Firearm Showcase: The Krutzsch Rifle, the Pumpgun’s Steampunk Grandaddy at the Cody Firearms Museum – HIGH RES PICS!

In January, just before the 2017 SHOT Show, I got the opportunity to travel to Cody Wyoming to visit the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, to see some of their rare firearms and bring photos of them to our readers.

For our showcase today we have something very special, a weapon which made possible an iconic piece of American history, and which itself is a fascinating mechanical contraption. This weapon is a rifle made by Winchester’s T.C. Johnson in 1895, based on English Patent 2205, filed in 1866 by one William Krutzsch. Krutzsch is probably the first person to invent the breech-loading pump-action firearm, but his design went un-manufactured and forgotten until, in the 1890s, Winchester came under assault from the Francis Bannerman & Son firm from New York. Bannerman had purchased the patent Christopher Spencer‘s innovative 1882 pump-action shotgun design, and begun production in 1890. When Winchester began production of Browning’s Model 1893 shotgun, Bannerman took the New Haven company to court. Winchester claimed that Krutzsch’s patent – by then expired – was prior art for the pump-action concept therefore invalidating that portion of the Spencer patent, but Bannerman claimed that the Krutzsch shotgun was inoperable as designed. Therefore, to prove the validity of the Krutzsch patent, Winchester had their own example of the Krutzsch made which demonstrated that the design did, in fact, work. This allowed production of the Winchester shotgun design – resurrected as the 1897 – to continue. The 1897 went on to be produced for another fifty years, and became one of the most iconic American firearms of the early 20th Century.

If you’re interested in seeing more of the Cody Firearms Museum, I highly recommend taking a trip out to Cody, Wyoming to see their awesome and extensive collection. They have over 7,000 firearms, about 4,000 of which are on display. In particular, if you have an interest in Winchester firearms and their history, Cody is the place to be. If just a visit isn’t enough for you, then check out the museum’s 79-page book, which highlights some of the finest pieces in their collection!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Major Tom

    I guess this means a pump action shotgun…

    *puts on shades*

    …is but a Krutzch.

    • YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!

      Won’t get fooled again!

  • Sianmink

    Ian’s gotta do a video on this, right? It looks amazing.

    • B-Sabre

      Exactly. I want to see how this collection of parts also works.
      Also: Details, man, details! What did it shoot? What cartridges, how many, etc!

    • gusto

      precisly what I came here to post!

      give him the keys to that museum and all access!

      • Joseph Roach

        Pretty sure him and Carl have been walking back on 2nd amendment and shilling Black Lives Matter riots as of lately. Put a damper on my ability to watch him talk about guns.

        • QuadGMoto

          ?????

        • Sianmink

          [citation needed]

        • Phillip Cooper

          There’s a fine line between libel and just being a jerk in a comments section…. it’s called proof… let’s see some citations.

  • Adam D.

    That foregrip looks very comfortable! It’s a beautifully crafted piece.

    It bears a striking resemblance to the Magpul MLOK AFG 2 by the way,
    (or the other way around, to be more precise).
    Interesting to see foregrips coming full circle.
    Makes one think there must be a reason why foregrips have evolved this way.
    The guy designing this part was quite a bit ahead of his time.

  • QuadGMoto

    I’m a bit confused about who exactly did what due to the many typos in this article. And the links didn’t really help, either. Could someone please clean up and flesh out this article?

    • You are correct, I made a number of grammatical errors in writing this article. Hopefully, I have corrected them all, so it should be much more readable now.

    • RocketScientist

      Gun Company A (Winchester) makes a pump shotgun. Gun Company B (Bannerman & Son) said “Hey! You can’t do that! We own the patent on pump shotguns (bought from Spencer, originally filed in 1882)!”

      Gun Company A says “Oh yes we can! Look, some dude (Krutzch) patented a pump-action breechloader way back in 1866, long before that patent you bought. So this is prior art, making your patent invalid, so suck it!”

      Gun Company B says “Oh no you cant! That patent is a joke. The gun as designed wouldn’t actually work, so its an invalid patent, making OUR patent valid, so suck it!”

      Gun Company A said “Oh yeah?? Well I’ll show you! I’m gonna build one of those guns as described in the patent to prove it works!” And they did. And it did. And so the courts said the 1866 patent WAS valid and DID count as prior art, so Spencer’s 1882 patent was invalid. And since the 1866 patent was expired, NO-ONE had a valid enforceable patent on pump-action breech loading shotguns, so Gun Company A (Winchester) was allowed to go ahead an proceed to make their shotgun, which became the 1897.

      The End.

      • QuadGMoto

        Well done! Clear and hilarious!

  • Goody

    “filed in 1866 by one William Krutzsch. Kutzsch…”

    Well, which is it? I already read TFB every day, it’s no bother to me to read it a few hours earlier if you want fewer simple mistakes. 😉

  • billyoblivion

    Somebody needs to reproduce this in mahogany, brass, titanium and TI Nitride coatings.