Sangamon County Rifle Association
Right Reason on Second Amendment Rights
A 36-round repeater from shortly after the Civil War
The Evans Rifle
Bob Unterbrink, speaking at the
January 3, 2011 Meeting, SCRA
Bob Unterbrink shared an Evans rifle with the crowd at the January 2011 meeting.
He first saw the unusual rifle at a gun show.
“It was a rust bucket all over,” but Unterbrink was enchanted by it. “All I could think about for the rest of the show was that
He ended up giving $400 for it and he proudly took it home.
His wife wasn’t quite so impressed. “Couldn’t you have found one with a little more rust on it?” she asked him.
He spent an entire winter cleaning and researching the rifle. The cleaning part was done primarily in his “man cave”, keeping the mess and most of the fumes away from his wife.
After striking out initially on his research, he found a library in Mechanic Falls, Maine, where the rifle was made, and bought an obscure book on the small company that made these rifles.
[Editor’s note: For the technical aspects of the Evans, see the sidebar article.]
Bob has tried to get replacement parts for those missing from his specimen and he’s not had a lot of luck. Among the missing elements from his rifle are the sights. They were available, back in the day, in peep sight, straight sight, telescopic sight, they all fit on top of the rifle. So they made them with any kind of sights you wanted.
He talked about the company’s story trying to sell their new, high-capacity levergun. They tried selling to the Army and were turned down. The Navy liked the firepower and ease of use, but the field stripping and reassembly was complex took twenty-five minutes at the trial. That ended the Navy’s interest.
They tried selling it to foreign markets and met with little success. One of the company’s owners took a bunch of them to Europe and they were going to sell them when everybody was fighting everybody else. They didn’t know to bring enough
gold to bribe the government officials to land the contracts though, so that went nowhere.
They made more changes to the gun but still didn’t get any big orders.
They made a few of them in .38 but they were for show purposes. They tried bribing Kit Carson Jr. with a fancy engraved one and he said it was the best shooting rifle he had ever had. They gave one to Buffalo Bill and he put it in his closet. Another went to a man called Cactus Jack but Bob didn’t know anything about him.
Warren Evans continued with his dentistry and died in 1912. He was the first person in that area to bring electric motors to his
business. He was quite progressive and he did well. George Evans eventually relocated to Massachusetts, where he
continued to patent various mechanical devices until his death in 1901. Ironically, the company received an order for about 35,000 of the rifles a couple of days after they closed their doors and went out of business.
An Evans Rifle The Evans Repeating Rifle
By Stephen F. Blancard
(LeverGuns.com) - One of the most unusual yet least known rifles of the 1870’s was the Evans repeating rifle. Designed by a Maine dentist named Warren R. Evans. Together with his brother George who helped perfect the design they started the “Evans Repeating Rifle Company” of Mechanic Falls Maine in 1873.
The most unusual feature of the Evans was its magazine capacity. More than double the capacity of the Winchester. It held an astounding 34 rounds in its rotary magazine.
The basic design of the Evans repeating rifle is similar to the Spencer. But the similarity ends here. The Evans has a rotary magazine in the buttstock. Cartridges are fed to the breech by cycling the cocking lever/ trigger guard. The magazine tube of the Evans is much larger than that of the Spencer. It holds four rows of cartridges which are loaded through a trapdoor in the buttplate. Each time the action is cycled, the magazine feeds the next cartridge to the breech in the barber pole fashion.
The first model or what is now known as the old model was made from 1873 to 1876. This model is easily distinguished from the later models by the fact that it has only an upper buttstock. The magazine tube is exposed and runs along the bottom of the stock. Also the ejection port has no dust cover. Caliber was the .44 Evans 1” shell.
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