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Old 06-23-2005, 02:10 AM
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Default First "repeating" rifle?

What was the first rifle/shoulder arm that could fire more than one shot at a time, as used by any military forces?
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Old 06-23-2005, 07:42 PM
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Blue,

I know of numerous flintlock "repeating" firearms, one as early as 1750...but these were civilian sporting or defense arms.

The first repeating rifle adopted by the military THAT I AM AWARE OF was Colt's Model 1855 revolving rifle. It was adopted for trial by a small number of US Army units and saw action in some of the skirmishes with Indians and limited use in the Civil War.
I believe Berdan's sharpshooters used this rifle while waiting for the arrival of their breech-loaders.

This rifle loaded just like the cap and ball revolvers, and, like those pistols, would ocasionally discharge more than one chamber at once. Because it was a rifle and one of the shooter's hands was supporting the barrel ahead of the cylinder, a multiple discharge usually meant some fingers were lost. Because of this, and it's slow loading, it did not find great favor with the military and the US Government eventually sold them off for 42 cents each just to be rid of them.

Col Murph or someone may know of an earlier military repeater.
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Old 06-24-2005, 12:37 AM
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Thanks, Rigger...

I saw an HC program about the LAST STAND the other night, where it showed that the Garry Owen were using single shot rifles, and it hampered them considerably.

So, I began to wonder when it might have been that our forces got rifles that would dependably fire more than one round without reloading.
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Old 06-24-2005, 06:54 AM
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Blue,

You're right about the Little Bighorn fight. Custer's troopers were armed with Colt 1873 SAA 45 caliber revolvers and Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield rifles.

The Trapdoor Springfield was our military rifle until 1892 when the Army adopted the .30 caliber Krag-Jorgensen rifle...a bolt action repeater.
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Old 06-24-2005, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by 82Rigger Blue,

You're right about the Little Bighorn fight. Custer's troopers were armed with Colt 1873 SAA 45 caliber revolvers and Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield rifles.

The Trapdoor Springfield was our military rifle until 1892 when the Army adopted the .30 caliber Krag-Jorgensen rifle...a bolt action repeater.
If I recall correctly, the ratio of shots fired by tribes vs 7th Cav was something 12:3 per minute... so a lot more lead was found at troopers skirmish positions than brass casings.
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Old 06-24-2005, 02:40 PM
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Default Here's another one

This article was written by a local member:

The Firearm Inventions of Edward Lindner

Man is an inventive being, soon after the discovery of firearms, he recognised that the chief problem with the new, and still very primitive weapons, was the time consuming loading operation, which placed strict limits on the rapidity with which they could be fired. It was of course possible to accelerate the speed of firing by keeping a number of loaded weapons to hand or to place multi-charges in each barrel, or to increase the number of barrels, and those methods were used far into the 19th. century. However with the large number of single shot military rifles round the most practical solution appeared to be a breech loading self obturating cartridge.--Such an inventor was an American of German decent who worked in conjunction with the Amoskeg Manufacturing Co. of New York-- This then is a brief report on the firearms of "EDWARD LINDNER".



The first recorded mention of Lindner's firearms was for a repeating percussion firearm, in May 1857 he obtained a patent for a "many shot repeating firearm" which had a 6 shot percussion cylinder: a tubular magazine under the barrel for externally primed combustible envelope cartridges: and an automatically feeding percussion cap magazine located between the recoil shield and the back of the cylinder.



U.S. patent 17382 was issued on the 26th May 1857, for an improvement in firearms. Although Lindners novel multi-shot was not mass produced anyone with an interest in repeating firearms of this period will be impressed by the ingenuity and mechanical skill. What appears at first to be the external hammer with a cocking spur, is not the hammer but the cocking piece only, the actual rod shaped hammer that strikes the nipples on the back of the cylinder is entirely concealed. The cocking piece performed 4 functions: 1] advanced the travelling rack of 8 cones joined in series which is located between the barrel and the tubular magazine. 2] retracts and cocks the internal hammer, which when fired snapped forward through the recoil shield and percussion cap magazine to strike the nipple on the back of the cylinder chamber. 3] retracts the cylinder stop from its recess to allow the cylinder to rotate. 4] rotates the cylinder 1/6 of a turn counter clockwise. Advancing the travelling rack by cocking causes the rack to engage the upward projecting stud of the cartridge follower inside the tubular magazine so that one combustible cartridge will be fed into the bottom of the cylinders when the travelling rack of cones moves backwards on firing the firearm.



In the only known sample of this firearm we find it had the following dimensions: barrel- .48 calibre, 15 3/8 inches long: cylinder length 1 1/4 inches long and 2 inches in diameter: total length 33 1/2 inches weight 5 pounds 12 ounces: cartridge length 1 inch with 6 in the cylinders and 9 in the tubular magazine. After 3 chambers of the fully loaded cylinders had been fired, the first fired chamber will have reached the bottom to be loaded when next cocked for the fourth shot, the first cartridge from the magazine will be delivered to the empty bottom chamber. Remarkable was the word to describe a 15 shot repeater in 1857 and had it been massed produced, might have ranked in public acceptance with that other contemporary magazine repeater the Volcanic. In the known sample there is only one magazine tube but there is provision for 2 more: one to he left and one to the right, each capable of holding 9 cartridges in turn, thus it would have contained 33 shots when fully loaded. Remember the barrel was just over 15 in. long and each cartridge 1 in. long, therefore say a 19 in. barrel would have contained 45 shots. There are also patents for Artillery pieces based on the same principle, for fortifications or Marine use or whenever its great weight is no objection. Lindner also pointed out that this mode of using more than one "charging barrel" is of great advantage to pistols of say 5 inches long so as to fire from 20 to 25 shots in succession. Thus the Lindner was a patented percussion weapon having the most firepower of the period and probably only the advent at the same time of the metallic cartridge stopped it from becoming better received.



LINDNERS SINGLE SHOT RIFLE. The claims of the patent read as follows: 1] The method herein described for operating or closing the breech, and forming a tight joint at the junction of the barrel with the breech, by the employment of a screw ferrule or sleeve fitting an outer screw thread on the barrel, and provided with an annular flange [flat handle] for grasping and releasing the breech, and for drawing the same backwards and forwards in the direction of the barrel, to or from the rear end thereof upon said screw sleeve, being operated substantially as herein described [the breech block being lifted by a spring]. 2] In combination with a movable box within the breech, constructed and operating as described, the packing thereof by means of asbestos or its equivalent, in the manner and for the purposes described. 3] Locking the screw threaded sleeve that operates the breech by forming the pivot lever, which serves to turn said sleeve, with a cam arranged to act upon a lock pin by pressing down said lever after the breech is drawn tight, as herein set forth.







This most renown type is that as was used in the American Civil war where 892 breech loading carbines were purchased on Lindners patent 22,378 dated March 29 1859, at a cost of $19,859.00 along with 100,000 cartridges at $2.262.00. The firearm itself being .58 calibre, bolt action, paper cartridge. Barrel length 20 inches, overall length 33 1/4 inches, light in weight, most with bright finish, hammer showing uneven surfaces. They were issued to the 1st Michigan Cavalry in late 1861 and used in 1862 against Stonewall Jackson in the Shenondoah Valley, and later at the second battle of Mannasas. The model 1842 regular rifle was changed to this type using all of the original arm, including the lock, and adding the chamber. The calibre of these being .54 indicating a great need at the time as the official calibre had been changed to .58, and the breech screws were stamped "patented March 29, 1859". The number thus converted has not been recorded. Bolt action rifles were often designed according to the patent taken out by Lindner and from 1867 on Bavaria, for example adapted old muzzle- loaders [model 1858] using this system, over 100,000 were converted. Austria tested in 1867 a needle gun based on this principle but never adopted needle guns.[see cartridge drawings]





GAS-OPERATED FIREARMS The development of the self loader was a slow process, starting in the mid 19th century with the invention of a gas under barrel piston which unlocked and raised the breech of a percussion breech loader. This principle was obtained on a U.S Patent in 1854 by EDWARD LINDNER. While the gas operated piston ejected the spent cartridge and loaded a new one in the chamber, the gun still had to be cocked and the primer installed by hand before each shot. This Lindner patent is only of interest because it was the first to use the gas from the gunpowder to operate the mechanism. The gun itself was not a great success but neither were the experiments of others between 1866 and 1874.
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Old 06-24-2005, 03:54 PM
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Interesting history...

What, then, did eventually become the very first production military shoulder arm that would dependably repeat and got wide distribution?
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Old 06-24-2005, 05:14 PM
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I thought the Spencer lever action Carbine
issued to Northern Troops during the Civil War was the first repeating issued rifle??
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Old 06-24-2005, 05:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry D I thought the Spencer lever action Carbine
issued to Northern Troops during the Civil War was the first repeating issued rifle??
This one?

Artillery, Arms & Ammunition
Spencer Carbine "Most Famous Civil War Firearm"

"Reporting to the Union army's chief of ordnance, Gen. James H. Wilson wrote: "There is no doubt that the Spencer carbine is the best firearm yet put into the hands of the soldier, both for economy of ammunition and maximum effect, physical and moral." Indeed the .52 caliber Spencer carbine had a terribly demoralizing effect on the Confederate soldiers and became the most famous of all Civil War small arms.

At an overall length of 39 inches and a weight of 8 pounds 4 ounces, the carbine was 8 inches shorter and 1 pound 12 ounces lighter than the Spencer rifle. It could fire a magazine of seven copper rimfire cartridges in 30 seconds. The tubular magazine was fed into the end of the butt stock and extended its entire length to feed cartridges into the breech by means of a coil spring. Lowering the operating lever dropped the breech block and extracted the spent cartridge. The same motion caused the magazine automatically to feed another round into the chamber; closing the breech seated the cartridge. Thus, all the soldier had to do was cock, aim, and pull the trigger. With the production of the Blakeslee Cartridge Box late in the war, the Spencer-carrying soldier had 10 to 13 extra loaded magazine tubes at his disposal, giving him extremely formidable and rapid firepower.

The Union soldiers who carried the remarkable lever-action, breech-loading repeaters must have felt themselves invincible when in combat against Confederates carrying their slow-firing muzzleloaders. Much of the South's ordnance was captured from Union soldiers over the course of the war, but since the Confederacy could not produce the rimfire cartridges for the Yankees' repeaters, the captured weapons were useless to the Rebels.

The first Spencers used by Union soldiers, which had been bought privately or by individual units, may have appeared on battlefields as early as late spring 1862. The first government-bought Spencers were delivered to the troops in October 1863. By the end of the war, 200,000 Spencer carbines had been put into service.

Fascinating Fact: Out of the 200,000 Spencers in use by the end of the war, only 94,196 were purchased by the U.S. government; the rest were purchased privately or by individual units."

Another "interesting fact" (if it is one)... noticing that last sentence there, I guess is evidence that in ALL warfare, fighters to what they have to do to equip themselves as best they can, by public or from private mean, eh?
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Old 06-24-2005, 07:11 PM
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I think that most will agree that the Spencer was the first PRACTICAL repeating rifle adopted by the military.

Its ultimate success and popularity pose the question:

Why, then, 13 years AFTER the success of the Spencer, did so many soldiers lose their lives and/or scalps fighting with a SINGLE SHOT rifle?


The Spencer:
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