Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Evans Rifle

I may start a new meme here.  In researching my recent posts using scenes from the film Tombstone, I ran across an odd and wonderful old rifle: the Evans Repeater.

(Image source)

I grew up in Maine, and went to school there (as did friend Weer'd Beard).  Warren Evans was a dentist in Thomaston (on the mid coast, near Camden).  He designed a more or less typical rifle on the late 1860s, but with one marvelous oddity: the stock contained a magazine that held 30 rounds.  It wouked like an Archimedes screw.

(Image source)
Only instead of raising water, this raised cartridges.  Each time you worked the lever action, the magazine screw turned a quarter turn, feeding a new cartridge to the chamber.

Evans incorporated the Evans Machine Rifle Company in 1871, setting up a manufacturing facility in Mechanics Falls, Maine (known today for really not much at all).  He hoped to interest the Army because of the massive magazine capacity - possibly illegal in some states today.

Alas for Mr. Evans, it didn't work out.  The Army thought the rifle too heavy and clumsy, and subject to jamming from dirt and dust.  You also reloaded it the same way you shot it - One round, cycle the lever action, load a new round, cycle, lather, rinse, repeat.  He got a nibble from the Russian Army, but it was too little, too late.  His company folded in 1880.

But the rifle made an appearance in the film Tombstone.  Of course, it's in Red Dead Redemption.

So new meme - firearms trivia.  And with some old thing from Maine (no comments that I'm some old thing from Maine, if you please).  If folks like it, I'll do another.  But a ProTip just between you and me, don't go betting cash money on your firearms trivia against Tam.  Just sayin'.


RobertSlaughter said...

For a 'trivia' article, very well researched and well stated. Keep 'em coming.

Brock Townsend said...

Interesting. I had never heard of it.

Anonymous said...

Is there a wikipedia article?

Anonymous said...

Some more info.

Tam said...

Evans rifles are actually fairly reasonable compared to Winchesters and other rifles of the period. I've seen them in the ~$450 range. Of course, ammo is practically nonexistent.

Oh, and the next time somebody goes on about the "modern" Calico with its helical magazine, now you can just smirk at them. ;)

Enjay said...

I love our calico, so smirk away LOL
It has it's issues with the magazine, but it sounds like it does have one advantage over the Evans, the .22 is unlikely to become defunct.

Hugh said...

Interesting to know. I lived in Mechanic Falls, ME, for several years and never heard about this. Wild history.

Hat Trick said...

A member of the Sangamon County Rifle Association has one. I missed that meeting and have regretted it since.