I have a good friend named Vern, who once owned a motorcycle that was worn out and in need of repair. A neighbor told him that he wanted the bike and would he be interested in trading something for it. Vern asked what he had and he said, “I have an old rifle I’ll trade you for the bike.” A deal was done.
Vern basically cleaned up the rifle and did not even shoot it for many years. But he did some research and finally found out what he had. He had a rifle made by Charles Newton.
Mr. Newton made rifles in the early 1900s and designed them to his own specifications. He was truly brilliant in gun and cartridge design, and way ahead of his time. He made them in several propriety calibers, such as the .256 Newton, the .30 Newton, and the .33, .35, and .40 Newton calibers.
He had the very bad luck of coming out with these rifles just as the Great War was starting and sporting rifles were hard to sell. Long story short, he never had the success that he should have had in selling the fine rifles that he made.
Vern’s rifle is (luckily) in standard .30-06 caliber.
It is marked “Newton Arms Co. Inc, Buffalo NY, .30 U S G” on the barrel, showing that it was built in Buffalo, NY.
Here’s the rifle.
It has not been refinished at all, and shows some honest wear from hunting.
The front sight is on a band, and has the common bead on a post that was popular in those days.
The rear sights include a stationary one for 100 yards, and another that can be folded up and is calibrated at 300 yards.
Iron sighted rifles for hunting were popular in the early 1900s.
The front sling is mounted on the barrel, another common design for that day, as it leaves the fore end “clean” and will not hurt your hand in recoil in heavy cartridges.
You will see many heavy rifles used in Africa to have this type of front swivel band.
The front of the fore end is in a Schnabel-type design.
The rifle has two triggers, the front one works like any other if not “set”.
But by pulling the rear trigger first, it “sets” the front trigger to only a pound of pressure to fire.
You can also see the screw adjustment between the triggers to adjust the trigger pull weight.
One of the biggest design ideas that Mr. Newton had was the locking bolts.
You can see the Newton design on the left, compared to a Mauser design on the right.
Newton had six locking lugs for added strength.
This idea was later copied by other rifle designers.
It has a well-inletted steel butt plate.
And also a steel cap for the pistol grip.
You can also see the hand done checkering on the stock.
To disassemble the rifle, there is one screw at the rear of the trigger guard, and then you open the magazine floor plate.
By turning it around three complete revolutions,
…it releases the action from the stock.
Oh well, as Col. Townsend Whelen said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.”
Here’s Vern shooting the rifle today.
We had some military .30-06 Ball and some handloads that I loaded for the rifle.
Here’s the target.
The upper group is the military Ball and the lower group is the handloads.
Notice that they shoot to slightly different points of impact.
We were not satisfied with these groups, as we have shot tighter groups with this rifle before.
As Vern noted, “Oh well, I guess that means we will have to come back and shoot some more.”
It is a fine little rifle and a joy to shoot.
It seems that Vern traded a broken dirt bike for a rifle that is worth thousands of dollars.
A pretty good deal.
Many thanks to Vern for allowing me to take some pics and for letting me shoot it.