When did gunmakers “standardized” their gun parts for all their guns to have the same specs?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Darth-Vang, Oct 10, 2021.

  1. Darth-Vang

    Darth-Vang Member

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    When did they obtain the technology to make all their guns to have the same exact specifications?(no longer “handmade”) Just curious to know so that I can get a general idea of the timeline of when gun specs were “standardized.”
     
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  2. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Eli Whitney
     
  3. orpington

    orpington Member

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    Samuel Colt was doing that with the Colt Paterson in the 1830’s, but I would guess it might have been as least as early as 1816 at the Springfield Armory with the Model 1816. This is a guess, however.
     
  4. orpington

    orpington Member

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    Yes, he was doing it as well.
     
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  5. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Maybe when Henry Ford’s assembly line principles became the norm?

    Certainly during wartime, as numerous subcontractors were making parts for single rifle and handgun styles (1911’s, Garands, carbines, etc.).

    Stay safe.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2021
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  6. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    ^ For universal interchangeability across brands… the others were doing it for internal designs long before, as the guys stated.

    Stay safe.
     
  7. mcb

    mcb Member

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    It certain started before SAAMI came along, but SAAMI in the late 1920's and early 1930' became the keeper and disseminator of the standards for much of the firearms industry in the US. So it started earlier but I would say it was mature in the firearms industry by the 1930's.
     
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  8. orpington

    orpington Member

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    No, it had to be Eli Whitney, Samuel Colt, or Springfield Armory. Well, well prior to the advent of the 20th Century.
     
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  9. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Eli Whitney has been credited for the concept of interchangeable parts in firearms, but he was just a champion of the concept, not the originator. People such as Jean-Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval was using standardized cannon with interchangeable parts in the 1700s. Honoré Blanc and Louis de Tousard were doing it with shoulder fired weapons long before Eli Whitney.
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Eli Whitney gets credit for it in the USA but he did not really accomplish it in mass production when he got a contract, unlike his demonstration with a table full of parts.
     
  11. Hugger-4641

    Hugger-4641 Member

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    LeBlanc had the idea before Whitney, but couldn't get the French to implement it. Simeon North probably actually implemented it first and the milling machine Whitney used probably originated with North. But Whitney is credited with it because he recieved the first major military contract, even though it took him 10yrs to complete it. He was not a gunsmith, but he was an inventor and innovator.
    Roswell Lee was an employee of Whitney who went on to run the Springfield Armory and implement some of his own management ideas as well. Whitney visited the Armory and later used many of Lee's ideas.
    Sam Colt is probably the one who really first did it successfully in mass production.
     
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  12. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    It depends on the when, where, and who.
    US managed to be, generally, the first nation to fully standardize their military weapons, and that in the mid 30s, and fully implements by 1942. (Despite that, examples with hand-fitting, Johnson Rifle, Reising, etc., still occured.)

    Brits were on about the same schedule, at least with Brens and most Vickers; the Lee rifles had different bolt heads to fit them to correct headspacing.
    In military weapons, one of the "tells" is when the number of parts matched by serial number are observed. That's occurs about 1945-1950

    For non-military firearms, they are not generally taken apart in groups to a dozen or more and washed together, and need to be reassembled by matched numbers. So, there are still some boutique manufacturers who do not have "universal" parts.
     
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  13. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    practically, around the time factories became electrified. It predates WW1 (1914) on a large scale, where militaries required it for their small arms.
     
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  14. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    Georgian military muskets (1750s) had standardized screws, and to a certain extent standardized locks.

    The first US weapon with interchangeable parts was the 1819 Hall Rifle.

    The technology to 'make all their guns to have the same exact specifications' was available in the second quarter of the 18th century, in the form of accurate gauges and master patterns. By the third quarter of that century, almost all nations had firearms made the same specifications to the point where replacement parts could be stocked that required minimal hand fitting. By the 1850, no hand fitting was required by many US and foreign gunmakers.

    However, to this day there are some weapons systems drawing that carry notes like "file to fit" or "fit as required".
     
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  15. Pivot Dr

    Pivot Dr Member

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    Correct!
     
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  16. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Not really. According to the Eli Whitney Museum...

    "Whitney’s work in making muskets from a number of interchangeable parts once identified him as the sole originator of the idea. But tests on a collection of Whitney muskets indicate that all their parts were not interchangeable."
    https://www.eliwhitney.org/7/museum/about-eli-whitney/factory
     
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  17. Darth-Vang

    Darth-Vang Member

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    Many thanks guys. If I ever pickup a antique firearms for that matter, I’ll have a general idea of whether or not the gun was “hand made.” It is particularly true for old muzzleloaders and flintlocks. Well it does apply to “modern” sidelocks as well.
     
  18. Coyote3855
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    Coyote3855 Contributing Member

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    When the US military adopted the .38 caliber Colt Double Action in 1892, Colt Cavalry models began to be recalled. Some 16,700 +/- went to Springfield Armory where they were disassembled, springs and small parts replaced as necessary, barrels cut to 5.5 inches, a new front sight installed, and reassembled without regard to matching serial numbers. These became known by collectors as Artillery Models because the modification to a shorter barrel had been requested by artillery units and many of the altered revolvers were issued to artillery units.

    Just a factoid.

    I agree with Double Naught that Whitney's demonstration of reassembling muskets from mixed parts was not authentic, not representative of what was produced by Whitney at the time.
     
  19. tark

    tark Member

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    You sure about those dates CapnMac ? I'm not sure what "standardized" is suppose to mean. Fully interchangeable parts? Or does it mean adopting a weapon that meets certain criteria but doesn't necessarily have interchangeable parts? I think we were "standardized" , by either definition, long before the 1930s.
     
  20. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    It was a gradual process. It started with standard patterns (like a Brown Bess), then it became possible to tighten up the tolerances on individual parts. Whitney's big contributions were the milling machine (which cuts slots in stuff) and the American System of Manufacture (which broke down the production of components into simple tasks that could be made repeatable by the use of jigs and other production tooling).

    Fun tidbit: The company that Whitney founded still exists. They make jet engines now.
     
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  21. entropy

    entropy Member

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    A merger with Pratt perhaps? The Hall system for muskets and rifles required interchangability of the actions. The action could be completely pulled out, and used as a pistol (No, thanks anyway), but it was designed for fast loading, because it did not need the ball and charge to be rammed down a 3 1/2 ft. barrel.
     
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  22. Roverguy

    Roverguy Member

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    1819 for the US Army:



    Hall Rifle of 1819, on Forgotten Weapons.
     
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  23. Legionnaire
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    Legionnaire Member

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    Cool video on the Hall rifle. Sam Colt envisioned manufacture of fully interchangeable part revolvers and wrote about it in 1836. He demonstrated the utility of interchangeable parts at the first World's Fair in 1851.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2021
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  24. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    A member of the Whitney family, but not Eli . . . and no.

    The Pratt & Whitney Company was founded in 1860 by Francis A. Pratt and Amos Whitney*, with headquarters in Hartford, Connecticut. The company manufactured machine tools, tools for the makers of sewing machines, and gun-making machinery for use by the Union Army during the American Civil War. Now, known as Pratt & Whitney Measurement Systems, it is headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

    The engine division is actually a separate corporate entity. In 1925, Frederick Rentschler approached Pratt & Whitney for funding and a location to build his new aircraft engine. Pratt & Whitney loaned him $250,000, the use of the Pratt & Whitney name, and space in their building. This was the beginning of the Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company, which evolved into today's widely known aircraft engine manufacturer. In 1929, Rentschler ended his association with Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool and merged Pratt & Whitney Aircraft with Boeing and other companies to form the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (UATC). His agreement allowed him to carry the Pratt & Whitney name with him to his new corporation. Pratt & Whitney Division (now part of Raytheon) is headquartered in East Hartford, Connecticut.

    _______________________
    * Amos was born seven years after Eli died, he was a distant cousin or nephew. The Whitneys were actually a fairly prominent family in the the Connecticut area.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2021
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  25. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    It really cannot be used as a pistol.

    Picture8.jpg
     
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