Scottish gun designers


October 2, 2010, 09:26 PM
As a hunter, gun collector, and member of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society, I have been asked to put on a presentation in November in commeration of Veteran's Day for the Scottish History Club discussing the evolution of firearms used by the U.S. army from the early 1800's to date. I have examples of all of these to display where I will explain their evolution. Being a Scottish society, I naturally will talk some what about what the Black Watch and Sutherland & Argyle Highlanders were carrying at the same time. I will bring my SMLE Mk4* and Mk5 as well as a Mark IV Webley pistol.

I want to talk about the Scots that influenced the evolution of firearms. I have some information on James Paris Lee who was born in Scotland but moved to America where he help designed the SMLE. John Farquarson inventor of the falling block (Ruger #1), and Major Patrick Ferguson, designer of a breechloader.

Any other ideas on Scottish designers would be greatly appreciated.

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October 2, 2010, 09:42 PM
Much more important than his work on the SMLE, James Paris Lee invented the detachable Box Magazine, used in endless Rifles and Pistols since.

I do not think anyone could hope to find a more useful and significant contribution to the evolution and development of small Arms, than that.

I do not know of any other Scottish or Scottish-derived Gun Designers beside him though.

What about the Percussion Cap?

It's inventor was a Minister I think, and, was a Scott...

Okay - from Wikipedia -

The percussion cap replaced the flint, the steel "frizzen", and the powder pan of the flint-lock mechanism. It was only generally applied to the British military musket (the Brown Bess) in 1842, a quarter of a century after the invention of percussion powder and after an elaborate government test at Woolwich in 1834. The first percussion firearm produced for the US military was the M1819 Hall rifle.

The discovery of fulminates was made by Edward Charles Howard (1774-1816) in 1800.[1] The invention that made the percussion cap possible using the recently discovered fulminates was patented by the Rev. Alexander John Forsyth of Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1807. It consisted of priming with a fulminating powder made of fulminate of mercury, chlorate of potash, sulphur, and charcoal, which was exploded by concussion.[2] It was an invention born of necessity: Rev. Forsyth had noticed that sitting birds would startle when smoke puffed from the powder pan of his flintlock shotgun, giving them sufficient warning to escape the shot. His invention of a fulminate-primed firing mechanism deprived the birds of their early warning system, both by avoiding the initial puff of smoke from the flintlock powder pan, as well as shortening the interval between the trigger pull and the shot leaving the muzzle. Fulminate-primed guns were also less likely to misfire than flintlock guns. However, it was not until after Forsyth's patents expired that the conventional percussion cap system was developed. The percussion cap helped lead to the Self Contained Cartridge, where the bullet is held in by the casing, the casing is filled with gun powder, and a primer (modern day percussion cap), is at the end.

Link -

October 3, 2010, 01:28 PM
Thank you very much for that link. The percussion cap/primer was certainly a pivital invention. As usual this forun is the best source for all things firearm.

October 3, 2010, 02:09 PM
On the shotgun side, you have John Dickson and a modern day designer/builder David McKay Brown - both built/build the Scottish Round Action which dates from the early 1800's

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