The First Gatling Gun

The First Gatling Gun

Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling patented his revolutionary repeater during the Civil War in late 1862. Like later models, the first gun achieved its high rate of fire by mechanical means, employing rotating barrels operated by a hand crank which fed special steel chambers, loaded with powder, bullets and backed by percussion caps, from a hopper to the mechanism. As the handle was turned, the six barrels rotated and the chambers dropped into a carrier where they were fired, one at a time, by strikers dedicated to the individual barrels. The chambers then dropped free of the gun where they could be retrieved and reloaded.

GATLING PATENTGatling's contrivance was by no means the only machine gun that appeared during the Civil War. Most notably, there were the single-barreled Union Repeating Gun, dubbed by Abraham Lincoln the "Coffee Mill Gun" because of its resemblance to a coffee grinder, and the Ripley Gun and Requa Battery, both of which employed multiple stationary barrels.

The Gatling was actually tested and  received high marks from those Army and Navy officers who witnessed it in action.  But for political and logistical reasons, the gun didn't receive the attention it merited. The only Gatlings used by the Army were a dozen  purchased by Federal General Benjamin F. Butler, which Gatling himself claimed to have seen action, "in repelling rebel attacks upon the Union forces€¦near Richmond, Virginia." Hearsay has it some also may have been used by the U.S. Navy Mississippi River flotilla, though there is no direct evidence to support this conjecture one way or the other.

With the emergence of the self-contained cartridge it was possible to improve the Gatling Gun even more, and without bogging the reader down with too many details (fascinating though they may be) let it suffice to say the gun ultimately became a huge success both domestically and with foreign governments, even down to today where the system is used in such military arms as the  Minigun, M61 Vulcan and GAU-8.



GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Beretta

Beretta's New 92X

The 92X Performance model from Beretta was created to satisfy two requirements: Speed and accuracy. Beretta's new competition pistol is uncompromising and aims for top performance.

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

A New Season of G&A TV

A New Season of G&A TV

In this new season of Guns & Ammo TV, we introduce two new series and bring back a viewer favorite - Camera's Don't Lie. We look at long-range tech and see how to make shots previously thought impossible. Next we visit ISS Prop House in Hollywood.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an engineering degree to tinker with; here's a look at some upgrade options to take your Ruger American to the next level, and make it something a bit different. Accessories

Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades

Philip Massaro - March 15, 2018

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an...

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market. Handguns

Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review

James Tarr - April 17, 2019

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun matches. Here's why. Reviews

Savage MSR 15 Competition Review

James Tarr - May 21, 2019

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun...

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other. Reviews

Taurus TX22 Rimfire Review

Eric Poole - May 23, 2019

The Taurus TX22 rimfire shoots like no other.

See More Trending Articles

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now