Slide-Action ‘Mystery’ Prototype Rifles Designed by Samuel McClean

   09.07.20

Slide-Action ‘Mystery’ Prototype Rifles Designed by Samuel McClean

(Image: Rock Island Auction Co & Screenshot from video)

A couple years back, Forgotten Weapons took a look at a pair of interesting slide-action rifles, which he called “mystery rifles.” And thanks to an attentive viewer who commented on the video, it’s not that big a mystery anymore.

The rifles are funky and weird, and don’t look particularly comfortable to shoot — especially the one which requires you to slide an oblong steel loop which is shaped like the lever loop on many classic lever-action rifles. Where do you put your trigger-hand thumb? Can’t really wrap it around the top of the gun; that would block the sights. And holding your fingers that flat (crammed through that steel loop) looks awkward.

The other one has a checkered grip for sliding, but once again the nature of the action’s design puts the rear of the receiver in the way of your thumb.

These rifles were patented by Samuel McClean in patents US601842A and US723706A. McClean was a clever guy who loved designing firearms, although his forte was apparently not in keeping them simple, which may explain why his designs did not enjoy the the widespread acclaim and success of, say, John Browning’s guns. But there’s no doubting McClean’s creativity, and he did invent a prototype machinegun which would later morph into the well-known Lewis Gun.

Back to the slide-action rifles: Ian starts with the more-refined of the two rifles, which is a top-ejecting gun with a rotating bolt that features a pair of locking lugs up front. It appears to be a stout, strong action.

The magazine elevator is really clever, and controls the cartridge to be loaded by cradling the round inside a pair of curved guides when it’s raised into loading position. As the bolt moves forward, those two halves spread apart sideways to allow the bolt to shove the cartridge into the chamber. Cool!

The other rifle works in similar fashion, but with a less-practical design.

They’re pretty cool, and some collector thought so as well, since the nicer one sold for $12,650 and the earlier one brought a whopping $14,950.

Check ’em out.

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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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