mid century manufacturing

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The Robbins and Lawrence Pepperbox Pistol,

Robbins & Lawrence was a large mid 19th century arms manufacturer based in Windsor Vermont that specialized in producing muskets for the US Army.  In 1851 company head Richard Lawrence decided to enter the civilian market, in particular with the production of pepperbox pistols.  The design was invented by George Leonard, foreman of the Robbins & Lawrence factory.  While being a pepperbox the Robbins & Lawrence still had a lot of really neat features that were quite ahead of its time. A five shot pistol, it featured a hammerless design, the hammer being completely inside the frame.  Whereas almost all pepperbox pistols of the day had revolving barrels which were typically hand turned, the Robbins & Lawrence featured fixed barrels.  Each barrel was loaded by hand with gunpowder and a bullet (they were produced in .28 and .31 caliber).  The pistol broke open much like a beak top revolver, revealing nipples upon which to place percussion caps. This protected the caps from moisture and the elements, decreasing the chance of a misfire.

Inside the frame was a rotating hammer, which would rotate to the next chamber each time it was cocked. The pistol featured two triggers.  The larger ring trigger was used to cock the pistol, the smaller forward trigger fired it.  On the rear of the grip is a decocking button, an interesting feature that wouldn’t common until the 20th century with semi automatic pistols.

Production of the Robbins & Lawrence pepperbox began in 1851, but would quickly cease in 1854 with barely 3 years of production. The invention of the Colt revolver made pepperbox pistols obsolete, and their popularity quickly began to wane. Around 7,000 Robbins & Lawrence pepperbox pistols were manufactured.