Rifling refers to spiral grooves that have been formed into the barrel of a firearm. It is the means by which a firearm imparts a spin to a projectile to gyroscopically stabilize it to improve accuracy.
A repeating rifle is a single barreled rifle containing multiple rounds of ammunition that are loaded from a reservoir chamber (magazine) by means of a manual or automatic mechanism.
(For a detailed history, read Stephen Hunter’s article
in the Washington Post, cited below.)
In the 1800s the idea of a repeating rifle was finally
realized by Oliver Winchester, the largest
stockholder of the New Haven Arms Co. of Connecticut.
He was assigned
US patent No. 5501, which protected improvements to
the Henry rifle. The new technology included a spring-closed
loading port on the right-hand side of the frame, directly
at the rear of the magazine tube, and resulted in the
first reliable lever-action repeating rifle, produced
as the first Winchester, Model 1866.
Famous for its rugged construction, the original Winchester
rifle allowed the rifleman to fire a number of shots
before having to reload: hence the term, "repeating
rifle." Manufacturing of the Model 1866 started
in Bridgeport, Conn. in 1867; the Winchester Repeating
Arms Company moved to New Haven in 1871. The Company
also manufactured and licensed to the U.S. government
the M1 Carbine, the standard 30 caliber weapon used
by Allied forces in World War II.
The U.S. Repeating Arms Co. (owned by Herstal Group,
a Belgian gun-making conglomerate that also owns Browning
Arms Co.) announced in January 2006 that it would close
its Winchester plant in New Haven on March 31. The plant
closing will end production of a celebrated line of
rifles and shotguns known collectively as "the
gun that won the West."
Hunter, Stephen. “Out With A Bang: The Loss of the
Classic Winchester Is Loaded With Symbolism.”
Post, January 20, 2006; Page C01.
OTHER ONLINE RESOURCES
Cody Firearms Museum, Buffalo Bill Historical Center
Houses the most comprehensive assemblage of American firearms in the world. The
Winchester Collection, the heart of this museum, was transported from New Haven,
Connecticut to Cody in 1976.
Patent No. 55012, “Improvement in Magazine Firearms.” Washington,
US Patent Office, May 22, 1866.
Timeline History of Winchester
Wikipedia: Winchester Rifle
The Winchester Collector
Winchester Repeating Arms
<SciRR> indicates books in the Science Reading Room.
The History of Winchester firearms 1866-1992. 6th ed.
Edited by Thomas Henshaw. Clinton, NJ, Winchester Press,
c1993. 268 p.
Smith, W.H.B. and Joseph E. Smith. The book of rifles.
4th ed. Harrisburg, PA, The Stackpole Co., 1972. 656 p.
Revised and enl. ed. of author’s The N.R.A. book of small arms, v. 2,
Rifles, published in 1948.
TS535.S548 1963 <SciRR>
Walter, John. Rifles of the world. 2nd ed. Iola, WI, Krause Publications, c1998.
"The definitive illustrated guide to the world’s centrefire & rimfire
TS536.4.W39 1998 <SciRR>
Walter, John. The guns that won the West: firearms
on the American frontier, 1848-1898. London, Greenhill Books,
Mechanicsburg, PA. Stackpole Books, 1999. 288 p.
Includes bibliographical references.
TS533.2 .W35 1999
and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Compiled January 2006