Friday, December 23, 2011

The other John.

I was trying to think what it was I found so impressive about John Pedersen's firearms designs, which seem so oddly baroque when compared to their more familiar Browning counterparts, and then I hit on it: See, Browning would design a gun and sell it to a manufacturer, who would then have their patent attorneys go over it with fine-tooth combs and patent every distinctive trait they could find. Since Browning's designs were so often groundbreaking, it was hard to come to market with, say, a blowback-operated autopistol, or a slide-action shotgun, without stepping on a Browning patent held by Colt or Winchester...

Which is when Remington would call in John Pedersen, the Ginger Rogers of firearms designers, who did everything Browning did, but backwards and in high heels...

Other than the Ithaca 37, on which he collaborated with Browning himself, none of Pedersen's designs are still with us, but they didn't have to be great and enduring firearms. They only had to endure until the patents expired...

15 comments:

Newbius said...

Or, a less-agile Fred Astaire could do most of what Ginger Rogers could do, while being distracted by her...attributes, all while wearing wing tips and carrying an umbrella.

Love those old movies. :)

Anonymous said...

I still regularly shoot the 20ga Mod 37 that my grandpa bought new in 1942.Him and JMB did real good with this design.

hootie11bravo

the pawnbroker said...

And yet -being a bit backwards myself- I do love that 51.

I shoulda kept the one an old blue-haired bird sold me after her hubby passed...brought in a brown paper bag with the original box and the box of cartridges missing six, five of which were in the mag as they apparently had been since the 30's.

But back then (late 70's)it was all just inventory to me; you actually had a hand in my having more of an historical appreciation than I did then.

Oh, and "...the Ginger Rogers of firearms...backwards and in high heels...". Evocative and positively poetic.

Anonymous said...

I had a Remmie Model 10. I didn't much enjoy it, though. That may have been due to the years of wear and tear it carried but it wasn't nearly as reliable as it could have been.

The 870 was a vast improvement!

Jon B.

Anonymous said...

Whenever you talk about the other John the song "Substitute" by The Who plays in my head.

Shootin' Buddy

Guffaw in AZ said...

being left-handed, I miss my Ithaca!

Reno Sepulveda said...

Brilliant analogy. I shoot longarms left handed as well, and and that Ithaca 37 was a sweet shotgun. Oh how I wish Browning would do a cosmetic tribute with a riot gun version of their BPS.

Borepatch said...

"The Ginger Rogers of firearm design" - LOL.

Made the Missus LOL, too.

Canthros said...

Due to my *actual* name (spelled *slightly* different, and no relation: Pedersen was a Dane, the Pedersons of my family tree are Norwegian), I've been meaning to grab a Remington 51 at some point. I'll have to add an Ithaca 37 to the list.

I do kinda wonder: what would have happened if the Navy had actually gotten their Remington 53's?

Also, it's a little surreal seeing one's name up in lights, as it were, even if it's a common enough name. :)

Ancient Woodsman said...

Seems to me that the Pedersen device, the pistols 51 & 53, and the rifle T1E3, were also a bit more Steampunkish than their associated competitors, but that relationaship was not even a thought 3 decades ago when I started in firearms retail.

I saw many .380 51s, only a few .32s, a boatload of Ithaca 37s (new & used) and a few of the Remingtons - the BPS was new at the time - and even the odd '03 Mark 1, but never an actual Device. I wanted more than ever for someone to re-introduce the 53 successfully - anything that Julian Hatcher found to be both more accurate AND reliable than the 1911 should be made.

I always enjoyed Pedersen's work.

Hat Trick said...

I had always thought that the Rem Mod 10 was a Browning design. Thanks for setting me straight.

I inherited a Rem Mod 10 from my grandfather. He bought it used during the depression. My father ,his brothers and cousins have wrecked it by shooting 2 3/4" and 3" shells in its 2 5/8" chamber. (They didn't know better) Shot such a tight pattern that a cousin destroyed the target board at a local "turkey shoot" event. The family story tells that the event organizer wasn't going to give him a turkey because he couldn't prove that any of the pellets landed in the circle because the target wasn't available anymore for scoring. He aquiesced when he heard guys in the next relay asking to borrow the gun saying "Here take your turkey and take that #$@* gun out of here and don't ever bring it back"

It made it's return when I was old enough to shoot at the turkey shoot. Did not have quite as spectacular results though I did win my turkey. :-)

The barrel attachment to the receiver is so loose now that my gunsmith said it's not safe to shoot anymore and would take more money than it's worth to repair it and ream the chamber to take modern shell lengths. (He's the one who clued me in on it being a 2 5/8" chamber) It will be a wall-hanger to be passed down in the family as it's Granddad's shotgun.

staghounds said...

Actually isn't there a ring to adjust barrel fit to receiver? Perhaps I remember incorrectly.

Hat Trick said...

@staghounds - I don't have it at hand right now and it's been a decade since I removed the barrel but I think that I remember it being a threaded 90 degree rotation lockup like a Win. Mod 12. It's those threads that allow the barrel to wobble back and forth. I'll have to check it when I can.

Anonymous said...

My Dad's, which he got new for his 14th birthday in 1924, is adjustable. Look for a screw on the right side of the receiver face after you remove the barrel. It holds a small bar that is notched on the other end which locks the adjusting ring that the barrel screws into. Remove the bar and turn the adjusting clockwise (I think) until the barrel is snug. There's two notches in the face of the ring. Use a putty knife as a very wide screwdriver to turn the ring. Lock it with the bar and screw.

I think the pre-war guns are different. It gets a box of shells on clays once a year so it doesn't get lonely.

Jack

milton f said...

As a fowling piece, that model 37 was a tremendously versatile piece. It is particularly sweet to change out from duck to goose loads, quietly and effortlessly, which the Win #12, Rem. 870 and others just don't do.