A pair of Russian revolvers
Pre-revolution Russian firearms were made to high standards. Pictured is a pair of 19th century revolvers from Tula. The first is based on the Colt 1851 Navy revolver and dates to around 1855. It is engraved with floral patterns and is fitted with a wooden “saw handle”. A detachable skeleton stock is pictured just below. Among the engravings is a scene illustrating the siege of Sevastopol.
The second revolver is a centrefire, single-action pistol designed for Cossacks. The frame is hinged. The entire butt and barrel are made from sheet silver and decorated with niello. There are no markings indicating the date but it definitely dates to the late 19th century.
Both from the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Here’s an odd one from Nazi Germany - a remotely-controlled submachine gun based on the Schmeisser MP-28/II. No-one is certain exactly what the Fest submachine gun was designed for but it was probably deployed in small numbers on the fortified Siegfried Line, or “Western Wall”. It is marked with FMP-1, or “Fest Maschinenpistole”, but there are no markings indicating the place of manufacture. It is a curious weapon that probably saw very little, if any, usage in battle.
Joseph Enouy’s patents
Joseph Christian Enouy patented several developments in firearms. His most notable was the bizarre eight-cylinder, forty-eight shot percussion revolver which was patented in 1855. The cylinders were attached to spokes on a rotating wheel that was fixed to the underside of the revolver.
In the same year he also patented a rifle of a similar design, which had two cylinders attached to a central rotating axis. Once the first cylinder was depleted, the axis would be turned and the second cylinder would rotate in place of the first one. Unsurprisingly, neither of Enouy’s designs caught on.
Enouy’s revolver: Abdeen Palace, Cairo (formerly Vokes Collection)
Enouy’s rifle: Museum of Artillery, Turin
Arms Craft & Engineering’s SerLea submachine gun roars into action in the 1994 movie Direct Hit. The Lebanese-designed 1990 prototype submachine gun failed to attract the attention of police forces as it was designed to, but when the Oklahoma City-based manufacturer was approached to provide firearms for a movie, they saw fit to give the SerLea a few seconds of screen time. In 1997 the sole prototype was sold to a collector.
This rifle was made by Jacaud of London. It has 4 cocks designed for firing 4 loads in one shot.
A German wheel-lock pistol modified to fire seven shots simultaneously. The original pistol dates from around the mid-17th century but the additional six barrels are a later modification from an unknown date.
Tower of London collection
Woodhull & Turner carbines
The Turner carbine (top) was designed by Russel J. Turner of Butler, Pennsylvania. The original design was chambered for .30 cartridges and was entered into the SRM1 Light Rifle competition at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in 1941. On the 15th of September of the same year it was rejected and re-chambered for .45 ACP. It could fire single shots or fully-automatic fire. It was once again entered into trials and once again rejected. Only a single prototype was made.
The second weapon was made by F. W. Woodhull in Millington, New Jersey. Like the Turner carbine, the Woodhull was entered into the SRM1 Light Rifle competition and rejected (three times!), and subsequently converted into a .45 ACP submachine gun. Many of the parts were manufactured by Winchester and the magazine held 10 rounds, but ultimately it was too heavy and offered no real advantages over the Thompson. Only one was made.
The Norm carbine was designed by Birmingham Small Arms in the 40’s, and was intended for SOE forces. What’s unusual about the Norm carbine is the cocking mechanism, which consisted of a pistol-like slide as can clearly be seen. Also unusual was the foregrip; it was placed on the right hand side of the muzzle, and the firer was supposed to wrap their arm underneath the barrel and hold the grip with their palm facing upwards. It can’t have been terribly comfortable to fire and it never saw service, although I can’t comment on the actual performance of the weapon.
The Cristóbal carbine
Designed by Pál de Király, a Hungarian arms designer, the Cristóbal was a popular rifle with countries that did not want to deal with the political consequences of purchasing NATO or Warsaw Pact small arms. It was made by Király’s Cristóbal company from 1948, with production taking place in the Dominican Republic. Chambered for .30 carbine, some classify it as a submachine gun rather than a rifle, but nevertheless it sold in the tens of thousands and armed many Central American forces.
"Ever see a 48-shooter?"
I recently came across this bizarre 1948 promotional material for Levi’s jeans that makes reference to a 48-shot revolver. The ad seems to imply that these weapons saw usage in the American West but I can’t find any evidence to back this up - the only patent regarding this type of revolver was taken out by Joseph Enouy of Middlesex, England in 1855. His revolver still exists today. However, a wooden mock-up of a similar design surfaced at an auction in Illinois, so it is possible that the design was played around with in the US. As for cowboys slinging them around like 19th-century submachine guns? Unlikely.