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Lloyd3 Offline OP
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Mr. Nash:

It very much is. I'd somehow remembered the photograph of your lovely 1864 Lancaster (composed with a ruffed grouse) and your comment about hunting birds with it as I'd recently procured a circa 1866 backaction Lang that I'm hoping to use similarly. A very early centerfire qun with "laminated steel" barrels and an unusual sidelever. The guns preceding it were likely all pinfires, so I was hoping for some insight into the era. Looking forward to the Fall this year with even-more enthusiasm than normal (if that's even possible).

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Lloyd3; 06/02/23 11:52 AM.
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Lloyd, I'm wondering if your very fine (look at how sleek that stock is) Lang is in fact an original center fire. It looks like it might be a modified pin-fire. The key will be the tops of the barrel chambers.

In my investigation of Reilly guns (and there are 608 serial numbered and now dated guns in the database) center-fire shotguns did not really appear until the primers invented almost simultaneously by American Berdan in Feb 1866 and UK Boxer in October 1866. And center-fire shotguns did not supplant pin-fires in numbers (of extant guns) until 1872-73. Stephen is obviously the expert but these are observations from the peanut gallery. smile

Gene

For comparison, here is the earliest known Reilly original center-fire shotgun SN 14115 from my dating chart early 1866:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

And this is not unusual - boat-loads of pin-fires were changed over/upgraded. Here is a gun which I think is similar to yours - written about numerous times over 20 years by Terry Weiland in various magazine articles. He never would give me the serial number but I managed to resurrect it - I think - or a facsimile or it to be close enough: SN 14281 - which dates to 1866. And I concluded that after all the transformations it might have been originally a pin-fire.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 06/02/23 10:12 PM.

Baluch are not Brahui, Brahui are Baluch
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Lloyd3 Offline OP
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Gene: I had suspected that it might originally have been a pinfire as well, but neither the barrels nor the breachface give indications of ever being modified (I'd actually love it if it had been converted or even a duel-fire system, as I truly-admire the look of pinfire hammers!). Those are clearly pinfire-era fences and it certainly is early enough but... it appears to be what it is now. I'm having it bent slightly back to neutral and getting a small spring made for that sidelever system. I've also having the tubes cleaned up a little (they were evidently safe, but looked a bit too-gnarly in the breech section for my tastes). Looking forward to trying it out sometime in the next few weeks. It's got a slim wrist and a lively feel for it's gauge, weighing-in at 6lbs9 w/those 30-inch tubes. It won't likely be much of a target gun but... it should serve well-enough for that (at least occasionally). My big hope is for use on game. Those non-rebounding locks make both hammers fairly-easy to sweep to full from half-cock.

Last edited by Lloyd3; 06/02/23 10:01 PM.
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Thanks Lloyd and I'd imagine it would point beautifully. My research was based on photos, a lot based on fences, and obviously in the 1860's, a dynamic time in UK gunsmithing, things changed month by month. Unfortunately there just are not enough photos to check out every "transition gun." And the experts who handle guns every day don't seem to write about these things. Yours might be an analysis changer. Thanks again and it looks to be something special to handle.

We would appreciate more photos of this side-lever. Quite interesting.

Last edited by Argo44; 06/02/23 10:03 PM.

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Lloyd3 Offline OP
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Gene: When I get it back I'd be happy to oblige.

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And for Stephen Nash - your pin-fire line should be book-marked.


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Lloyd, that Lang is a real beauty. Crudgington & Baker (Vol. 1) illustrate a Lang gun with the provisional patent No. 1785 of 1867, that was made as a central fire gun. I think yours might have started as a pin-fire from the shaping of the fences, but anything is possible; sometimes the signs of a conversion are devilishly hard to spot. Also, Lang could have made new barrels for it, if he converted it. In gunmaking in the 1860s, it is challenging to be definite about anything.

Lovely engraving, great condition. You are going to have a lot of fun with that one. Very unusual.

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Lloyd3 Offline OP
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Studying page 126 of C&B's book is pretty illuminating. The later centerfire varient is probably the sidelever mechanism mine employs, but the fences are very different (sounds bad but... it has "balls" & a cove around the nipples). The earlier pinfire gun has a somewhat different sidelever system but employs the same, more-abrupt, standing breach and thin fences. Mine falls somewhere in the middle I suppose. From reading into said book, my lock-up would likely be the later swing-arm design, but when the authors discuss it in the next chapter it is unclear as who designed it and when. It does seem likely that my gun started life as a pinfire but.....I just couldn't tell from my initial examinations of it. I should have it in hand in a week or two and I'll go from there.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The serial number on this gun is 3093, which in the Lang serial number record clearly dates it to 1866.

Last edited by Lloyd3; 06/04/23 03:53 PM. Reason: more information added
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Lloyd3 Offline OP
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[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

That long top tang is a pinfire-era feature as well, but I see nothing else here to clue me in to any modification of the gun. The standing breech is noticeably pitted from digesting lots of black powder shells (& their mercuric primers), as was the the first foot of the barrel walls. If I'm missing something here, please... do let me know.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Do those nipples (and their placement) provide any clue? That design also looks to be a later type than what I've seen on other early guns (certainly different from the ones on center-fire gun sn 3359, and illustrated on page 126 of C&Bs book, included above), and... I'm fairly sure the hammers are replacements as well (the screws look like they came from a hardware store...I may need to deal with that).

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The old case fits pretty good (it certainly pays to have friends in the fine gun-world), eh? It even came with a period correct(?) cleaning jag. I need to clean the case up a bit and do a few repairs, and I even have a period-correct (& address-correct) Joseph Lang & Sons label for it now. This old girl is going to be lots of fun and...I won't have much tied-up in it (which also satisfies my ever-frugal Scottish-nature).

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I just checked and Kirby still has this gun up on his webpage. I looked at this unit for well-over a year before finally buying it (from our conversation, I suspect he'd had several refusals/returns on it before my purchase of it, as the price was steadily going down that whole time). His photography is really, very complete and is quite good (and can be blown-up on his webpage very nicely. I stared at it [& many others there] for a very-long time before doing the deal). I'd think that for most folks, this gun is simply too-unconventional (bar-actions & top-levers are far-more comfortable investments), but... for me (and my admittedly-eccentric tastes), this one was exactly what I was looking for. TIme will tell, of-course.

Last edited by Lloyd3; 06/04/23 11:22 PM. Reason: more information added
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Very nice indeed, I'm enjoying the additional pictures. I'm still of the opinion that it started as a pin-fire, until I can be convinced otherwise. I'm suspicious of the two areas marked in the image below, which would have had metal added to close the pin holes. The joining might not be visible without a 10x or 20x magnifying loupe, and good light. The band of engraving on the barrels might have been added to further disguise the added metal work.

Of course, that would mean the extractor was added to the barrels at the time that firing pin assemblies were drilled, which in turn means the lug on the action bar was added to work the extractor. A big job in my mind, but probably not to a gunmaker back in the day.

Anyway, this is where I would look first:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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