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Restoring an old Evans Rifle

By Jim

The Evans rifle is a late 19th century anomaly. It's a unique lever action rifle made right here in Maine from about 1872 - 1879, in Mechanic Falls, Maine. In fact, the old factory site is about 9 miles from where I currently sit.

This was a 25 shot lever action that feed from the butt stock through an Archemedian screw mechanism. It was the invention of a dentist and his brother. I won't bore you entirely with the history, but you can read about it in a book called "Maine Made Guns and their Makers."

I started off with this gun in non functioning condition. I ended up taking the gun completely apart and examining the internals. It needed a new firing pin and all new springs, which I made from scratch. I was very careful to preserve the outer patina on the firearm itself, but very careful to clean and sandblast the interior. Normally I wouldn't do anything more than just clean and lubricate the inside, because modifying the gun in any way usually detracts from the value. But in this case I wanted to restore the gun to a safe firing condition.

Here you see the rifle as it's taken apart.

Here you can see where I carefully cleaned up the interior parts and started making replacement springs and a firing pin.

Using an original bullet mold, I cast some soft lead bullets to make some ammo. I used brass from a .445 Super Mag cut down to the proper size.

The Evans rifle feeds fine and shoots from the magazine in the butt stock as it should. I usually don't recommend firing old guns unless they have been properly checked by a competent gunsmith, and ONLY proper ammunition suitable for the time period. This means NO smokeless loads. The Evans rifle is made in a clamshell type of receiver in two pieces that are screwed together. I do believe it wont handle the higher pressure generated by modern smokeless powders, but is just fine using the original loading of black powder for which it was intended.

The Evans rifle with the operating lever opened.

The Evans rifle with the operating lever closed and a box of properly made ammunition for the gun. It's important to note here that this is a late model Evans sporting rifle in .44 Evans Long. The earlier models prior to the transition are chambered for the .44 Evans short. The capacity was a bit higher, but the cartridge was weaker. By later lengthening the cartridges making them more powerful, the magazine capacity was slightly reduced. This rifle is chambered in .44 Evans Long.

The Evans rifle was never adopted by the US military and the company struggled in the post Civil War arms glut. In 1879, the company went into receivership and closed its doors. Some Evans rifles were made and sold post closing out of parts that were left over from factory production.

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