POTD: Could Not Make His Own Revolvers – Rollin White Arms Co 38RF


POTD: Could Not Make His Own Revolvers – Rollin White Arms Co 38RF

Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here we have a pistol of necessity. This is the Rollin White Arms Co 38RF. If you do not know who Rollin White is then I highly suggest you read more about him. To put it plainly he is the patentee of bored through cylinders in a revolver. As in a hole that goes straight through rather than one side being solid for say a Colt 1851 black powder “muzzle loading” revolver. This gave him extraordinary power in the 1860s and through the 1870s but mainly in the sense that he could police his patent. He, unfortunately, could not start his own revolver-making business (his first and only attempt did not work at all) because he license the patent to Smith & Wesson and Rollin White literally was not able to compete and use his own patent for the time it was licensed. Not only did this secure a wonderful headstart and monopoly in the self-contained cartridge business (without this 22LR and a whole host of cartridges would not exist) but it also forced Rollin White to create the Rollin White Arms Co where he produced the Rollin White Arms Co 38RF Single Shot Pistol. Operation is quite simple. Put the hammer in half cock, pull forward on the cylinder…I mean block release, tilt the block to the side, load a cartridge, put the cylinder back, full cock, and then fire.

“It is estimated that only 200 to 300 of these pistols were manufactured in .38 Rimfire by the Rollin White Arms Co. from 1861 to 1864, making them scarce even when compared to their rare counterparts chambered in .32 rimfire, of which about 3,000 were manufactured. Rollin White is of course famous for his patent on bored through cylinders which he granted Smith & Wesson the exclusive rights to manufacture. This example is numbered “64” on various parts, some of which are accompanied by a perpendicular “1”, including the grips. The right side of the frame is marked “B.KITTREDGE&CO/CIN.O.” It features the unique swivel out breech with an ejector as well as blade and notch sights.”

Rollin White Arms Co

Lot 299: Rollin White Arms Co. .38 Rf Single Shot Pistol – Exceedingly Scarce B. Kittredge & Co. Marked Rollin White Arms Co. .38 Rimfire Single Shot Pistol. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/81/299/rollin-white-arms-co-38-rf-single-shot-pistol.

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Writer | TheFirearmBlog Writer | AllOutdoor.com Instagram | sfsgunsmith Old soul, certified gunsmith, published author, avid firearm history learner, and appreciator of old and unique guns.

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