EC Hodges was granted six patents. I am looking for further details and photos of guns which use each type of patent and any details of how they might have evolved from the original specification.

1. On the 4th December 1865 EC’s received his first patent, number 3113 for an extractor and angled striker for drop down actions.

2. On the 15th November 1866 EC’s second patent, number 2996 was for an extractor mechanism.

A gun collector has made a special study of the extractors of the 1866 patent, which seemed to develop slowly through at least three versions. I'm indebted to him for the following analysis:

“Grant [gun] no. 2808 of about 1869 with a Patent Use (PU) number of 282,..has components shaped very similarly to the patent drawing, in which the cam in the fore end is pivoted quite far forward and below the centre line of the knuckle, a small movement of this cam producing a larger rotation in the L shaped cam set in the barrels…This has a narrow extractor that fits between the firing pins with the use number stamped on the face. There is a small stud left in the action knuckle forward of the cross pin that pushes up the fore-end cam as the gun is opened.

This narrow extractor version was still being used in Grant gun number 3051 (PU no. 538)...[however] by PU number 581 on Grant gun no. 3082 this was widened at the base to extend the bearing surface on the cartridge rim, presumably to prevent the extractor over riding the case, and was shaped where it met the firing pins so that it pushed these back.

[By] gun no 3449 with PU number of 875 about 1874…[used with full Hodges patent accreditation despite the patent lapsing in 1869] the fore-end cam is shorter and pivoted nearer to corner of the forging, and the barrel cam is quite different in shape, with a circular bearing surface that is eccentric to the pivot point [so that] pushing the cam into the slot in the lump causes it to rotate.  The main advantage of this double that it gives a really high lift to the extractor, making the cases easier to extract.

A late Woodward “Automatic” under lever cocked sidelock non-ejector No 4247 of about 1888 uses the 1866 patent but with some further refinement to the shape of the cams. There is no patent accreditation on the gun other than that for the lever cocked action…I have also seen it used on an earlier Woodward hammer gun of 1878, also without accreditation. Curiously Grant used a single cam extractor on their hammerless non-ejectors, a simplification of the Hodges patent in which the fore-end cam was replaced by a higher stud filed up as part of the action knuckle, which bore directly on a Hodges style barrel cam.  This gave a slightly lower lift to the extractor than the two cam arrangement.”

On the 15th November 1869 this second patent was allowed to lapse by reason of non-payment of the additional Stamp duty of £50 before the expiration of the third year.

3. EC Hodges’ third patent, number 251 The Treble Grip of 1871 is the one for which he is most known (see banner illustration above):
This patent appears to have evolved into at least three forms. 1. using a short underlever forward of the trigger guard. 2. using a sidelever. 3. using transverse projections or pins through both lumps rather than just the rear one.

Two early non-Grant guns which use the short underlever have been unearthed made by Norwich maker William Cartwright (gun 484, pat.use unknown) and Samuel & Charles Smith. The patent then seems to have been licensed exclusively to Stephen Grant and was renamed the Grant & Hodges patent. Some Grant guns even carried the legend 'Stephen Grant patent' along the side of the action bar, although on the flats themselves Grant and Hodges were both named usually.

The short underlever version was used on a Grant back-action underlever hammergun (3453 , pat. use 146) with projections on the rear lump. However on a presumably earlier Grant gun (3207, pat. use 2, 1872) EC Hodges used a sidelever so it may be that the lever type did not evolve suddenly from short underlever to sidelever but was an alternative option. We also know that Henry Jones rotary levers were used on some Grant guns up to about 1877, which would suggest a great deal of choice in terms of locking mechanisms was being offered to the buyers of Grant guns at this time. They were even supplying pinfires if requested until the mid 1870s.

Gun number 3207 is the first use of a sidelever on a Grant gun I have found. Could the Grant type sidelever have been an EC Hodges idea for ease of reach? We may never know, but the sidelever combined with the 1871 Hodges patent swiftly became the predominant form of locking between gun number 3207 to 4735 (1879), when the ‘Grant & Hodges patent’ arrangement appears to end. From the patent use numbers I estimate at least 924 Grant guns were produced with the Treble Grip patent no. 251. 

An EC Hodges sidelever hammergun from 1881-1883 uses the third variation of the 1871 patent, in that as well as the projecting catch in the standing breech and we now see wider round pins rather than square projections, and these traverse both lumps rather than just the rear one, with a much deeper setting for the pin on the forward one. The next use of this patent on a different maker’s gun is on a Purdey (11508) of 1883, two years before it expired.

4. On March 22nd 1878 EC was granted his fourth patent, number 1145 Hammerless gun action – ‘underlever cocking' – where the safety on the lever cocked gun is a slide on the trigger guard strap’. No examples found as yet. In fact some Grant guns seem to have employed the Horatio Phillips 1879 barrel cocking patent instead.  

5. On March 20th 1883 his fifth patent, number 1463 was granted, with Thomas William Webley of Weaman St, Birmingham & George Bouckley of Aston, for ‘a cocking & safety device for drop down guns’. No examples found as yet.

6. Finally on 23rd September 1899 EC’s sixth patent, number 19167 was applied for regarding improvements in single trigger double-barrelled guns. Accepted 22 Sept 1900.
J Woodward & Sons used this on at least one gun, numbered 3599.
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