Watch: Experimental “White” 38 Caliber Semi-Auto Pistols


Watch: Experimental “White” 38 Caliber Semi-Auto Pistols

These guns are pretty cool. And oddly enough, the more complete gun appears to be the earlier version. According to the auction page, which lists is as “first variation” and describes it thusly:

A large 38 Cal. automatic pistol that functioned as a delayed blowback with an internal hammer and an eight shot magazine. 7-1/2? round bbl with pinned front sight. Horizontally adjustable rear sight fastened to the receiver. At the rear of the bolt are two coarsely checkered panels for retraction, the right panel extending to serve as a coverplate over the chamber. Attached to the left side of the frame is a ridged plate to move the holster away from the cocking lever whose positions were denoted: “Half Cock” and “Full Cock”, the half-cock position serving as the safety.

They also say this: “This exact pistol is illustrated in a display article by Montgomery on pp.53-62 of World’s Guns and Other Weapons, 1958.”

White Experimental Pistol, Var. 1 (Photo: James D. Julia, Auctioneers)
White Experimental Pistol, Var. 1
(Photo: James D. Julia, Auctioneers)

This one has some mechanical problems that limit its functions, but we get to see a lot of how it works, including the locking mechanism–which resembles that of a broomhandle Mauser pistol.

The second variation is more of a “tool room prototype,” as you can see from the lack of trigger guard, finish, rear sight, exterior controls, etc. Also, the magazine is retained by an exterior spring that’s simply soldered to the rear of the grip frame.

White Experimental Pistol, Var. 2 (Photo: James D. Julia, Auctioneers)
White Experimental Pistol, Var. 2
(Photo: James D. Julia, Auctioneers)

This pistol is of an entirely different action design than the one above.

This second Merrill pistol differed considerably from his previous effort. The 1908 second type of 38 Cal, pistol developed by J.C. White was striker-fired using a rotating locked breech action. The only example extant is the tool room prototype offered in this auction as an incomplete firearm that has no markings, SNs, or proofs. Mounted on top of the bbl shroud is a small front sight. There is no rear sight or trigger guard, though after the bolt is pulled back, the firing pin extends from the back of the bolt to serve as a cocking indicator that is released by pulling the trigger. The magazine retainer is a brass strip welded to the backstrap that extends down to reach under the floorplate. There are no grips, nor provisions for any grip screws. The unfinished magazine is a closed structure without markings or indicator holes. On the floorplate is a perpendicular brass strip to aid in grasping.

Ian mentions early in the video that this handgun weighs in at about three pounds! Now that’s a handful.

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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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