Ethan Allen Brass Falling Block Rifle

Ethan Allen was a very prolific gun manufacturer in the US, being involved with a series of different companies. This particular rifle of his appealed to me because it is an excellent example of how many different clever elements can be in something as simple and pedestrian as a single shot rifle. This particular one also happens to have a rather handsome brass frame – check it out:

Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another video on I’m Ian, I am here today at the Rock Island Auction House again, Taking a look at some of the guns they have for sale in Their upcoming June of 2015 Regional Auction. And I thought I would pick a gun today that just is a really good example Of how something that looks at first glance really simple Can actually have a whole lot of interesting features kind of hidden inside it That you don’t see until you’re willing to really take a close look at a gun. So what I have in particular here is an Ethan Allen drop-breech single-shot rifle. These were manufactured from 1860 to about 1870. They were made in a bunch of different configurations, different barrel lengths, different calibres, etc. A couple of different types of sights on them. This particular one is a brass framed version, it’s in .42 rimfire. And I want to show you how much interesting stuff there can be in Something as basic as a single-shot rimfire rifle. So let’s bring the camera back here and get right to it. So the first thing that will probably jump out at you when you take a look at this rifle, Aside from … its stand-out brass frame, is this rear sight. It’s very simple, it’s just a rear notch. And it has a series of dimples machined into the receiver from 1 out to 10 hundreds of yards. And you just put the pointer to the range that you want, And it raises the sight to the appropriate place. That’s just cool, we don’t really see rifle sights set up like this anymore. I mean, obviously this is not something that’s going to stand up to military use today. But you know what? That’s just neat and cool looking, especially in brass. So once you get done playing with that, The next thing you’re probably going to look at is the action. This is a falling-block action, I have the hammer at half-cock here, And there’s a little secondary latch at the back of the trigger guard. When I pull that, it allows me to drop the breech. So I can put a shell in there. If I already have a shell, there is a spring-loaded extractor. As I pull the breech-block down it pulls the case out for me. Then I can put in a new shell,

And latch the breech block back into place. Very simple. This isn’t massively strong, but this is just fine for some of the Relatively lightly-powered rimfire cartridges of the Civil War era. Now, there’s yet more to it. First off, let’s pull out the breech block and take a quick look at it. The whole assembly is held in place by just one little cross pin screw. So let’s take that out. You can see it’s only threaded at the end, most of it’s just a solid pin. Then I can pull out the breech block assembly. And drop out the firing pin. Very simple, there’s no spring in it, it’s just a free-floating firing pin. And that’s interesting. There are two holes in the breech face Because this rifle is actually converted to centrefire. These were originally made as rimfire guns, And all it takes to convert it to centrefire is to simply drill a second hole. (See if we can get a view of that.) So there’s one firing pin hole, and there’s the other. And all you have to do to switch between the two types of cartridge Is push the firing pin in at a different angle. So there’s centrefire. I can drop it out, lean it this way, and reconfigure the gun for rimfire. So that’s cool, we can change between centrefire and rimfire ammunition very, very quickly. But, that does kind of raise the question of how useful is it to switch back and forth If in fact you’ve got the same cartridge? So that would let us switch from a .44 rimfire to an identical .44 centrefire. Except there’s yet more to this gun. We have one little square-headed screw on this side behind the rear sight. And if I take that out, This is just a tapered pin. Once I take that out, oh, my goodness, this is actually a takedown rifle. So our barrel and chamber come out as a complete separate unit from the action. So if I want to change the entire cartridge that I’m using, More than just going from a rimfire to a centrefire version, I could get a different barrel assembly and just drop it in. I might have to change the extractor.

Which would not be difficult. But other than that, a new barrel assembly and a different extractor If the case head was significantly different in size, and that’s all you need. Well, thanks for watching guys, I hope you enjoyed the video. This was never used as a military arm, But after the Civil War it was actually adopted as a Standardised rifle by a couple of different state militias. So there’s definitely some historical interest to this, As well as its, I think, very interesting utilitarian functions. So if you’d like to have it yourself, Of course, being at an auction house, it is coming up for sale. If you check the link below, that will take you to Rock Island’s catalogue page about it. Take a look at their pictures, Everything you need to know about it that they have online. And then you can actually place a bid online as well. And if you’re lucky, end up owning it yourself. Thanks for watching.

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