Greene Breechloading Underhammer Rifle
|Clicking on the photos will enlarge them for closer viewing. Clicking the White X in the upper right corner will return you to the text.|
|Patented in 1857!|
As mentioned, the bore was .53 caliber with a barrel measuring 35" and an overall rifle length of 53.5". The design also included a bayonet and a buttstock compartment with trapped buttplate for holding cleaning accoutrements.
|Clicking on this bottom view will allow you to see the striations on the nipple which helped secure the cap on the nipple.|
We can imagine that the rifle would have been fast to load and fire (except when that pesky cap falls off the nipple - now where did that little bugger go?). The oval bore provided sufficient accuracy and it shot very clean without conventional rifling lands to catch the powder residue. What little bore-cleaning that was needed was done in a snap! Aside from an occasionally dropped percussion cap, it seems that the rifle could sustain quite a formidable continuation of fire.
Quite ingenious really.
As to why the Greene didn't become famous for its role in the war as did all manner of other rifle designs, both good and bad, I can only surmise that it must have been politics - the bane of so many good ideas.
My thanks go to Ms. Caroline Simms at the NRA Firearms Museum for kindly arranging permission for us to share the photos of their prize with you readers. You can visit their site: www.NRAmuseum.com to see all the other amazing firearms in their fascinating collection.
BTW, if you come upon any other rare, weird, or otherwise interesting underhammers, please send me an e-mail with the link and we’ll see about sharing it with the readership.
As a little side note about underhammers, here’s a little quiz for you more scholarly types. Do any of you readers know what modern breechloading cartridge rifle is an underhammer action? If you think you know, click on the Comments link below and send your answer to me. I will post all the comments and see if anyone has figure it out. Who knows, perhaps you know of some which I hadn’t yet considered.