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Massachusetts Arms Company

Name Street Town State From To
Massachusetts Arms Company   Chicopeee Falls Massachusetts 1849 1880s

Patent Date Remarks

Contract for

Allso called Massachusetts Manufacturing Company

Formed in 1849 and incorporated on March 5, 1850. Founders, Edwin Wesson, Joshua Stevens, William Miller, James T. Ames, Timothy W. Carter, Benjamin F. Warner. Daniel B. Wesson and Horace Smith. As superintendent Thomas Warner was hired. The factory was that of Ames Manufacturing Co, which made pistols, swords and machinery. Only little modification of the former Ames factury was needed.

The first product were revolvers made by Thomas Warner for Edwin Wesson and almost identical to those made by Wesson in Hartford. These Wesson & Leavitt revolvers were made under patents 6,669 of Wesson, patent 182 of Leavitt and patend 7,802 of Joshua Stevens. Most difference are the barrel catch, the grip and the cylinder bolt. These revolvers were made in .31 and .40 calibers.

.31 caliber percussion, 6 shot Wesson & Leavitt Belt Revolver, 3" to 7" barrels. The very early production has the Wesson barrel catch and military style buttcaps and are marked
MASS. ARMS CO. / PATENT on the topstrap
CHICOPEE FALLS, MASS / 1850 on the lockplate
LEAVITT'S pATENT APRIL 29, 1837 on the cylinder face
later production had the same markings as the Army or Draggon model. Production was about 1000.

.31 caliber right

.40 caliber percussion, 6 shot Wesson & Leavitt Dragoon or Army Revolver, 7 1/4" (standard) round barrel, between 1850 and 1851. The first 30 guns were made with 6 1/4 inch barrels later some 6 1/4 and 8" barrel guns were made. The guns are marked:
PATENT NOV. 26, 1850 on the barrel catch (the very early guns had no marking there)
LEAVITT'S PATENT APRIL 29, 1837 on the rear of the cylinder
WESSON'S / PATENT / AUG. 28, 1849 on the lever gear
these guns had no loading lever though Stevens had a patent for one but never reached production status. Production is estimatet at 800 guns.

left side
right side

Based on the army frame very few (20 or 30) revolving rifles were made. They had integral or detachable stocks and barrel length from 16" to 24" and are numbered in the Draggon or Army serial number range.

some Wessons & Leavitt's

These revolvers were an infringement of the Colt patent and in 1851 Massachusetts Arms Co. was found guilty on three counts - rotating the cylinder by cocking thee hammer, connecting a cylinder locking bolt to the hammer, placing partitions between the nipples to avoid multiple discharge by incident. Therefore the company changed the pattern and offered a modified model wich hand revolved cylinder and Maynard priming device to avoid nipples capped.

.31 caliber percussion, single shot pistol, 2 1/2" to 3 1/2" about 1/3 round and 2/3 octagonal barrel, center hammer with Maynard primer, markings
on orimer = MAYNARD'S PATENT SEPT. 22, 1845

pistol,left side
pistol, right side

.28 caliber percussion, 6 shot Maynard Pocket Revolver, barrel length are 2 1/2" and 3", the mechanism is identical to the .31 caliber guns. About 900 of these first pocket model revolvers were made from 1851 to 1857 and are marked
MASS. ARMS CO. / CHICOPEE FALLS on the topstrap
MAYNARD'S PATENT 1845 on the primer cover

left side
right side
How to put the maynard tape primer

an other .28 caliber revolver, left side
same, right side

.31 caliber percussion, 6 shot Maynard Belt Revolver, barrels were 3" to 7", to handturn the cylinder a button has to press inside the trigger guard. Between 1851 and 1857, production was about 1000 revolvers. 200 were shiped to John Brown in 1857.

Right side

.36 caliber percussion, 5 shot Belt Revolver, round barrel
Left side
Right side

In 1853 Stevens got a patent for a revolving mechanism which is rather complicate, first the hammer is cocked, the Maynard tape primer is advanced and then the trigger was pulled to unlock the cylinder, revolving and relocking it and than released the hammer to fire. About 50 were produced and easily identifyable by the lack of the release button in the trigger guard.

To utilize this mechanism in the .28 pocket model the frame had to enlarge. Produced were

.28 caliber percussion, Pocket Model Revolver with Maynard tape primer, 6 shot, 2 1/2", 3" or 3 1/2" octagonal or round barrel

.31 caliber percussion, Pocket Model Revolver with Maynard tape primer, 6 shot, 2 1/2", 3" or 3 1/2" octagonal or round barrel

It is estimated that only 250 of both models were made of which 75% were factory converted to al later revolving mechanism before leaving the company.

This later mechanism is that of the Stevens patent no. 12,189 and rotated the cylinder by pulling trigger before the hammer was cocked. Produced were about 1400 revolvers from 1855 to 1857, of which the first 200 had not the PATENT 7 JAN. 2, 1855 marking on the backstrap. Most were with 3 1/2" round barrel. 900 of them were with the Leavitt patent convex cylinder face and 500 with the flat cylinder face and both hat their own serial number range. Some of then had four numbers. The serial number is that under the right grip. The others are assembly numbers or royalty numbers fot the various patents.

When the COlt's patent expired in 1857 Massachusetts Arms Co. did make revolvers which were revolved by the hammer. 2000 were made about 1000 each with the Leavitt convex cylinder and flat cylinder face. Before their production started about 300 conversions (flat and convex cylinder faces) were made by pinning the tumbler to the hammer and grinding of the spur of the trigger used to turn the cylinder.

.31 caliber percussion revolver, five shot, with 3 1/4" octagonal barrel, checkered walnut grip, made from about 1857 to 1860, the loading lever is side mounted, the serial number appears on the cylinder and the left side of the frame. Markings are
PATENT MAY 3 1853, JUNE 3, 1856 April 7, 1857. The Kerr's patent date issued on April 14, 1857 is missstamped on these models. These were the Adams, Beaumont and Kerr patents for his self-cocking action, for the double action and single action and for the loading lever. Production is estimated at 4500 revolvers. See also Adams Revolving Arms Co.

About 200 guns were made with 4 1/4" barrels of which 100 were made with round barrel.

Adams left side
Adams right side

.36 caliber percussion revolver, five shot double action, 6" barrel, over all length is 11 1/2 inch, weight is 2 pounds 9 ounces, two piece walnut grips with inspector marks WAT (William A. Thornton), LCA (Lucius C. Allin) and JT (Josah Tanal). Markings are
on the rammer, KERR'S PATENT/APRIL 14, 1857
on the right side of the frame, PATENT/JUNE 3, 1856
on the left side of the frame, ADAMS PATENT/MAY 3, 1858 and the serial number.
The Adams patent was misastamped as it was issued on May 3, 1853.
Production was about 600 guns (highest serial number is 609) of which 500 were bought by the government. See also Adams Revolving Arms Co.

Beyond the great many experimental revolvers made by Massachusetts Arms Co. were those for Rollin White and D. B. Wesson (bored through camber).

.50 caliber, Maynard Carbine, 2nd model, 20" round barrel, produced from 1863 to 1865 marked MANUFACTURED BY / MASS ARMS CO / CHICOPEE MASS and EDWARD MAYNARD / PATENTED / MAY 27, 1851 / DEC 6, 1859

Maynard right side

.50 caliber, Smith carbine (Gilbert Smith), early production as no saddle ring and bar, 21 5/8" round barrel, marked Manufactured by Mass Arms Co / Chicopee Falls and Address/ Poultney & Trimble / Baltimore, USA" and "Smith's Patent / June 23, 1857
Smith right side
marking Mass. Arms
marking Smith

Maynard Patent Sporting Rifle, Model 1865, 1873 and 1882, single shot, manufactured in a wide variety of calibers, gauges and stock styles