The Turret Rifle

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tmh10

Major
Joined
Mar 2, 2012
Location
Pipestem,WV
We've generally looked at weapons specifically designed for wartime, which generally meant they were large, one-off devices that were more or less abandoned once the wars in question were over. But that isn't the case for smaller firearms, and one particularly firearm that can be seen throughout the 19th century is the repeating rifle. Since the alternative was to use rifles that could only hold a single round of ammunition, inventors scrambled to come up with ways to cram in multiple rounds. The results were...well, you can see for yourself.
Expired Image Removed Let's start with turret guns, which took their name from the rotating platforms created for the Civil War ship USS Monitor. However, they predated the ironclad ship by a number of years - their designers gave them far clunkier names like "many-chambered-cylinder fire-arms." The idea was simple enough - the ammunition would be placed facing outward on a wheel, which would then rotate to move each round into position so that it could be fire.

That may not seem so crazy an idea - after all, it's more or less the same principle as a revolver, except the alignment of the ammunition wheel has changed. But take a look at this T.P. Porter turret rifle, which was built in the 1850s, and you might see why these never caught on. Since all the rounds of ammunition were always pointing outward, this meant that at least one round was always pointing toward the person handling the rifle. As you might imagine, this made people just a tiny bit uncomfortable, and so they looked for other options that didn't seem so immediately dangerous.

Amazingly, these rifles that T.P. Porter did end up making were probably quite a bit safer than his original designs, which he described in an 1851 patent. Firearms Curiosa writes:
Mr. Porter's patent was for a highly impractical gun potentially even more dangerous than the manufactured article. The original idea was to have a magazine, containing powder, balls, and caps, fastened over the turret so that movement of a lever would not only cock the hammer and rotate the turret-it would also load the chambers. The lever movement would also place a cap on a nipple in the turret, as well as strip off a previously detonated cap. The magazine was intended to contain enough powder for thirty shots. A spark might reach and explode that powder at the first shot.
http://io9.com/5822902/the-craziest-experimental-weapons-of-the-19th-century
 

jessgettysburg1863

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 3, 2012
Location
Living in Kilmore in Victoria Australia
We've generally looked at weapons specifically designed for wartime, which generally meant they were large, one-off devices that were more or less abandoned once the wars in question were over. But that isn't the case for smaller firearms, and one particularly firearm that can be seen throughout the 19th century is the repeating rifle. Since the alternative was to use rifles that could only hold a single round of ammunition, inventors scrambled to come up with ways to cram in multiple rounds. The results were...well, you can see for yourself.
Expired Image Removed Let's start with turret guns, which took their name from the rotating platforms created for the Civil War ship USS Monitor. However, they predated the ironclad ship by a number of years - their designers gave them far clunkier names like "many-chambered-cylinder fire-arms." The idea was simple enough - the ammunition would be placed facing outward on a wheel, which would then rotate to move each round into position so that it could be fire.

That may not seem so crazy an idea - after all, it's more or less the same principle as a revolver, except the alignment of the ammunition wheel has changed. But take a look at this T.P. Porter turret rifle, which was built in the 1850s, and you might see why these never caught on. Since all the rounds of ammunition were always pointing outward, this meant that at least one round was always pointing toward the person handling the rifle. As you might imagine, this made people just a tiny bit uncomfortable, and so they looked for other options that didn't seem so immediately dangerous.

Amazingly, these rifles that T.P. Porter did end up making were probably quite a bit safer than his original designs, which he described in an 1851 patent. Firearms Curiosa writes:
Mr. Porter's patent was for a highly impractical gun potentially even more dangerous than the manufactured article. The original idea was to have a magazine, containing powder, balls, and caps, fastened over the turret so that movement of a lever would not only cock the hammer and rotate the turret-it would also load the chambers. The lever movement would also place a cap on a nipple in the turret, as well as strip off a previously detonated cap. The magazine was intended to contain enough powder for thirty shots. A spark might reach and explode that powder at the first shot.​
That is one unusual rifle Ted, another interesting post mate.
 
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tmh10

Major
Joined
Mar 2, 2012
Location
Pipestem,WV
I thought it interesting it was developed in 1850's not during the war.
My thought was, did anyone use them in the war? A lot of weapons made in the 1850's were used in the start of the war. If this was used Im sure it was very limited.
 
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JRJ

First Sergeant
Retired Moderator
Joined
Jun 1, 2012
Location
God's Country.
It reminds me of a gun I saw on one of those horrible gunsmithing shows on tv, I'll tell ya, it was not on History channel lol. They had a rifle they called a "boarding rifle" or something like that. Had several barrels and all barrels were fired at once.
 
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