The biographical references to Dr. Edward Maynard read like Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Maynard was not only an internationally distinguished oral surgeon practicing in Washington, DC, but he was also a prolific inventor of firearms, firearm systems and ammunition, holding 23 firearm-related patents during his lifetime.
His most familiar invention was the Maynard Tape Primer system, which substituted a pawl-fed roll of paper caps for standard percussion caps. Patented in 1845 and adopted by the US Government for the Model 1855 Springfield rifle-musket, the tape primer system earned Maynard both fame and fortune, although under combat conditions the system proved less than satisfactory and was subsequently abandoned with the adoption of the Model 1861 Springfield.
While his tape priming system wasn't a hit during the Civil War, his cavalry carbine was. Patented in 1851, Maynard's basic firearm design is a study in simplicity, flexibility and quality. As a single-shot model, the Maynard proved to be an excellent and well-liked 50-caliber cavalry carbine. Unlike most of the competing designs of the Civil War, the Maynard line survived after the war and flourished for another 30 years.
Dr. Maynard was an inventor, not a manufacturer. In 1894, production was contracted out to the Massachusetts Arms Company of Chicopee Falls, Mass.
The Maynard action is notable for being exceedingly compact, for having a short, fast lock time and for a finely adjusted trigger. It was always made from the finest imported Norwegian iron. No common malleable iron in a Maynard! Hence, it was a tough action.
Swinging the triggerguard/lever down, opens the action affording ample access for loading or extracting a round. The Model 1863 cavalry carbine did not have an extractor. Maynard compensated for this deficiency with a large, rimmed cases and scalloped breech to make plucking out the fired case a snap.
What set the Maynard especially apart from its contemporaries was by simply removing the lever and the barrel trunnion screws, the barrel and lever could be removed and replaced with another of a different caliber (rifle or shotgun), length or weight. It wasn't a marketing factor in the cavalry carbine, but it was in the sporting and target lines with many elegant cased sets featuring three or more different barrels serial numbered to the receiver.
While a small number of early...