Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3597: J.C. White Semi-Automatic Rifle 276

Auction Date: December 6, 2015

Extremely Rare Unique J.C. White "Experimental" Semi-Automatic Rifle Chambered in .276 Cartridge with Unique Gas System and Crate

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $18,000 - $27,500

Extremely Rare Unique J.C. White "Experimental" Semi-Automatic Rifle Chambered in .276 Cartridge with Unique Gas System and Crate

Manufacturer: J.C. White
Model: Semi-Automatic
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 276
Barrel: 20 inches round
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 4597
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 215
Class: Curio & Relic Long Gun

This is a fabulous example of "one of the three" different J. C. White "Experimental" semi-automatic rifles that we have for sale in this auction. These three white experimental rifles remained virtually undiscovered for over 50 years in an unknown martial arms collection until discovered and purchased in 2006. This amazing discovery is discussed in the fall 2006 issue of the Garand Gun Collector Journal on pages 3-11 and these very unique and intriguing rifle are discussed in several areas of the books "Hatcher's Notebook" and the "Book of the M1 Garand" by Julian Hatcher. It is amazing that all three rifles were still together in the included wooden crate after all these years. These three rifle were developed as prototype/test example for the U. S. Army in the early 1930s when the U.S. Army was looking for a new semi-automatic rifle. All three are certainly "unique" and certainly "One of a Kind" rifles that represent three different approaches being developed for the U.S. Military. The White story is intriguing and sketchy at best, and began in 1929 when the War Department issued an invitation to all manufacturers for the development and submission of candidate semi-automatic rifles for testing. In August 1929, J.C. White, who was a young engineer and firearms inventor that was working for the United Shoe Machinery Company in Mass at the time, presented to the U.S. Ordnance Board his unfinished, early prototype semi-automatic rifle designed for testing and evaluation. As part of his submission, he asked that he be granted an additional six-weeks extension to complete his rifle so that a full and complete evaluation could be conducted of his weapon. His weapon was accepted, however, he was denied the extension and as such his candidate weapon was disapproved. At that time the U.S. Government already had on hand six different candidates for testing and evaluation; four were rejected with the other two being approved for further testing; those being the M1 Garand and Pedersen rifles. Undaunted, he continued to work and develop his candidate rifles, and in May 1930, he did submit to the board two other completed rifles for testing. This rifle is the third example (for lack of a better designation) of a rare J.C. White rifle that we have the opportunity to offer for sale in this auction. This example is completely different mechanically than the first two rifles and was a dramatic improvement over the first and second rifles in that it uses a "gas piston" system to cycle the action. The action as designed was short, compact and some what squarish that was cycled using a small amount of propellant gas, which was bleed off from a small port on the underside of the barrel. The unique aspect of this system is that it used a small sliding gas piston (located inside a gas cylinder) mounted on the underside of the barrel. This concept was similar to a stream engine sliding valve that allowed only a small amount of gas to expand into a cylinder, but was limited or cut off by the sliding piston inside the cylinder. This helped control the operating cycle or port pressure of the rifle which in theory made the operating system more consistent and more robust when cycling the action. A common problem with the M1 was with the direct impingement gas system of the rifle, where in some instance the operating rods can be damage (bent) during firing if a higher pressure cartridge was fired through the rifle; usually due to using rifle powder with too slow a burning rate. This system was tested, evaluated and approved but was in reality too late to be considered a significant contender against the Garand rifle design as that rifle was too far along in actually development and production. Consequently, this White gas system lay dormant for the next 12-15 years until it was revived in late 1943, early 1944 when the U.S. Army started looking at way to redesign and improve the gas system used on the M1 Garand. These efforts finally came to fruition after WWII when Springfield Armory continued their redesign efforts on the M1 rifle and came up with the M1E4 rifle. This redesigned/new improved gas system for the M1 Garand rifle used a modified version of the original J.C. Whites gas system (which was a sliding gas piston, housed inside a gas cylinder mounted on the underside of the barrel). As we know today, this system eventually evolved in the successful M14 rifle design. Although over shadowed by the unique gas-piston system, this rifle also employed some rather unique mechanical designs, one being a short sliding (non-rotating) bolt system that had fixed locking lugs on the front end of the bolt, with the corresponding locking block in the receiver moving "up and down" to lock the bolt each time the rifle was fired. This allowed for a fixed barrel and receiver in which the barrel was just screwed into the receiver with headspace being controlled by this vertical locking block system. This would have certainly made rifle production much easier and faster in a mass production type factory but more complicated from a design stand point . This rifle design also used the "enbloc" type magazine with a recoil spring also mounted on the underside of the barrel behind the gas system similar to the M14 rifles. It is fitted with a full length walnut stock with steel perforated handguard that runs almost the full length of the barrel. It has a fixed blade front sight with a fully adjustable rear sight with a Merit Iris screw in peep sight. The front half of the stock is very similar to an original Pedersen/Vickers rifle in that it has cooling holes on the underside with finger grooves on the sides, with the rear half of the stock(buttstock area) identical to a 1903 Springfield pistol grip stock. It has a side mounted bayonet lug on the barrel. A very unique and certainly one of kind White experimental gas operated semi-automatic rifle. It is accompanied by the noted GCA article, a short article by Anthony Williams on the history of the White rifles and copies of the various patent filings for this rifle and one original White designed enbloc magazine for this rifle.

Rating Definition:

Very fine with 85% of the blue finish overall showing minor handling marks and blue lose on the top and side of the receiver from cycling the actions. The stock is in excellent condition with only very, very minor handling marks in some areas. Mechanically functions fine. The crate is very good with mild storage wear including some small chips and cracks.

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