I recently wrote about the new Boberg XR9 pistol which features the magazine beneath the chamber. Dr. StrangeGun discovered that the Gabbett-Fairfax Mars pistol was the first pistol to feature this configuration.
High tech and ugly (Photo from Horst Held)
The Mars Automatic Pistol was a semi-automatic pistol developed in 1900 by the Englishman Hugh Gabbet-Fairfax. It was manufactured by Webley & Scott and distributed by the Mars Automatic Pistol Syndicate. The Mars Automatic Pistol is famous for being available in a variety of 8.5 mm, 9 mm and .45 calibres. These were all bottle shaped cartridges with a heavy powder loading, making the .45 version the most powerful handgun in the world for a time. It used a unique long recoil rotating bolt action which ejected spent cartridges straight to the rear.
The Mars Automatic Pistol was rejected by the British War Office as a possible replacement for the Webley & Scott Revolver, then in service with the British Army, because of the unacceptable large recoil, muzzle-flash, and mechanical complexity. It has since become a collectors item because of its rarity and as an example of the earliest developments in semi-automatic pistols.
I dug up the pistols’ patent. The patent drawings show how the rear ward feeding works.
Although the pistol was not practical back in 1900 it was an ingenious design.Related