Reifgraber .38 S&W Automatic

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Designed by Austrian immigrant Joseph Joachim Reifgraber, this is a prototype gas-assisted short recoil pistol in a .38 rimmed revolver cartridge. While this version did not see any serial production, the Union Firearms Company of Toledo (Ohio) did market a slightly smaller model in .32 S&W (and .32 ACP). The gas-assist, as described in Reifgraber’s patent, is used in this gun but not in the .32 model.


Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m Ian I’m here today at the Rock Island Auction company taking a look at some of The guns that are coming up for sale in Their April of 2016 premier auction they Have a really cool very rare early American automatic pistol here This is a rifle so I call it American it Was actually designed by an Austrian Immigrant in the United States So this was developed by a guy named Yosef yo Keem rice crop up he was born In Austria in 1856 emigrated to the US And had an interesting history both as a Well not quite an engineer as far as I Can tell he never had a formal Engineering degree but then again Neither did a lot of people back at that Period and he was a fairly talented Firearms designer he came up with this Pistol after spending some time with Some interesting political activists Background which if you’re interested in Check out my other video that I Previously did on one of his 32 caliber Pistols where I go into that in as much Detail as I’m aware of at any rate his Pistols were manufactured by the Union Firearms company out of Toledo Ohio they Made this automatic pistol they also Sold an automatic revolver or a self Cocking revolver which is a pretty Interesting little design and then they

Resold some other foreign guns lefeber Or Lefevre shotguns I believe and maybe Some others however what’s really cool Is the standard rife Gropper pistol is In 32 caliber and this one is a Prototype 38 caliber so a little bit Bigger and the cool thing about it is That it actually uses this gas Accelerating feature which is described In the patents for these pistols but Isn’t actually used in the standard Production 32 pistols so when we looked At one of those previously there was This weird conflict of why is this Feature listed out and described in the Patent when it’s not actually used in a Pistol well here we have a 38 caliber Version where it is used so that kind of Explains why it’s in the patent now this Is marked as being patented in 1906 the Two caliber guns were produced in the 1910 to 1912 timeframe there were only Were less than a hundred of the 32s Actually produced this 38 has no serial Number It’s and the markings on it are all Clearly hand stamped so it appears that The 38 is never went into production They may have had some functioning Problems with them or they may have Decided that a smaller pistol would just Sell better and be a little more cost Effective so definitely a rare Opportunity to take a look at a 38 so

Why don’t we get right to it bring the Camera back take this part and check out How it works inside all right we’ll Start with a basic comparison this is a 32 caliber standard rife grappa and then This is the 38 caliber this one is also Coming up for sale in this auction but We’re not going to take a detailed look At it because we already checked one out And we’ve got the cool bigger one to Take a look at so the size difference is Actually not as great as I would have Suspected initially although the weight Difference is more substantial the 38 Caliber is definitely a heavier gun the 32 in fact if I overlay these one on the Other you can see that the 38 has a Longer grip a little bit longer receiver But the actual height of the the Receiver the frame here the size of the Trigger guard is pretty much identical So let’s get into disassembly of this so We’ll start by removing the magazine on This one the magazine catch is actually This tab on the spring-loaded Element on the bottom the mag this is a Very homemade experimental magazine now The next step is to take our disassembly Lever and we’re going to pull this down 90 degrees and then the rear of the grip Frame there the back strap here which by The way functions as a spring-loaded Grip safety this comes out Right now so one really cool element

Here is that this back strap is a fully Self-contained fire control assembly Kind of like what we would see shoot 20 Or 30 years later in Tokarev and the Petter 1935 a French pistols we’ve got The hammer we’ve got the springs we’ve Got the sear right here so hold the Hammer here and then if i press this Sear the hammer falls so i can actually Pull the trigger completely out at this Point trigger comes out and all that Consists of is this yoke with a crossbar Right there this sits across the fire Control group that crossbar impinges on That sear push this back it pushes this Drops the hammer really a very cool Simple and self-contained fire control System all right next up I have this Plug in the back of the frame that needs To come out You can see a little pin hole or pin There that’s actually the base at the Recoil spring but I don’t have to do Anything with it all I have to do is Push the barrel just slightly back in And then rotate this plug 45 degrees There we go that plug comes out and the Recoil spring comes with it that Separates out very easily and then our Bolt and barrel assembly fall out the Back of the pistol as a unit and I can Pull off the bolt pull out the locking Piece one thing I want to point out here Is that the recoil spring on this 38 is

Actually two concentric recoil springs One slightly smaller diameter inside the Other the 32 caliber rifle offers just Had a single basic spring so while this Is the same overall outside diameter There’s a second spring has been added To the inside too Increase the spring tension which is Necessary going from 32 to 38 caliber Now the main operating components of This guy are these three the barrel Assembly the bolt assembly and this Locking piece and these work together Pretty easily so what happens is this Locking piece pivots pivots slightly Down and slightly up as the barrel Assembly moves in the receiver when the Barrel is all the way forward this Locking piece is pivoted down like that And it locks into this surface on the Back of the bolt so it’s locked up like This that keeps the bolt locked into the Barrel assembly which means that the Chamber is shut and the cartridge is Sealed in there and under recoil when You fire this whole thing slides Backwards just slightly and when it does The surface on the top of the frame acts As a cam and pushes this lock up like That as soon as that lifts up now There’s nothing holding the bolt onto The barrel assembly so the barrel Assembly stops moving and then the bolt Cycles backwards against the pressure of

The mainspring that allows it to extract The empty cartridge eject it we have a Fixed ejector right here that smacks the Rim of the cartridge and throws it out And then this decelerates stops and when It comes forward it strips off a new Cartridge and chambers it so the Interesting added element to the 38 Caliber guns is this sleeve on the front Of the barrel this sleeve is actually Concealing two small gas ports just Inside the barrel on 180 degrees opposed To each other right there and there I Don’t know if you’ll be able to see them But let’s give it a try All right there you can see one of the Gas ports very clearly at the front see If I rotate this yep there’s the other One right there So you’ve got two gas ports and they’re Right at the muzzle which is a kind of Unusual choice for gas ports like that Those ports vent gas into this collar Which then directs it forward and the Gas goes forward and you have a very Small pressure chamber here because that The gas comes out of that collar comes Forward and hits the front of the frame So here’s the muzzle when the barrel is All the way forward those gas ports are Going to be right about here and what That does is actually give the barrel a Little bit more of an inertial kick to Push it backwards to ensure that the

Whole thing has enough energy to move Backwards cycle the locking block and Then allow the bolt to travel on the 32 Caliber guns apparently this little bit Of gas assist wasn’t necessary and so They left this part out of the guns Because of course it’s a lot easier to Make them if you’re not drilling gas Ports and putting on sleeves and all That sort of stuff on the 38 caliber gun They do have that though so now let’s Put this back together and show it Functioning full size however first I Want to point out the markings here this Is caliber 38 Patton October 30th 1906 You can see that the muzzle sticks out a Little bit here when the gun fires the Muzzle is going to travel back so this Is a short recoil action and you can Hear that click that click is the Locking block in the back here camming Out of position because at this point The bolt can travel against the recoil Spring when the barrel is forward the Bolt can’t move except by taking the Barrel with it so that’s the definition Of a short recoil system so lastly we Have both our thumb safety back is safe Forward as fire and we have our Spring-loaded grip safety so if you Don’t have that grip safety engage Trigger does nothing when you do then it Will dry fire sites on this are pretty Rudimentary which is pretty typical of

The time this does lock open on an empty Magazine but it doesn’t have a hold open Mechanism in the bolt so when you pull The magazine out the bolt just drop shut Now one last thing this is caliber 38 I haven’t there aren’t any other Markings to describe exactly what 38 Caliber cartridge that would be I’m Pretty sure it’s 38 Smith & Wesson long Just based on the size of the magazine And the fact that the 32 caliber guns Were in 32 Smith & Wesson the rice Wrapper is unusual in that it’s an Automatic pistol that uses a rimmed Revolver cartridge that’s largely Because those were all of the popular Cartridges at the turn of the century Automatic pistols really hadn’t come Into their own yet with the 32 caliber Guns you could also use 32 browning 32 ACP 765 browning all different names for The same cartridge and ryf cropper made A separate magazine that would fit 32 Acp now that’s a semi rimmed cartridge So that it would work basically the same Way as a revolver round in the chamber With the 38 caliber guns there’s no Indication that you could also use a Second type of cartridge however I Suspect had this gone into production it Would have gone in as being available in Both 38 Smith & Wesson and also 38 acp Which was the cartridge that was used in The early browning automatic pistols the

1900 and the 1902 and the 1903 hammer Thanks for watching guys I hope you Enjoyed the video Not a pistol we’re going to see everyday So cool to get a chance to look at one And then compare it to the more common In relative sense 32 caliber rifles if You’d like to add this one to your own Collection if you like experimental Pistols or early American pistols or That interesting category of automatic Pistols that use rim revolver cartridges Well this is a really Cool example take a look in the Description text below and you’ll find a Link to rock island’s catalog page on This guy you can check out their Pictures and their description and if You decide you’d like to have it and can Place a bit right there through their Website thanks for watching

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