Robert Adams (1809-1880) was an English Gunsmith and inventor whom founded the Adams Patent Small Arms Company in 1864. Adams' designs were important to the development of modern firearms, particularly revolvers, as the first double action revolver was the Beaumont-Adams Revolver (designed by Adams and Lt. Federick E.B. Beaumont).
Throughout Adams' career he worked as a designer, managing director and as an inventor, roles which were all taken in the gun industry. He also worked with various other gun designers, including John Deane (and his son John Deane Jr.), Lt F.E.B. Beaumont, James Kerr (his cousin) and his brother John Adams.
Deane, Adams and DeaneEdit
Adams had been working as a manager at London based arms manufacturer in the 1840s and 50s when he obtained his first patent for a revolver design on the 22nd of August 1851. This design was for a five-shot revolver chambered for a .456 calibre ball (as it was a Cap and Ball revolver) with a solid frame and a self-cocking mechanism (which would be developed into what is now known as a double action mechanism). Adams agreed a contract with John Deane (owner of the company at which Adams was working) and John Deane Jr. to produce the design, and hence the Deane and Adams Revolver was born.
This design paved the way for Adams' success, with the Deane and Adams Revolver being displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. So great was the interest in Adams' product that Colt Manufacturing (whose production was focused on single action pistols) was put under immense pressure in London, with the potential for Deane and Adams to displace Colt's London base all together (a feat later accomplished by the Beaumont-Adams Revolver) growing.
The design was subsequently approved by the British Army's Small Arm Committee and the East India Company (whom issued it to their cavalry units) before being improved in 1854 (and reviewed for use by the British Board of Ordnance, in direct competition with other Cap and Ball revolvers).
As the Deane and Adams Revolver took the world by storm with its unique self-cocking mechanism, Adams bought the patent rights to a design by Lt. Federick E.B. Beaumont. The design was for a double action mechanism (one which was closer to modern day designs) which allowed the shooter to fire the revolver in double or single action. This mechanism was then put into one of Adams' familiar revolver frames with a modified manufacturing technique to improve both production rates and costs.
So popular was the Beaumont-Adams Revolver that Samuel Colt, whose company had recovered from its slump after the release of the Deane and Adams Revolver, decided to cut his losses and leave his London base. This great victory for Adams was, however, soured by the events that happened during the following year.
Founding the London Armoury CompanyEdit
Despite the success of Adams' revolvers and the flourishing business that was Deane, Adams and Deane, a dispute divided Adams and his partners John Deane (and John Deane Jr.). Adams left the group, taking most (but not all) of his patents with him. In response he founded the London Armoury Company on the 9th of February 1856 (with a large investment from his cousin James Kerr) and began producing rifles and revolvers based on his designs.
The India Mutiny of 1857 gave the Adams Revolver the boost it needed to be recognised as the official sidearm of the British Army (it must be said that many Officers had previously purchased the Adams Revolver for their own personal use). The close range, high speed engagements of the conflict gave rise to the need for high rates of fire, something which Adams' refined designs held over most of his rival's designs (in particular Colt's). Of note also was the large calibre size that Adams' designs were built around, which many a British Officer praised, with one Lt. Col. George V. Fosbery, VC, (of Webley-Fosbery fame) stating:
|“||An officer, who especially prided himself on his pistol-shooting, was attacked by a stalwart mutineer armed with a heavy sword. The officer, unfortunately for himself, carried a Colt's Navy Pistol, which, as you may remember, was of small calibre (.36), and fired a sharp-pointed picket bullet...This he proceeded to empty into the sepoy as he advanced, but, having done so, he waited just one second too long to see the effect of his shooting...My informant, who witnessed the affair, told me that five of the six bullets had struck to sepoy close together in the chest, and all had passed through him and out at his back||”|
–Lt. Col. George Vincent Fosbery
Combined with the interest from the British Army was a growing desire for European firearms in the United States (and in particular the areas which would later form the Confederate States of America). This prompted Kerr and other investors in the LAC in 1859 to adjust production to focus on rifle production (such as the Pattern 1853 Enfield) rather than revolvers. Adams whole heartedly disagreed with this modification to production, and, for the second time in three years, left a company he had (in many senses) built up (although this time he took all of his patents with him).
http://sandmarg.tumblr.com/page/13 - Image of Robert Adams