Thursday, April 28, 2011


I learned a few things today. First, we got an awful lot of water but not so much that the river channels can't handle it. Next, West Virginia mountains look really good with all that water running down the hollows. Also, Durbin and Bartow and Elkins sure have changed over these last 50 years. Then I learned that Pittsburgh is harder than heck to drive in but the rivers are impressive. Great hospitality here as well, I wonder why my nephew didn't like going to college here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Sorry to say that there aren't any photos.  No really neat guns (although there is a nicely refinished Colt 1917 in the case as well as a Garand with some parts) nor was there any really big news. 

The work in the road continues and that seems to be cutting off some casual customers but the addicts are finding their way in.  We've had three slow weeks but it picked up yesterday.  We are doing some better than last year at this time, although it seemed busier then than now to all of us. 

The staffing at the Virginia background shop must have picked up because delays were being processed more quickly.  1-1½ hours was about all.  This is a big improvement to the recent 4+ hour delays. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Remington Rolling Block Military Rifles of the World by George Layman

As I noted previously there are multitudinous variations of the Remington System rifles.  In this book, "Remington Rolling Block Military Rifles of the World", George Layman attempts to make sense of it all, or at least most of it in his examination of the military rifles.

This is a great book.  Mr. Layman can write in a way that is easy to follow and understand and has an obviously genuine interest in the topic.  The photography is excellent and there are a number of items to interest even the general or military historian.  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Making sense of Remington System rifles...

The Remington System, popularly known as the Rolling Block or "roller" for short, was once an extremely popular military and civilian single-shot rifle action. Recently, a young fellow brought me a rifle his family had taken in lieu of cash for work performed. As I looked at it it was a #4 Remington rifle, 80-85% with octagonal barrel caliber .32 rimfire. It was missing the front sight blade but otherwise could have been shot (if ammo was available). After some further research (after seeing the rifle) I was going to call him to let him know that he should value it at about $450. However, before I could call he called me.

What did he have to say? He had been looking on-line and thought that the screws (?) didn't look right for it to be a #4.  Before I talked to him again I wanted to do some more research so that I could either convince him that it was a #4 or give him a correct identification.  Then I thought that I'd just record my notes here...

The Remington system began with the Geiger split breech rifle about 1865. Too, late for the American Civil War the gun was further developed with an eye to overseas sales, mainly Europe and South America with additional civilian/sporting sales.

One thing that one discovers right from the get go is that there are within the broader categorizations even to models as sold by contract to various military organizations is that there are numerous variations (not different models) as Remington used up parts from other contracts or redirected other contracts which hadn't been paid for to newer clients/contracts. Remington did what other companies did at the time and that is they used intensive management oversight to maximize profits by way of minimizing waste. The used and reused parts as much as possible. Again, variations within variations within models within contracts...

So what actions were there?  Well, it seems that somebody has assigned numbers to the rolling block actions, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 (actually a falling block).

Remington #1 Rolling Block .43 Carbine, centerfire

The #1 Remington rolling block rifle is also known as the black powder cartridge rifle. Produced by Remington in both military and civilian models from 1866 to 1895 these large frame rolling block production  totaled well over 1 million rifles with a number of variations. 1.250" wide this is the largest of the Remington system actions.  This same action was also used on the 1-1/2 rifle.

No. 1-1/2 Action rifle, rimfire

The #2 Remington rolling block is a smaller scale civilian model sporting rifle using a receiver patterned after the 1871 Army pistol. A number of the parts are interchangeable with the 1871, 1891 and 1902 pistols as well as the #7 target rifle. This rifle was produced in a wide variety of  rim fire and center fire cartridges. The rim fire models with bar extractors are the most numerous.  1.125" wide it was used for smaller and less "powerful" cartridges than the #1 action.  It can be identified by the curved counter at the rear where it joins the stock.  

The #3 was actually a falling block action, the Remington-Hepburn.  

No. 4 rifle, for .22S, .22L, .22LR, .25 Stevens ("25-10"), .32S, .32L rimfires
The #4 Remington rolling block is the smallest of the rolling block rifles it is at once noticeably smaller if you've ever seen one of the larger actions. It was only produced in rim fire cartridges and may be found in the three variations shown here plus military and Boy Scout models. The quickest identifying feature is the mounting of Breech Block and Hammer on screws rather than pins. Early production #4s have tapered octagon barrels while the late takedown model was produced with a round barrel.

Model 1897 7x57mm Mauser Chambering, the #5

The #5 Remington rolling block rifles are also known as the smokeless powder cartridge rolling block rifles. Beginning production in 1896 they comprise the 1897, 1902, and 1910 models. While the #5 was produced in several smokeless center fire cartridges the vast majority of them are chambered 7mm Mauser.

No. 6 Rifle (a falling block), for small caliber rimfires such as the .22 LR
The #6 is not a true rolling block. It is a small scale falling block boys rifle. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

1911 The First 100 Years by Patrick Sweeney

I really like the 29 ID insignia!

1911 The First 100 Years by Patrick Sweeney is the latest book to rest in my lap and make the journey to the "reading" room. I had seen the paperback version in Books-a-Million and Barnes and Noble but couldn't bring myself to pay full retail for it (sorry Mr. Sweeney). I couldn't even get myself to allow Amazon to ship a copy. However, I got an emailed offer from Gun Digest Books for this and several other books on then 1911 at considerable savings for all and couldn't resist. Yesterday a large box containing the books was dropped off by the mailman. It wasn't until last night that I had the time to open the box and to peruse its contents.

The other books were paperback and so I was a bit surprised, as I worked my way to the bottom of the stack, to find this one in hardbound form. Wow!, this really seems to have upped the quality of the publication over the paperback version. That is immediately apparent in the quality of the photographs, and there are a bunch, of wonderful pistols throughout the book.

Equally wonderful are the photograph captions. Usually there is very little information in a caption, but Sweeney has and his editor has permitted, extensive comments in the captions. If there was no other content, this book might well be worth the price for the photos and captions alone. But, there is prose aplenty in this book. I've read Sweeney's other stuff and I thought it was "good enough", a backhanded compliment if there ever is one. In this book it is apparent that Sweeney loves and I mean LOVES this subject and this book was a labor of love. His writing is concise and organized when making technical descriptions. But there is more. Clearly, Sweeney loves the stories behind the choices and acts made by the designers, manufacturers, customers (the governments), and the end users civilian or military. To say that this adds to the quality of the book is an understatement but this book is the whole package. Wonderful illustrations, a certain exuberance in writing style that is easy to follow and a wealth of information certain to entertain and delight any enthusiast or neophyte.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Can we identify this Staunton soldier?

Courtesy of Charles Culbertson
Daguerreotype of an unidentified Staunton youth, serving in the
Confederate army. It is estimated that as many as 20 percent of those
who fought in the Civil War were 16 years of age or younger.
Did he serve in the 5th Virgina?  The 52nd?  Can you help in identifying this young man?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1849 Colt Engraved by Gustav Young

How about this one that came out of the woodwork. Its a presentation 1849 Colt that was one of 200 guns commissioned by Sam Colt himself in 1854 to be engraved by the famous Colt engraver, Gustav Young. Came from an estate here in Pennsylvania.

Snagged by my buddy Tom, at Targetmaster. Nice piece of history. The gun's engraving is still very sharp and the gun has had very little use, but most of the blue and case hardening has faded. The wood case is still in excellent condition.----------If this was mine, it would be turned into a couple of deluxe 1886's! ---------Sixgun


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Well, yesterday was slow but full of wonderful guns and a couple of surprises...

First thing upon entering the store I see this 1917 DWM Artillery Luger with "snail" drum magazine.  A local fellow is supposed to come into the store today to look at it and the next interesting piece.  As you might know the 32-round "snail" drum magazines are pretty pricey.

The Luger pistol was accepted by the German Navy in 1904. The Navy model had a 6 inch barrel and a two position (100/200 metre) rear sight. This version is known as Pistole 04. The German Army adopted the Luger in 1908 to replace the Reichsrevolver in front-line service. The Pistole 08 (or P.08) had a 4-inch barrel and was chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum.

The Lange (long) Pistole (pistol) 08 (Model 1908) or Artillery Luger is a pistol/ carbine for use by German artillerymen as a sort of early Personal Defense Weapon. It has an 8 inch barrel, an 8-position tangent rear sight (calibrated to 800 metres) and a shoulder stock with holster. It was sometimes used with a 32-round drum magazine (Trommelmagazin 08). The magazines can sell for as much as $2900 or about the same as the pistol alone!

The next interesting piece was this nickeled Mauser C96.  It particularly interested me, we get the model through the store sometimes, because it appears to be factory nickeled and because it doesn't have the slot for mounting the butt-stock holster.  I didn't know they either nickeled the guns nor that any were sans the slot.  But after some research I'm pretty much convinced this is just an excellent, professional nickel job on a gun that had the stock slot welded up.  The sights are all nickeled and this isn't something that would necessarily be a good thing.   The lack of slot goes back to another time when the existence of the slot might have given some owners the shakes as they didn't and couldn't possess the stock. 

Other guns that had walked in the door were PPK and an engraved S&W M38.

My former comrade in arms Phil H_____ dropped by.  He's on his enforced "sabbatical" until he can go back to work for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  He's limited to 1500 hours a year.

We took an S&W 39 apart to make the safety release a bit easier.  The safety detent had gotten some putz in it and was hard to depress.

Otherwise, pretty slow.  All the background checks were on layaways being picked up and other sales seemed flat.  Not a large number of people through the door.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Volcanic #22

You know, I get mighty disgusted with those 10 cent doorstoppers you buy at Home Depot, etc. The dogs chew 'em up.  Well, I fixed that today and reached in the gun room and grabbed some junky 41 caliber Volcanic Serial #22 made in 1855. The extra weight of this keeps the dogs from dislodging the old style doorstoppers. Whew! That's my work for the day!


Yea, its a bit rough but it is the real deal. It's missing the shoulder stock and NO!, its not mine. I'm just cleaning her up a bit. This gun came through the front door at Targetmaster over the weekend from an old lady "wanting to get rid of this old junk". 

As the Good Lord as my witness, that's the truth. Its amazing the guns that "come out of the woodwork" here in the East.

Serial # 22 (the mark in the front of the first "2" is just that, a mark--its not a "1". This is the gun that started it all and gave us all "the disease" .

This gun later sold for $7,000.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sharps 4-Barrel Derringer by "Sixgun"

The Sharps derringer in this short story is another one of those "take home & clean" antiques from Targetmaster. These guns were made from about 1860 to 1872 in Philadelphia and this specimen is in remarkable condition for being made around 1868. Yes, its the same company that made the big buffalo guns but I just don't know why the derringers were made 30 miles down the road from where I live which probably explains why I see them all the time.

This particular gun is chambered for the .22 short but the company also made them in .30 & .32 rimfire. It has a fixed 4 barrel unit with a rotating firing pin which rotates to the next barrel each time the hammer is pulled. respect to it's age I load up the gun with Colibri .22 short "caps" which have only priming compound and no powder and then went outside and blasted away. I was shooting fence posts, in the pond, the burn pit, horse piles, even a few towards the neighbor's cat. The accuracy was somewhat amazing and if I held real tight and squeezed 'em off slowly, it would be no problem hitting a man sized target at 25-35 yards.

Yea, I know, the energy level would not do much those days, the recipient of a chunk of lead was more afraid of getting a bullet in him that would most assuredly cause an infection with a slow death than he was a bullet passing clear through him. (Anyway, thats what I read...I really don't think anyone wanted to get shot with anything, whether it stuck in his gut or passed through a meaty section.

Ok boys, here she is.

The "action" slid forward...

Here's a pic of the firing fin. Its a pretty neat arrangement. This baby turns to the next barrel with each pull of the hammer.

Here's an 8 shot "group" which I fired somewhat fast. Some holes look like they keyholed, but they did not--its just the way the paper reacted from the tremendous blow of the 20 grain bullet.

The other side.


- Gun Parts Corporation Schematic

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why oh why...?

I deal with a number of people on the retail side of firearms and militaria. Being interested I willingly engage just about anyone in a discussion on either topic. As it happens, I learn or at least hear a lot in these conversations. Sometimes I get a bit irritated in spite of myself. Yes, I have several pet peeves.  A recent conversation made me aware of another one...

Why is it that so many people will buy something and then immediately change it? That bothers me. I am not talking about the many people who have experience in use of or repair of a given thing such as a gun. I'm not talking about people who understand the mechanical workings of a given machine and seek to improve it or modify/mitigate its faults. I'm talking about the newcomer who is completely ignorant about the subject who immediately seeks to insert the latest most faddish modifications because of something that they read or heard. Women don't tend to do this. This sort of behavior seems to be a "man" thing.

To give you a "fer instance". There was a fellow who just bought a Marlin Model 1894C rifle. So what did he do? Did he go out and shoot and learn his rifle? Did he clean, disassemble and reassemble it a number of times noting the simple but effective parts and how they interact to create a reliable shooting tool? Nope. The first thing this fellow apparently did was to replace the Marlin firing pin with a one-piece pin. He then proceeded to tell us about it without actually having yet fired the gun. When it was pointed out that there were reasons that Marlin had a "two" piece firing pin, he proceeded to lecture us on how the mechanism (all guns are just a mechanism) worked. However, we finally came to understand that, as he said, "...this rifle is new to me and I just like to understand the mechanics of it all." In other words, he didn't know much at all before he felt he had to modify the gun.

The original Marlin two-piece firing pins have a forward long pin and a short rearward "striker" which is pushed down out of contact with the forward pin by a short flat spring until the locking bolt is fully in the locked/closed position. (Note:  Marlin calls these the front and rear firing pins.)It is the locking bolt that pushes the rear "striker" up into alignment with the forward firing pin so that the blow of the hammer can be transmitted to the primer. The intent is to ensure that the firing pin can't set off the primer until the bolt is fully locked. Some people believe that this system has too much friction and that this friction makes the gun cycle too slow to be used in certain shooting sports such as cowboy action shooting.

An old original cut-away action, see the locking bolt through the hole in the upper rear

To counter that the one-piece firing pin was "invented" by gamers (going back to a version of a design that the Marlin folks deliberately left in the interest of safety). In that highly controlled environment on the shooting range where the loaded guns aren't much jostled about the firing pin can't take a run at a primer and cause a problem. It is from the gamers that the hunters and shooting neophytes have learned of the on-piece firing pin. There are some that apparently believe that the Marlin was incorrectly engineered low those many years ago and they are going to "fix" their gun. It isn't as if that extra hundredth of a second in cycling the action is going to matter to a hunter or plinker but let's not get too bogged down in reality.

Brownells' image showing relationship of parts in Marlin action

Yes, I do know that there are some, even many, knowledgeable shooters and competitors who so modify their Marlin rifles. That's fine. They've thought it out, maintain their guns well and keep them clean. They can actually feel and appreciate the improvements large or small that they have worked on their firearms. They are more than welcome to do so. I also know that there wouldn't be a lot of gun stores in business if not for the more fickle and ignorant of the shooting public. Their changes of firearms, accessories, and so forth are literally the bread and butter for shops all over the country as well as for several large and not so large mail order firms.

- Long Hunter Shooting Supply
- Evil Roy Shooting School
- While It Was Out by Jim Taylor

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jedediah Hotchkiss

Jedediah Hotchkiss (b. November 30, 1828 – d. January 17, 1899), was also known as Jed. He was an educator and the most famous cartographer and topographer of the American Civil War. His detailed and accurate cartography of the Shenandoah Valley is considered a principal factor in General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's victories in the Valley Campaign of 1862.

Jedediah Hotchkiss was born on November 28, 1828, to Stiles and Lydia (Beecher) Hotchkiss in Windsor, NY. He lived and went to school in Windsor, graduating from the Windsor Academy. He was teaching school in Lykens Valley, PA, by his 18th year of age. In 1847, at the age of 19, he and a friend traveled to the Shenandoah Valley, mostly on foot. On this trip Hotchkiss met Henry Forrer who owned the Shenandoah Iron Works. A year later he would return the valley as the Forrer family tutor. That led to opening his own school in Mossy Creek in 1852. He also began surveying and continued his own studies in a variety of subjects. In 1859 he and his brother founded a new school in Churchville named Loch Willow.

In exploring his adopted home, he began the hobby of map making and developed the skill that would make him invaluable to the Confederate Army.

A transplanted New Yorker, Jedediah Hotchkiss became the most famous of Confederate topographers. In 1861 he gave up teaching and offered his services as a map maker to General Garnett in western Virginia. After serving at Rich Mountain and mapping out General Lee's planned campaign in the mountains, he fell ill with typhoid fever. In March 1862 he joined Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley as a captain and chief topographical engineer of the Valley District. Often personally directing troop movements he took part in the actions of the Valley Campaign and at Cedar Mountain, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. At Chancellorsville he found the route by which Jackson was able to launch his surprise flank attack on the Union 11th Corps. After the death of his chief he served the next two commanders of the corps, Generals Ewell and Early, but was frequently assigned to work for Lee's headquarters. In this dual role he served at Gettysburg and in the Mine Run and Wilderness campaigns.

Accompanying Early to the Shenandoah, he served through the campaigns there until after the disaster at Waynesborough. He gave himself up upon notification of Lee's surrender. By now a major, he was arrested but General Grant had him released and returned his maps. Grant even paid for the right to copy some of them for his own reports. Most of the Confederate maps in the atlas of the Official Records were drawn by Hotchkiss. After the war he was energetic in trying to develop the economy of his adopted state. Also involved in veterans' affairs, he authored the Virginia volume of Confederate Military History.

After the war, Hotchkiss taught school for two years before opening an office as a civil, mining and consulting engineer. With his wide knowledge of Virginia, he helped obtain the foreign and Northern investment of millions of dollars for the state.

He visited England and Scotland to encourage emigration to Virginia and worked ceaselessly to popularize the new notion of the public school system.

He was one of the "distinguished men of the South" who collaborated in the writing of the 12-volume "Confederate Military History", single-handedly composing the 1,295 pages of the Virginia volume. It is obvious that New York's loss of Jed Hotchkiss' public spirit was Virginia's gain.

Called by his peers "a well rounded Christian character of beautiful purity and cheerfulness", Hotchkiss also has the unsung place as the eyes of one of the world's most celebrated military geniuses (General Stonewall Jackson). In part, each of the hundreds of monuments in the name of Stonewall Jackson throughout the South also honors Jed Hotchkiss.

On January 17, 1899, at age 71, Jedediah Hotchkiss died at his home (437 East Beverley Street) in Staunton, VA.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring weather = WORK

Spring has sprung and that means the chore list has gotten long and complicated. If it weren't for rainy days, I'd have to work every day. As it is that cuts into the fun time.

We are still picking up the detritus of winter. All those broken limbs and blown trash have to be picked up before mowing. Yes, mowing of lawns has started. We've got to keep the wild onions short! We are still trying to sell Mom's house and have to maintain it and the grounds. We need to get the camper going (and inspected). Nana's vehicle had to go in and out of the shop for several days. It just doesn't end. We hope to get back out there and soon!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Rainbow Bridge

The Rainbow Bridge

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Another boring Monday. I think in part it was slow because they have blocked one lane of traffic on the access road as they do sewer repair (this will continue for 5 months). Also, today was beautiful and lots of folks were out mowing to avoid the next two days of expected rain and colder temps. It is also spring turkey season.

I did get more and better photos of the Slotter and Company tip-up rifle. Those photos will be up just as soon as I can complete the cropping tomorrow morning.

Vic A______ did bring in this turkey he killed. Nice bird!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Beautiful Spring Day

No photos because it was so nice we didn't bother. Went riding, discovered some wonderful places and had ice cream at Kline's. Took the dog, too.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Shop Stuff...

I meet the most interesting people in the militaria and art shop.  Today I met the son of Joe Colvin, a 29 ID veteran of WWII (deceased).  He told me some great stories his father told him.  In proving that old saw that birds of a feather flock together, he told me how he works for and is friends with Gordon Barlow (head of the Contemporary Longrifle Association) who works and is friends with my boss and knows some other friends of mine.

Then there is Dr. S____ (a regular customer) who is a descendant of a man of the last name of "Snow" from North Carolina who served in the 26th North Carolina Infantry during the Civil War.  That unit was directly opposite the 134th New York Infantry at the brickyard in Gettysburg on 1 July 1863.   That is where my great-great grandfather, for whom I was to be named, was wounded.  So, it could have been the good doctor's great, great-grandfather who shot my great, great-grandfather.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Slotter & Company, Phila - Rimfire Tip-up Rifle

Scarce Pair of Slotter & Co. "Peanut" Size Pistols
The Schlotterbeck (or, alternatively in some records, Slotterback) brothers, Charles (b. ca 1832), Frederick (b. ca. 1834) and Henry (b. ca. 1837), were apparently natives of Wurttemberg, Germany and had immigrated about 1855.

It is unclear if Charles ever worked for Henry Deringer but he is known to be working for A. J. Plate in San Francisco in 1860.  After working for Henry Deringer, Henry  and Frederick Schlotterbeck opened their own shop/factory in 1860 which operated at 400 Lynd Street, Philadelphia until about 1869.  These former Deringer employees were involved in a patent infringement suit in 1863, due to Henry Deringer's statement that the brothers falsely interpreted authorization to use Deringer's name on their arms. They were, in fact, marking their guns "H. Deringer" and shipping them to A. J. Plate who was apparently desperate for the pistols to sell. Shortly after the court ruled in Deringer's favor, the brothers began putting out arms under their own company name, Slotter & Company, or marking guns "J. Deringer" for a partner who was reputedly a butcher or tailor who never set foot in the shop. There was a John Deringer, tailor, in Philadelphia (who was drafted to serve in the Civil War).   Did he accept the deal in order to get the money to buy a substitute?  That last is pure speculation. To continue, Slotter & Co. not only made Deringer type pistols but also muzzleloading percussion rifles and at least one breechloading rifle (shown here). The company ceased all activities about 1869 and the brothers moved to the west coast.

Slotter/ & Co. Phila marked rifle
Charles lived in San Francisco (on 1870 census) where he made rifles and later moved to Lakeport, CA with his wife Poline (Pauline, who also immigrated in 1855) and children including Henry (or Charles Henry) who was also a gunsmith. Charles was known for his quality firearms and held several patents on firearms (84224, 208765, and 233034). He was apparently in business in 1867 as this ad from 16 August 1867 attests.
VILLEGIA & SLOTTERBEK, GUN, RIFLE AND PISTOL makers, 730 Washington street, opposite the Plata, Messrs. JOSEPH VILLEGIA and CHARLES SLOTTERBEK beg to call the attention of their friends and the sportsmen of California to the fact that they have taken the above store, and purpose conducting it as a first- class establishment, where the entire wants of the Sportsmen can be accommodated. Messrs. V & S would call special attention to tho superiority of the Guns, Rifles and Pistols made under their supervision, and challenge competition in this particular; and are now making guns to order with the elaborate cold drawn steel barrels, which are so favorably known for their great strength and superior shooting powers. Repair of Firearms done at the shortest notice, and satisfaction guaranteed in all cases. Ammunition of all kinds constantly on hand.
Charles was also apparently well known as a Schutzen shooter (and we see yet another spelling of the family name).
During 1872 the National Rifle Club was organized by the members of the old “Deutsche Schuetzen Club” which had ceased to exist, Joseph Hug, Alois Schneider, Wm. Ehrenpfort, John Bach, George Schmidt, Chas. Slotterbek, Philo Jacoby and others were original members. Their shooting range was at Harbor View where they practiced every Sunday and held several public prize shootings.
But that isn't all that's out there on Charles.
Slotterbek Gun Shop - 185 N. Main Street
Charles Slotterbek located his gun shop in this building in 1872. The Chopsticks restaurant is the latest business to be housed in this same location that Charles Slotterbek made famous because of his superior ability as a gunsmith. Slotterbeck was probably the most famous of the California target rifle gun makers of the mid 1800's (see California Gunsmiths by Lawrence Shelton for more details). He was well known in the west for the exceptional quality of his rifles and pistols which are still highly prized and sought after by gun collectors today. He was born in Wurtemburg, Germany in 1832, immigrated to the United States and worked for Derringer in Philadelphia, where he learned all phases of pistol making. Not only a superb craftsman, he was an inventor and was granted patents for an off-set scope mount, a three barrel gun and a breach loading rifle. This is another example of a building that began as a wooden structure, but was later converted into brick due to the many fires that destroyed buildings in the late 1800's.
Charles Slotterbek died in Lakeport in 1886 and is buried in Hartley Cemetery.
Henry is shown on the 1880 census as living in Los Angeles, California to which he had moved in 1869-1870. It is difficult to track them in the census documents because of the many spellings of the family name.  One can well understand why they used the name "Slotter" for their company.  It was easy to spell! He apparently had a good business in Los Angeles (on Main Street and living on Eternity now Buena Vista Street?) until his death June 24, 1888.   Well known for customized Sharps rifles, one occasionally comes on the market. Another note is that Ludwig (Louis) Wundhammer apparently took over his shop after working for him. By this discovery we also discover how Henry died. According to Michael Petrov,
Wundhammer and Slotterbeck were at the rifle range where Slotterbeck was adjusting the front sight on a rifle when it discharged, striking him in the chest and killing him.
Mr. Petrov also reports that
Slotterbeck bought out the business from the founding gunsmith of LA, Henry Schaffer who retired in 1872 to grow flowers. The business went from Schaffer to Slotterbeck to Wundhammer to Ross King who later moved the shop to Roseburg, OR. Then in 1936 King retired and sold out to a young man by the name of P. O. Ackley.
We know that P. O. Ackley mentored Mike Bellm... And so it goes.

Frederick apparently moved to Seattle, Washington.  He was working to establish his gunsmith business there when he died November 14, 1873.

This .38 RF Long caliber, 24" octagonal barrel marked Slotter & Co, Philadelphia. Unusual hammer-activated breech system. Marked on top of breechblock W. Morgenstern Patent W.P. Wilstach. Breechblock and frame are nicely engraved, German silver furniture, patchbox, inlays. Finely checkered buttstock and forearm with silver tip. 

Slotter rifle action
That is about the sum total of what I could quickly discover about this gunmaker.  Why the interest?  Today Nuckols Gun Works took in this "Slotter & Co. of Phila" marked rifle.  The barrel appears to be of iron, is 28" long and 7/8" across the flats and is .22 caliber. The action appears to be of gun metal. The forward trigger releases a locking bolt allowing the action to tip open similar to the Wesson tip-up rifle. The breech is extremely simple. The hammer has a ridge laterally across its face which functions as the firing pin. When fully forward, the top face of the hammer (above this firing "pin" ridge) serves to hold the cartridge in place but there is some space between the lower face and the case head. It is likely that the case will split there, and has judging by the appearance of the face and surrounding material. I didn't get to look inside but the trigger mechanism seems very simple. The buttstock follows earlier muzzleloading conventions and the toe is broken.

It seems to me that this was a standard production item although it might have been a prototype or one-off. The standing breech portion seems to have been crudely rebrazed sometime later during the gun's life because the rest of the construction is as refined as the rest of Slotter & Company's production. I think it was made relatively early in the cartridge era, about the end of the Civil War or circa 1865. I'm sure that this system won't be at all acceptable with a cartridge larger than a .22 Short. Still, it is clear that this gun was used and valued enough as a tool that an effort was made to repair it.

We have yet to find another example in our research but we will continue to look.

Wesson 2-trigger Tip-up Rifle
It has the appearance of but should not be confused with the Wesson Tip-up Rifle.  They are not the same action.

Now I have some more and better photos (shown below)...

Overall view, note the broken toe of the stock and stock shape
Action close up, right side, hammer fully forward
Action close up, hammer fully cocked
Close up view of breech, hammer at half-cock, note brazed on " standing breech"
Only manufacturer's mark, top tang
Action bottom and bottom tang.  You can see the tang and spring screws here.  Note moderate engraving.
Pulling forward trigger releases locking hook and allows action to open.

- Guns of the Old West: An Illustrated Guide By Charles Edward Chapel

Mounting Rifle Sights — Chas. Slotterbeck, Lakeport, Lake Co., Cal. This invention
relates to a novel method of mounting telescopic sights upon breech-loading rifles, so that the telescope will not interfere with the action of the breech mechanism or the loading of the gun, nor displace or interfere with the ordinary sight. In the ordinary method of attaching a telescope to a rifle, it is mounted over the center of the barrel, and thus displaces the ordinary open or globe sight. It also extends so far back over the small of the stock, that it is totally inapplicable to breechloading rifles of many description, and inconvenient upon any. This invention consists in the employment of a device by which the telescope can be accurately mounted without interfering with the ordinary sights, and at the same time be entirely out of the way of the breech mechanism.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Savage Pistols by Bailey Brower Jr.

Savage Pistols by Bailey Brower Jr. is my latest acquistion.

I've been interested in Savage Pistols for a long time.  As some people have pointed out, I have an interest in the smaller "pocket" pistols and revolvers and most of the Savages fall into this category.  Unfortunately there has been a dearth of information on the subject.
In Savage Pistols, author Bailey Brower Jr. tells the remarkable story of Savage Arms, from its humble beginnings with Arthur Savage in the late 1880s to the creation of the last pistol in the late 1920s. Bailey explains the evolution of the Savage pistol, the role of Savage pistols in World War I, and the pistol’s connection to such historical figures as Buffalo Bill Cody, Bat Masterson, and William Pinkerton. This information-packed book includes hundreds of photographs of Savage pistols and rifles, cartridges, holsters, and other Savage products, as well as fascinating advertisements and illustrations.
This book also provides a lot of info on the 1910 service pistol trails and the Savage .45 ACP pistol(s). Great history there. The numerous photos are excellent. I also liked the fact that large format photos were used making discernment of various markings and features easy to see and understand.

The explanations of various finishes and such is so good the internet listings of these pistols was much easier to understand and the various relative values easier to understand.

I was very fortunate to get my copy at the Green Valley Book Fair just outside of Mount Crawford, VA for $7.00 and tax. Published price is $49.95.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Mini-CSA East Coast

Clint and Lynn pack for home
Three of us got together today at the Low Moor Range near Clifton Forge, VA for a sort of mini CSA East coast.  Myself, Clint B_____ and Lynn H_______ met for some shooting and talk.  Unfortunately our plans were shot down when, at about 11:30 the United States Forest Service Law Enforcement folks showed up for their semi-annual shooting.  I'm not yet clear whether it is qualification or familiarization or some other training.  There sure were a lot of them, too.  So, as you can see, we are packing up all too soon after arriving having spent only about 1½ hours on the range. 

There were a bunch of handguns, mostly Rugers and mostly with triggers that were awfully light, or so I say, one old tired Smith and Wesson, a Colt and a couple of rifles.  Not everything got anywhere near a proper wringing out.  We did get to learn a lot about each other and talked a lot about guns.  We also touched on long distance driving, Elmer Keith, Alaska (well those do include guns I suppose), timber & firewood, coal mining, skid loaders, the Army, dogs, a piebald bear and more interesting things.  I got a bit of a ribbing for not owning a powder measure.  The weather was beautiful.  Lynn was especially appreciative as he'd been stoking the stove before heading east to meet us and had snow yesterday.

I did get to shoot the aforementioned old, tired Smith and Wesson .32-20 at paper, as did Lynn.  With JimT's loads it shot low for me and for Lynn but not so much too low for Lynn.  However, the slightly loose barrel did give us some lateral shift.  How I ever killed that squirrel this past winter is beyond me.  It must have been his time.

Clint does some of his own trigger work and I got to try a couple of his Rugers.  Each gave me a chance to let one off early as his triggers are a whole lighter (and smoother) than mine.  Once I quite trying to use the trigger as a momentary finger rest (which you can do with my guns), they shot quite well.  These gentlemen do like their Rugers.  I do too but I've only got more of the same.  I should have brought the .32 H&R as I think Clint would have liked it.

I also found out that I'm not the only one that loses those red front sight inserts on the target.  Apparently they give Lynn fits, even if you can't see it in his targets. 

After shooting and jawing some we moved to Penny's Diner for some good food and more talk.  Left the parking lot there at about 2:00.  Didn't take many photos.  I did get this one of the other two participants but I think I met better have waited until Clint was a bit happier.  He was still a bit upset with the USFS folks (who had also not marked the range as closed before we got there).  By the way, I'd like to thank Lynn for the pack of bullets and Clint for lunch.  I owe both of these fine fellows now.  Had a great time and hope to do it again. 

Clint managed to get a photo of all three of us.

Clint, Lynn and Hobie

Monday, April 04, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Slocum Sliding Sleeve Revolver
It was an interesting day.  Right from the beginning we had an interesting firearm, the Slocum Sliding Sleeve Revolver (serial #9xxx) .32 rimfire.  Approximately 10,000 of these were made by Brooklyn Arms Company from 1863-1864.  I got photos which you can see here.  This gun has one problem, a broken hand.  Were it not for that and a lack of ammo you could shoot it.  A very neat gun.

The concept was simple, instead of having a bored through cylinder, patented by Rollin White and exclusive to Smith and Wesson, have the chambers as separate parts in the cylinder and load them by first sliding the chamber forward over the fixed ejector rod, dropping the cartridge in the "trough" and then sliding the chamber back over the cartridge.  The grooves on the rear of the chambers are to provide a grip.  The frame is of gun metal, the barrel of iron, the cylinder of steel.  The individual chambers are VERY well fit to the cylinder.  The grips are genuine mother of pearl, my photos don't do them justice.  The top of the barrel is marked "BA Co. PAT APRIL 14th 1863".  The National Firearms Museum has one that is in much better condition

Right side of Slocum with sleeve chamber slid over ejecting rod
We also had an L.C. Smith 10 ga. "damascus" barreled shotgun apparently very tightly choked with a unique modification.  I'd have to go back to verify but I believe it was a quality 5 gun.  The rear portion of the upper tang had been removed and the safety deleted.  I didn't have an opportunity to get photos of that one.