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Forgotten Weapons: Darne 1892 Rotary Shotgun

We have a highly unusual rotary shotgun from 1892, where the barrel and firing mechanism rotate to load and reload. It’s quite ingenious.

Ian from Forgotten Weapons has a pretty cool shotgun in front of him on the table. It’s a French rotary shotgun made by a fellow named Regis Darne and it’s up for auction this month at the June event put on by Rock Island Auction Company.

First a little history of Darne and his firearm inventions.

  • 1879-1884: Darne developed a rotary breech shotgun, with an exposed hammer.
  • 1892: Developed a hammerless version of the rotary shotgun. This is the gun that Ian is exhibiting here.
  • 1897: Developed a sliding breech shotgun, which became very popular and saw worldwide sales.

Ian disassembles the firearm and goes through its working components in some detail. It is a masterful design, and I have to wonder why it didn’t catch on. Of particular interest is his illustration showing where the the stock connects to the barrels, without the breech block, and how the breech block functions within that space.

On the underside of the barrels lie several markings and stamps, including the barrel maker, “Ronchard Cizaron”, and his Gold Medal accomplishment marking. Also, there are stamps indicating that the gauge is 20, and an improved choke barrel designation.

Ian indicates that the shotgun is lighter and smaller than he would have expected. “It kind of exudes that late 19th century, continental sort of feel,” he says.

It appears to be a well designed and fascinating weapon. It’s a pity that it never caught on as did Darne’s sliding breech gun. It will be interesting to see what this rotary shotgun goes for at the auction.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

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Forgotten Weapons: Darne 1892 Rotary Shotgun