Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Colt Burgess from Taylor's

Taylor's of Winchester, VA is supposed to release the Colt Burgess carbine. At least one has shown up on GunsAmerica but Taylor's still doesn't have a page on their web site. These guns are made by Uberti and while the accompanying photo of the prototype that made the rounds this past spring shows some great color in the color case hardening, the photo accompanying the sale on GunsAmerica  (the receiver shot shown below) was the more usual washed out tones that Uberti seems to produce now.  These rifles which seem to have a street price of about $1100-1200.  I've not seen any yet in other than .45 Colt.  Contrasted with an original which is asking $6000, perhaps more, this is one instance where a reproduction is a viable alternative for somebody, like me, who wishes to experience shooting this design.

While these initial guns are chambered for the CAS popular .45 Colt,  I've been told that there are some .44-40 (.44 WCF) guns.  I would have to have a .44-40 carbine.  Although I don't want to load for any more cartridges at this time, I can't see getting this gun in a cartridge for which it was never chambered.   I would get this gun for the same reason I got the 1876 SRC, because it let's me experience something I couldn't afford to experience otherwise.

The 1883 Colt-Burgess rifle was designed by Andrew Burgess.  He was one of the most prolific of gun designers of the time with 894 firearm patents.  Born January 16, 1837 in Dresden, NY, he was the grandson of a Hessian deserter!  Per family tradition the family farm in Dresden was next to Matthew Brady's farm.  That explains why Burgess was apprenticed to Brady in 1855.  Although his professional career began as an ambrotypist, he was awarded his first firearms patent in 1871 for an improvement to the Peabody rifle.  Burgess appears to have left the photographic trade in 1876.  His last patent was granted in 1906 and he died December 19, 1908.

Mr. Burgess first designed the Whitney lever-action, then the Marlin 1881 and the Colt 1883 rifles.  Per Ken Waters:
The Whitney-Burgess was the first repeating rifle to appear in .45-70 caliber - not the Marlin - preceding the 1881 Marlin by at least two (and possibly three) years.
Burgess established his own company in 1892. The Burgess Gun Company manufactured slide action shotguns and rifles operated by a unique pistol grip prior to their being purchased by Winchester repeating Arms Company in 1899.  Winchester commonly bought out competing firms when possible.  However, his gun designs were produced by many companies and the guns served throughout the world. 

In the 1883 catalog the carbines were listed for $25 and rifles for $27-29 depending on barrel configuration. Only 6, 403 Colt-Burgess guns were produced. The Model 1883 was discontinued in 1884 after just 16 months in production. The story I've heard for the longest time is that Winchester trotted out its Mason revolvers and threatened to get into the revolver business if Colt didn't get out of the levergun business. A "gentlemen's agreement" was reached and neither company produced the "other's" guns.

I'm glad for the chance to shoot one of these guns.

- Colt Burgess Innards
- Classic Rifles - The Colt Burgess by Ken Waters
- Burgess Shotguns
- Uberti's Burgess

- "Lever Action Magazine Rifles derived from the patents of Andrew Burgess” by Samuel L. Maxwell

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