POTD: 32 S&W Union Fire Arms Reifgraber Patent Semi-Automatic Pistol
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have a Union Fire Arms Reifgraber pistol in 32 Smith and Wesson. Joseph Joachim Reifgraber moved to the United States in the early 1900s and was more well known for writing an anarchist newspaper of all things, let alone being a firearm inventor. Eventually, as United States military trials for a new service handgun went underway, Reifgraber decided to try his hand at firearm design. This obviously did not pan out because the Colt 1911 eventually won the day. In actuality, all he had sent to the ordnance department was a sketch and the mention that his gun was 32 caliber and not 45. In the end, Union Fire arms company would license his completed design but only manufacture roughly 100 pistols. A fun factor about these guns is that they were made to use 32 Smith and Wesson revolver cartridges but could be converted to use 32 ACP if they had a different magazine.
“Manufactured in limited numbers by the Union Fire Arms Company, this specific pistol is pictured and discussed on pages 288-291 of the book: “U.S. Military Automatic Pistol 1894-1920” by Meadows. The Reifgraber was originally developed based on patents held by Joseph Joachim Reifgraber, a late 19th/early 20th century publisher who also invented a number of items, including advanced teletype machines. Reifgraber’s weapon patents mainly revolved around a gas-assisted short recoil mechanism, where discharge gas would be vented from the barrel into an outer sleeve (either by means of an integral trap near the muzzle or via gas port) and drive back the breechblock. Fixed sights, with “UNION FIREARMS CO./TOLEDO. O. RIEFGRABER(sic) PAT.” on the left side of the frame and “S. & W./32/CAL.” on the right. Fitted with a back strap grip safety, manual safety, takedown lever and a pair of checkered grips.”
Lot 1657: Union Fire Arms Company Reifgraber Pistol 32 S&W. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/67/1657/union-fire-arms-company-reifengraber-pistol-32-sw.