Lewis & Clark Air Rifle (video link)

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Juker, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. Juker

    Juker New Member

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  2. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Wow, I knew it was a repeater and large caliber, but 40 shots before needing recharged!?!?!?

    I thought it needed recharged much more quickly.

    But it DEFINITELY begs the question, why not MORE of them, and why didn't they become popular on this side of the pond?

    Outside of the fact I think I read they were astronomically expensive, and took machining that was more sophisticated than any blacksmith/gunsmith making firearms was able to do, you still would think that they would be more readily used and there would be more than ONE around back then...
  3. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

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    PS, you hit upon the reality !! The manufacture of air guns in that era required a scope of precision and skill (i.e. cost) not compatible with American technology/economy of the times. Curiously, Mills developed a very good breech-loading flintlock rifle in around the same time frame. Its manufacture resulted in the emergence of a whole new paradigm of mensuration standards leading directly to our modern concept of "interchangable parts"...... >MW
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  4. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    Seems like I remember back a few years some Benjamin collectors had is covered and were working on what they thought was the actual Lewis gun but I never heard if they confirmed it or not. I got the impression the one in the video was like the Lewis gun but not the real one. Do any of you know the story and can set me straight?

    When I first heard the specs. on the air gun I too wondered why it was not in wider use back then, an awesome weapon for the times.
  5. Big ugly

    Big ugly New Member

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    I heard the reason it never went wide spread here was that the gun was very expensive compared to the cost of Powder and rifle manufacture. I agree with the rest of you folks though, 40 shots on a single charge! That bad boy was a tide turner in itself.
  6. Juker

    Juker New Member

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    I just realized this was already posted on 2/21 by graehaven.

    Mea culpa, lo siento mucho! :eek:
  7. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Another reason they never became popular is that they had a tendency to blow up when being charged. The manufacturing ability at the time was insuficiente to make the reservoirs in one piece, so they were two pieces soldered together. At the pressure required to make these guns work, when the reservoir ball blew, it rained quite a shower of brass shrapnel.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  8. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    I am going to have to dig up that "Gun Digest Treasury of 1964" where I first read about it.

    I could have sworn that it said it had a RUBBER ball reservoir under the rifle, and there was a drawing of it, I BELIEVE an actual sketch from the expedition.

    Now where did I put that? I NEVER throw anything away.

    (But unfortunately my WIFE does...:cool:)
  9. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

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    PS,

    Can't see rubber - of that pre-Goodyear era anyway - being capable of retaing the pressures involved to make 20+ effective shots work. OTOH, I can see using the raw, (or semi-processed) latex as a "sealing device" to line a more robust pressure-retaining structure.......

    Irregardless of our latter day opinions, by Clark's own journals the weapon was a powerful inducement to the various native groups the expedition encountered to affor them peaceable passage ! Personally, I'm convinced most natives the expedition encountered had some experience/knowledge of firearms, whlich made the air rifle all the more puzzleing/magical .

    IMO, we too often forget/ignore north american natives had at least 100 yrs experience with European technology prior to our "Great Experiment" ! Perhaps its because our histories tended to group them into insular "tribes" based upon ephemeral reports and casual observations of their war-like response to strangers. This is completely contrary to known fact, as regionally-occurring artifacts have been discovered a long way from their origin sites. The obvious conclusion is nomadic traders conveyed them to other "tribes" in safety. Its even more logical to presume "information" would also have constituted a major portion of these nomads' "trade goods" as well......The Girondoni "air rifle", would have presented a major upset to the "known factors" any tribe/group/chieftan had knowledge of. >MW
  10. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    There were a couple of different type of reservoir's used, one a cylinder type or ball which hung under the gun, the other where the reservoir was the butt stock it self. I believe Lewis and Clark's gun was the butt stock reservoir type. The air gun has been used in combat, During the Napoleonic wars The Austrian army even had special squads equipped with them. They were disliked enough by the French that an order was issued, any Austrian captured with such a devise would be shot on the spot. I guess old Nappy didn't have a sense of humor.:D
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