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McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305


Do you like muskets?


In 1811 inventor John Hall patented his design for a breechloading rifle that would become the first mass-produced breechloader ever to be adopted by any country...

in the world.


He successfully submitted his design to the Ordnance Department for testing, resulting in a contract for 100 rifles in 1817 so they could perform the tests. His design was found to be superior in every way to the muzzleloading rifles then in service, leading to a larger order and the adoption of the Model 1819 rifle. They would be made under Hall's supervision at the national arsenal at Harpers Ferry, who would also oversee the construction and installation of the machinery needed to produce the rifle.

You see, Hall's design wasn't merely the first breechloader in US service. It was also the first firearm ever produced that was completely interchangeable.



It is, however, a rather odd looking gun.





With the hammer on the top of the breech block, the sights need to be offset to the left.



This, hilariously, includes the front sight.



The breech is opened by means of the trigger-looking lever in front of the actual trigger.



This is what latches the breech in place.





The breechblock then tips up and you then load the chamber and make ready to fire.



About 20,000 Model 1819 Hall rifles were constructed at Harpers Ferry from 1823 to 1840. There was also two model of carbines produced and a further run of percussion rifles in the 1840s. Initially made as flintlocks, the Model 1819 was, like most rockbangers in inventory, converted to percussion in the 1850s.

How did Hall achieve parts interchangeability in 1811? Maching tooling of the time wasn't capable of that level of precision. The answer is actually fairly simple: He made all the parts to fit a set of jigs. If you can't make them to standard, hand-fit them all to standard. He made tools more better.

Forgotten Weapons has a pretty good episode on the Model 1819 and goes into more detail than I can at the moment. All the books about Halls are out of print and cost $Yikes.

McNally fucked around with this message at 05:47 on Sep 28, 2020

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McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305


Do you like muskets?


Somebody Awful posted:

According to the FW video, hand-fitting to jigs is what Hall's predecessors were doing when they claimed to have interchangeable parts. Hall's own lasting contribution was less the rifle and more the machine tools he spent several years inventing so he could manufacture parts that would interchange straight out of the box.

gently caress, goddamned unreliable brain memory.

McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305


Do you like muskets?


Cyrano4747 posted:

Goddamn that is bizarre and interesting.

You're getting into some rarified air with these old rifles.

What was the military service like for these? Why weren't they adopted more widely? I'm guessing cost was prohibitive compared to your typical muzzle loader? Who ended up carrying them?

That breech - do you load it with powder and ball like it's a revolver or something (kind of like how you fill the cylinder's chambers?) How do you ram the ball in? Did they ever try a paper cartridge for it? How good is the seal with the barrel - any complaints about fouling spitting back at the user etc?

How about use in the field? Is fouling an issue beyond normal "yep it's a BP gun" poo poo?

My reference materials don't go into any great details on the Hall and Hall-specific books are both expensive and out of print, so at the moment these aren't questions I have all the answers to. But I have been able to dig up a little and from what I can tell:

These were issued out to specialized troops, like all the military rifles of the period were. They weren't adopted more widely because they were expensive as crap and time consuming to make compared to a muzzleloader. The seal with the barrel wasn't great (think clapped out revolver cylinder gap) and got worse as the rifles saw wear and tear. Guys who shoot them now report gas leakage getting them at the hairline and their trigger hands.

And given how grody the inside of the breech block on this one is, I'd say fouling was definitely an issue. In fact, I genuinely have no idea how the breech block was supposed to have been cleaned.

McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305


Do you like muskets?


flightless greeb posted:

That's awesome! Another neat piece of history id never heard of. I always learn something from your threads, now only if you could learn to handle lighting for a photography lol

Funny you should mention that, I'm about to order some lighting sets so I can start a YouTube channel on muskets. I figure the lights will also help with photography.

Cyrano4747 posted:

What are the go-to materials on these guns? Which books etc? I can poke around in a few corners and see what I can dig up

I'm looking at Vintage Hall's Breechloaders by R.T. Huntington and Hall's Military Breechloaders by Peter A. Schmidt

McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305


Do you like muskets?


Cyrano4747 posted:

I don't know what the deal is with ILL ~in these uncertain times~ but worldcat is showing about a dozen copies in libraries across the US, and your better public libraries usually know how to handle ILL.

I tracked down a couple copies on eBay and I'll probably pull the trigger on 'em tonight.

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McNally
Sep 12, 2007

Ask me about Proposition 305


Do you like muskets?


McNally posted:

I tracked down a couple copies on eBay and I'll probably pull the trigger on 'em tonight.

One of them, the older book, had sold while I was still out of the house. The other one is on the way, though. I'll make an effort post if I learn anything good from it.

And I just found a copy of Huntington's book on AbeBooks so whoo, got 'em both.

McNally fucked around with this message at 05:41 on Sep 30, 2020

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