North & Skinner Revolving Rifle

The North & Skinner was an early 6-shot percussion-fired revolving rifle design. Its design was patented in 1852 by Henry North and Chauncy Skinner (US Patent #8982), and the guns were manufactured from 1856 to 1859 by the Savage & North company (which was Henry North and Edward Savage – not the Arthur Savage who developed the Savage 99). About 600 of these guns were made in total, with roughly 20% being .60-caliber shotguns and the remainder .44 caliber rifles. Unlike many revolving rifle designs, the North & Skinner functioned as a lever action, with the trigger guard serving as lever.

North & Skinner revolving rifle with action open
North & Skinner revolving rifle with action open – note locking wedge at rear of cylinder (image from

The North & Skinner design also included several features intended to protect the shooter from the cylinder gap blast (which was a significant problem with all such revolving rifle designs). It used recessed chambers and a locking wedge that would push the cylinder forward to achieve a semblance of a gas seal (a bit like the 1895 Nagant revolver). How well this worked, I have not been able to determine – perhaps one of these days I will find an example of the gun that I can shoot and find out.

There was a North & Skinner at the September 2013 Rock Island Auction, and I took some video footage of it: