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The Original Gatling Gun: semi-auto weapon?

Six-GunSix-Gun Senior MemberPosts: 8,155 Senior Member
All of this explaining I've had to do with otherwise uneducated family and friends about the difference between semi-automatic weapons vs. other types of guns in the wake of the CT tragedy actually put me in a bit of a mental quagmire on a totally different weapon system. I got to thinking about the original, Civil War era, hand-cranked Gatling gun I realized that by definition, it cannot be considered fully automatic because it required a continuous cranking action. Other than the form of biomechanical actuation, this process is essentially no different than a repetitious trigger pulling action with one's finger in order to cycle a sear. So would the Gatling gun actually be considered a semi-automatic weapon by strict definition or something else?
Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.

Replies

  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    I don't think even modern-day Gatlings would qualify as full-auto. They're motor-driven, and other than substituting an electric motor for a crank, the basic mechanism hasn't changed much. The Gatling's ability to achieve a high rate of fire is because it has plenty of time to eject a spent case and reload each barrel before it comes back to the firing position. No single-barreled arm can match its rate of fire that I know about.
    Jerry
  • ilove22silove22s Senior Member Posts: 1,482 Senior Member
    as of this day/time, the BATFE considers it a semi auto.

    there are 22LR kits out there to buy/build if you choose. or if you have the $$$ you can buy one.
    The ears never lie.

    - Don Burt
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,858 Senior Member
    in the late 1800/ early 1900s, a .45-70 Gatling Gun was hooked up to an electric motor and achieved a cyclic rate of 4500 rpm...but still a semi-automatic firearm.
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Last I heard the Gatling was not considered a semi-auto by BATFE, it is a crank fired device, and it is legal to build one.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Thanks for the replies on this. Good info!
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Google the Phalanx ship-defense system. It uses a radar-aimed 20MM Gatling. That thing is awesome!
    Jerry
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    Google the Phalanx ship-defense system. It uses a radar-aimed 20MM Gatling. That thing is awesome!
    Jerry

    Oh, I actually studied that system in electronic warfare school. It's one of the few systems that tracks it's own bullets and compensates for misses on the fly. They not only use that system on ships, but they used it in Balad, Iraq to shoot inbound mortars out of the sky. Rumor is that a couple of seebees got in trouble for using one on the boat to shoot seagulls out of the air!
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Six-Gun wrote: »
    a couple of seebees got in trouble for using one on the boat to shoot seagulls out of the air!

    The tail gun on a B-58 was a radar-aimed 20MM Gatling. Some of the Defense Systems techs at Little Rock liked to operation check their system by cranking it up and locking onto the M-16 carried by the sentry at the alert pad. There's nothing like getting followed by a turret gun to make a guy a little paranoid!
    Jerry
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    The tail gun on a B-58 was a radar-aimed 20MM Gatling. Some of the Defense Systems techs at Little Rock liked to operation check their system by cranking it up and locking onto the M-16 carried by the sentry at the alert pad. There's nothing like getting followed by a turret gun to make a guy a little paranoid!
    Jerry

    Yikes! I know that would get my attention.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,858 Senior Member
    The 20mm Vulcan cannon was used in many different applications...for the Army, it was the Vulcan/Chaparral AD system...The Vulcan was a radar guided 20mm Vulcan that came in two variants, either towed or mounted on an M113 APC. The rate of fire was cut back to 3,000 rpm from 6,000 rpm....(the system only carried 2500 rounds in the ready rack) and then it was fitted to a limiter to fire in X# bursts....the Chaparral was a tracked prime mover with a turret that had two launch rails on either side and mounted 4 Sidewinder Missiles....the gunner sat in a pod between the launch rails...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Cool stuff, Jayhawker. I remember seeing pics of the Chaparral back in school. Seems like a good close-in, all-in-one air defense system. It's also my understanding that the Cobra helicopters use the exact same 20mm and the other systems, just modified to use only 3 barrels in a slow-RPM configuration to accomodate (like the M113) for the lack of ammo supply compared to the larger systems.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • DanChamberlainDanChamberlain Senior Member Posts: 3,395 Senior Member
    I don't know if the original Gat was a single action. I'd say it was more along the lines of a double action as a hammer/striker was retracted and dropped to strike the primer with the action of the hand crank. It was almost more of an automatic feeding, double action revolver.
    It's a source of great pride for me, that when my name is googled, one finds book titles and not mug shots. Daniel C. Chamberlain
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    The Gatling gun is a hybrid action; it's neither fish nor fowl. It is self loading and self ejecting, but uses the crank handle, or an electric motor, to do the loading, cocking, firing, and ejecting steps. For lack of no parallels, each barrel has a chamber for the rounds fired, and each barrel has it's own firing pin actuated by a stationary eccentric that draws back the spring loaded firing pin and releases it at the proper time. Each chamber is cleared by an ejector that pulls the spent case out and readies it for the next round to drop in place.

    I haven't checked the BATFE rules on them in a long time, but the hand cranked are still legal; adding a motor drive to a hand cranked Gatling gun is/was not last time I checked. Adding the motor is/was making a machine gun per the BATFE. Now, about the hand cranked firing rate; it is slow. It can be speeded up by adding a gear drive multiplier to the crank handle and increase the firing rate with a subsequent increase in the power that must be applied to turn the crank handle.

    I have one of the .22 rimfire Gatling gun kits I bought a long time ago. I'm in the process of having a machine shop make a few of the parts I'm not equipped to handle. Should have the parts in hand by late spring. I have the full blueprints, but redrew the parts I needed to be made and they are using my copied drawings. You aren't paranoid if they really are after you! :silly::tooth:
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
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