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Sunday Gunday: Gallery Guns of Yesterday

gallery guns

Indoor and portable shooting ranges used to be all the rage.

There were some very nice gallery guns back in the day, and they're just as cool decades later.

Many fairs had portable target ranges with rifles that generally shot .22 Short cartridges.

A long time ago, parlor shooting was a popular pastime among aristocrats. Shooting the following short-range rifles at targets very common.

Winchester Model 62 Pump-Action Rifle

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Many older readers might remember heading to a great local American fair and shooting a pump-action .22-caliber rifle at small spinning targets and mechanical ducks. That rifle just might've been a Winchester Model 62 Rifle. It was a popular gun for both gallery shooting and hunting.

The gallery guns fired a special "splatterless" .22 Short rimfire cartridge to avoid ricochets. Now, that must've been quite a fun trip to the local festivities the younger generations sadly will never experience. The beautiful blue finish rifle above is a beautiful classic example of a gallery gun. The shooter behind the rear sight of such a rifle was in for quite a thrill.

Guns International

Flobert Cartridge Gallery Rifles

Here's what appears to be a Belgian Warnant rifle in 6mm Flobert cartridge. This one dates back around 1888. This external-hammer rifle was a favorite in pubs and other indoor settings.

Flobert guns were very popular in European countries and were the forerunners to the more modern American gallery guns.

The parlor gun for British, French and German shooting galleries has a long lineage, dating all the way back to black powder days and percussion caps. Some parlor guns had rifled barrels, while others had smoothbore barrels due to the short ranges fired. Some have a side hammer instead of the centered hammers.

Even odder parlor guns have an extremely long firing pin to impact a small cartridge housed farther forward in the weapon.

The Firing Range

The small 6mm Flobert cartridge was the predecessor to the .22 Short cartridges (shown in picture). The small Flobert round was perfect for target shooting indoors.

Shooting abreech-loaded, single-shot pistol was a great way to show off your marksmanship in front of your drinking buddies back in the late 19th century. But if you try it, make sure to put the drinks away first!

The Firing Range

Carrying over from the 19th century is the German Zimmerstutzen gallery shooting. While it originally started in Germany with firearms, air rifles have become quite popular in this offhand shooting competition.

Remington Model 12 Pump-Action Gallery Gun

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Remington's Model 12 pump-action rifle offered a hammerless design. This gallery gun of around the 1920s era had smooth futuristic lines over the older, hammered models. That slide-action could hammer out .22 bullets at a steady speed.

Marlin Model 38 Takedown Rifle

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This octagon-barreled Marlin Model 38 pump-action .22 rifle was in on the gallery gun craze, too.

Browning Semi-Automatic .22 Rifle

Dawson's Doubles

Browning had a shooter that could fire .22 Short, .22 Long or .22 Long Rifle cartridges. A semi-auto can naturally eat up a lot of shots quickly from a trigger-happy target shooter. More shots would've equated to more dollar signs for the crowd attraction. That would make the shooting gallery owner quite a happy fellow.

Do you like articles about the outdoors? Click here to view more articles by Eric Nestor. You can follow him @ericthewoodsman on Twitter, The Classic Woodsman on Facebook, and @theclassicwoodsman on Instagram.  You can view more Nestor Photography photos at Nestor Photography.  

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Sunday Gunday: Gallery Guns of Yesterday