“Even if you bring nine pregnant women together, the baby will still not be born in a month. The idea must mature!"
Weapons and firms. In the history of the tough competition into which, against their will, the largest American arms manufacturers Colt and Winchester were involved, there was, surprisingly, considerable fault of the talented designers of that time. Ideas were flying in the air. They picked them up on the fly and immediately embodied them in patents and in metal. At the same time, each tried to bypass the patents of the other, and firms - to buy cheaper and sell more expensive.
In these conditions, branded marketing, that is, market research, was of particular importance. But at that time, scientific methods of studying consumer sympathies were still in their infancy, and a lot depended on the personal qualities of a particular leader. He managed to foresee what the market would need in a year, managed during this time the designer to create the desired sample - and the company broke the bank. The same Browning managed to present a new rifle after two weeks of work. But he was not alone. And besides, he could not work for two companies at the same time. As a result, a number of his developments remained at the level of experimental images, although in themselves they were very good. And today we will tell you about one such rifle of his …
By 1895, the Winchester company began to realize the need for a significant renewal of the range and the creation of new samples. In 1882, William Mason began work on one of them (US Patent No. 278,987) to counter the Colt rifle and push it out of the market. Then in response, in 1890, Winchester introduced the John Browning.22 caliber pump-action rifle. And the model of 1890 - the famous "gallery gun", became extremely popular as a result.
And it should be noted that Browning will like the pump-action recharge mechanism. Well, in total, between 1887 and 1895, Browning patented four rifles at once with bolts of various designs, which also differed in the reloading system. Three years later, Winchester introduced the M1893 pump-action shotgun, which eventually evolved into the famous Model 1897, with over a million pieces produced. But he worked at the same time on other designs.
So, in April 1895, Browning filed a patent for a rifle caliber rifle (.30). And in September 1895 he received a US patent No. 545672 for it. And this was also a "pump", but only a completely unusual pump. Winchester christened her the musket. Well, this name was considered the best there.
And then, without delay, in the same September 1895, Winchester bought a patent for this rifle from John Browning. But, like many of his other designs, she did not release it. That is, it was bought with one single purpose: to prevent all other firms from using the principle of operation laid down in it. Moreover, apparently, having a weakness for rifles with a lever mechanism, or perhaps, considering them a brand of the company, released another rifle. Also 1895: our famous "Russian Winchester". But patented a little later - in November 1895 (US patent No. 549345).
Meanwhile, if we compare both models, then, perhaps, the "September patent" will be more perfect than the "November" one, and certainly faster - no doubt about it.
In a pump-action rifle from September 1895, the bolt was locked by means of a skewed bolt.But outwardly, the prototype, made in Browning's tool shop, was even somewhat similar to the M1895 Winchester. In any case, they have very similar receivers with a box magazine integrated into them. And the whole difference lies in the fact that the shutter in it was twitched not by a lever, but by means of a clutch sliding around the forend, connected to the shutter by a rather long rod. It was unusual, but it was convenient.
The bolt rod connects the bolt inside the bolt carrier closed from above on the right side of the rifle. The bolt handle itself is made of a U-shaped stamped metal sheet that wraps around the rifle's forend. Coarse shading has been applied to improve grip. The stem only very slightly extends beyond the dimensions of the receiver. So such a device does not deliver any inconvenience to the user of the rifle.
Interestingly, Browning designed this prototype in such a way that the rifle magazine could be loaded from below, rather than through the top of the receiver. He added a hinged magazine cover with "ears" for fingers to open it easily, and a spring-loaded pusher that, when the cover was open, allowed cartridges to be inserted into the magazine and then closed.
When we open the store and flip the lid down, we see how the holder goes down to allow charging. Thus, the rifle can be loaded with the bolt closed. Conveniently, the receiver is very well sheltered from debris and dirt. Another thing is that it would not be very convenient to load a combat rifle in this way. Although the French were loading their Lebel rifle, inserting cartridges into it one at a time? And they charged her for a long time.
In the patent description, Browning explained that his goal was to improve the breech box magazine firearms by developing:
“… A simple, compact, robust, highly efficient and safe shotgun, made up of relatively few parts and designed with particular emphasis on the ability to load the box magazine with cartridges from the bottom of the frame by hand, while the bolt is in the closed position, so that the shooter can be loaded without activating the entire mechanism of the rifle or without removing the cartridge from the barrel of the rifle, if any."
In the original drawings of the patent, we can see a flat spring acting on a holder running under the barrel in front of the magazine. Inside the magazine is a pair of so-called "spring fingers" that act on the cartridges inside the magazine and hold them in the correct position, as shown in figure 7 of the patent. In Figure 8, we can see what Browning calls a "box guide" that guides the cartridges "preventing them from shifting when feeding upward."
The rifle bolt is fixed in a recess on the left side of the receiver, tilts at an angle, while the rear part of the bolt slides to the left. When the pump handle is retracted, the bolt is unlocked, the empty cartridge case is removed and ejected, and when the bolt comes back forward, a new cartridge is fed from the magazine, the bolt is locked again, and the rifle is ready to fire. The hammer of the rifle is cocked by moving the bolt back.
Externally, the receiver is similar to the receiver of the production model 1895, but internally they are very different. The breech is certainly very well covered, unlike the 1895, but the skew-locking mechanism is considered less reliable. In addition, the bolt action rifle lacks a safety mechanism that prevents accidental opening of the bolt.
Technically, the prototype of this rifle was definitely simpler and had fewer working parts than the linkage of the Model 1895.
Winchester bought this design for.30 caliber rifle cartridges, but never made it.But there is a prototype that was made to confirm the functionality of this design. It was part of the Winchester collection and can now be seen at the Cody Firearms Museum.
The author and administration of the site would like to thank Matthew Moss, head of The Armourer’s Bench site, for permission to use his materials and photographs.