When Was the Lever Action Rifle Invented


When the first rifles were invented, they were about as deadly to the shooter as they were to the person or animal that might have been shot by one. Only one round could be fired and it had to be manually packed in order for it to fire effectively. Pull the trigger on a loose round and you could end up with a major explosion in your face. The first lever action rifle that was invented was by Christopher Spencer in 1860 and took the form of the Spencer repeating rifle.

Christopher Spencer was born in 1833 in Manchester, Connecticut and is known as one of the most prolific inventors of his day. He worked for Samuel Colt at one point in his life and then eventually created his own firearms company in 1863. Here is a look at some of his other inventions.

1. Slide Action Shotguns

Shotguns have also been part of American culture for well over a century, but their initial construction was about as reliable as their rifle counterparts. After filing for bankruptcy after the Civil War because almost every soldier had one of his repeating rifles and took it home, he started a new company in 1882 that focused on the production of his next shotgun, one that had a slide action. More popular today as the pump action shotgun, the Spencer version was the first commercially viable shotgun of this type. This company also ended up failing and Spencer sold it off in 1890.

2. Screw Turning Machine

In 1873, desperate to turn around his financial fortunes, Spencer came up with the idea of an automatic screw turning machine. He received a patent for his idea and this automatic turret lathe made it possible to create screws quickly. During this period of time, he also worked with improving the manufacturing processes of sewing machines, pistol frames, and a number of hand tools. After his final effort at creating shotguns, Spencer created a business to create screws that he worked in until his eventual retirement.

3. Gun Magazines

The design of firearms that Spencer created were immensely popular, even if they didn’t become a financial windfall for him. Many of his initial ideas can still be seen in modern firearms, especially those that utilize a magazine. His work brought about patents for one of the first breechloaders and the first magazine gun that made repetitive action much faster, similar to what Colt was doing with the revolver at the time. His firearms were the first repetitive action guns to be used by soldiers turning a time of war.

4. Drop Forging

The initial improvements that Spencer and his company made in the development of new products and parts through forging was to drop a larger hammer on top of the items. As he looked at the process in more in-depth ways, however, he realized that drop forging could become a very legitimate and affordable method of creating new items. His contributions to this industry, even though he isn’t always listed as an inventor, his contributions to this field of industry are invaluable.

History of Guns and Technologies