Merwin & Bray .42 Caliber Cupfire Revolver

One of the many revolver systems designed to work around the Rollin White patent was the Pant’s Patent cupfire revolver, made by Merwin & Bray in several calibers (.28, .30, and .42). This particular example is a nice on in .42 (which is the diameter of the cartridge case; the projectile is actually .39 caliber). The cupfire system was similar technically to rimfire, but with the priming compound in the base of the hollow cup at the end of the cartridge case. This allowed it to be loaded from the front of the cylinder, and fired by a hammer striking through a smaller hole in the rear of the cylinder.


Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video episode on Forgotten weapons calm I mean I’m here at the Rock Island Auction house today taking a look at Some of the guns that are coming up for Sale in their April 2015 premier auction And I wanted to take a look at another One of the early unusual cartridge guns Developed during the time around the Time of the American Civil War Of course rollin white and Smith & Wesson had a patent and a license on the Idea of boring a hole straight through a Cylinder so anyone else who wanted to Legally manufacture a pistol had to come Up with some way to do it without Drilling a hole clear through the Revolver cylinder so the first company To do this in any sort of large scale Was a manufacturing company called Merwin and Bray they had a revolver it Was called up plants patent revolver Actually invented by to name two men Named WC Ellis and JH white they Invented this gun design what’s called a Cup fire now the ideal with this is that They had a brass cartridge case and it Had a little flared rim at the front and Instead of having a primer at the back Like we would recognize today it kind of Had inverted cup shape if you’ve done Any reloading think about what a primer Looks like if you pulled it upside down So that it’s open the idea was you would

Load those cartridges through the front Of the cylinder so they didn’t have to Drill a hole all the way through it and Then the hammer would strike the inside Of that cup at the back of the cartridge And fire the the piece so in this way It’s similar to a rimfire sort of but a Different shape and this allowed them to Avoid infringing on Roland White’s Patent these were fairly successful Quite a lot of them were made and they Were made in both 30 caliber and 42 Caliber this particular one is 42 Caliber and why don’t we take a closer Look at it really this is a pretty Simple design which explains why it was Effective and popular in many ways s Estimated that about 20,000 of these Guns were made in total which is not bad For being an unusual cartridge as they Are you can see this has a sheath Trigger with no trigger guard we have a Half [ __ ] notch Full [ __ ] and firing the pistol if I put A half [ __ ] I can go ahead and load and unload we Have a cutout here on the side of the Frame so you have space to load Cartridges right there which is also Where you would eject them using this Ejector rod so there’s our rod it Punches the cases forward because of Course there’s a rim at the end of the Cylinder which is required to not

Infringe on the roland white patent in Order to pull the cylinder out I put the Gun at full [ __ ] and then this is our Cylinder access pin this little button Locks it in place so I push that in and Then I can pull the axis forward and the Cylinder simply drops out before we look At that we can take a look at the Internals of the gun it’s actually very Standard typical we have a cylinder lock Down here which is spring-loaded and Connected to that lever on the bottom of The frame our cylinder hand is right There So when I [ __ ] the hammer that hand Lifts up which rotates the cylinder and Then of course we have a port for the Firing pin to come through right here One interesting thing to notice is that That firing pin is has quite a lot of Protrusion into the where the cylinder Would be that’s because it needs to be Fairly long to effectively reach and Fire this Cup fire style of cartridge The front just have a location for the Front axis of the cylinder and the Barrel now the cylinder itself this is The front where you would load Cartridges in and you’ll notice it looks Very typical the back has slightly Smaller holes you’ll see that they are Oval doubt just slightly at the bottom That’s to make sure there’s enough Clearance for the hammer to get in there

And then interestingly instead of having Something like ratchet teeth this has Round pegs that the cylinder hand acts On to rotate and lock the cylinder so The idea is you load your cartridges From the front they hit this smaller lip Rim basically at the back so that they Cannot be put All the way through the cylinder it is Not unknown to find these guns converted To either rimfire or frankly it could be Centerfire cartridges by drilling out The back of the cylinder that would have Been done later on after production and And that does actually hurt the value of The guns a little bit although to me That’s an interesting example of period Authenticity once you got to the point Where rimfire cartridges were readily Available I think it would make a lot More sense to convert the gun to use Those rather than trying to continue to Find a what became an obsolete type of Ammunition so like I said it’s a pretty Simple system to reassemble it all I Have to do is drop the cylinder put the Hammer at full [ __ ] cylinder drops in Our axis pin let’s line that up snaps Into place we have a little spring a Little spring right there holding it in Place cylinder is now locked up and Ready to go well thanks for watching Guys I hope you enjoyed the video this Is another one of those real interesting

Short-lived interim designs for Cartridges before the the modern Centerfire cartridge really took over The market so if you’d like to add this To your own collection of Civil War era Revolvers or unusual cartridge guns it Is for sale here at Rock Island if you Click the link in the description text Below that will take you to their Catalog page on it can check out their High-res pictures their cataloguers Description and have everything right There to create an account and place a Bid online board come down here to the Auction and participate yourself thanks For watching

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