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Friday, 12 August 2016

Allen & Thurber Pepperbox - The "Gun That Won The East" - & Lipfire Cartridges:

Yup - before the Colt 45 Peacemaker was pushing West - The Allen & Thurber Pepperbox was looking after business back East.

Allen & Thurber 'Baby Dragoon' Percussion Six Shot in 32" Calibre
Note: These Are Double Action

This Ethan Allen was a shrewd and very successful arms maker who patented his first arm in 1836 - after making knives and shoe making tools for some years.

Nice Boxed Set In .31" Calibre (cap'n'ball).

The gentleman built large numbers of arms over some forty years in business under various Trade Names - up till 1871 (when he died a wealthy man). The typical muzzle loading percussion pepperbox would be the double action BAR HAMMER type made in calibres ranging from .30 up - and indeed many of these travelled West with miners, gamblers, working girls, and trappers as belly guns for protection. They were affordable and reliable.

This type of repeater is again said to have been popular with both sides armies during the American Civil War .. but I reckon just about anything that went bang was useful for killing folk back then - Not at all like modern America eh..


While on the subject of cutting 'put-down' comments by Mark Twain and others - the fact is that these wee belly guns were economic and well made, reliable and effective at the short (close-contact) ranges they were meant to perform at. - Certainly you'd be "having a laugh" if you tried using one to drop a bison for tonight's barbecued steak.

Mr. Ethan Allen developed plenty of other useful stuff including a selection of revolvers - but have you ever heard of a LIPFIRE revolver or cartridge? .. Rim-fire or Centre-Fire - even Pin-Fire certainly..

LIPFIRE Cartridges

In 1860 Ethan Allen patented his 'improved rim-fire cartridge' and made them in .25", .32", .38" and .44". But he only managed to sell some 1,250 revolvers in this chambering type.

The 'Lip-fire' had only a short arc of rim projecting instead of the familiar fully rimmed-case (- a sort of 'rimmus interruptus' - but you only withdraw after shooting) .. and it was claimed to be stronger than the accepted 'rim-fire'. - A busy bloke eh.

The 'Pepperbox' seems to have faded away following the introduction of metallic cartridges. - Why? .. well the only answer I have found is that the usual common pepperbox designs didn't adapt or convert readily to metallic cartridges -which needed to be loaded at the breech with some form of opening mechanism. - Must have been a lack of demand too.. A short revolver ("snubbie") can operate at both close contact and at moderate ranges that didn't suite a pepperbox.

Breech loading doesn't work very well without a metallic cartridge expanding and sealing any gas leakage - and the metallic cartridge needs to be breech loaded eh.

Ever heard of a recent Leinad / Cobray manual indexed Pepperbox?

.45"LC & .22" R/F
- Looked clunky and oversized to me when checking-out the videos.

- A US shooter might just as well remove the barrel from a small frame .357 (and use 38s?)

7mm Pin-fire Pepper-Pot/Revolver by Arendt (Belgium) 1857-89 Liege.
- There's Nothing New..

An effective rim-fire 'modern' pepper-box' might be built on the lines of a top-break revolver missing the barrel - something like this old Iver Johnson - but with a down sized round butt or 'bird's-eye grip' and a bobbed hammer.
Perhaps legislation generally forbids smooth bore handguns - if so - cut a couple of grooves?
Antique 'Apache' Revolver? / Knife / Knuckle-Duster.

Design attributed to Louis Dolne and built for around forty years from 1860s in France. - There is rumoured to have been a 9x19mm version built for the British WWII Commandos - but unverified.

Marty K.