Friday, August 26, 2011

M1895 Colt-Browning Machine Gun

  • Also known as: Rapid-Fire Machine Gun, Colt Automatic Gun, Potato Digger
  • Weight: 36 lbs (69 lbs w/ Tripod)
  • Barrel length: 28"
  • Overall Length: 41 3/8"
  • Cartridge Caliber: 6mm Lee Navy, .30-40 Krag, .30.06 Springfield, .303 British, 7.62x54mm
  • Range: 2000 yards
  • Operating system: Gas Operated Swing Lever
  • Feeding system: Belt Fed
  • Rate fire: 400-450 rounds per minute
  • Service: US Military 1895 - 1917

The M1895 Colt Machine Gun was the brainchild of legendary firearms designer John M. Browning. It would be one of the first true fully automatic guns ever invented and the first true machine gun to be adopted by the US Army and US Navy. It was referred to many service men as the Potato Digger due its unique operating system located underneath the weapon, known as the gas operated swinging lever, which resembled the farming equipment used as a potato digger. These early models would be gas operated, in that the gas energy from the blast of a spent cartridge would be used to operate a swinging lever located underneath the barrel. This swinging lever action would then load the next cartridge. The swinging lever design is very much similar to that of the lever action rifles of the time. This unique gas operating system should not be confused as a recoil operating system, which would be later used in the M1917 and later Colt Browning Machine Guns.

The Potato Digger would be used extensively during the Spanish-American War in Cuba and during the Philippine-American War(1899-1902) and the Philippine Campaign(1902-1914). The early models issued to the US military were chambered in 6mm Lee Navy.

Internal mechanics of the weapon.

Chief of Artillery Major Richard Young reports on the Malolos Campaign(March 1899). Listed are the field pieces used on the assault; including one Colt's automatic gun in caliber 6mm Lee Navy.

Model 1895 Colt-Browning Machine Gun with creator John Moses Browning.

Model 1895 Potato Digger featured in History Channels Mail Call:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Model 1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun

    Model 1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun used in Manila during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902).
  • Weight: 135 lbs(270 lbs w/ tripod)
  • Number of Barrels: 5-10
  • Barrel length: 18 1/4"
  • Overall Length: 34"
  • Cartridge Caliber: 45-70 Government
  • Range: +1000 yards
  • Rate fire: 1000 per minute
  • Cartridge magazine block: 40 rds
  • Service: US Military 1877 -

Similar to the 1895 Gatling Gun, the Model 1877 would be the improved and improvised version of the original model. The Bulldog model differed in many ways to the original design. The smaller compact size allowed the weapon to be much lighter, which allowed for easier deployment. The barrels, as well as the breech operating section, were fully encased in bronze for better heat dissipation. For loading, the Bruce Feed Device was developed and used. Rather than the use of spring loaded box magazines, cartridges were filed in to wood blocks or cartons and attached directly to the top of the gun. Once firing began, cartridges would feed in to the weapon by gravity alone. Later model gatling guns would also use the Bruce feed device. The crank system also differed, in that it was rear-mounted, rather than the original side mount. By being rear-mounted the barrel units were driven and revolved directly to the crank, versus the gearing system of the older side mounted design which reduced the turn ratio on the revolution of the barrel unit. This direct driven rear crank would allow for a much higher rate of fire.

These lighter gatling guns were also cheaper to produce and were initially to be assigned to Cavalry units. The US Army would purchase 17 Bulldogs, and later the US Navy would also purchase several of these mini gatling guns. A few examples would later make their way to the Philippines and be used during the Spanish-American War as well as the Philippine Campaigns(1899-1914).

Photo courtesy of
US Armament Corp currently produces working replicas of the M1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

US Army Colt M1909 DA .45 Revolver

Barrel Length: 5½"
Action: Double Action
Weight: 2.3 lbs
Cartridge Caliber: .45 Long Colt (255 grain) Smokeless
Muzzle Velocity: 830 fps
Service: 1909–1913

Due to the slow going and drawn out Service Pistol Trials(1906-1910) by the Ordnance Board, the War Department would place an order with Colt for 6,000 revolvers in caliber .45 on December 17, 1908. These revolvers were to be an intermediate solution to the requests for more .45 pistols in the Philippine islands from the results of insufficient stopping power of the issued Colt .38 revolvers, as well as replacement to the dated and aged 1873 SAA Colt .45 revolvers that were put back in to service during the Philippine campaigns(1899-1913). These newer issued revolvers were adopted and issued as Model 1909[M1909] US Army .45 Revolvers. They would be marked with serial numbers 30001 to 49503; a grand total of 19,502 pistols. Springfield Armory would receive the other 350 remaining pistols. All-in-all 19,152 revolvers were received at the Manila Ordnance Depot[MOD] located in Intrumurous Manila, Philippines, and would be issued out to all service men through out the islands.

By the adoption of the M1911 auto pistol in March 1911, the Model 1909 .45 revolver would be retired.

Heal marked US Army Model 1909. Serial Number 38021.

Monday, July 25, 2011

1873 Maxim Nordenfelt Multi-Barrel Machine Gun

Original Maxim-Nordenfelt gun salvaged from the Spanish battle-cruiser Almirante Oquendo after the battle of Santiago Harbor during the Spanish-American War.

  • Barrel Length: 36"
  • Overall Length: 36"
  • Weight: 290 lbs
  • Dimensions: 26" Height, 16.5" Width, 52.4" Length
  • Effective Range: 400m
  • Number of barrels: 4 - 12
  • Action: Hand Cranked Gatling Gun Action
  • Mechanical Operation:
  • Caliber: 11mm and 25mm
  • Countries served: Austraila, Brazil, France, Spain, and England.
Not to be confused with the Maxim-Nordenfelt Mountain Gun(Single Barrel) or Maxim Machine Gun(Single Barrel). The Multi-Barrel Nordenfelt gun was engineered and designed by Helge Palmcrantz of Sweden. Palmcrantz would patent his invention in 1873. The machine gun would be produced by Thorsten Nordenfelt in England, with the gun taking upon the name of the manufacture rather then the designer. The Nordenfelt gun used 4 to 12 barrels and operated in similar fashion to the hand crank of the gatling gun. But rather in cylindrical fashion, the Nordenfelt barrels were aligned horizontally in-line.

The gun looked very promising at first, during trials it was capable of firing off 3,000 rounds in 3 minutes with zero stoppage and no failures. The Nordenfelt gun were later built and assembled in Spain. In 1888 Nordenfelt and Maxim merged to become Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company. Due to the Maxim machine guns, the Nordenfelt multi-barrel gun quickly became obsolete. However, the Nordenfelt Machine gun would still be produced and would also become known as the Maxim-Nordenfelt gun after the merger. The Spanish Navy as well as Spanish artillery units would use the Nordenfelt machine gun in the Philippines and during the Spanish-American War. Several examples of these "Maxim-Nordenfelt" machine guns were reported as captured by the US troops during the Span-Am War in Cuba and the Philippines. The Philippine forces as well would capture and/or receive these guns from the Spanish and used them during the Philippine American War(1899-1902). In the book "Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna", author Viencio Jose accounts the Maxim-Nordenfelt gun being used in the defense at the Battle for Malolos(March 29-31, 1899). These guns are now extremely rare, very few examples exist today.

Artillery captured from Philippines forces on display. 

Maxim-Nordenfelt machine gun found in the middle of display. Note the crudely made cart.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Colt M1911 .45ACP Pistol

  • Action: Single Action Self-Loading Auto
  • Barrel Length: 5"
  • Weight: 2.4lbs
  • Cartridge: .45 ACP(Automatic Colt Pistol)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 835ft/s
  • Effective Range: 50 yds
  • Capacity: 7 round box magazine
  • US Service: 1911-1985

At the turn of the 20th century, plans began for the US Army to update their current service pistol issued to their troops. The Colt DA .38 revolvers were becoming outdated, as well as performing miserably since the campaigns of the Philippine islands started in 1899. During that time, and up to the pacification of the south islands of the Philippines, US soldiers, Philippine Scouts, and Philippine constabulary officers contended with natives who were religiously charged and enraged against foreign authority. Most particularly the Pulajane group of Samar/Leyte and the Moros. Unlike the more open territory of Luzon during the Philippine American War(1899-1902) with entrenched opposition and hunting down retreating forces; the southern half of the islands proved to be a different beast. Dense jungle terrain inlaid with swamps, over-vegetated valleys, and mountainous terrains made up most of the interior. Resulting in most conflicts being within a much closer proximity than previously encountered. The dense terrain allowed for greater cover and put soldiers in a more vulnerable position for surprise attacks during patrols and expeditions. These fanatical natives mostly armed with nothing more than a short sword, proved to be hard pressed in stopping once rushing conflicts ensued. Rifles also became obsolete in close quarter encounters due to the slowness of fixing ones aim with a lengthy firearm, as well as working the actioned bolt to reload another round. Even more susceptible were the Philippine Constabulary and Native Scouts, who were originally armed with old single-shot Springfield rifles. Many soldiers and officers ended up resorting primarily to their sidearms. Reports began to pour in on the sever lack of firepower the .38 caliber round packed in stopping an oncoming combatant. The US government answered by reissuing old Colt SAA .45 service revolvers to Philippine Constabulary officers and US soldiers serving in the southern half of the Philippines. The Pulajane Campaign lasted up to 1910, with the Moro Rebellion lasting up to 1913.

Either way, with the advent of the new auto loading pistols coming on to the market, the old revolvers were now being viewed as obsolete and a thing of the past; and plans for a new service pistol for the US military began. General William Crozier, then Chief of Ordnance of the Army, established a commission board and assigned Colonel John T. Thompson and Colonel John T. Thompson to conduct testing to determine the best fit caliber to be used in the new soon to be military sidearm. The caliber trials would be know as the "1904 Thompson-LaGarde Tests". Tests on different size calibers were performed on live animals as well as human cadaverous. In the end, both Thompson and LaGarde both concluded, "the Board was of the opinion that a bullet, which will have the shock effect and stopping effect at short ranges necessary for a military pistol or revolver, should have a caliber not less than .45." It is believed both Thompson and LaGarde were already in favor of the .45 caliber even prior to the caliber testing. Both Thompson and LaGarde were of the Medical Corps in the military. With LaGarde spending his earlier career in the Philippines addressing and examining gun shot wounds suffered during the early Philippine conflicts.

Soon after caliber selection were made, the "1906 Pistol Trials" began. Initially six firearm manufactures entered their pistols in to the trial. Three were eliminated early; with Savage, Colt, and DWM contending. But DWM would later withdraw from the trial believing the trials and the military were already strongly in favor of the Colt. In 1910 the pistol trials ended with the Colt auto pistol running near flawless compared to the Savage which still suffered many issues even after several modifications were made through out the years of testing. The Colt would be adopted by the US Army on March 29, 1911, designating it the M1911(Model 1911). It would take another year for Colt to produce the M1911s. On July 25, 1913, the US Navy and Marine Corps accepted the first batches of M1911s.

The M1911 would serve the US Military through two world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, and countless other engagements in between. In 1986 the M1911 was officially retired, replaced by the Beretta M9 in 9mm. Although, some special units of the military are still issued the M1911 today, the pistol is not completely phased out of service.

The Colt 1911 is considered by many to be an engineering masterpiece. Nearly nothing has changed in design of the pistol for the past 100 years, with nearly 90% of the original pistol parts from 1913 still being compatible with 1911s rolled off the factory line today. The 1911 has stood the test of time, and still is being manufactured by many companies around the world. Interestingly enough, it is more popular today then ever before. Firearm manufactures like Sig Sauer, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Taurus are just now getting in to the market of producing 1911s. Remington as well has now got back in to manufacturing 1911s. It is a piece of American history and is by far the most copied gun in the world today. This past March 29, 2011 marked the 100 year anniversary of the Colt M1911 .45ACP.

So... Was the M1911 purpose built to kill Filipinos? The answer plain and simple...NO.

The conflicts that occurred against the Moros, the Pulajanes, and other religious fanatical groups only showed the ineffectiveness the current .38 caliber cartridge were. As a result of these conflicts, "Knock Down Power" and "Stopping Power" became a major factor and priority to firearm and caliber efficiency and effectiveness. The M1911 was an "end product" of these events and of that era, with the purpose of replacing an old obsolete revolver. The last revolt of the time being the Moro Rebellion ending in 1913. With the first batch of M1911s being shipped on July 25, 1913 that went to the US Navy ship yard in New York, the M1911 pistol never truly saw any action during the early major Philippine conflicts.

BUT, it also must be noted, M1911 made their way to the Philippines by WWI(1918). And on the other side of the coin, Juramentados, amuck runners, and these other radical Tad-Tad religious groups still ran rampant long after 1913 all the way up to WWII and even present day; so it would be safe to say, at one time or another an M1911 more than likely were used to stop and kill a fanatical native running wild within the century. But if any gun were to be pin-pointed and specifically labeled as a true Filipino stopper, I would have to say the US military .45 revolvers should be accredited and recognized; particularly the Colt SAA, the Colt M1902 Philippine Model, and the Colt 1909. These revolvers exclusively because they were specifically called for and "re-issued" to the Philippines for the one sole purpose of stopping a Filipino in his tracks.

Springfield M1903 Bolt Action Rifle

  • Action: Bolt Action
  • Length: 44"
  • Barrel Length: 24"
  • Weight: 8.7lbs
  • Cartridge: .30.06 Springfield
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,700ft/s
  • Effective Range: 600 yds
  • Capacity: 5 round internal box magazine
  • US Service: 1903-1957

By the late 1800s the US Army quickly discovered how dismal in performance their Krag rifles were in comparison to the Spanish 1893 Mauser rifles during the Spanish American War. Most particular during the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba; when 800 Spanish soldiers were able to oppose a force of nearly 15,000 armed men for nearly two days. The opposing force consisting of Cuban rebels, US soldiers and US Volunteers. Although the battle for San Juan Hill was clearly won by the Americans, the tallied causality rate was viewed as near disastrous for the Americans. 200 US soldiers lay dead with 1,100 being wounded; all the while, the Spanish resulted in only 58 deaths and 170 wounded. In just this one battle, the US officers were quick to note the effectiveness and superiority of the Mauser rifle. After the war, the US military would send captured Mauser rifles back to America for evaluation. Springfield Armory at the time being under the supervision of the US Governments Department of Defense, Springfield Armory would be tasked to analyze the Mauser rifle and figure out ways to develop and/or incorporate features to improve the Krag rifles. In 1900, instead of making design changes to the Krag, Springfield built a prototype rifle that employed characteristics of both the Krag and the Mauser rifle. In reality, the new Springfield rifle heavily resembled more of the Mauser than the Krag. The US Government quickly approved the design and adopted the rifle on June 19, 1903 and designated it as the Model 1903(M1903) rifle.

The Mauser company in Germany quickly recognized many of the copied design features of their 1893 Mauser rifle. Although Springfield Armory was in a sense its own separate entity as a company, the corporation was directly working for and being controlled by the government. Mauser held the US Government accountable, not Springfield Armory, for the patent infringements and took court action. The government recognized the infringements and settled the case out of court by paying a fine, purchasing patent licenses, and agreeing to pay royalties on every M1903 manufactured.

By 1904 production of the new Springfield rifle was in full swing. After extensive testing, the M1903 became well received by all military departments. The new rifle turned the older service rifles from all military service branches obsolete, which resulted in every branch adopting the Springfield rifle. The Philippine Scouts as well would be issued the M1903 by the 1906. The rifle would see its first action during the pacification of the southern half of the Philippines. It would be the rifle that ended the last great stand off to US sovereignty at the Battle of Bud Bagsak against the Moros in 1913.

The M1903 rifle would make its debut in the Philippines Islands and would be used extensively throughout the entire Philippine Campaigns (1902-1914).

One of the first and early model M1903 Rifles produced. Equiped for the Rod Bayonet, which was deemed a flimsy contraption.

Pres. Roosevelt remarked, "I must say I think the rod bayonet about as poor an invention as I ever saw." A week after Roosevelts remarks, production of the rod bayonet models were completely ceased.

Moro Scouts with M1903 rifles.
Note the unique Bolo bayonets designated for the Philippines.

The M1903 continued to serve well in WWI and WWII. During the Japanese invasion of the Philippine islands the rifle helped the Filipino troops and US military make their longest and greatest stand in US history. By the beginning of the Vietnam War the M1903 was finally retired. The M1903 is deemed one of the greatest battle rifles in firearm history.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

37mm Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon

  • Barrel Length: 29 inches x5
  • Action: Hand Cranked Revolving Gatling Gun Action
  • Effective Range: 2,000 yards
  • Rate of fire : 40 rounds per minute
  • Capacity: 10rd Magazine Fed
  • Caliber: 37mm (Explosive, Shrapnel Canister, and Solid)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1,450fps
  • Weight of Round - 1.5 lbs
  • Weight Towed: 1,000lbs
  • Year Built: 1872
  • Service: 1872-1900

Invented by Benjamin B. Hotchkiss in 1872. The Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon, also referred to as the Hotchkiss Gun, operated similar to the Gatling gun in which the barrels would rotate by hand crank in order for each cartridge to fire. The Hotchkiss design differed from the Gatling gun by using only one striking pin mechanism, versus's the Gatlings which had a firing pin mechanism for each barrel. The Hotchkiss cannon was a massive piece of artillery but still was considered light enough for units to take the piece in to battle by use of horses. Other countries would adopt the revolving cannon for their military. They would eventually be mostly used on fortress defense and naval battleships. The US Army used this particular Hotchkiss cannon during the assault on Malolos.  The revolving cannon would eventually prove to be to excessive. Considering the waste of munitions and a larger single barrel cannon were found to be just as effective. By early 1900s, the revolving cannon would later be replaced by single barreled cannons.

Photograph of Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon used during the Battle of Malolos(March 24-31,1899).
Note the bullet riddled shield from the Filipinos rifle fire.

Hotchkiss Cannon over destroyed bridge on route to Malolos, Bulacan, Philippines.

Chief of Artillery Major Richard Young reports on the Malolos Campaign(March 1899). Listed are the field pieces used on the assault; including three Hotchkiss Revolving Cannons.

Photo courtesy of
Hotchkiss Revolving Canon used near Manila Waterworks, Sitio  Escombro, Barrio Santolan, Pasig.  Feb. 6, 1899

Internal working mechanism of the Hotchkiss Cannon

Video operation:

Bonifacios Guns

Firearms belonging to Bonifacio and his soldiers during their arrest.

Mauser L-2798-the metal plate is rubbed out. Market A. B.

Mauser K-2894 with an addition No. 1. Metal plate rubbed out; marked A. B.

Remington No. 7537; metal plate rubbed out; marked A.B.

Remington No. 2200; metal plate rubbed out; marked A. B.

Remington No. 12620; metal plate of trigger and butt-end rubbed out.

Remington No. 2085.

Remington No. 4610.

Remington No. 3279-A. B. rubbed out.

Remington No. 3580-Magdalo rubbed out.

Remington No. 23871-16 on butt-end rubbed out; marked A. B.

Remington No. 3302; marked A. B.

Remington No. 3379 metal plate on trigger rubbed out; marked A. B.

Remington No. 9075; marked A. B.

Remington No. 38384-marked Magdalo.

Remington no number; metal plate rubbed out.

Remington-English make.

One shot-gun, double-barrel, center fire.

" " " single-barrel rim fire.

" " " center fire.

" " " rim fire.

Two shot-guns, double barrel.

One rifle, 22 caliber, low power, target practice.

Four blunderbusses, one has a mark " Juan Estrella " .

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rifle cartridges used in the Philippines early 20th century.

  1. 11mm - 1870 Spanish Remington Rolling Block
  2. 7mm - Spanish 1893 Mauser Rifle
  3. .45-70 - 1873 Springfield Trapdoor Single Shot Rifle
  4. .30 Army - 1892-1899 Krag Rifle
  5. .30 Model of 1906(aka 30-06) - Springfield M1903 Rifle (1903-1957)

Spanish Lefaucheux Model 1863 Pinfire Revolver

  • Manufacture - Fabrica de Armas Oviedo
  • Design - French Revolver
  • Barrel Length: 6"
  • Cartridge Caliber: 11mm
  • Action - Pinfire Single Action
  • Service: 1860s–1888 Continental Spanish Army; 1888-1898 Spanish Colonial force; 1896-1902 Philippine Revolutionary Force
Made at the firearms factory in Oviedo Spain. Several different models and variants were made through out their manufacture.The Spanish Lefaucheux followed the typical European French revolver design widely used during the mid-1800s; which was known as the Lefaucheux Pinfire revolver. The Spanish revolvers are distinctive for copying the French style 1858 Lefaucheux along with the Belgian Lefaucheux style frame and pistol grip. Originally these revolvers were issued to Spanish soldiers in Spain. Years later after being out-dated by 1888, they were transferred over to soldiers and police forces in Spanish Colonial territories. Many of these old Spanish revolvers were carried by the Spanish forces in Cuba and the Philippines all the way up to the Span-Am War. The Philippine revolutionary force would also capture and use these revolvers during the 1896 Revolution and against the Americans in the Philippine-American War. US soldiers would keep these as war trophys for their service in Cuba and the Philippines. In US war reports they are noted down as French style pinfire revolvers.
Interestingly enough, the French 1858 Lefaucheux Revolvers were also bought and issued during the American Civil War(1861-1865) to soldiers under the US Federal Government.

Spanish Smith & Wesson M1884 ONÁ Revolver .44



  • Also known as the Spanish S&W Model 7
  • Manufacture: Orbea Hermanos in Spain
  • Action: Double Action
  • Capacity: 6 round cylinder top break design
  • Barrel Length: 5½"
  • Weight: 2lbs
  • Cartridge Caliber: .44 Russian (11mm)
  • Spanish Military Service: 1884 - 1903
In 1884 the Spanish S&W ONÁ revolver became the recommended service sidearm of the Spanish army. Like the Model 3, Spanish officers and soldiers had the option to purchase and carry. These revolvers were manufactured in Spain, unlike the original Model 3's manufactured at the S&W factory in the United States. The updated Spanish version would be named Model 7 ONÁ, which had few aesthetic differences, equipped with double action, and a shorter barrel. Once the 1896 Revolution broke out, Spanish soldiers from Spain were shipped off to the islands. Many of these S&W revolvers were captured by Filipino revolutionaries. And after the Span-Am War, many Spanish soldiers joined the Philippine revolutionary government against the United States; taking along with them stock piles of Spanish weapons. The S&W revolver would be one of the many handguns scattered through out the Philippine Islands.

The Spanish copied Smith and Wesson revolver became very popular even after the turn of the century. This same exact model revolver would be contracted out to the British Military during World War I. They would continue manufacturing other S&W firearms up to the Second World War.


Spanish Merwin, Hulbert & Co. Revolver .44

  • Manufacture: Anitúa y Charola, in Eibar Espana
  • Action: Double Action
  • Capacity: 6 round cylinder
  • Barrel Length: 5"
  • Cartridge Caliber: .44 Russian (11mm)
  • Spanish Military Service: 1887 - 1903
In 1887 the Spanish Merwin Hulbert Revolver became another pistol out of several recommended as a service sidearm for Spanish army soldiers and police officers. The Merwin, Hulbert & Co. was an American based firearms manufacture and at one time was the 4th largest gun supplier in America. But their name is now long forgotten due to bankruptcy during the early 1890s. The company went out of business, and their firearms went along with it. Many of these firearm companys of the era lived and died by military contracts. Merwin, Hulbert & Co. designs were considered far advanced for it's time, but through bad dealings, it became short-lived and unsuccessful. Their major contract coming from Russia. Nearly all the major companies were greatly successful during the 1870-1880s. But by the late 1800s many countries began to establish their own factories. There they would purchase the patents and licensing from firearms companies based in the United States to reproduce their firearms. This drastically killed the sales for most US firearm companies. Many would tank because of these outside manufactures. Even Smith & Wesson would come close to being run to the ground. Anitúa y Charola, in Eibar Spain became one of those outside companies to produce well made copied US revolvers. Their version of the Merwin, Hulbert revolver were then allowed to be used by military and police officers of Spain. As with the Spanish S&W, the Spanish Merwin Hulbert Revolver would find their way in to Spanish colonies. Like all other firearms of the Spanish military, many would eventually end up in the hands of a Filipino fighting in the revolution.

The entire history of the Merwin, Hulbert & Co. is very vague. Due to the bankruptcy their entire records were lost. Their subsidiary company, Hopkins & Allen, also burnt down in the 1900, taking along with it much of the records with Merwin, Hulbert & Co. As well as the manufacturing of the Merwin Hulbert revolver in Spain, records and documents are also scarce. Finding a photograph of the Spanish Merwin Hulbert revolver used by their military was also a tedious task(which is why the photo above is not a great shot of one). Many do not even know that this particular revolver even existed in Spain.

Winchester Model 1897 12ga Shotgun

  • OAL Rifle Length: 51"
  • Barrel length: 32" and 20"
  • Capacity: 5 round magazine tube.
  • Cartridge Caliber: 12 gauge
  • Weight: 8.5 lbs
  • Service: 1897-1945

The 1897 Winchester shotgun has been issued to the US military since 1897, but began to see real action during the Pulajane Campaign and Moro Rebellion (1902-1913). The shotgun proved the be more lethal at dropping an assailant aside from the .45 Colt revolvers. On many accounts the Krag rifles also fell short of stopping charging combatants, Philippine Constabulary officers would pair off officers and scouts during expeditions; one would be equipped with a Krag and the other a shotgun. The early Philippine shotgun models are distinctive by their very long 32" barrel, and they are the predecessor to the WWI M1897 shotgun which would gain fame and notoriety as the "Trench Shotgun". The 1897 Winchester shotgun had an extensive military service life, serving all the way til the end of WWII 1945.

Order placed for 1,000 1897 Winchester Shotguns by William Taft, who at the time served as Civil Governor-General of the Philippines.

Response from Tafts request.

Winchester M1897 shotgun with Moro Constabulary Officer. Ca.1910.
Winchester M1897 shotgun can be seen in the left side pile of firearms.

Photo from the early 1900s of a Filipina from the Batangas province posing with a M1897 Shotgun.

World War I model M1897, aka the Trench Shotgun.

Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor Single Shot Carbine Rifle

  • Weight: 7.5 lbs
  • Length: 41"
  • Barrel length: 22"
  • Cartridge Caliber: .45-70 Blackpowder
  • Service: 1873-1906

This is the shorter carbine version of the full length Springfield Trapdoor rifle.

Used by the US Volunteers during the Spanish American War. Later disposed to the Philippine Scouts and the Philippine Constabulary.

Philippine Scouts with Springfield Trapdoor Carbines.(Photo Courtesy of

Colt Model 1892 US Army DA .38

  • Action: Double Action Only
  • Swing out 6 round cylinder
  • Barrel Length: 6"
  • Weight: 2lbs
  • Cartridge Caliber: .38 Long Colt Black-powder (146 grain lead bullet)
  • Muzzle Velocity: 750 fps
  • Service: 1892 - 1908

Side arm issued to nearly all US military branches in 1892 in order to replace the .45 S&W Schofield revolver as well as the Colt 1873 SAA .45 revolvers. The double action was considered to be a break through in firearm technology and an improvment to single action handguns. It is important to note, many old .45 revolvers were still kept in service up to the issue of the Colt M1911 auto pistol. The smaller .38 caliber performed miserably once it saw action during the Philippine Campaign; failing to adequately stop/drop an assailant from charging. Namely the Pulajanes of the Visayas region and the Juramentado Moros. Officers serving in the Philippines would issue a recall and send requests for the old issued .45 revolvers. The .38s were soon replaced by old service revolvers like the 1878 Alaskan Colt. Colt would later manufacture an updated .45 revolver in 1909; and a few years later, the ever popular M1911 Colt .45ACP auto pistol.

US Cavalry Soldiers posing with Colt .38 revolvers and Krag Carbines.

Colt 1902 Philippine Model Double Action .45LC

  • Barrel length: 6"
  • Capacity: 6 round cylinder
  • Cartridge Caliber: .45 LC(Long Colt)
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Service: 1878-1892; 1902-1908

 Originally issued as: 1878 Colt Alaskan Revolver

Adopted earlier in 1878 by US soldiers serving in Alaska, the pistol was nearly phased out by the new issued .38 revolvers. At the end of the Philippine-American War the Philippine Scouts, along with US military units, and the Philippine Constabulary(Native Police force) began expeditions and patrolling through Moroland and Visayan territory. There they found new adversaries waiting and lurking in the dense terrain of both regions, namely the Tad-Tad/Pulajanes of Samar/Leyte and the Juramentado Moros. The native police force were poorly equipped with Springfield Trapdoor "single shot" rifles, and a ill performing .38 Colt revolver side arm. Both proved to have insufficient stopping power of a hard charging swarm of combatants. A shot assailant does not necessarily make them incapacitated. Sword welding Moros and Filipinos were known to charge through heavy gun fire and still be capable of slashing and killing. Requests were quickly made for older issued .45 Colt revolvers, and the US government answered by reissuing out the older 1878 Alaskan Colt Revolvers to the Philippine Constabulary, re-designating them the 1902 Philippine Model. The .45 revolvers performed up to standard and as expected. The stopping power of the .45 cartridge against Filipinos during this era would result in the US government requesting their newly manufactured and issued sidearm to be chambered in .45. The end result is the M1911 Colt automatic pistol chambered in the newly engineered .45ACP cartridge.

The Model 1902 revolver is unique by the enlarged trigger guard. At the time the new smokeless powder cartridges also required new primers, which took more effort to ignite; and with it required a stronger trigger spring. The trigger pull became immense. Colt modified the trigger group by use of the enlarged trigger guard, which gave more leverage to pull the trigger.

Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor Single Shot Rifle

Weight: 9 lbs
Length: 51"
Barrel length: 32"
Cartridge Caliber: .45-70 Blackpowder
Service: 1873-1906

The 1873 Springfield Trapdoor was the first standard issued rifle of the US Army. The rifle is only cabable of firing one shot at a time. Reloading the rifle requires manually opening the breech-block to remove the spent cartridge and incertaining another round. The hinged design on the opening of the breech-block resembled that of a trapdoor, hence the name Trapdoor rifle. They also fired the old black-powder cartridge, which created large amounts of smoke when fired, inherently exposing their position to the enemy.

By the 1890s the Springfield Trapdoor rifle became obsolete and outdated. The US Army had moved on to the Krag rifles that fired smokeless cartridges and had an internal box magazine. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the US Army severally lacked soldiers to fight a foreign country. Volunteers were called from all States and were soon mustered in to fill the roll along side enlisted regular soldiers. At the start of the Philippine-American War, the Volunteers were initially armed with Springfield Trapdoor rifles and carbines. As more Krags were produced, the Trapdoor rifles were phased out. The single shot Trapdoor carbines would be past on to Philippine Scouts(Native scouts) working under the US Army. And in 1901 the Philippine Constabulary(Native Police Force) became established under Taft's Philippine Commission. The Philippine Constabulary officers and inspectors would also be outfitted with the left over Springfield Trapdoor rifles. After the Philippine-American War, the PC's and PS's were left with rounding up all left over insurgents and bandits roaming the country side. The trapdoor rifles were reported by all senior officers as inferior and useless at close quarter combat. PC Chief Henry Allen even requested his officers be given left over captured and surrendered Spanish Remington Rolling Block rifles from Filipino insurgents; which was denied. Both organizations would not see a change in rifles for several more years. In 1906 the Philippine Constabulary replaced their worn out single shot Springfields for Krag Carbines. And in 1907 the Philippine Scouts replaced their single shot rifles with Springfield M1903s.

The loading hing on the breech-block that soldiers gave reference to as a trap-door.

20th Kansas Volunteers firing with Trapdoor rifles outside of Manila, 1899.

Spanish Mauser Model 1893 Bolt Action Rifle

  • Manufactured: Loewe Berlin Germany
  • Weight: 8.6lb
  • Barrel length: 29"
  • Cartridge Caliber: 7mm (7x57mm) Smokeless
  • Service in Spanish Army: Since 1893

The 1893 Mauser bolt action rifle is considered by many to be one of the most revolutionary firearms in history and way ahead of it's era. Accuracy of the rifle being unmatched during its time. The Mauser rifle saw little improvements to its design through out its service. It would be used by nearly all countries up to and during the second world war. Even by todays standards it is considered extremely accurate next to modern firearms. Nearly all bolt action rifles produced today take some design from the Mauser rifle. The 7mm round created a distinctive sound when whizzing by, the American soldiers called it the "Spanish Hornet".

Spain contracted Mauser in Loewe Berlin to produce these rifles for their entire military in the early 1890s. The Mauser were to replace outdated rifles like the Remington Rolling Block. The Mauser later shined and gained an infamous reputation during the Spanish American War at Cuba. The Battle of San Juan Hill would be the most famous battle of the Spanish-American War, as well as being the turning point of the war. 800 Spanish soldiers held the hill against an opposing force made up of nearly 20,000 armed men. 15,000 being made of US Soldiers armed with Krags and Springfield Trapdoor rifles. Although the fight lasted only 2 days and the US gained control of the hill, the end result was near disastrous for the Americans. 200 US soldiers lay dead with 1,100 being wounded. The Spanish resulted in only 58 deaths and 170 wounded. The Spanish Mauser rifle was quickly noted by the US military and the US government for its lethality and superiority in this one battle.

At the same time in the Philippines, the 2nd phase of the Revolution was in motion and the Philippine Army trampled across the Spanish troops through out the islands. The Filipinos began to equip themselves with captured and left over Spanish firearms. They would also account for the superior performance in the Mauser. Each battalion would have a separate special unit of expert riflemen/snipers(known as Tiradors); and all were to be armed with nothing but Mauser rifles. The most popular Filipino riflemen unit being under the command of General Geronimo, whom he would name "Tiradores de la Muerte"(Shooters of Death). After the outbreak of the Philippine American War, the Tiradores de la Muerte would gain fame in Dec 1899 when the unit defended the town of San Mateo against 800 US troops under the command of Gen Henry Lawton. On the morning of the battle Lawton walked along the firing line in open field to gain a better view of his troops and the opposing force. The troops noted the distinct firing sound of the Mauser rifles and advised the general to take cover. The general ignored their warning and at that instant was struck in the chest by round fired by one of the tiradores Mauser rifle. Gen Lawton would die with in a few minutes. The rifle shot coming from a distance of 300 yards during a storm with rain.

Also during the Spanish American War in the Philippines, in the town of Baler a small detachment of 50 Spanish soldiers barracked themselves inside the towns fortified church. Lt Col Teodorico Luna(relative of Juan and Antonio Luna) would lead the attack against the Spaniards and surrounded the church. The Spaniards would hold this position from July 1898 to June 1899. During their stand, the Spanish American War would end, America would purchase the islands, and Philippine American War was in full swing. The Spanish troops finally surrendered to the Philippine Army and were received as friendly allies. The dominance of the Mauser rifle was accredited for the 11 month long stand off.

Due to the superiority and success of the Mauser rifle over the newly issued Krag rifles through out the Spanish American War, the US Government took captured Mausers and gave them to Springfield Armory for their own research and development. The US Government would give Springfield Armory the order to build their own Mauser type rifle. In 1900 Springfield had a prototype rifle with similar characteristics of both the Mauser and Krag rifle. The US Government approved the design, and the end result is the M1903 Springfield bolt action rifle in 30-06. It should be noted that Springfield Armory at the time was under government control, but in itself was still a separate entity as a firearms manufacturer. The US Government in a way did not purposely copy the designs, but being Springfield Armory fell under the control of the US Government, Mauser took action against the US government and not Springfield Armory. Both Mauser and the US Government realized the similar features and agreed it infringed on Mausers design patents. The US Government willfully agreed to pay royalties to Mauser for patent infringement with out trial.

Company of the Philippine Army. (Circa 1899)
Riflemen standing are armed with Spanish Remington Rolling Block Rifles.
Riflemen kneeling are armed with Spanish 1893 Mauser Rifles.

Early Philippine Constabulary Officers. Originally issued Mausers captured and surrendered by Spanish Troops.