Warren Evans rifle. Great aunt of the Calico and Bison submachine guns

Warren Evans rifle. Great aunt of the Calico and Bison submachine guns
Warren Evans rifle. Great aunt of the Calico and Bison submachine guns
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For many people who are fond of firearms, not in the last place is such a parameter as the capacity of the store. For some unknown reason, many prefer a weapon that can fire as many times as possible without replacing the store, forgetting that the store also needs to be replenished with ammunition. Add to this the more complex design of a large-capacity store, which is usually present, and everything turns out not at all as rosy as it is shown in computer games. After all, there the shops, apparently, equip several more people behind the camera, they, probably, carry all the weapons and serve them when necessary.

With all this, there is another opinion. For many, larger-capacity stores are a great evil that cannot be tolerated. But this opinion cannot be called true either. For a short battle, when only equipped magazines are enough, the large capacity of these significantly expands the possibilities if the enemy is armed with weapons with smaller magazines. Let's just say that it is worth making a verdict on condition that many variables are taken into account, starting from the class of weapons and ending with a specific situation and possible options for its development.

Warren Evans rifle. Submachine gun great aunt

One of the most popular domestic samples of hand-held firearms with a sufficiently large magazine is the Bizon submachine gun. The unusual type of weapon and the design of its store made this submachine gun very recognizable even by people who are not interested in weapons. This is not surprising: at the time of the appearance of this weapon, it was presented as a breakthrough in the domestic arms industry, casually mentioning the Calico PP.

But what if I told you that in the hands of a Russian sailor one could see a rifle with a semblance of an auger magazine back in 1878, long before the now popular submachine guns with similar magazines? I hope I am interested in such a statement, so let's get acquainted with the great-aunt of the Bison submachine gun - the Evans rifle.

A few words about the designer and the history of Evans rifles

With the beginning of the use of metal cases in cartridges, rifles and carbines began to appear en masse on the firearms market, which could boast of a large store capacity. Old Europe in terms of innovations, although she tried to be in the spotlight, but could not keep up with the United States. It was in the United States in the second half of the 19th century that many unique weapons appeared, which could boast not only of their interesting design, but also of good characteristics, not bad for their time, of course.

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It is worth noting that, despite the huge number of new, very promising weapons of that time in the United States, only a few entered the market and received at least some fame and distribution, and among these units was the Evans rifle.

Warren Evans was neither a hereditary gunsmith nor a designer by education, moreover, his specialty was very far from the world of firearms - he was a dentist. However, neither the lack of technical education, nor the high level of competition among gunsmiths prevented him from creating a weapon with one of the most interesting power systems.

Oddly enough, but the main idea at the beginning of the design of a new rifle was not a weapon magazine, but a barrel bore locking system, which, to be honest, was very similar to the work of the Spencer locking system - a swinging bolt operated by a lever. However, the similarity of designs did not prevent Warren Evans from obtaining a patent for his bolt group in 1868. With the receipt of a patent, the self-taught designer did not launch the production of new weapons, knowing full well that it would not withstand competition. For a new rifle, it was necessary to come up with something new that others did not have, which would ensure guaranteed success for this weapon. The increased capacity magazine has become just such a "feature" of the weapon. An interesting point was that the designer did not patent his store separately, but patented the bolt group, which, in addition to reloading the weapon, activated the magazine mechanism. Perhaps the reason for this lies in the fact that the very design of the store was invented in ancient Greece, but, of course, it was not used to supply ammunition to power firearms.

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With the receipt of the last patent, Warren Evans and his brother decided to launch a new weapon, which was done in 1873. On the basis of the enterprise for the production of agricultural equipment, the production of Evans rifles was launched, and the new arms company itself was named Evans Rifle Manufacturing Company. In order to assess the scale of production, it is enough to say that only 25 people worked in the new arms company. It seems ridiculous, especially by modern standards, when crowds of "effective" managers stand over each worker. However, this did not prevent the company from releasing more than 12 thousand rifles in a very short time, receiving a government order from the US Navy, supplying its weapons during the Russian-Turkish war and aiming with guaranteed success on the civilian market. That is, we can say with confidence that a person's talent was not limited only to the abilities of a designer, but also in managing an enterprise he showed himself as a very good organizer. Unfortunately, history is silent about what kind of dentist he was.

In order to close all niches in the market, rifles were produced in three versions: for the civilian market, as well as military versions in the form of a rifle and a carbine. Basically, they were absolutely no different, only the capacity of the store and the length of the barrel differed.

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First of all, Evans offered his weapons to the US Army, where they abandoned them. The reason for the refusal was the ammunition used in the weapon. The fact is that at that time Evans offered his rifles and carbines, powered by cartridges of his own design. The cartridge proposed by Evans consisted of a metal case 25.4 mm long, a shellless lead bullet weighing 13 grams and two grams of gunpowder. The muzzle velocity of the bullet was 255 meters per second, which was a very average result even at that time. This cartridge was designated as.44 Evans.

Own version of the cartridge was the main mistake of the designer, since no one had the desire to switch to a new cartridge, and Evans could not expand the production of a new ammunition on such a scale to meet the needs of a potential customer. As it turned out later, the weapon could be easily adapted to almost any ammunition. It would be much more logical to develop a rifle for the ammunition common at that time, and only then, with the advent of certain success, introduce your own cartridge, but only those who do nothing at all do not make mistakes. In addition to ammunition, the US army was not satisfied with the fact that the cartridges were not recorded in the store, which made the weapon turn into a rattle, but nothing could be done about this drawback without reducing the reliability of the ammunition supply.Subsequently, the designer made variants of his weapon chambered for.44-40 and.44 S&W Russian

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But the Navy became interested in weapons. These rifles began to be acquired as personal weapons of the crew. By the way, according to one version, it was in this way that Evans' rifles first fell into the hands of Russian sailors. One of the ships acquired by the Russian Empire was equipped with this weapon. They liked the new rifles so much that there was even an order, not only for the Russian fleet, but also for the army, which was not destined to be fulfilled, but more on that below.

The weapon received real success during the Russian-Turkish war, this is the second way along which rifles and carbines fell into the hands of our compatriots, however, in the form of captured weapons. As mentioned above, Evans' magazine rifles and carbines became very interested in the Russian Empire, and the money raised from the sale of weapons to the US Navy and supplies during the Russian-Turkish war allowed the designer to expand production to meet the needs of a fairly large army. In 1879, the designer demonstrated a rifle and a carbine chambered for.44 Russian, which completely satisfied the potential customer. Immediately, after getting acquainted with the weapon, a list of requirements was drawn up that made purely cosmetic changes to rifles and carbines. Even negotiations began to conclude a contract for the production and supply of these weapons to the Russian army, but … the arms company Evans Rifle Manufacturing Company was closed.

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Or rather, the arms company was closed. All in the same 1879, Oliver Winchester bought out both patents and production from Evans, after which the production was closed, and the patents were not used anywhere else. Until the weapon was only gaining popularity, and the production capacity of the company was small, the large representatives of the arms market did not pay attention to the small arms company and new weapons. However, as soon as there was a threat of losing their homes, Winchester acted as before: he bought and simply threw away a more promising project than the projects of his own company.

It is difficult to imagine the amount that Evans could agree with, provided that there were arms shipments to one of the largest countries on the nose. He had the opportunity not only to earn quite a lot of money, but also to leave his name in history along with famous gunsmiths. Perhaps the offer was one of those that cannot be refused, which was quite in the spirit of Oliver Winchester, but now one can only guess, since, of course, there is no intelligible information.

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So the weapon became a "victim" of the Winchester company, as well as the Spencer rifle, similar in design to the bolt group, as well as dozens of other promising developments. But this topic about the "victims" of Oliver Winchester is worthy of a separate article, let's return to the Evans rifle.

Evans rifle design

As already mentioned above, the rocking bolt controlled by a lever, similar to the Spencer bolt, became the basis for the design of the weapon. Like the Spencer rifles, ammunition was fed from a magazine built into the butt of the weapon. So, when the bolt was opened, the spent cartridge case was removed from the chamber and rolled itself, during the extraction process, or fell out when the bolt was closed, pushed by a new cartridge.

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I must say that at that time magazines located in the butt of rifles were quite a "fashionable" phenomenon. Many predicted that in the future it is in the butt that the weapons store will be located, and everything else is living out its last days. In principle, such reasoning is quite logical, because the butt is used as much as possible to store cleaning supplies, but the time and further development of handguns decided otherwise.

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The main feature of the new rifle is its magazine.It is implemented somewhat differently than modern auger magazines, but the essence remains the same - the spiral arrangement of ammunition and their supply when turning the shaft holding the cartridges. The design is called "Archimedes screw" and is a magazine for this weapon. Inside the hollow tube there is a fixed guide, wound in a spiral. In the center is a rotating shaft with four valleys to hold ammunition. It should be noted that the shaft itself can be any "star-shaped" in cross section, it all depends on the dimensions of the ammunition and the store itself.

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It all works as follows. After the shot has been fired, the shooter unlocks the bolt by the lever, at this moment, the spent cartridge case is extracted and it is placed on a pallet made with a separate part on the right side of the receiver. Simultaneously with the extraction of the spent cartridge case, the obliquely moving protrusion in the bolt body abuts against one of the edges of the weapon magazine shaft. Its motion causes the shaft to rotate slightly less than 90 degrees. In the process of turning the magazine shaft, absolutely all the cartridges rest against the ends of the sleeves on the spiral guide and move forward a quarter of their length. Thus, when the bolt is fully open, the bottom of the sleeve of the new cartridge appears in the path of its movement. The moment the shooter closes the bolt, the bolt body enters the groove on the magazine shaft, aligning it and pushing the new cartridge into the chamber.

In the first versions of Evans' magazine rifles, casings were ejected through a hole in the receiver, on the right side of the weapon. Subsequently, this hole was closed with a lid that moved along with the rifle bolt. Thus, the rifle was completely protected from dust when the bolt of the weapon was closed.

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The magazine was equipped with cartridges after being used up, one cartridge at a time, through the hole on the butt plate. Moreover, after a new cartridge was inserted, the arrow had to be pulled by the bolt lever, and so on for each new cartridge inserted into the store.

Such a simple design, without springs, without small, difficult-to-manufacture parts, made it possible to place a large amount of ammunition while maintaining the small dimensions of the weapon.

Positive and negative qualities of the Evans rifle

The main advantage of the Evans dentist's magazine rifle was its spacious magazine. Military versions of the rifle and carbine could fire 36 times without replenishing ammunition. The civilian version had a smaller store - 24 rounds. If we talk about the capacity of the weapons store in terms of its practical use on the battlefield, then one experienced shooter could fire 36 shots in 19 seconds, 10 shooters have already fired 360 shots in the same time. At a time when military clashes took place between opponents walking wall to wall, ten shooters with such weapons, literally, mowed everything in front of them in a very short period of time. The advantages of such a rate of fire without pauses to replenish the store were obvious, but there were also disadvantages.

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Oddly enough, but the main disadvantage of Evans' rifles was their back store. The equipment of the magazines was not the fastest and most convenient - after a new cartridge was inserted, the bolt of the weapon had to be set in motion, which took a lot of time. But this was not the main drawback of Evans' magazine rifles. The main negative point was that the magazine could not be replenished with ammunition in full until the cartridges were used up after the previous replenishment of the magazine. For example, out of 36 cartridges, only 10 were used up and there was time to replenish the weapon magazine. The shooter pushed a new ammunition into the magazine, pulled the bolt lever, the magazine swallowed a new cartridge, but at the same time the rifle “spit out” one of the ammunition not yet used.Thus, in order to replenish the magazine of his rifle to the maximum capacity, the shooter had to move the old cartridges from the beginning to the end of the magazine, one at a time, and then add new ones to them, so that there were no empty gaps between them. In other words, when the magazine was fully equipped and when it was replenished, it was necessary to torment the shutter lever 36 times, spending practically the same time intervals on the procedure.

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It is worth mentioning that in some sources there is a description of a rifle with a hinged lid for equipping a weapons store. Such a design would indeed significantly speed up reloading and simplify the replenishment of a still not empty store with new ammunition. However, apart from textual references to this design, I personally could not find a single image with this hinged cover. So it is quite possible that such a device is either an inaccuracy in translation, or we are talking about single versions of weapons, but clearly not a mass phenomenon for Evans rifles.

Conclusion

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Whoever says anything, not all successful weapon designs find their place in history. The Evans rifle perfectly demonstrates that under the influence of a number of circumstances, a weapon that is very promising and superior, in some of its parameters, to other samples of the same class of its time, can be forgotten, like the designer who designed it. Of course, one can refer to the fact that maybe the weapon was not so good, since it did not take a well-known place in history. But the adoption of the US Navy, the supply of the rifle during the Russian-Turkish war, its distribution in the civilian market, the interest in weapons in the Russian Empire and, in the end, the actions of Oliver Winchester speak quite the opposite.

Do not make Warren Evans a mistake with the development of weapons based on your own cartridge, perhaps this rifle could be adopted by the US Army, and having large and, most importantly, regular orders on hand, one could acquire both financial capabilities and relevant acquaintances so that something could be opposed to Winchester. Nevertheless, even with its own patron, the weapon managed to take part in a military conflict, and serve in the public service, not to mention the civilian market. According to various sources, such characters from history as Buffalo Bill, Keith Carson and others possessed a magazine rifle of Evans dentist. So the weapon still left its mark in history, albeit it is known for the most part only to fans of the Wild West and to those who are interested in the history of weapons.

Perhaps without Oliver Winchester getting involved in the Evans Rifle Manufacturing Company, we would now know another major firearms manufacturer with a history. Perhaps, domestic weapons could have taken a different path of development with the widespread use of auger magazines, but, unfortunately, it all ended before it really started.

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