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Rollin White was the inventor who patented the bored-through cylinder in the US, and sold an exclusive right to this patent to Smith & Wesson. They would use it as the basis for their own work with self-contained cartridges (White’s patent was originally intended as a way to load paper cartridges from the rear of the cylinder), but when the Civil War broke out White was in an odd position. Having sold an exclusive license to his idea to S&W, he could not sell guns utilizing that system himself. He was involved in the formation of the Rollin White Arms Company in 1861, and would make .22 rimfire revolvers, but only for purchase by S&W, who acted as the seller/distributor for them.
White did produce one other model of pistol in an attempt to chase in on the demand for arms during the war, and this was a single shot pistol that thus did not infringe on his licensing agreement with S&W. The design was very similar to a Smith & Wesson revolver, but with a single shot tip-out breechblock in place of a cylinder. Two versions were made, a small frame in .32 rimfire and a large frame (as we are looking at today) in .38 rimfire. The small type sold reasonably well, with 3,000 made – but only 200-300 of the large type were built. Most likely, it was simply too large for people to justify as a single-shot pistol.
6281 N. Oracle #36270
Tucson, AZ 85740
Hey guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on forgottenweapons.com I’m ian mccollum and i’m here today at Rock island taking a look at a very rare Roll and white single shot 38 caliber Rimfire Pistol and it kind of looks like one of Those 22 conversions of a revolver but it’s Not this is from the ground up a 38 caliber single shot pistol now Rolling white Is the guy who originally patented the Concept of a board through cylinder in The u.s Although he shouldn’t have been able to Because life a show In europe had actually done that a year Earlier but the patent office Didn’t catch that and so he ended up With a valid patent Now the gun he designed this that this Patent applied to Was impractical and unworkable however That didn’t make the patent invalid and What he ended up doing was selling Exclusive license to his patent to the Smith Wesson company they recognized what he Had In his patent and that was basically the Ability to have a monopoly on Self-contained Cartridges or at least practical
Self-contained cartridges So smith wesson bought his light bought Out an exclusive license to his patent Proceeded to start making revolvers uh Rimfire revolvers that were Quite popular and would lead to the Growth of smith and wesson into one of The largest gun companies in the united States Now while this is going on uh rolling White Is in this interesting position of well Okay like Now what and when the civil war starts In 1861 He’s in a particularly interesting Position where there’s a huge demand for Arms and but he can’t actually Manufacture His own patented revolver because he’s Given an exclusive license To smith and wesson so he forms an arms Company the rolling white arms company Or it was formed in association with him The actual origins of the company are a Little hazy And in fact he would cease to have any Association with it in 1865 and they’d Rename it But uh during the civil war He forms this company or he’s associated With this company And they start making 22 caliber rimfire Revolvers but they can’t sell them
Directly themselves they can only sell Them To smith wesson who then markets them Because of this contractual agreement However rolling white’s patent applied To revolvers it did not apply to Single shot pistols and so he was able To actually manufacture a single shot Pistol As well and there were other people Doing this usually in the form of Derringers What roland white went with was a much Larger frame Gun uh he made them in both 32 and 38 This is the larger and scarcer 38 Variety and so Well let’s let’s take a close look at it The overall exterior design here is Very reminiscent of an early smith and Wesson revolver Just with a flat sided single shot quasi Well not really a cylinder has a sheath Trigger here So you have three positions on the Hammer this is the fired position There is a safety notch on it where the Hammer doesn’t hit Doesn’t extend all the way down so this Is where you would carry it Because pushing the hammer forward Doesn’t do anything this is your safety Position And then fully cocked back there which
When the gun is cocked the trigger Protrudes out uh From the two sides of the frame not very Much but enough that when you pull the Trigger It will drop and fire there we go it Will drop all the way And then you pull it back to the the Half [ __ ] notch there Now in order to reload it we have a Little spring loaded button Here on the side pull that back pull Back And then push in and this will pivot out To one side this button at the front Is a spring-loaded extractor so that Allows you to punch out The case this was 38 caliber rimfire in This particular example So pop out your case load new one in Latch it over it’s already at the half [ __ ] position and so it’s Good to go this is the threaded pin I won’t take that all the way out but That’s the pin that the breech block Rotates around and there’s really not Much else to it we do have A very very small set of sights those Are I would say bordering on useless there The front sight’s at least a little Bigger so you can catch the front sight But trying to line it up in that notch Yeah good luck some of these
Are marked rolling white arms company on The side of the breech block but This one is not it does however have the Markings of B kittridge and company of cin.o and That’s cincinnati ohio Kittridge was a distributor who dealt in A wide variety of firearms he shows up In actually in some of the patent Infringement cases Filed by roland white he’s involved with The manhattan arms company And some others but kittridge is a Significant distributor so clearly he’s Who rolling white went to to market Some of these single shot pistols this Was made in 32 as well as 38 And the 32 caliber version has a much Smaller frame In fact it’s kind of distinguishable in Photos because on the 32 This bar is basically at the top of the Breech it kind of looks like the breech Block is A third the size or two-thirds the size You take off the top chunk So that’s an easy way to tell the two Apart in photos if you don’t have any Additional context The 32 caliber guns would prove Reasonably popular For white and his arms company uh he Made some 3000 of those Which is about 10 times as many as the
38 so it’s only two to three hundred of The 38 caliber guns That were produced during the civil war And I think really the problem is this is a Rather large Pistol for only getting one shot So i think a lot of people who were in Potentially interested in something like This Uh would go for a much smaller scale Derringer and they weren’t really Concerned that they wouldn’t get as much Uh velocity out of a shorter barrel Just this was too big for what it Offered And so uh very few of these would be Produced they’d be very scarce Uh roland white had a long an Unfortunate Uh life in relation to the firearms Industry uh he would actually appeal to Congress Uh for an extension of his patent in 1870 on the argument that He hadn’t really made any money at all He’d made like 71 000 Which he claimed he spent almost all of Uh Fighting patent infringement lawsuits And the the bill interestingly was Passed without debate by both houses of Congress and Then it was vetoed by president ulysses
S grant Basically on the advice of the army who Said that first off Uh rolling white’s litigation and An exclusive licensing deal had made it Rather difficult for the army to acquire Repeating handguns during the war and They were kind of annoyed at him for it And also that going forward if the Patent were extended it’d make it really Difficult to continue doing Conversions or to do conversions of Percussion guns To to self-contained cartridges so Um congress took no further action after The presidential veto and rollin white Ended up Getting uh did not get an extension on His patent and really didn’t benefit all That much from his work However that work did uh was thoroughly Very well exploited by smith and wesson Who turned it into A base of a huge arms production company Anyway hopefully you guys enjoyed Getting a chance to take a look at This one of the very unusual roland White arms company single shot pistols Thanks for watching You