America loves guns. Nowhere is that more evident than in the exquisite character studies below. These are X-ray images put together by C&Rsenal, a site dedicated to antique military arms. The C&R in their title stands for Curio and Relic, a type of firearms license available to collectors of antique guns.
There’s something hypnotic about watching these videos. The movement of the actions as the guns fire is somewhat sublime. And you don’t have to be a gun-nut to appreciate the beauty of their internal movements. These machines are excellent examples of the craftsmanship of the industrial revolution.
The French Revolver Mle.1892
My favorite part of this is the way the rounds magically fly into the revolver. Back in 1892, armies across the world considered revolvers to be ideal sidearms. Yet the end of the 19th century would mark a monumental change in firearm design. Revolvers would be dethroned by automatics that are easier to load and hold more ammunition.
The French Berthier Rifle
Watching the bolt throw on this is mesmerizing. It is easy to see how the limited capacity of this gun would lead to its eventual obsolescence. Yet the dependability and simplicity of this design can still be seen in many modern hunting rifles.
The Ruby Mle 1915
This tiny .32 ACP was evidence of Europeans borrowing American designs. This bears a striking resemblance to the design work of John Browning, who designed similar pocket pistols for Colt and the Belgian firm Fabrique Nationale de Herstal.
German Mauser C96
This is one of the world’s most iconic pistols, thanks to a prop house in England. It is either Elstree Props or Bapty & Co.; both had a hand in making Han Solo’s DL-44. The original broom-handle fired lead bullets and not lasers, and it may be the most intricate of all of the guns in this list.
German Luger P08
For those who prefer their history with a bit less space opera, C&Rsenal has tackled the Luger, too. This is another one that most Americans recognize, yet few understand how the action works. One look at this one, though, and it becomes completely clear.
The Savage 1907 was a real contender for the United States military contract that was eventually won by Colt’s 1911. The gun had some excellent features that put it way ahead of its time. Keep watching the one and you’ll see how the safety functions.