This is a wonderful example of an extremely rare, early production, all original and unaltered MARS semi-automatic pistol as designed and produced by the Gabbet Fairfax company circa 1898-1900. Hugh Gabbet Fairfax was a prolific inventor that developed and patented numerous innovative firearm mechanisms in the 1895-1900 period. These pistols are considered extremely rare with approximately only 80 total manufactured in all configurations. They were produced in three calibers: the .335 Mars (8.5mm), the .360 Mars (9mm) and the 45 Mars, which was made in Long and Short configurations. The 335 cartridge fired a 140 grain bullet at approximately 1750 ft/second and the 360 fired a 155 grain bullet at approximately 1475 ft/second. At one point in time this pistol was actually dubbed the "most powerful" semi-automatic handgun until the development of the Auto-Mag pistol in the 1970s. Quite a feat for the early 1900s. These early automatic pistols utilized several very unique designs, namely they had a round, rotating bolt with three opposed locking lugs, it utilized a clip/magazine that loaded through the pistol grip itself with the cartridge being loaded via an elevator/carrier in the receiver which actually stripped the cartridges out the magazine backwards and then lifted it up and into the chamber of the barrel. A very unique and certainly one of a kind mechanism. The pistol itself is extremely well made with all hand fitted parts with a fine British rust blued finish and wonderful checkered walnut grip panels. This is an extremely early version with the serial number "4" stamped on the underside edge of the magazine well/pistol frame with the left hand side of the frame marked: ["MARS" PISTOL 360]. It has a full-length rib integral with the barrel with a tangent rear sight with four elevation steps and a beaded front sight blade. The back strap was originally manufactured for a shoulder stock (not included with this pistol), and it is complete with one original magazine with the lanyard loop on the base. Although these pistols had an advanced, super high velocity cartridge, they also had an unusually very robust recoil. The design of the pistol, having all of the recoil mechanism at the rear of the gun, also exacerbated the recoil, creating an almost uncontrollable recoil every time it was fired. In the 1902/03 time frame the company was intent on receiving a military contract from the British and or other Governments, however none ever came, and eventually the company went into receivership/bankruptcy and closed its doors in October 1903. Later in 1905, the company was purchased by an investment group dubbed the "MARS Automatic Pistol Syndicate" group, who slightly revised this design and remarketed the pistol with the intent on also garnering a military contract. However they eventually ended up with the same fate and so the company was dissolved in 1907.
Excellent with 85% plus of the original blue finish overall with minor edge wear, most notably on the front and rear grip straps. The grips are in very fine condition with their nice original checkering on both sides. Mechanically excellent. An exceptionally nice, all original, high condition, early production example of a Gabbet Fairfax MARS model semi-automatic pistol.
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