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Frank Wesson’s Rimfire Carbine

Sold for $2,070.

First patented in 1859 and sold as a sporting rifle before the Civil War (in calibers 32, 38, and 41 rimfire), Frank Wesson added a military model with a 24 inch barrel and chambered for .44 Rimfire. His carbine was simple and efficient – although too simple and efficient for most troops to like. Distinctive for its dual triggers, the Frank Wesson carbine was a single shot rifle with a barrel that tipped up for loading when the front trigger was pressed (the rear trigger fired the weapon).

The carbine’s major shortcoming was its lack of an extractor – meaning that removing a fired case required prying with fingernail or a knife in the best case, and using a cleaning rod down the bore in the worst case. Despite this, Wesson did succeed in selling 4-5000 of his military pattern carbines to state militias including Kansas, Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky (and a paltry 150  to the Federal government). They did see use through the Civil War, and Wesson continued to improve the design (by adding an extractor, among other changes) and selling it commercially until 1888. The carbines found their way out West, and were used by Indians and settlers alike, thanks to their rugged simplicity.

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