Regulus Plion Patent 2998

Before 1880

Just when or where the first inventor applied the forces of discharge to the task of reloading and cocking an arm, no man can positively say.

The authoritative official British Textbook of Small Arms (1929 Edition) considers that the automatic principle "appears to have been an English invention," on the basis of a fully authenticated entry in the records of the British Royal Society dated March 2, 1663. On that early flintlock day the record shows (see Birch's History of the Royal Society) that Sir Robert Moray, F.R.S., told the learned body that "there had come to Prince Rupert a rare mechanician who pretended ... to make a pistol shooting as fast as could be presented and yet to be stopped at pleasure; and wherein the motion of the fire and bullet within was made to charge the piece with powder and bullet, to prime it and bend the cock."

It is true that no further mention of this remarkable arm has ever been unearthed by researchers, and that no weapon answering the description has come to light. But the entry is evidence that the automatic principle was grasped although its practical application was to he long delayed until the metallic cartridge made its appearance.

The March 4, 1664 entry in 'Pepys' Diary' may refer to either a repeating or a semiautomatic arm, as it is not explicit. It reads:

"There were several people trying a new-fashion gun brought by Lord Peterborough this morning, to shoot off often, one after another, without trouble or danger." No other contemporary record so far found adds to the information in this entry; but Pepys was quite a rifle enthusiast.

One can also point to the U. S. Patent No. 2998, dated 1863, of Regulus Pilon describing a system for recocking the hammer by barrel recoil; to the suggested gas-operated system of W. Curtis (U. S. No. 1810, year 1866); and to literally dozens of very early German, Austrian and Italian actual inventors' models of the early 70's. While all possess a modicum of historical value, their actual bearing on the later successful developments was practically nil.

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