Reproduction 1887 Gatling Gun

Colt has made a beautiful reproduction of the 1887 Bulldog Gatling gun, which fires a .45-70 cartridge as fast as you can turn the crank. As a legal issue, a gatling gun is not NFA, because it does not fit the definition of a machine gun. However, if you had a drill that fit the shaft, and put that on the gun, you’d be guilty of a violation of 922(o), and you’d go to jail. I’ve always wondered if they could get someone on constructive possession on that count, if they had a drill that would fit the shaft, even if they never used it as such, on the grounds that they had an easy conversion. Remember that constructive possession is whatever a US attorney can convince a jury it is.

13 thoughts on “Reproduction 1887 Gatling Gun”

  1. Looks to be a larger than 3/8″ input shaft, which eliminates all but a few home-type electric drillmotors; if it was over 1/2″, it would bar nearly everyone from running it with one. There are also possible issues with torque: just how much oomph does it take to make the Gatling go ’round?

    1. Roberta — I don’t know what gears are under the shiny brass cover, but turning the crank did not take much effort at all. Easier than working a crank-operated car jack, for example.

  2. It’s just a matter of gearing and ratios and cams. I know you want to make it go faster, but there’s a lot of difference between in materials and design in a modern Mini-Gun and the Colt, even though they are both Gatlings.

    However, I’m sure some Engineering Person out there could take the Treadle mechanism from the Sewing Machines of that era, and design a Foot Powered Model. You’d have to change the “T+E” on the Colt, so as to allow the Treadle Belt to follow along, and you sure aren’t going to move the whole thing really fast, but I’d think it be much more efficient to use a Leg than Blow out a Shoulder. But it should be “Doable.”

  3. Well given that most shotgun and rifle owners have hack saws and/or angle grinders or sawzalls, we’re all a few minuets away from “constructive possession”. The BATFE needs to be cautious as they wand this ugly hammer to smite people they don’t like, and iffy evidence that maybe or maybe not is violating the NFA…but if they overplay their hand they could get their little toy taken away.

  4. It’s actually made by the U.S. Armaments Corp. under license from Colt.

  5. @John: The only way these are “made by the U.S. Armaments Corp. under license from Colt” is if Curt Wolf of US Armaments sold the rights to Colt. I was at Curt’s facility back in 2007 and saw some of the first 1877s being finished and shot it later that year. Also got to see the prototypes of the Gardner Gun reproduction they are building. Just to outline how hard it was for US Armaments to market these by themselves, while everyone is all giddy and excited about “the new Colt Gatling”…they seem to have ignored it completely last year when US Armaments had them at the show! I know that US Armaments was in possession of the original technical papers and owned the IP for this gun, not sure if it was sold to Colt as part of the deal or not. I do know that parts are backward compatible to original 1877 Bulldogs and that these are a heckuva lot of fun!

  6. The info I have is from Colt’s website, so it could be ‘misstated’. But Colt did have a license from Richard Gatling 120 years ago that they may still have and this particular model may have at one time been a Colt exclusive. I don’t know, but, as has been pointed out repeatedly above, it is WAAAAAY cool.

  7. I wouldn’t doubt that Colt’s website is entirely correct. I’m sure that even though they built them under license from Richard Gatling, that license was not in perpetuity. I know Curt held the rights to the gun when he started building these, I wasn’t aware of the statement on the Colt website or I would have asked about the arrangement when I saw him on Range Day. What I do know is that he has a minimum production volume that they likely have agreed to a certain minimum number of units overall.

    As for the rights to the Gardner Guns he is producing, last I knew Joe Lozen out of Connecticut who produces 1/2 scale replicas in 22 Magnum (http:// held the rights. Also keep in mind that ANYONE can build either of these guns, the rights held are simply the right call them by name…you would not be able to call the Colt gun an “1877 Bulldog Gatling” or use the name “Gardner Gun” (which was mainly produced by Pratt & Whitney) even if you produced an identical replica.

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