POTD: Lewis & Clark Had One – Unique English 19th Century Air Rifle

   06.15.21

POTD: Lewis & Clark Had One – Unique English 19th Century Air Rifle

Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! A lot of folks out there think that air rifles are a 20th-century invention when in reality they are a much older idea. This example of an English 19th-century air rifle works a little differently than the compressed air rifles that we are used to these days. The way it would work is the brass gas chamber would be filled with compressed air via hand pump and the compressed air would act like a CO2 cartridge propelling the lead ball.

“In many ways ahead of their time, the black powder era saw the development of several weapons that used compressed air in place of combustible powder to drive the ball, the most famous being the Austrian Girandoni repeater taken on the Lewis & Clark expedition. Blade and groove sights on the brass barrel. Attached to the underside of the lock is a brass gas chamber, measuring 14 3/4 in circumference around the engraved center band, with a percussion-style hammer arrangement to strike the valve release. Smooth full length straight grip stock, with ramrod, brass trigger guard and a lightly engraved brass buttplate. As for this specimen, writer believes it to be of English origin, from the early 1800s. The form of the stock, shape of the furniture and brass barrel all lead up to that conclusion.”

Lot 1080: Unique English 19th Century Air Rifle [Photograph found in Auction Catalog #50, Rock Island Auction Company]. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2021, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/50/1080/unique-english-19th-century-air-rifle

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