Porter Turret Rifle (2nd Variation) – Unsafe in Any Direction

The Porter Turret Rifle was patented in 1851 by Perry W. Porter, and is a vertical turret design – meaning that it has a revolving cylinder in which the chambers are aligned pointing outward radially from the center axis (instead of all being parallel to the center axis as in a traditional revolver). There were a few turret rifle and pistol designs in this period (another well known one being the Cochran) before mainstream revolvers really solidified their dominance on the market, but they were never very successful. In addition to being complex and expensive, the risk of a chain fire causing a round to his the shooter or a bystander was worrisome to many potential buyers.

Porter made three variations of his turret rifle, and this is an example of the 2nd variation. Where the first pattern guns were made in Taunton Massachusetts, the second and third patterns were made in New York. In this second pattern, Porter added a grip safety under the action lever, a pair of flash hole guards, a serpentine loading lever attached to the top of the barrel, and an improved primer feeding system, now designed to use standard percussion caps. About 350-400 of this pattern were made, of the roughly 1250 total Porter turret rifles produced.


    • I think it was a percussion pellet not a cap. The pellets were priming powder pressed into shape then varnished to waterproof them. Apart from fouling by powder residue there wouldn’t be anything left.

      • The horizontal design would be better/worse. It could be marketed as “The Suicide Machine” or maybe “The Doomsday Device” as you could potentially kill everyone surrounding you.

  1. Lovely mechanics, really ingenious. Unfortunately appearance of parts in contact with flame is marred by pitting corrosion, probably result of powder acidic by-product.

  2. “(…)turret design – meaning that it has a revolving cylinder in which the chambers are aligned pointing outward radially from the center axis(…)”
    This reminded me about revolver patented by W.B.McCarty:
    invented no later than 1909, it was supposed to use rim-fire metallic cartridges, which would probably lower chance to activate more than one powder charge at once to level acceptable for users.

  3. This looks like a much better design than the Porter rifle Ian showed us 2 years back, and unlike the first patten a chain fire would not hit the firer’s friends, and might not hit the firer. On a 9 shot turret the 2 rear facing shots are at 160 and 200 degrees to the barrel, but the sights are the other side of the barrel, so the 200 barrel might miss your face: the 160 will probably take your arm off, but if you’d fired 5 shots that would not happen, and after 6 your face is safe and all.

  4. Sorry for two posts in a row, but I have just watched the video again because something was niggling me, and I now know it’s the depth of the chambers. The are really shallow! Barely an Ian finger width deep, I guess to increase the distance between the flash holes. How much use would a .50 slug be if shot with the little black power this gun would take?

  5. Nowhere near as usable as one of Remington’s harmonica repeaters, and those were a bit fragile for frontier use.

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