There was an interesting thread on the Lefever forum recently. It was about the strange marks found on some Lefever barrels. Well, we were able to identify some as barrel makers from Belgium. A few are known to be American barrel makers. There is also a couple of marks that may turn out to be British. We know that he was buying barrels from Krupp. So can we ask for any more variation in a product?
What I find interesting is the variation. How one "maker" at a particular place and time followed a particular supply chain, while his neighbor / competitor found another solution.
I have no doubt some "makers" did their own receiver forging, hand forged their own barrels and shaped their own stocks. I have no doubt that some purchased semi-finished parts from specialist companies. I am sure that some made nothing at all but had their name stamped on the final product.
So often we find ourselves talking in absolutes. We all know well that there were all the shades of gray imaginable.
Lowell's original question was about 4 companies. I know that there were rolling mills and foundries in abundance. That makers could purchase steel stock, semi-finished parts or completed parts. The guilds were strong and active. So there was no lack of talent and labor. This talent was international and their work output crossed easily from country to country. I do not know which supply chain at what time any of these 4 companies followed. While they may open their books full of serial numbers and owners, I doubt many of them would ever share their accounts receivables records.
Imagine the horror of non-proprietary hands using a bastard file on a sear!