You probably thought Nagant was the first…

…but here’s a revolver (a carbine in this case) patented in 1852, that wedged the cylinder against the barrel, to eliminate the cylinder gap while firing;
It was also a lever action of sorts.

It came to my attention in comments here.

Previously, the Colt’s “Root” model of 1855 was the earliest true revolving carbine I’d known. Although there were repeating flintlock rifles and carbines from much earlier which used a revolving cylinder, the cylinder in those was advanced by grabbing it with the hand and rotating it manually. The flint versions that I’ve seen had multiple priming pans and frizzens, so they would have been a bit dainty in handling.

Another interesting bit of trivia is that Colt’s had a fully enclosed frame revolver (meaning it had a solid top-strap) long before the Remington/Beals, but Colt’s didn’t bother using the idea for their famous Navy and Army models, and they continued making “open top” revolvers right up into the 1870s. To put it another way; there wasn’t really all that much difference in the open top design compared to the enclosed frame designs when using the relatively low pressure black powder charges typical in a handgun of the time.

And let it not be said that the American founders could not have foreseen the repeating rifle or pistol as a fighting weapon. Many veterans of the American Revolution survived well into the 1840s, ’50s and even ’60s, and they didn’t suddenly cry out, “Waaait a minute!– We never expected anything like THIS!!! We’d better re-write that there second amendment thingy, and right now too…!!!” The Colt Patterson revolver came out in 1836 (an “assault weapon” of its day if there ever was one) and I don’t believe anyone in the Supreme Court suddenly re-thought the whole thing about the right to keep and bear arms now that we had concealable, practical, multi-shot firearms. The Colt “Walker” which was far more powerful and fired a bigger and heavier bullet came out in 1847.


6 thoughts on “You probably thought Nagant was the first…

  1. sirs:

    re: the colt “walker” as an assault weapon

    you’ve touched on a matter which was the focus of my 3rd year writing project in law school, some 36 years ago.

    the first of the gun control cases which appear in american jurisprudence came out of the frisky night life associated with the mississippi river boat scene post civil war. the courts did not question the right of persons to own firearms, and did not treat the 2nd amendment as presenting novel legal problems …. jurists viewed it as an established right owing and spring from antecedent rights to the constitution, inhering in the people. justice storey, one of the first great american compilers of the law, viewed it that way, and his view was granted great deference, and treated as authority. (there was no “interpretation” of the 2nd amendment, as it clearly stated what it meant.)

    the courts, however, viewed some aspects of gun possession as subject to reasonable criminal restraints by the state legislatures. but, not as you might expect, and contrary to the views in the article about the big colts.

    the courts said that those arms which might be used by a citizen against a usurping governmental authority, and worn openly and avowedly as weapons of political combat, were simply beyond the reach of the legislature. thus, the walker, or the dragoon, could be held and borne without restraint.

    the courts took a different view, however, with regard to weapons more suitable for domestic affray, and riot over gambling, whoring and other gentlemanly pursuits not directly related to politics. the courts called this “civil affray,” to be distinguished from weapons being carried for legitimate political dispute.

    such things as vest pocket revolvers, and derringers, and the weapons commonly used by low scalawags were not beyond reasonable legislative restraint, and their use and carriage could be regulated.

    dragoons and walkers could not be touched, because for legitimate political ends. “pea shooters,” on the other hand, for use in brawls and domestic discord, and for illicit behavior over the card table, were subject to reasonable regulation, this regulation to be reviewed by the courts to make sure it did not infringe upon political expression.

    there was no view at all towards restricting the right of firearms possession, in order to prevent the citizenry from being as well armed as state agents. indeed, those kinds of weapons looked upon with favor were precisely those kinds that gave the citizenry equal firepower, and the ability to confront usurping state agents.

    all in all, an interesting take on things.

    john jay
    whitman college, 1970
    university of oregon school of law, 1977

    • John,

      I’m sure you are correct.

      I would only add that because self defense against common criminals is a natural human right, and being that concealed carry is a natural and legitimate part of self defense, then even during the early post Civil War period, as you say when concealed carry was deemed subject to restriction, states were thereby infringing on the right to bear arms. Now that we have fairly well established Incorporation Doctrine, doubly so.

      That some justices agreed with the restrictions (as some do now agree with even more egregious and potentially deadly restrictions) does not modify the original amendment, the word “infringed” being about as absolute as absolute can get– It merely puts certain justices in contravention of their Oaths of Office. That we have heretofore generally done nothing to prosecute said violations does not mean that the constitution has by such inaction or complacency been amended (nor could any amendment in reality remove any natural human right as such things are beyond the power of any Earthly authority). “Failure to Enforce” clauses in contracts are very common and support this position by example.

      • Anytime you hear a judge use the term “balancing” in the context of answering a constitutional question, you know that you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the constitution and who is planning to stomp all over it.

        • Also “living document” and “precedent”. Citing Precedent as an excuse to limit freedom is exactly the same thing as a six year-old caught shoplifting who claims, “All my friends were doing it” as an excuse. Criminals always have an excuse. Charles Manson’s “you made me do it” rant was very popular.

  2. correction — “worn” and not “warn.” sheesh, the brain does go to sleep every now and again.

    “called”, not “call.” snooze, again.

    oh, well, time to take the pills. laughing.

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