The Wesson & Leavitt is one of the scarcest revolving rifles made in the US, with no more than 50 made (some sources say only 16). The reason for this is that the Dragoon revolver which Wesson & Leavitt based the rifle on was found to be in violation of several Colt patents. Most importantly, when the Wesson & Leavitt Dragoon was introduced in 1850, Colt had a patent on the feature of having the cylinder index automatically when the hammer is cocked. They filed suit against Wesson & Leavitt, and won the case in 1851, before very many of the revolvers had been made.
Hi guys thanks for tuning in to another Video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m in I’m here today at the Rock Island Auction house and taking a look at some Of the guns and their upcoming September Of 2015 premier auction and I kind of Have this ongoing desire to do a video On every version of the revolving lung Gun that I can get my hands on and today I have another one a particularly Obscure and rare one this is a Wesson And Levitt revolving rifle now like many Of these early revolving rifles this was Actually based on an army model revolver In this case a 40 caliber no surprise Wesson and Leavitt Dragoon revolvers now The reason that that the carbines are Particularly rare some sources say they Made 16 some sources say they made 20 to 50 in either case they made very very Few of them but the reason is they Actually made very few of the revolvers As well the revolver was introduced in 1850 and it was the subject of a lawsuit From the Colt company in 1851 very Quickly thereafter turns out the Revolver actually infringed on the Number of Colts patents now most of the Time when we hear revolver patent Infringement we think the Roe and white Patent for the board through cylinder This was different Colt had a patent on some features like Cocking the hammer being responsible for
Turning the cylinder [ __ ] the hammer Cylinder turns that’s a feature patented By Colt at this point now that patent Would eventually expire but when Wesson And Levitt were producing this gun Colt Patent was still in effect so Colt was Able to put these guns basically out of Business they were in fact copying Infringing on Colt patent Wesson and Levitt came back they made a number of Changes that frankly I would think made The guns far less desirable they they Revised them so that you had to manually Index the cylinder and they also Replaced the ignition system with a Maynard tape primer in order to avoid Some primer related or percussion-cap Related patents of Colts so those two Things together just you know let them Get the guns legally back into Production but they were never very Popular so the rifle version kind of Befell the same fate they only made a Handful of them before They’re driven out of business for legal Reasons so why don’t we take a closer Look at this there are some neat Features to it and well we probably Won’t see another one like this for a While before we start I should point out Wesson and Levitt were in fact Edwin Wesson who was the brother of Daniel Wesson who was substantially more Notable and Daniel Levitt they designed
These guns in the 1840s and they did Patent some features on them that just Also chose to ignore Colt patents on Some of the other features so as far as Practicality goes the Wesson and Levitt Rifle doesn’t really bring anything new To the table it has the same kind of Obvious problem that all almost all Revolving rifles did in that you’ve got Your cylinder gap up there you have the Potential for chain fire here making it Unwise to hold the gun by the barrel so A shooter would have both hands back Here by the trigger guard which seems a Little goofy to us Sam Colt himself had Done some experiments and found that Putting a shield here to deflect to Protect the hand actually had the the Unfortunate side effect of increasing The likelihood of chain fire so I think That’s the main reason why that wasn’t Done very often anyway Disassembly on these is actually kind of Clever and interesting what you do we Have a little button down here if I push That button in it releases do with two Hands releases this hook which I can Then pivot up and out of the way and now The barrel so the barrel is held on by This hook and this screw with that hook Out of the way I can pivot this whole Thing open now flip it over put the Hammer at full [ __ ] and I can take the Cylinder out so pretty simple basic
Cylinder instead of having percussion Caps on the rear this does have them on The side that was a style that was used In a number of revolvers On the back you’ll notice the six holes Here are for the cylinder lock-up bolt So that when you have the gun cocked and Ready to fire those hold the cylinder And the proper orientation there is also This one oddball hole that is because Instead of having a typical lifter style Of hand The Wesson and Levitt has an interesting Rotating bolt to to index the cylinder So we can actually see that right here Right there this top one is the the Cylinder stop that holds the cylinder in Position when you’re ready to fire this Bottom one is the piece that rotates the Cylinder so all right I moved it around To the bottom now you can see when I [ __ ] the hammer that bolt rotates that Would pull the cylinder in a rotational Motion through the the process of Cocking the hammer you’ll notice that The cylinder stop retracts that’s to Allow the hammer the cylinder to move so That would be fired then right there the Stop bolt retracts so now the cylinder Is free to move as I continue to pull The hammer back this rotational bolt Circles around the axis pin that moves The cylinder to the change of the Cylinder to the next chamber and then
When the gun is at full [ __ ] this stop Comes back out to lock the cylinder in Position so that is how the Wesson Levitt revolver mechanism works Reassembly is just as easy as Disassembly we’re going to drop this on We have the same spring loaded detent Here holding the cylinder in position Once it’s on I just rotate it around Until there we go the rotation bolt Lines up with the cylinder and I can Close this you’ll notice there is a big Lug here that locks through a slot in The axis so that keeps everything lined Up and then close the hook which just Snaps into place right there Gun is now reassembled and ready to use This would have come with a loading tool Separate you would take the cylinder out To reload it in the case of of this Particular firearm rather than have a Loading ramp attached to the gun like The Dragoon revolver that these were Based on these were manufactured by the Massachusetts Arms Company and they are In 40 caliber thanks for watching guys I Hope you enjoyed the video you know There were so few of these made I wanted To take the opportunity to grab this one And get a close look at it while it was Here if you’d like to have it yourself Put it up on the wall and always have Access to check it out well take a look At the link in the description below
That will take you to Rock Island Catalog page on this particular Revolving rifle and if you like what you See go ahead and place a bid for it Online or come down here to the auction House and participate in person thanks For watching