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Thread: movie magic or real.

  1. #1
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    movie magic or real.

    The old spaghetti western, "Adios Sabata" is playing on Hulu.com this week. In the film, Yul Brynner is using a strange lever action rifle, cut down to fit a holster, ala "Wanted Dead or Alive", but with a twist.
    The rounds are fed horizontally through the receiver, from left to right, in a block magazine with separate holes for each cartridge.
    It seems to be a working model as Yul makes fire and smoke with it and the magazine progresses through the gun with each pull of the lever.
    Does anyone know anything about this design?
    It can be seen clearly in action in the first five minutes of the movie.
    Hopefully, there is a picture attached here.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Never heard of the like, a lever action harmonica gun. I think it is a movie prop, period.
    I have a few facts and a lot of opinions.

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    I'd agree that it's a prop and nothing else, albeit a firing prop (kind of like the full auto walther p-38s in the old man from uncle series). Btw, the trailer for that flick on youtube is a hoot... claims it holds seven 30-30 rounds, then in almost the next sentence calls them rimfires.



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    the weapon you have to "go get" is not a weapon, it is an emotional comfort talisman

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    Apparently it's a real design.
    Thanks to mikethewolf for this informative link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonica_gun

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    The design is real, after all there's really nothing new that hasn't been done before, however the movie gun is fake , there was no lever action harmonica rifles based on the Winchester. In fact most of the Harmonica guns the slide had to be manually advanced. I believe there was one design where the hammer engaged the side and advanced it but by the time it was introduced technology had made it obsolete { with the tube fed rifles}.

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    I believe Browning made a harmonica rifle when he first started in Utah, years before his experiments in converting Winchester lever guns to gas-operated automatics. I believe the "harmonica" block had to be manually indexed between shots, but my son has my 1964 Small Arms of the World, so I cant check.

    Individual gunsmiths in the old west and in Mexico made or improvised one-of-kind weapons with as much or more imagination than the movie studio prop departments. In Hollywood, anyone can get an artistic license without a background check, so you never know what's going to show up in a movie.
    Cogito me cogitare; ergo, cogito me esse.

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    It would be easy to make this gun, and make it work.

    It would have most of the vices of a revolver, a lever action, and the original harmonica guns, though. "Cylinder" flash would give the above shooter a rather painful tattoo across the fingers, for example. It would be bulky in all three dimensions, and the "harmonica would change the handling characteristics with every shot.

    It's not a complete loser, though. It would make sense as a muzzle-loader, as it could be reloaded quickly with another "harmonica".
    "Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect."
    -- Steven Wright

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    Sorry for the late reply to this thread. I just saw it doing a google search for "harmonica rifles".

    I agree with TheOtherWaldo, when he wrote:.....

    "It would have most of the vices of a revolver, a lever action, and the original harmonica guns, though. "Cylinder" flash would give the above shooter a rather painful tattoo across the fingers, for example. It would be bulky in all three dimensions, and the "harmonica would change the handling characteristics with every shot. It's not a complete loser, though. It would make sense as a muzzle-loader, as it could be reloaded quickly with another "harmonica."

    But there are a few things I might add. Study these pics I've collected regarding harmonica guns....

    http://good-times.webshots.com/album/564193113IzsjJo

    and also study this harmonica rifle at this link....

    http://underhammers.blogspot.com/200...derhammer.html

    In studying these harmonica guns, I've come to several conclusions. TheOtherWaldo is correct that the rectangular harmonica block holding either cartridges or black powder loads would inject bits shaved lead and or burnt powder into your flesh that was immediately below the barrel to harmonica block gap. But....if one were to make the harmonica block where it inserted the end of the cartridge case into the chamber which would make a tight seal when the case expanded, this would not happen. Also, if one wanted to make a primitive ignition cap and ball black powder version harmonica block, to preclude what is normally known as barrel to cylinder gap lead and powder "spitting", they could make ends on each harmonica block hole that would go into the chamber area much like a Russian Nagant revolver so that it sealed better and precluded "spitting" lead and powder at the gap.

    Another idea I thought about was this design could be applied to make a semi auto or even fully automatic weapon that was not a firearm under the NFA due to it using a non cartridge primitive ignition system, which under the NFA is not only not a machine gun or even a semi auto, but as a primitive ignition system is not even classified as a firearm under the NFA. Here's how.....

    Most of us are familiar with the Webley Fosbery semi automatic revolver and its zig zag pattern cylinder turning design. Here's a pic of that....

    and a link to how it worked.....
    http://www.cruffler.com/historic-january01.html

    Also a pic of a Mauser zig zag revolver that uses a similar system to turn the cylinder like the Webley Fosbery does, only without it becoming a semi auto like the Webley Fosbery does....



    Basically the Webley Fosbery semi auto revolver's zig zag cylinder turned halfway to the next round when the cylinder and upper receiver recoiled (after firing engaging the zig zag pattern in a stationary lug), then when the spring pushed it back forward, it turned the cylinder the other half of the way which indexed it completely to the next round to be fired. Yes, a semi auto revolver.

    Now imagine a black powder, cap and ball primitive ignition system harmonica block that had zig zag patterns in it that would also engage a stationary lug. But instead of the harmonica block turning like the Webley Fosbery's cylinder did, instead this harmonica block recoils rearward and compresses a spring and then goes back forward again which engages the lug to the zig zag pattern and then indexes to the next chamber on the harmonica block. Kind of like just straightening out the Webley Fosbery cylinder into a straight line instead of a cylinder but still utilizing those zig zag cuts with a stationary lug that engages them. Like in this pic of the zig zag pattern cylinder laid out flat.....



    This could be a semi auto or fully auto black powder gun. By using pyrodex pellets it would not gum up nor make smoke.

    It could be a legal, non required to be registered, cap and ball, primitive ignition system machine gun, that would not be classified as such or even classified as a firearm under the NFA.

    The hammer that fired the percussion caps on the harmonica block could have a small cup shaped area on the hammer that would totally cover the percussion cap nipple. The nipple would have a larger than normal hole which would be under the percussion cap. When the round fired, more force than normal would blow the percussion cap off the nipple and also cock the hammer for you. The spent percussion cap would be deflected away from the hammer by an incline & cutout built into the hammer "cup" which would expel the spent percussion cap much like some black powder recoil plates do already upon cocking after firing. Look at the recoil plate of your black powder revolver in the area immediately behind the cap nipples. Notice the channel made to direct the percussion cap away and outside of the gun after firing?

    Now to make this black powder, primitive ignition system, harmonica gun which is a NON firearm, not a semi auto and not a full auto (under the NFA) not "spit" lead or powder into your hand underneath any harmonica block to barrel breech gap, you could do this. Make the forward end of each harmonica block chamber have a short protrusion on the end of each cylinder in the block that actually went inside the barrel's breech end, much like the Russian Nagant revolver I mentioned earlier. Your spring pushing the harmonica block forward would keep the harmonica block short protrusion pushed tightly against a lip inside the breech end of the barrel, thus sealing the harmonica's block and the barrel from lead and powder "spitting". You would have a gas operated hammer but a simple blowback harmonica block "bolt".

    Yes you could also make the hammer cock just by the harmonica block recoiling, and not increase the size of the hole in your percussion cap nipples. That would work too. But I was just thinking of a way to get rid of any percussion caps that might stick to the nipples on the harmonica block so it would be quicker to reload. If you omitted the spent caps being blown off and omitted the larger nipple hole and omitted the hammer cap "cup", then you would just have a blowback gun without any gas operation. With the low pressure of black powder guns, a blowback design would be no problem.

    To my knowledge no one has ever utilized the Browning black powder harmonica gun, married to a harmonica block that reciprocated back and forth using the Webley Fosbery zig zag cuts to index it to the next cylinder hole in the harmonica block along with using an increased diameter percussion cap nipple holes and a hammer percussion cap/gas cup to cock the hammer and thus using all these make a semi auto or even full auto black powder, primitive ignition, non firearm, non required to be registered, machine gun that is not legally a firearm and thus not required to be registered.

    But it could be done and with a harmonica block that held say 50 to 100 black powder chambers, and utilizing pyrodex pellets to preclude gumming up and smoke, and also the pyrodex pellets would greatly increase reloading the chambers of the harmonica block, I see no reason why this could not be done.

    Some might ask WHY? I say why not? It would be fun and a rapid fire gun for range plinking that was not even required to be classified under the NFA as semi auto or full auto, it is not even classified as a firearm under the NFA. If it is not a firearm, it cannot be a semi auto firearm nor a machine gun firearm. It would be exactly what it is described under the NFA as. A primitive ignition, loose powder and ball, non cartridge weapon that is not classified as a firearm in the NFA and indeed is specifically written in the NFA as being exempted to the NFA.

    However, state and local laws may vary. So best to check them too.

    I've thought about making one like I described many times, but I have too many projects in the works now. Perhaps someone here will make one.

    Regarding Yul Brynner's lever action (Winchester style) harmonica gun in the movie "Adios Sabata" it may have never existed in real life, other than as a movie prop that if you look carefully in the movie (as in the below pic), the shooter is manually pushing against the harmonica block to advance it and the lever simply brings the bolt up to it. The lever is NOT advancing the harmonica block. It must have had some kind of spring loaded detent or something similar that the shooter could feel when the block was in the correct position..



    But there is no reason it could not be made and made to make the lever also advance the harmonica block instead of it having to be advanced manually. Just think of the harmonica block as a floating chamber with Nagant revolver type of projections on each forward hole that would gas seal like the Nagant revolver. The lever would advance the harmonica block via the zig zag cuts I have already mentioned. Yes, it could be done and in a very Jules Vernian type of way, would be a steam punk aficionado's dream gun. Sorry, you'll have to google up the definition of "steam punk".



    .
    Last edited by Bill Akins; October 13th, 2010 at 08:35 AM.

  9. #9
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    A solution to a problem that never existed

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    "Steam punk": sci fi noir based on Jules Verne 19th century science fiction projected into an alternate future where the internal combustion engine and electronics were never invented.

    I would like to see someone use Ritter von Mannlicher's 1880s black powder precursor of the Bren gun in a plot. That would fit either a western or steam punk story.
    Cogito me cogitare; ergo, cogito me esse.

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    Carl N. Brown ...I believe Browning made a harmonica rifle when he first started in Utah, years before his experiments in converting Winchester lever guns to gas-operated automatics...
    Almost but not quite, the Harmonica rifle was built by Browning Father. JB the younger may have built a similar one but his Dad was also a gunsmith and made quite a few muzzleloaders.

    JMB had quite an inventive mind and fortunately had a brother Matthew who could take the ideas and make prototypes. JMB could also do the work but reaized Matthew could do it better and quicker.
    I prefer not to shoot cartridges younger than I am!

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    Yeah, it would pay me to research some before quoting a forty-year old memory. :embarrassment:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonica_gun
    The most famous maker of harmonica guns was Jonathan Browning, father of John Moses Browning. Commencing in 1834 in Quincy, Illinois, he began to make harmonica guns and more conventional revolving rifles. He continued to improve on the principle after his conversion to Mormonism and emigration to Nauvoo, Illinois, and finally Ogden, Utah.
    Cogito me cogitare; ergo, cogito me esse.

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    Carl,

    Not meant to embarrass you! Believe me, I have to look to the archives so I can find JMBs middle initial.
    I prefer not to shoot cartridges younger than I am!

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    Thanks to this thread I have seen the light. I have solved the lever action pointy bullet problem. I now desire to build a belt-fed lever action, just because I can.
    No, holding that venegence upon their enemies was more to be desired than any personal blessings, and reckoning this to be the most glorious of hazards, they joyfully determined to accept the risk... Thus, choosing to die resisting, rather than to live submitting, they fled only from dishonor... Pericles' Funeral Oration

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    If you like reading and learning about rapid fire, either semi-auto or full auto MUZZLELOADING concepts, (MUZZLELOADERS are classified as antique weapons and not as FIREARMS under the Federal National Firearms Act "N.F.A."), you may enjoy reading this other thread of mine......

    http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=460489

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    Hi Navy Joe,

    Thanks to this thread I have seen the light. I have solved the lever action pointy bullet problem. I now desire to build a belt-fed lever action, just because I can.
    *sigh* Just because something can be done does not mean it should be done! For the love of God and the peace and dignity of the United States please put your OMB impulses in neutral. Refrain, think of the children!
    Last edited by Selena; September 8th, 2011 at 06:22 PM.

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