Allen and Wheelock 1858

Allen and Wheelock side hammer percussion: 1858:  Ethan Allen was born in 1806, and became one of the pre-eminent gunmakers of nineteenth century America, with a series of firms that spanned the entire era of percussion firearms:  E. Allen, Grafton, MA 1831-1837, Allen and Thurber Norwich, CT 1837-1847, Allen and Thurber Worcester MA, 1847-1854, Allen and Thurber and Co. Worcester MA, 1854-1856, Allen and Wheelock Worcester MA, 1856-1865, E. Allen and Co. Worcester MA 1865-1871.

Production began with single shot under-hammer pistols. These were at least of a novel design at a time when other manufacturers, influenced by the traditions of flintlock lock gun designs, made new pistols with percussion locks that looked almost the same as flintlock conversions.  Allen then pioneered the use of double action mechanisms, usually with a bar hammer that lacked the spur required for manual cocking.  Single barrel pistols led to double barreled pistols and by around 1837 production began of a long series of pepperbox models.

Although Colt began revolver production at roughly the same time as Allen and numerous other firms were making pepperboxes, it took at least 10 years for Colt-style revolvers to seriously compete with the pepperboxes in the US market.

Allen's firms continued pepperbox production as long as Colt's master patents were active, and subsequently the earliest Allen and Wheelock revolvers bore a strong resemblance to their pepperboxes, being double action with a bar hammer.  However, to compete head to head with Colt in the newly opened market in 1858, Allen and Wheelock introduced this single action side hammer pocket pistol which resembles the Colt Root revolver of 1855 more than it resembles any previous Ethan Allen design.  The Allen and Wheelock pistols of this era had a unique design for the operation of the loading plunger, with the trigger guard hinged at the front to serve as the lever.

Roger Papke (USA)

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