.”
          In early 20th Europe there were many accidents with automatic pistols, common was assuming that after removing magazine automatic pistol is SAFE, when it is not true because cartridge remain in chamber, to solve this problem magazine safety were introduced (preventing FIRE without magazine).

          Most common designated on safety were letter S for Sicher (meaning safe) and F for Feuer (meaning fire), IIRC sometimes safety lever cover that letter, so only other letter remain visible making user confuse.

          • Aye well, Idaho. Bit back… Choice, mother chose no safety sw mp 9mm toddler popped her in the face, gun in bag, bag accessible to kid, trigger easy- Dead mom.

          • “This is my safety” I’m 3. Yeah, do know what happened to her, her kid blew her brains out in Wal-Mart. BANG!!!

      • Arab security guard apparently, mind- Who killed the arab teens for accidentally killing an arab. But they’d be better playing buckaroo or something… 11 year olds afterwards, fecked up.

  2. Interesting that it’s a positively locked toggle rather than transmitting the force from the breech face to the frame via pins as in the Luger. That’s something that was then re-invented with that short recoil toggle-locked trials rifle that was the subject of a video a few weeks ago.

  3. Apparently it was send to test before being finally developed – providing method for safe manual cycling – pushing barrel muzzle when dud cartridge is in chamber is not good method, providing easier method of getting magazine (imagine that you have to remove magazine in gloves); what about disassembly: does it need some tools or can be done without it?

  4. When you consider autoloading pistols that actually worked were just ten years old and there was no internet to share ideas,this is a remarkable pistol. Contemporary pocket pistols had sheath triggers and were dangerous if dropped. Yes they were crude. Imagine a century from now gun buffs remarking how crude our weapons will seem.

    • “Imagine a century from now gun buffs remarking how crude our weapons will seem.”
      Our era fire-arms would become outdated, when revolution of some of sort will happen, see for example inventing of percussion fire-arms, smokeless powder, invention of repeating fire-arm. Percussion make flint outdated, smokeless powder make gunpowder outdated, repeating fire-arm make single-shot fire-arm outdated.
      Obviously initially no one know surely how new system should look like, see for example photos of early flying (or at least attempting to fly) machines here:
      After some time best solutions are found and widely used, then new revolution happen and everything start again.

    • Actually they are crude now as we are in an era not of invention but of duplication. The police use short recoil semi-auto pistols with a totally ridiculous firing rate for law enforcement purposes in emulation of the military…the urge to become paramilitary is too strong and not being adequately resisted. Our pistols today are not “safe” even though we have the mechanical technology to make them impossible to be accidentally discharged as well as having our own weapons turned on us.
      We have lobbying groups that now work against innovation, as there is so much fear of the future. Average gun owners compete not in the quality, beauty, and workmanship of the weapons they have but in the number of weapons they have. There is no sense of social responsibility, only a lemming-like desire to have more raw firepower than the other guy.
      I think they will look back on as idiots.

      • You are correct. The militarization of civilian law enforcement is a present danger. Scared, adrenaline fueled, angry confusion causes people to fire their weapon dry. The reality of firearm’s lack of stopping power causes the perception of one having missed the intended target.There is also a phenomenon of contagious shooting,where people in a group will literally hose a target in unison . This is nearly impossible to control these situations.
        I must differ with your position regarding “smart weapons”. While it is an ideal that only an authorized user be able to use a specific weapon, the reality of current technology if far behind. It is unreliable and a tool for weapons ban advocates to further restrict firearms owners rights. Any mechanical or electrical system can fail or be hacked.
        Your contention that gun owners are lemming like in their resistance to disarmament is not accurate. This forum is not for the interest of the ” average” gun owner. That term is hard to define. Yes there are collectors who want various diverse weapons for their hobby. There are also those who have only one weapon for hunting or self-defense. The majority of gun owners have a hunting or sporting longarm, this is usually a rifle or Shotgun. Both weapons are fundamentally different. If the gun owner is in a State where defensive carry is allowed a handgun is necessary. Others own handguns for home defense ,target shooting or hunting. It seems that one firearm can not fill all the roles, one must assume that multiple firearms are necessary to answer them.
        They will not be seen as idiots.

        • I really can’t understand the common reply of it can’t be done when the solutions are numerous and quite obvious and even more will present themselves with only a little encouragement. I am talking mechanical solutions. When you look at the incredible development of technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in just about every field how can someone say something cannot be done nowadays?
          I think it is more about attitudes than ability. History shows us what we did and can do again. It is not a major challenge to develop a pistol that is significantly better suited for norm Law Enforcement work and also not a major challenge to design a safety pistol just as it was not a major hurdle to design the safety bicycle in the 1880’s. Not only was the safety bicycle safer, it was far superior to the penny farthings.

          • Yes, if there is a demand the products will be produced. Firearms are usually safe if used properly. The human factor can not be ruled out of any new technology. Yes the last century has made our lives safe,comfortable and long. In that time firearms have evolved as well.That they are safer today is undeniable.I do not see a demand for “smart gun” technology. It has a dubious political history ,bring used by those who would restrict weapons ownership.As it stands today the only company that brought such a weapon to market failed. There is no demand for such products. In the US, the State of New Jersey tried to mandate that once a “smart gun” came to market it would be the only one that could be legally sold. The gun control advocates tried to push their unwanted adgenda by mandating a technology that was at the time nonexistent. They through these unwanted efforts have soured the taste for such technology.

          • But that is all the reason to press on. There are always social barriers to new technology. For example prior generations of old military officers resist the introduction of new ways that take them out of their comfort zone. Look how armored warfare developed in the 20th century, how it took the Germans, operating with a clean piece of paper, to overcome the moribund attitudes of the other industrial powers to develop new machines that worked better with new tactics that overcame the obsolete tactics of the First World War.
            What you have to do is produce the better mousetrap and then the demand will be created. New firearms design and technology is not that expensive, but it does require the right person with the right idea and the right attitude. I myself am no engineer, but I know firearms and I understand peoples attitudes.
            I am looking forward to retirement when I can start designing and building many things. Unfortunately I am locked into a soul-stealing day job that I cannot escape except through retirement.
            I have the concepts down, it’s just a matter of creating the desire in the right people to pick up the torch, people that have the expertise to turn a concept into a reality.
            One way to do that is through competitive funding that stimulates invention. So far, I cannot get the attention of the right people to fund such, but I keep trying, maybe go fund me might work. I have no desire to profit from this, but I do have a desire to help start a process that makes it happen.
            Right now I need someone with vision and funds to take the next step. I keep looking.

      • I used to write firmware that would be used to make “Safe” guns. By definition you can’t make a gun safe and it still retain its fiction as a gun.

        Consider the roles a simple S&W K or J frame revolver serves. It can be carried almost any way you dress. It is often used a back up gun in case your primary weapon fails. There are large numbers of used a home defense weapons that have been in place without attention for years.

        As a back up gun it not only serves me but my parter if their gun goes down or can arm someone with that does’t have a gun. If it is keyed to me alone it is useless to someone else.

        Used for home defense do I get one for everyone in the family and when do I get on for the kids and how do we know which one to get in the dark before finding a place to hide? I know I could have done what was needed when I was 10 years old. I had been hunting alone for a year. What do I do when I need a gun the the batteries are dead?

        When it comes to carrying a service pistol that depends on batteries or an electronic connection to turn my weapon on. The things that make a smart gun are just one more thing to break, malfunction, crash, suffer interference in environments with high electrical and magnetic noise, get wet or have dead batteries. There are still folks that carry revolvers because they are more reliable than semi-automatic pistols.

        Every method I’ve seen for building a smart gun is subject to being disabled by attacks from hackers using brute force electronic noise or other electronic means.

  5. “Our opinion of the arm was distinctly favorable.” From an American Rifleman blurb “100 years ago” that appeared in the June 2008 issue. The forerunner to American Rifleman found the gun to be quite accurate and reliable, although the one they tested was in .30 Luger. Assuming gun writers had some integrity in 1908 and that it wasn’t a Colt All-Amercan moment, how did the army come to their opposite viewpoint? The 1907 trials were supposed to start in 1906 but delays, including ammo related ones forced the time table back. The ammo question remained unsettled, and Luger brought his own .45 from Germany. Colt had the inside track, tweaking both the experimental gun and ammo to run reliably together. When Mr. Knoble got ammo to continue his development might shed light on the crude appearance of his gun.

  6. This is the first time I have ever seen a Knoble pistol “in action”, i.e. seen its mechanism actually being “worked”. And I find myself (sort of) disagreeing with Ian for once.

    From all indications, this is not a “true” Maxim/Borchardt type toggle action lock. It is something a bit stranger.

    It is fundamentally the bolt action of the Model 1895 Lee Navy 6mm military rifle, slightly redesigned. The lower carriage, acting rather like that of a dual-recoil artillery piece, takes the place of the shooter’s hand on the bolt handle, moving the bolt assembly back until it hits a fixed frame ramp which cams it up out of engagement with its locking recesses in the upper carriage.

    At which point the bolt continues back on its own to extract, eject, and then move forward under spring pressure in counter-recoil to load, chamber, and relock.

    The cam locking system takes the place of the Maxim/Borchardt rotating “knee joint”. The bolt assembly is only one piece, instead of two.

    In short, the fixed ramp works like a Parabellum’s, but the rest works like the Lee rifle action.

    If nothing else, it shows that the Lee straight-pull action principle, given sufficient engineering improvement, might have made a usable action for a recoil-operated self-loading rifle or possibly even a medium to heavy machine gun.

    BTW, early models of the Parabellum pistols, notably commercial 1900s in 7.65mm, often had magazine bottoms made of wood. Later, they were superseded by cast steel, cast aluminum, or in WW2 production P.08s, a zinc alloy sometime referred to as “Zamak”. So while the wooden bits on the adapted magazine may simply have been for ease of fabrication on a prototype, it’s also possible that any production pieces might have had such wooden magazine components as well.



  7. Sheesh. This pistol never really had a chance. The only way Knoble can get away with not having a trigger guard is by having a very heavy trigger pull. You would therefore need to really WANT TO KILL something in order to fire the gun (and presumably anyone doing so is being helped by adrenaline to rid himself of a knife-wielding mugger).

    • The Spanish JoLoAr high-power blowback didn’t have a trigger guard, either;

      Also, “back in the day”, cutting away the front half of the trigger guard on a revolver was a common gunfighter’s trick. They left just enough of the lower part to keep the trigger from being pushed back by being shoved into a pocket or holster. J.H. “Fitz” Fitzgerald at Colt was a proponent of this “mod”;

      Texas Rangers tended to do a similar trick on the 1911;

      Of course, they tended to carry the 1911 hammer down on a loaded chamber, and thumb-cock it on the draw like a Peacemaker, so in their case maybe it wasn’t quite as hazardous as it appears.

      Also, a lot of older European revolvers, ranging from pocket pieces to full-grown service pistols, had folding triggers and no trigger guard whatsoever, like the Italian Bodeo M1889 10.4mm army revolver;

      Keep in mind that at the time, the pistol in military use was still thought of mainly as a cavalryman’s weapon. Thus it not only had to be powerful enough to bring down an opposing cavalryman’s horse, it also had to easily manipulated with just one hand because you needed the other hand for the reins.

      So anything which facilitated not having to use both hands to fiddle with the pistol, and anything that helped ensure that you got the first shot off fast, was considered SOP.

      Seen in this light, Knoble really wasn’t all that far out of line for the era.



        • Having had both, unless the C/96 is a 1932 Schnellfeuer (preferably in .38 Super Auto or 9mm Mauser Export), I’ll take a Model 1894 Winchester in .44 Rem. Mag.

          Next to a self-loader, the lever action is still about the fastest-firing repeating rifle there is, possibly tied with a pump-action like the old Colt Lightning. Either one leave a bolt-action in the dust.



  8. The photo seeming in the 1907 Government Test Report demonstrates the Knoble pistol having double action lockwork and a trigger guard which presenting more than enough security for the time. The gun itself looks having rather different breech locking system in a combination of folding arms giving the unlocking effect for usual “lug and counter recess” construction which very much resemling common toggle lock mechanism used in Borchardt or Luger.

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