Trim, slender, beautifully proportioned, sexy little action, fun to look at, and fun to play with. Not only that, this is where it all began, "Lever Guns" that is.
The original Volcanic shot a short little bullet called the "Rocket Ball", it was less than .650" long and had very little power, but this Rifle had the genes to become the legendary Winchester. It goes like this;
- The Volcanic was enlarged to become the "Henry",
- The "Henry" was improved to become the "Winchester 66"
- The 66 was improved to become the "Winchester 73"
- The 73 was enlarged to become the 76.
- And then Mr. Browning came along with a much stronger, smaller action, and replaced the toggle link system, invented by Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson, which was used in the Volcanics through the 1876.
Above is my design, based on the toggle link system. My design is stronger than theirs, and easier for me to build. While designing this gun, I tried to copy the original dimensions and proportions. I do not have access to an original, so I have had to "scale" photographs to come up with what I have. The first problem I came to was this little action would not shuffle and shuck any available cartridges except the "22 Short"! This did not excite me so I designed my own "Wildcat 40". I will describe it to you later.
This is not a "kit" or a modification of another "Lever Gun". I will not be using purchased parts, or parts from other guns. I will use a purchased barrel blank from "Douglas" (40 Caliber, 1 in 14 twist) cut it, mill it, thread it, and chamber it for this rifle. Everything else, including the springs and most of the screws, I will make from scratch.
In all my research, I have found this book to be the most informative. That's a Beautiful 20" Volcanic on the cover.
About the cartridge that I'm shooting, It has been correctly noted that this gun will shuffle, shoot, and shuck the .22 Short, also the (sometimes available) .41 Derringer.
Even though these are an improvement over the original "Rocket Ball", I am not very impressed with either of them. The actual caliber of the #2 Rocket Ball was .41. So that is why I set out to develop my own cartridge.
I figured it like this, if I can't build my own cartridge, then I'm not gonna be able to build this gun.
I do agree somewhat with the guys that would want this gun in .22 Short, it's not for me, but it would make a nice little squirrel gun.
I shortened a 40 S+W case to .550". I reamed out the inside to accept the bullet. The cartridge shown is loaded with Berry's 135 grain copper plated bullet being shoved out of an 8" barrel at 1020 FPS in front of 4 grains of Bullseye. I have fired this Cartridge out of a 25" barrel and lost nearly 100 FPS! I don't like this load as it does show signs of excessive pressure. I have been shooting a 140 grain cast bullet in front of 3.5 grains of "Power Pistol", here I am getting 890 FPS, and visual inspection shows only moderate pressure. The Cartridges are shown in comparison to 22 Long Rifles.
I plan to leave the receiver it's natural color to mimic the silver plated brass ones that were offered for an additional $5.00! I would have hard anodized it except the side plates would no longer fit. The anodizing adds dimension to the parts, and they were very close to began with. I could have made them smaller, and the anodizing bring them to size, but that is a guessing game.
I know it's a lot of trouble making custom cartridges for this baby but I'm delighted with the way it shoots. That big 40 caliber bullet comes out of that barrel at a little over 900 FPS giving me about 280 foots pounds of energy. The recoil is very mild, and so is the noise. I don't feel the need for hear protection. I have shot it several times inside my closed garage!
She weighs about 5 pounds and 4 ounces, but she will hold 21 cartridges, and that will add appreciable to the carrying weight.
Charlie says about himself and his project,
I am a mechanical engineer and machine designer. I was a machinist a long time ago. I have a "Bridgeport" and a "1955 Tool Room Hendy". I also have a small, but very robust "CNC Tabletop Mill", which I built myself.
I started trying to figure out how to do a modern Volcanic seven or eight years ago. I have gone through 5 or 6 different designs for the mechanism, spent nearly a year learning and making a 40 caliber barrel, I mean doing the rifling and all. I still can not do a long barrel (over 8") so I had to use a blank here. Since I am not doing this for profit, I don't worry about time at all. Those 2 screws ( hammer and lever) cost me about 4 hours, design machining, and heat treating. And that's just 2 silly little screws that you think I would purchase at a hardware store for less than 2 bucks! So here I have 4 hours invested in 2 screws, at 65 or 75 dollars an hour (standard machine shop time) dem babys are expensive! Take a drawing of these 2 screws to a job shop, you already have the design, all the man has to do is purchase the material and machine them out, then heat treat em. Tell him you don't want any favors, tell him to charge his standard rate, see what he says!
You gotta love it man, if you don't, you will never invest this time and effort. How much time? It's a life style man.
Now I am a pretty good machinist, and I can compete with professional machinist in the time it takes to make a part, but then I am the one who designed that part. How long was I thinking about what that part would look like, and how would I make it? It would take appreciable time to go back and estimate the time, and materials and design for each part. I would much rather take this time required to estimate, and make some more parts. So what would I charge to make this gun for some one else? At this time, I would not take such a commission.