The futuristic lines of the Wolverine are as captivating today as they were 50 years ago.

to manufacture interchangeable parts.

With the Wolverine, Hillberg achieved what he had been striving for — a modern looking sport pistol manufactured using the latest materials and processes. Its styling was radically modern, quite unlike any other handgun on the market. It fit the hand like a glove and pointed like a laser. In fact, the only design feature Hillberg admitted borrowing from an existing handgun was the round, checkered, cocking ears from the Luger's toggle joint action.

The heart of the original Wolverine was

- an aluminum frame cast as one piece by Alcoa. By casting the frame, Hillberg was able to achieve an overall style and lines too prohibitive to machine Assembled into the shell of the frame were two sub-assemblies —the barreled action secured to the frame with a futuristic looking barrel nut and the fire control system. There were only three screws used in the gun, two for the grip panels and one for the sideplate, otherwise the Wolverine was designed and assembled so one part held another part in place, much like the Mauser Broomhandle.

Extensive use was made of extrusions for parts like the barrel nut and trigger. The extrusions came in 15' to 17' lengths, and the parts were literally sliced off and

The original Whitney Wolverine graced the cover of the 1958 issue of GUNS.


Most parts were subcontracted. The barrels, for example, came from High Standard or the Wilson Company.

The end product was a blowback-operated, semi-automatic with a shrouded external hammer, a 10-shot magazine and magazine disconnector system. The only desirable feature missing was a bolt hold-open device.

As inspired as the engineering and production of the Wolverine were, the weak link was to become marketing. The company signed an exclusive worldwide distribution contract with the well known company, J.L. Galef & Son. Under the terms of the contract, Galef was to move 10,000 Wolverines a year at a wholesale price of $16.53 and a retail price of $39.95.

Full production of the Wolverine began in January, 1956. The company realized immediately it was losing money at a price of $16.53 but couldn't renegotiate the price within a month or two of signing the marketing agreement.

While Galef ran ads in the only national gun magazines at the time, GUNS and the American Rifleman, Galef failed to sell enough guns a month nor would it release Whitney from the "exclusive" terms of the marketing contract. The owners had no choice but to sell the assets of the company by mid-1957.

The new company, set up as the Whitney Firearms Co. of Hartford, Ct., was soon sued by Galef for breach of contract, and it, too, failed over time.

Total production of the Wolverine between the two companies amounted to only 13,371. Originals are a rare bird indeed, but have heart, Olympic Arms, the notable maker of precision AR-15s, has brought the stylish Wolverine back to life.

The new Olympic Wolverine features a modern polymer frame rather than aluminum with enhancements


MAKER: oLYMPiC ARMS, iNC. 624 oLD PACiFiC HWY SE oLYMPiA, WA 98513 (800) 228-3471, WWW.oLYARMS.CoM


Blowback, semiauto


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