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Special Interests - Groups & Societies => Spencer Shooting Society => Topic started by: Two Flints on April 28, 2008, 02:35:45 PM

Title: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: Two Flints on April 28, 2008, 02:35:45 PM
Hello SSS,

We have had several threads regarding the Evans Repeating Rifle.  Just today, I came across this great photo of an Apache Indian taken during the 1880s holding an Indian decorated Evans Rifle.  Thought you'd enjoy seeing it.  Two Flints

Apache Indian with Holstered Pistol and Evans 44 Rim Fire Rifle ca 1880s - One of the most unusual yet least known rifles of the 1870's was the Evans repeating rifle.

Designed by a Maine dentist named Warren R. Evans. Together with his brother George who helped perfect the design they started the "Evans Repeating Rifle Company" of Mechanic Falls Maine in 1873. The most unusual feature of the Evans was its magazine capacity. More than double the capacity of the Winchester. It held an astounding 34 rounds in its rotary magazine.

This image depicts an Apache Indian with holstered pistol (holster has rosette cartouche) and a cartridge belt with .44 caliber bullets. He is also holding an octagon Evans rifle with intricate wood carving

Title: Re: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: Two Flints on April 29, 2008, 12:55:05 PM
Received the following Email regarding the above photo from Happy Trails, resident expert of Evans Rifles and a member of SSS.

Howdy Two Flints,

Thanks for the most interesting picture.  I love the scroll work on the wood.  Guess he’s not available any more to do one of mine.  Damn.

The author has the description pretty much right.  It is an Old Model Evans without the chamber cover found on the New Model and it has the curved fore-wood to metal match vs the squared off match on the New Model. 

The only mystery is the cartridge belt and cartridges.  The Old Model took 34 rounds of what became known as the .44 Evans Short.  It was about the size of a .44 Russian.  If that’s what is in his cartridge belt they are only in about bullet head depth.  Maybe the bottoms of the cartridge loops are filled with some good Indian stuff to keep the rounds accessible.  Guess he may have been one of those early Cowboy Action Shooter Gamers.  LOL.

Thanks again,


"Happy Trails" SASS #4461
aka Bill English
The Smith Shop
278 Lincoln Avenue
Warwick, RI 02888
Title: Re: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: Two Flints on April 29, 2008, 07:02:31 PM
And another Email from Scott Jamieson, who is currently working on a book about the Evans
Repeating Rifle:

Hi Two Flints,

Thank you for the pic.  I had been to the site several times but had been unable to open the picture but now the picture opens so I thank you for sending me a reminder to look for the pic again.  It's a great shot and I'll try to reproduce it in my book.
The book itself is still in the sponge stage-by that I mean drawing in material and pictures on ALL aspects of the EVANS Company and its' workings.  I have a great deal of material but still need much more.  This will not be a small book but one akin to my BULLARD FIREARMS book or even bigger depending upon the material I can uncover.  So any help is very much appreciated.
Thanks again for sending the picture.
Best regards,
Title: Re: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: Trailrider on April 29, 2008, 11:02:29 PM
I respectfully submit that the rifle pictured is NOT an Old Model Evans, as it has wood on both the top AND bottom of the magazine tube/buttstock framework.  The scalloped front of the receiver with the two-piece butt stock marks it as a Transition Model.  (See p. 301 of the following referenced book.)  I'm not sure from my rapid perusal of "Maine Made Guns and Their Makers, whether the Transition Models fired the Old Model .44 Evans Short cartridge, which is basically nearly identical to a centerfire version of the .44 Henry, or the .44 Evans Long, used in the New Model Evans, which used an inside lubed bullet, instead of the outside lubed Short.

I'd love to be able to shoot my Old Model in a SASS match, but haven't been able to figure out how to make the Short cartridge easily, and also, loading, say ten rounds ONLY would be "interesting", as you would have to load one, work the lever, load a second, work the lever, etc., and then work the lever...what?...23 more times ??? to get the round up but NOT into the chamber!  On a New Model, it would be 15 times after loading ten, as the NM held only 26 cartridges.  ::)  :P
Title: Re: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: Henry4440 on April 30, 2008, 02:23:17 AM
Very interesting pic. Thanks again.
Title: Re: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: minerotago on April 30, 2008, 05:22:13 AM
Love the photograph of the Evans.

Out here in New zealand we had a great history and during the Land Wars of the 19th Century and the 19th Century gold rushes people came from all over the world but mainly Europe, America and Australia andb ringing their guns with them. For this reason there is an amazing diversification of guns in New Zealand. The Christ Church museum has a Nock Volley Gun and the Otago Museum a Collier flintlock revolving rifle that belonged to a Maori chief, Te Kooti the rebel Maori had a Spencer and in the Otago Early Settlers Hall there is one of these Evans rifles as well as a Belgium copy of the Henry rifle which apart from the markings cannot be told apart form the original!

The Evans is certainly an interesting design and I used to go to look at it quite a bit.
Title: Re: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: Bead Swinger on May 08, 2008, 08:04:30 AM
Trailrider -
Some of the Evans' links for cartridges looked really interesting.  One fellow had photos and a complete walkthrough of converting .41 Mag cases into proper Evans' cases.  Very straightforward; It involved fire-forming the .41M prior to use in the Evans, and the use of a .429 pointed bullet. They even recommended a mold. The process apperared to be well worked-out, and well thought-out. The .41M turns out to be the correct length, and have the correct rim (as does the modern .44Colt) for the Evans.

My thought about loading at a match would be to have a clearly marked dummy round that you load first, cycle twice, and then load however many rounds are called for in the stage. Then cycle until you eject ithe dummy.  Once the dummy ejects, you have an empty chamber. It'd be really similar to loading the loading process for single actions - put in one, cock twice, then four more to have an empty under the hammer on the last cycle.

If you do try something for your Evans, 'would love to hear about it.
Title: Re: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: Two Flints on May 08, 2008, 08:17:04 AM
Hi Bead Swinger,

You wrote - Some of the Evans' links for cartridges looked really interesting - Would you please post these links, if you can ??? ??? ???


Two Flints
Title: Re: Apache Indian with 44 Caliber Evans Repeating Rifle (circa 1880s)
Post by: Bead Swinger on May 11, 2008, 08:03:07 PM
I take no credit for this - Two Flints posted this sometime back, and I'm just copying it. 
Here's the post
     Re: The Evans Rifle
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2006, 10:17:33 PM »     

In answer to the question posed by Dean Brennan of Montana about the Transitional Model Evans, there is no “ejector” per-se in the Evans Rifle mechanism. 
The rounds are fed up the magazine tube by being retained in one of 4 slots in a grooved “spline”.  The spline indexes one quarter turn per activation of the lever on the rifle.  The cartridges are advanced by “riding” on a fixed “screw frame” or “helix” that is pinned and soldered to one half of the magazine tube.
When a fired cartridge case is “extracted” from the chamber the action of the “spline” rotating the new round into place to be fed into the chamber is what “kicks” the empty out of the “ejection port”.  The empties do indeed just “eject mildly”.
See pix of Transitional disassembly: -- Transitional Model -- Disassembled -- Split -- Spline -- Extractor Spring -- Spline Index Finger -- Butt Plate -- Mag tube with Spline -- Main Spring

As for ammo we could have a 2-day discussion I am afraid.  I will try to be brief.  The Transitional Model takes the .44 Evans Short. 
A great mystery abounds with the Evans.  Although all the books (Cartridges of the World) say the round is .419 all my Evans rifles measure .429/.430.  I have contacted other Evans shooters and they agree.  I have about 75 original Evans New Model rounds and the bullets are .419. 
When I first started making cartridges for the Evans I lathe turned some .430 diameter .44 Cal bullets to .419”.  I thought I better slug the barrel with one to see how tight the fit was.  The .419 dia. bullet fell right through the bore. 
So how and why did they shoot .419 diam. bullets out of a .430 diam. bore?  The speculation is the Evans brothers were of course interested in military sales of their rifle and with the gun loaded to the maximum it would hold 28 rounds of NM ammo.  Of course everything was Black Powder and we know that has a tendency to cake and build up in a bore.  So if the gun were used in battle and it was fired continuously they were “allowing for the buildup without raising the pressure.”  Possible?  Now one knows. 
Anyway we need to fire a .429 diam bullets down a .429 diam bore that is chambered for brass that holds a .419 diam bullet. 
The neck diam on a Evans cartridge is only .439/.440 so my solution was to use Heeled bullets of .429 diam stepped down to .418.  These were made by turning the heels down in a lathe.  A little time consuming yes, but less than buying a heeled mold and casting my own.  These then were loaded into .41 Magnum cases that were fire formed in a .44 Magnum gun.  This worked quite well and was very accurate.  I eventually switched to .44 Hollow based pointed bullet available from Buffalo Arms. (
They still have to be heeled.
Making the brass looked something like this.
Top - .41 Magnums cases sized in a .44 die and loaded with a .44 bullet.
Bottom – after firing in a .44 Magnum gun the .41 Mag cases become .44 Evans Short.
Note that even though the Evans is a “tubular” fed rifle it is unlike the Winchester and others where the cartridges line up nose to primer so you need to use a flat point bullet.  In the Evans rifle the cartridges are separated by the “helix” and no cartridge pushes on the one in front of it.  It can use a pointed type bullet and proper feeding almost requires it.  Round nose bullets are a bit balky trying to feed into the chamber.
Here’s my loading chart. VERY Good Diagram
Lastly I discovered that to ease feeding problems the bottom of the Evans cases were chamfered or rounded.

I hope this helps somewhat.  If you have any particular questions you can send me an e-mail at and I will try to answer them.
Some other ideas for bullets are those for the .44 American - See