Watch: 1870s Non-Lever-Action Repeating Rifles by Orville Robinson


Watch: 1870s Non-Lever-Action Repeating Rifles by Orville Robinson

In this video, Ian discusses a pair of interesting old rifles, which have been largely forgotten with time. They’re repeaters from the 1870s, both chambered for handgun cartridges of the time, which were eclipsed by Winchester’s lever guns, partially because Winchester bought them out and shut them down.

The first is the Model 1870, which was only made until he got a patent for a different design in 1872. The 1870 has an under-barrel tubular magazine and a brass frame, and works quite well. Instead of working a lever to operate the action, you grab a couple of knurled ears at the rear of the bolt and pull back. As it cocks the hammer, it opens the bolt and causes a carrier to lift one cartridge up to the level of the chamber.

Interestingly, there’s a cartridge stop behind the mag which allows a user to set it up for cartridges with stumpy bullets, or extra-long ones. Thoughtful design, that.

The locking block system is nice and simple, and appears to have done the job quite well. But he apparently wasn’t happy with the design, which is understandable. It takes a fairly large amount of movement from a shooting position to operate the action and get ready to fire again.

The 1872, or type 2, retains the octagon barrel with tubular magazine below, and neither rifle has a forestock. But when it comes to the action, they’re quite different, although there’s still an adjustment for cartridge length.

Operation of the second model is considerably different, and the hammer must be manually cocked before the action can be worked. You grab a knob at the top right side of the action and simply lift it upward/rearwards, opening a top toggle mechanism and lifting a cartridge into place. Moving the toggle downward would load the round into the chamber and close the bolt.

The 1870 shown here is chambered for 38 rimfire and sold for $4,600. The 1872 was 44 rimfire and brought $5,175.


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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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