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Allen & Wheelock Drop Breech

United States (1860)
Picture of Allen & Wheelock Drop Breech Single-Shot Rifle

Production of the Allen & Wheelock drop breech rifle spanned from 1860 to 1871

Detailing the development and operational history of the Allen & Wheelock Drop Breech Single-Shot Rifle.

 Entry last updated on 2/26/2018; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

The Allen & Wheelock Drop Breech Rifle saw limited service in the American Civil War and only then were they acquired through private purchase by soldiers and not as standard-issue equipment. As such, they saw limited production totals of no more than 2,000. This single-shot rifle was loaded through a dropping breech block system manually actuated by the trigger guard lever mechanism. A distinct feature of these rifles was their half-octagonal, half-round barrels. The Allen & Wheelock Drop Breech Rifle could be purchased chambered for a variety of rimfire-based cartridges including .22, .41, .42 and .44 calibers. Production of this unique rifle spanned from 1860 to 1871 out of the Allen & Wheelock facility at Worcester, Massachusetts.

The wood furniture, made of walnut, made up two key areas of the gun's design - the forearm and buttstock. The buttstock was capped by a steel buttplate with a crescent shape to fit snugly against the shoulder of the operator and housed a takedown tool. The forearm was set just ahead of the relatively short receiver and capped by a steel nose cap. A single band was fitted ahead of the nose cap around the blue finish hardened barrel. Barrel lengths could vary based on requirement and measured from 23 inches to 28 inches in overall length and clearly stamped with the Allen & Wheelock company marking. Optional loop slings could be added ahead of the forearm and under the buttstock. In between the wood components was the iron receiver which contained the critical internal working components. The trigger was fitted within a ring guard under the body and ahead of the straight hand grip and made up the lever needed to lower the breech block to accept a fresh round. The lowering action of the breech block automatically ejected any spent casing already in the chamber. The hammer was very identifiable at the rear of the receiver with its pronounced tang. Sights included a front blade as well as a adjustable V-notch rear, adjustments made utilizing a marked area with lever along the left side of the gun body - marked for elevation adjustments ranging from "0" to "10".

Any available statistics for the Allen & Wheelock Drop Breech Single-Shot Rifle are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering initial year of service, country-of-origin and manufacture(s) involved in bringing the weapon to market. Other qualities showcased are related to physical values such as the internal action, available calibers / chamberings, weight and lengths. Global operators are also presented in A-to-Z format as are any model variants available to the series.
Allen & Wheelock Drop Breech Specifications
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United States
Year: 1860
Type: Single-Shot Rifle
Manufacturer(s): Allen & Wheelock - USA
Supported Mission Types
Frontline Issuance
Special Forces
Close Quarters Battle
Designated Marksman/Sharpshooter
Area Effect/Suppression
Indirect Fire
Airspace Denial
Attachment Weapon
Internal Design, Weight and Dimensions
Firing Action: Single-Shot; Trigger Guard Operating Breech Lever
Available Caliber(s): .22; .41; .42; .44 (Rimfire)
Ammunition Count / Feed: Single-Shot
Barrel Length: 660 mm (25.98 in)
Sighting Assist: Dove Tail Front Post; V-Notch Rear

Operating Performance
Rate-of-Fire (RoF): 3 rounds-per-minute (rpm)

Operators List
United States

Model Variants
• Allen & Wheelock Drop Breech Rifle - Base Series Designation.