Going back to the U.S. Military's first smokeless powder rifle
Fairfax, Virginia - Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. For NRANews, the bear of a schedule got hold of us when it comes to Curator's Corner.
That's because the Curators' Corner we told you was running a few weeks ago (John Wayne's Single Action Army from Rio Lobo on Curator's Corner) was changed at the last minute to another episode. The John Wayne piece is running tonight. What did run, and what we're sharing now, is the piece that ran way back then ... the Winchester Model 1895 Lee Straight-Pull.
"It's the other 95 from Winchester," said Philip Schreier, Senior Curator for the National Firearms Museum. "The Lee Straight-Pull U.S. Navy Winchester Model 1895.
"What I mean by straight pull is the beauty of this design by James Paris Lee, is this bolt action comes straight back and then straight forward right into place."
The Lee Straight-Pull was innovative on three different fronts. First is was the Navy's first bolt action rifle. Second, it was the first U.S. Military rifle to use smokeless powder. And third, it was the first to use millimeters in their caliber.
"This is a straight pull in a caliber that nobody had ever heard of before and that we've rarely gone to since," explained Schreier. " This is the first time that a U.S. Military firearm came in millimeters … six millimeters to be exact."
With 15,000 of the Lee Straight-Pulls made, the rifle saw action during the Spanish-American War and the insurrection of the Philippines. Unfortunately, at least for Mr. Lee, the straight pull design never caught on. Primarily, as Phil explains, because of mishaps that occurred on straight pull designs by another manufacturer.
"A lot of people envisioned the bolt coming all the way back and injuring the shooter when in fact that was a very rare occurance. Now the 1905-1910 Canadian Ross rifles had a straight pull mechanism that did fail for some. But the 1895 Steyr-Mannlicher also used a straight pull that worked perfectly well for the Austrians in World War I."
So you can catch John Wayne's Single Action Army from Rio Lobo on the Sportsman Channel tonight, but don't forget about the straight pull. You can find that episode of Curator's Corner any time on the new NRANews website.