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Curtis 1866: The First Bullpup – with Jonathan Ferguson

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Sorry for the poor audio quality – today I am back at the Cody Firearms Museum talking to Jonathan Ferguson, Keeper of Firearms & Artillery at the Royal Armouries in the UK. Jonathan has written a new book on the history of British bullpup firearms, which Headstamp is very proud to be publishing!

Today we are discussing the Curtis bullpup – a rifle designed and patented by William Joseph Curtis of the UK in 1866, but not put into production. It is a quite interesting design, with a slide action mechanism and drum magazine. The gun is designed to sit atop the shooter’s shoulder, with a trigger right out at the muzzle and the drum and firing mechanism actually behind the user’s back. Lawyers from the Winchester company discovered Curtis’ patent in the 1890s while looking for slide action mechanisms as part of their defense of the Winchester 1893 again patent infringement claims by Francis Bannerman. This example of Curtis’ gun was actually built in the Winchester tool shop as an example for the lawsuit, giving it a quite remarkable history intersecting several different areas of arms development.

Video on the Curtis from The Armourer’s Bench:

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