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The Treeby Chain Rifle

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Treeby Patent fourteen shot Chain Rifle.
Calibre .54 London c1855


The great majority of early firearms were single shot. There were many attempts from the earliest times to produce a gun that could be loaded and then fired many times before it needed to be reloaded. This design was patented in July 1855 by TW Treeby. A number of steel tubes were formed into an endless chain. Each was loaded with powder and ball and a percussion cap placed on the nipple at the rear. When the lever is turned the chain of chambers is released and can be turned by hand.

The barrel then moves forward slightly and when the lever movement is reversed the barrel is pulled back to lock over the end of the chamber to provide a good seal. The hammer is cocked by hand. When the trigger is pressed the hammer falls forward to strike the cap and fire the shot. The process could be repeated until each cylinder was used up. Treeby also designed a pistol using the same system.

The system worked reasonably well but the weapon was heavy and rather cumbersome, reloading would have been a lengthy and tedious process. The chain of cylinders could also become slightly deformed with use and so would not easily move into position.

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