Colt-Burgess rifle

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Colt-Burgess rifle
Burgess RifleSans titre-1.jpg
Colt-Burgess rifle
Place of originUnited States
Production history
DesignerAndrew Burgess
ManufacturerColt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company
No. built6,403
Weight8 34 lb (4.0 kg) (octagon barrel rifle); 8 12 lb (3.9 kg) (round barrel rifle); 7 14 lb (3.3 kg) (carbine)[1]
Length42 34 in (1,090 mm)[1]
Barrel length25 12 in (650 mm) (rifle); 20 in (510 mm) (carbine)

Cartridge.44-40 Winchester
Feed system15 round (rifle) or 12 round (carbine) tubular magazine

The Colt-Burgess rifle – also known as the 1883 Burgess rifle or simply the Burgess rifle – is a lever-action repeating rifle produced by Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company between 1883 and 1885. The Burgess rifle was Colt's only entrance into the lever-action rifle market, produced to compete with Winchester Repeating Arms Company's line of popular rifles.[2][3] The 1883 Burgess rifle was designed and patented by Andrew Burgess, an American firearms designer and photographer, who sold the design to Colt.[4][5]


The Colt-Burgess rifle is similar in design to Winchester's lever-action rifles, such as the Winchester Model 1873. It was produced in two versions chambered for the .44-40 Winchester cartridge: a rifle version with a 25 12 in (650 mm) barrel, and a carbine with a 20 in (510 mm) barrel.[2] The rifle features either a full octagon, half-octagon, or round barrel, with the full octagon barrels being the most numerously produced among rifle variants.[1] A tubular magazine is located under the barrel in similar fashion to other lever-action rifles with a capacity of 15 rounds in the rifle version or 12 rounds in the carbine version. The receiver on the Burgess rifle is smaller than the Winchester 1873's, providing for a lighter firearm. The rifle's action, though similar to the Winchester 1873's, is considered to be a stronger design.[1][4] The action utilizes a toggle-joint system to lock the breechblock. The extension of the loading lever is the lower part of the toggle-joint; the upper part of the toggle-joint is linked to the breechblock. Located on the receiver is a sliding loading gate from which cartridges are fed into the magazine; the sliding gate design is in contrast to Winchester's tilting gate. Burgess rifles are finished with either a blued or browned barrel featuring walnut stock and case hardened receiver, hammer, and lever.[1][3]

Colt Burgess toggle-joint


Although Colt predominately was a manufacturer of popular revolvers, such as the Colt Single Action Army, the company began in the 1880s to seek to compete against Winchester in the rifle market.[5] In 1882, Colt contacted Andrew Burgess to design a lever-action rifle and by July 1883, production of the new rifle had begun. The Colt-Burgess was produced for sixteen months thereafter, with a total of 6,403 guns manufactured. Approximately 60% of these were of the rifle variation.[1] When compared to production figures of Winchester's 1873 rifle, the Colt-Burgess failed as a serious competitor to Winchester. From 1873 to 1919, Winchester manufactured 720,610 Model 1873 rifles, or an average of over 15,000 per year.[6]

The short production history of the Colt-Burgess has led to much speculation as to the reason of its demise. According to legend, upon hearing of Colt's entrance into the lever-action rifle market, Winchester began to develop a prototype revolver to compete with Colt's market. A "gentleman's agreement" then followed between Colt and Winchester, with Colt agreeing to drop production of the Burgess and Winchester abandoning its plans to develop a revolver. The truth of this story has never been fully verified, and as such, the reason for the Burgess rifle's short production history is unknown.[1][4][5]

Replicas of the Burgess rifle and carbine are currently produced by the Italian manufacturer Uberti chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge.[4][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Waters, Ken (May–June 1982). "Classic Rifles: The Colt-Burgess". Rifle. Wolfe Publishing Co., Inc.: 12–13. ISSN 0162-3583.
  2. ^ a b Flayderman, Norm (2007). Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values. F+W Media, Inc. p. 122. ISBN 9780896894556.
  3. ^ a b Sapp, Rick (2007). Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms. F+W Media, Inc. p. 200. ISBN 9780896895348.
  4. ^ a b c d Campbell, Dave (September 2010). "Burgess Rifle: Greatness Shortlived". American Rifleman. National Rifle Association. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Boorman, Dean K. (2001). The History of Winchester Firearms. Globe Pequot. pp. 52&ndash, 53. ISBN 9781585743070.
  6. ^ Flayderman, Norm (2007). Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values. F+W Media, Inc. p. 307. ISBN 9780896894556.
  7. ^ "1883 Burgess Rifle and Carbine". A. Uberti. 2014. Retrieved April 19, 2014.

External links[edit]