March 27, 2012

The Medicine Gun

I blundered into information on Meriwether Lewis's air rifle.

The gun is important to U.S. history because it served to deter attacks on the Lewis and Clarke expedition (they demonstrated it to the tribes they met...and implied that they had quite a few more than they did). It also reportedly took down a Grizzly bear at one point, though its unclear how many shots this took.

I had known vaguely about the Austrian use of repeating air guns, but I had not realized just how impressive their performance was.


It was equivalent to a .45ACP carbine, had 22 shots and carried enough air for ~30 shots in each flask! (There were generally three flasks per soldier) The flasks could be charged by hand with an ingenious pump the soldier carried with him (although it took 1500-1800 pumps to do so).

This is seriously impressive performance for 1790. Something like this would be a really cool survival gun today.

More here and info on the whole family of weapons can be found here here. The second link is particularly thorough and has this interesting tidbit as well.

Made in the 1940s during WW2, this gun doesn't look like a Girandoni, but examination shows that it clearly was built by someone familiar with the Girandoni repeating airgun system. Purchased in Europe, the story is that this gun was built somewhere in occupied Europe by a partisan bicycle maker during the Nazi occupation in WW2



Cool!

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