The Gun Collectors Club Gun Library

A Brief Overview of Handguns
August 21, 2013 by Special Guest Tom Drinkard
smith and wesson model 60

This article is meant as an introduction to the subject of handguns. It is not meant to be a definitive guide to the subject. Books have been written about specific, individual firearms and are the most comprehensive guides to their subjects.

It wasn’t until Colt’s first factory—the Patent Arms Company, in Paterson, NJ—introduced the Colt Paterson, in 1836— that the handgun world was introduced to a repeating firearm employing a rotating cylinder in which each opening acted as a separate chamber; a true revolver.

There was a hitch, though.

The operator was still required to fill each chamber with black powder, seat a lead ball and add a percussion cap. Not exactly a speedy operation. Another unique feature of the Paterson was that the trigger wasn’t exposed until the shooter thumbed back the hammer.

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Long Guns - A Close Look at Bolt and Lever Action Rifles
Updated on August 23, 2013
long guns

In the history of rifles, or long guns, the first repeating firearms were introduced as military weapons in the Civil War. The 1860 Henry was allegedly called by Confederate soldiers, "that damned Yankee rifle that they load on Sunday and shoot all week!" It was a lever-action weapon, and didn’t readily lend itself to soldiers lying in a prone fighting position.

The requirements of military forces drove the development of firearms. In the late 1800s, designers of rifles were drawn to the advantages of magazine-fed bolt-action weapons.

Three major bolt-action system designs dominate: the Mauser system—considered the strongest action design, the British Lee-Enfield system and the Russian Mosin-Nagant system.

Although the Henry Repeater, which appeared during the Civil war, was the first practical lever-action repeating rifle; the world of lever action rifles only opened when Winchester introduced its steel-framed Model 1873. The rifle was chambered in the .44-40 (.44 caliber and 40 grains of black powder) centerfire cartridge and was truly the “gun that won the west.”

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