The NRA celebrates the spirit of the holiday season in our 12 Days of Firearms series! To kick off the month of December, we’ve handpicked 12 legendary firearms found in the galleries of the NRA Museums, showcasing one each day for 12 days.
In an age when single-shot, muzzle-loading rifles were the rule, the early Maine-made Bennett & Haviland Repeater broke the mold. This 12-shot .40 caliber repeater was designed by Epenetus A. Bennett and Frederick P. Haviland, earning U.S. Patent No. 603 on Feb. 15, 1838.
The repeater required cranking a rotating disc on the underside of the receiver to advance the rotating rectangular chambers. Each brass chamber was loaded with powder and ball and capped individually.
Despite its many advances, this circa 1838 firearm relied on under-hammer ignition, a chancy proposition when dealing with percussion caps. Fewer than 10 examples were ever produced, making this a truly rare gun.