The advent of the hammerless shotgun was still years away when this 12 ga. external hammer Parker shotgun was produced. Early Parker metallic cartridge shotguns followed the lines of their predecessors, percussion doubles. But the variety of Parker barrel types including Damascus and case-hardened actions offered a shotgun style for every pocketbook. Nearly a quarter million Parkers would be made before 1942.
Smith & Wesson offered both .22 and .32 caliber single-action revolvers during the American Civil War period. The larger sized .32, or No. 2 revolver, was also called the “Old Army” and was made from 1861 to 1874. Who carried one? General George Custer and “Wild Bill” Hickock are both known to have owned examples of these six-shooters. Despite it's smaller size, the No. 1 model in .22 boasted seven shots.
British riflemen garnered a reputation for fast and accurate long range shooting during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The Mark I Lee-Enfield rifle was one of many .303 cal bolt action models in service, but it featured a set of volley fire sights graduated to ranges far beyond the regular barrel-mounted sights. With the smooth bolt mechanism of the Lee-Enfield and the volley aperture sights, a squad of experienced riflemen could empty the 10-shot magazine quickly enough to make opponents feel like they were receiving machine gun fire.
Remington’s first revolver, sometimes dubbed “the walking beam” for its unusual outside cylinder pawl, was chambered in .31 percussion caliber and was made from 1857 to 1858. This example is just a bit finer than most production guns, as it came with a wooden case that holds significant accoutrements, including a bullet mold and loading tools.
This .60 caliber flintlock rifle made by gunsmith and militiaman John Graeff is typical of those used by Pennsylvania militiamen during the Revolutionary War.
The story goes that, in an effort to convince King George III of England that highly trained British troops were needed in Boston, the British War Department forced two captured Pennsylvania militiamen to demonstrate their marksmanship in a field outside London. Their accuracy so impressed the King that he ordered the English Ordnance Office to copy the Lancaster rifles.
Having seen first-hand the deadly skill of Pennsylvania militia men in action, a British surgeon remarked: “These men are remarkable for the accuracy of their aim; striking a mark with great certainty at 200 yards distance…and their shots have frequently proven fatal to British officers and soldiers who exposed themselves to view, even at more than double the distance of common musket shot.”
This pair of .60 cal pistols incorporated the snaphaunce firing mechanism, the earliest form the flintlock. Snaphaunce replaced the need for a continually burning piece of chemically-treated cord used in the earlier matchlock firearms with a cock that held a piece of flint and was released by the trigger to strike a metal frizzen, creating a shower of sparks to ignite the gunpowder in the pan. Though it was not as reliable as the wheelock, the snaphaunce mechanism was exceedingly cheaper to manufacture and repair.
These pistols, which include decorative metal inlays and wood carvings, were typical examples of arms produced in the region between Florence and Bologna, Italy, during the latter 18th and early 19th centuries. The pistols are dated from 1782 and bear the initials “C.Z.” on the inside of the lockplate. They are attributed to Cassiano Zanotti, the son of a gunsmithing family that settled near Lugo, Italy.
The NRA Museums firearm collection is one of the finest and most celebrated in the entire world. Split between three museums that are spread across the United States, the thousands of incredible firearms on display tell not only the tale of firearms technology, but American history as well.
Every day NRA Museums shares one of their great pieces on their Facebook page, but in case you miss them we've compiled this past week's into one handy post.
Learn more about the NRA National Firearms Museum, NRA National Sporting Arms Museum at BassPro, and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest, at www.nramuseums.com.