Hunt, Walter

Hunt, Walter
SUBJECT AREA: Weapons and armour
b. 29 July 1796 Martinsburg, New York, USA
d. 8 June 1859 New York, USA
American inventor and developer of the first repeating rifle.
Hunt displayed talent as an inventor at an early age. While in his late teens he designed a machine for spinning flax, and after taking out a patent on it in 1826 he went to New York in order to set up a company to manufacture it. The company failed, however, and he was forced to go into business as an estate agent in order to make a living. Nevertheless, he remained undeterred and continued to invent a wide range of objects, including an iron fire alarm for fire stations and engines (1827) and the safety pin (1849). However, either many of his ideas were before their time or he failed to market them properly: for example, in 1834 he invented a sewing machine with lockstitch, but failed to patent it and it was left to others, such as Merritt Singer, to reap the rewards. He also conceived the name "fountain pen", but again more commercially minded people, Swan, Parker and Waterman, enjoyed the benefits. His paper collar, invented in 1854, only became popular after his death. Hunt is probably best remembered in the field of firearms. In 1849 he produced the first repeating rifle, which had a tubular magazine fixed under the barrel and fired special self-propelled or "rocket" balls, for which Hunt had taken out a patent the previous year. Although this weapon never entered general manufacture, the design principles incorporated in it were later reflected in the Springfield, Winchester, Henry and Volcanic rifles, which began to appear towards the end of the following decade.
Further Reading
1974, Webster's American Biographies (a useful summary of Hunt's life and work).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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