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Miller, James and John

Name Street Town State From To
Miller, James and John   Brighton New York 1829  
Miller, James and John 11 Mason Street Rochester New York 1834  
Miller, John Front Street Rochester New York 1838  
Miller, John Curtis Block Rochester New York 1847  
Miller, John 143 Main Street Rochester New York 1849  


Patent Date Remarks
203 to James Miller June 11, 1829 Improvement in rifles the magazine to contain a number of charges.
(reccords burned in fire at the Patent Office in 1836. Thereafter, the Patent office appealed to patent holders to re-file their patents, but only few did)


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Product
What is a Miller Gun? According to the description in the Patent Office report for 1829, it was "an improvement in rifles the magazine to contain a number of charges." From this description, it is not even obvious that a revolving cylinder is being referred to. However, from the examination of several surviving specimens, a pattern of features becomes quite clear. These common features are:
1) a large hand revolved cylinder, indexed by;
2) a cylinder catch, which acts on notches in the front end of the cylinder and is mounted in
3) a large iron piece which also acts as a bullet deflector and as a mount for bath the barrel and the cylinder arbor. It is possible that this piece, with its combination of parts, was the subject of the patent.

Pill lock, 7 shot hand revolving cylinder rifle (4 to 9 shot rifles are known), marked J.J. MILLER manufactured by Billinghurst and many others. A very view late models had been made for percussion caps. Most of the survived rifles have 6 shot cylinders.

Some of the early Miller rifles have other features which were abandoned later in production. These include the flash shield and the strap over the top of the cylinder. The flash shield complletely covered the front of the cylinder and contained a leather washer to prevent the flash from the fired chamber from setting off any other chamber. The topstrap ran from the top of the barrel to the top of the breech and was fastened to it with the same pin which secured the cylinder arbor. This gave greater rigidity and supported the fired chamber on both sides. This feature was abondoned in the early 1830s and it is interesting to note that this was claimed as new feature by the Massachusetts Arms Co. in their trial with Colt. An other feature found on Miller rifles (produced by Billinghurst in 1852), which was claimed by LeMat in 1856 was the use of a shotgun barrel as the cylinder arbor.

James Miller died in 1843 and John and Billinghurst went different ways. When having sold his shop to Antrobus or Antrobres G. Edwards one of his hands in 1852 John Miller went in the wholesale fish business.

Miller rifle with shotgun barrel as cylinder arbor as Billinghurst made them

It is believed that Miller got the help of D.G. Colburn to develop his gun.

Miller system guns were made by Benjamin Bigelow, William Billinghurst, G.a. Brown, T.P. CHerington, Noble, E.S. Ormsby, Patrick Smith, H. Volpius and certainly others.

.52 caliber, 6 shot Miller Revolving Rifle, 29 1/2" half round half octagonal barrel, marked Miller, Rochester N.Y., Cylinder scrol engraved, steel buttplate