This is a very scarce Lee Rifle made in Milwaukee, WI circa 1865-66. This was one of James Lee's first patents and designs. According to Flayderman's guide, he went on to design the Remington Lee Bolt Action Rifle and the Winchester 1895 Straight Pull Rifle. Over the years, we've encountered a few examples. With only 1000 made, they are one of the scarcer American single shots out there. This one is chambered in .38 rimfire caliber with an octagon barrel and original fixed position sights. An interesting design that allows breech loading without a loading block. To load, the hammer is pulled back slightly releasing the barrel which pivots the breech directly from out of the frame. The hammer forward face of the hammer is what holds the barrel in place. Barrel is marked with James Lee's Patent which reads, " LEE'S FIRE ARMS CO. MILWAUKEE WIS. ??T (pat) JULY 22 1862." The barrel has a manual sliding extractor located underneath that is operated by a small knob located on the right side of the barrel/frame junction.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Very Good overall. The metal has mostly subsided to a smooth brown patina. Good screws and pins throughout. Original walnut stock is in fine condition retaining most of its original varnish. Action works properly...with a little of bit of play between the barrel and frame when locked...this is due to some slight wear to the walls of the hammer which serves as the breech lock. Bore has good rifling with no rings or bulges...its filthy but should clean to at least Good or perhaps better. A scarce little gun that would be an important addition to anyone collecting American firearms or early breechloaders.