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Old January 12, 2013, 02:49 PM   #1
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Evans Repeating Rifle: Antebellum "Hi-cap Bullpup"

Anyone ever hear of the Evans Repeating Rifle, or better yet, actually own one, or even better yet, actually shoot one?

It seems like a design well ahead of its time; a hi-cap blackpowder levergun (I say hi-cap because it carried up to 34 rounds in a helical buttstock magazine, to the Spencer's 7). I say "bullpup" in jest, since it does load from a rear magazine in the buttstock. Also has a "clamshell" reciever like the F2000 and PS90. Does anybody know if reproductions are made? I see they are on Gunbroker (in a larger quantity that I would have figured) for over a grand, but in the proprietary .44 cartridge (of course). If a modern version in a modern smokeless cartridge exists, it would certaintly be a head-turner at the range, and very functional in the field.

I like the upper/lower buttstock halves-very cool look. The foregrip (dissipator) also looks much more comfortable than a bare barrel. I found a photo online of the internals; it looks like there's only a half-dozen or so parts to the gun, very simple, and somewhat similar to the Spencer.

"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater
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Old January 12, 2013, 06:22 PM   #2
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Joe Gill (Wilford Brimley), CROSSFIRE TRAIL...

"Hey Joe, why you shoot that ol' Evans anyway?"

"Well, it holds 28 bullets and I ain't a very good shot."

The only ones I've ever laid eyes on are the ones in the Cody museum.
Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets replaced...

SASS 47015
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Old January 12, 2013, 06:57 PM   #3
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Wow never heard of this before, to cool.. Here are a few places I found

& A u-tube to Boot..
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Old January 12, 2013, 10:08 PM   #4
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We have one in our collection at the San Francisco War Memorial. It's in pristine condition too.

The National Firearms Museum has one too.
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Old January 12, 2013, 11:26 PM   #5
James K
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I have two and have fired one of them quite a bit (it is one that was converted to .44-40). The idea sounds good on paper, but there are a lot of problems, best shown by a description of its use.

1. Open the loading gate in the buttplate.
2. Drop in a cartridge.
3. Work the lever to move the cartridge around one slot.
4. Go to 2 and repeat 2 and 3 28 (or 34) times. Go to 5.
5. The rifle is now loaded.
6. When the "Injuns" or whoever attack, fire ten rounds and they leave.
7. Now there is a ten round gap in the magazine.
8. Open the loading gate again, and drop in a cartridge.
9. Work the lever to move the cartridge around.
10. A live cartridge drops out on the floor until you get to the gap.
11. Repeat 8, 9 and 10 28 (or 34) times to fully load the magazine again.
12. If you fired all 28 (or 34) rounds at the "Injuns", you reload by going to 1 and starting over with the lever cranking - 28 (or 34) times.
13. Pick up those live rounds off the floor, if the "Injuns" give you a chance.

See the problem? Want to have to do that with the "Injuns" or whoever attacking? No loading gate like a Winchester. No detachable magazine. No single tube butt magazine like the Spencer. Nope, you load and crank, load and crank. When the "Injuns" break through, they find that the Evans users have died from exhaustion.

Jim K
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Old January 13, 2013, 08:15 AM   #6
Doc Hoy
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....It is not what one might call a pretty rifle.

But then beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

No offense intended to those who own and love them.

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. Thomas Jefferson
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Old January 13, 2013, 09:48 AM   #7
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I have a friend who shoots one in SASS shoots. He makes the ammo from 455 Super Mag brass. He explains to the LTO and RO how he loads them. He has 2 dummy rounds painted red, he loads them first, then using the technique listed above, loads and levers until the first red dummy ejects, that means the second in in the chamber, and the rifle is still is safe.
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Old January 13, 2013, 10:29 AM   #8
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James K - thanks for the loading description - very interesting. That sort of explains why the Evans "died". I've heard of them but have never had the opportunity to see one nor hear the loading procedure. Kind of a "no brainer" why rifles such as the Winchester flourished. All in the ease of operation.

barnbwt - thanks for sharing this - a great post! We all have learned a lot!
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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Old January 13, 2013, 05:11 PM   #9
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Does anyone know how the action locks up? The parts/frame geometry don't make it immediately apparent to me, and I haven't found an animation of the mechanism

I think one of these is a modern pistol caliber (.38, .357, .44, .45LC, etc.) would kick butt if the action would be strong enough (the barrel's attachment and receiver screws look like a possible weak point), and the parts don't look terribly difficult to replicate, either. It seems that if there was some way to crank the magazine "backward" it would address most of the shortcomings as far as loading/topping off are concerned. As it stands, I see why the Spencer with its quick-loadable straight tube was more successful. Still, it was an incredible amount of firepower for one guy to be carrying back then (+3X the capacity of most platforms)

"I don't believe that the men of the distant past were any wiser than we are today. But it does seem that their science and technology were able to accomplish much grander things."
-- Alex Rosewater
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