Teddy Roosevelt Winchester 1894 silencer
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President Teddy Roosevelt was a big fan of silencers. The only silencers available to him were made by Maxim. A silencer for his takedown model 94 Winchester .30-30, above, cost a whopping $9.70 back in 1909. He used the rifle frequently on hisSagamore Hill estate on Long Island, New York.

It was the classic use of a suppressed rifle. He used it to cull pests without disturbing his neighbors, people like the Du Ponts and the Tiffanys. From rarewinchesters.com:

Whenever Winchester introduced a new model, Roosevelt was quick to put it through its paces. He acquired an 1894 similar to all his other rifles in extras and embellishments and used it on an antelope hunt. His “little .30” as he called it, was able to knock down a good sized antelope at a distance of more than 180 yds.

After witnessing the fantastic shot and the irrefutable and immediate results, his guide said that the gun was just “aces” in his book. He also used a Model 94 outfitted with a Maxim silencer at his Long Island home “Sagamore Hill” so as not to disturb neighbors when varmints were in need of culling.

The Sagamore takedown .30-30 wasn’t President Roosevelt’s only silenced firearm. When he traveled to Africa for his specimen collecting safari, he took two other silenced rifles.

The last case to be added for the trip was case number 15. The contents of the case are shown below.

The ship left port in 1910. Notice that crate #15 contained two rifles fitted with silencers. They were a “U.S. magazine rifle, M’ 1908 chambered in .30 Govt. It was fitted with illuminated sights. The other, an M’95, would be a lever gun chambered in 405 W.C.F.

The 405 Winchester is a powerful cartridge, as made clear by Roosevelt’s use of it to collect the rhinoceros pictured below. It is unknown if the rifle pictured was the M’95 that was fitted for a Maxim silencer.

From Theodore Roosevelt Hunter-Conservationist, published by Boone and Crocket, Roosevelt’s secretary, William Loeb, informed Winchester in 1910:

“And so on the 27th of February Loeb let Winchester know they would be receiving “from General Crozier [US. Army Ordnance] a Springfield rifle and a 405 Winchester rifle, both fitted with Maxim’s silencers, and one of them with an arrangement for shooting at night, together with 200 Springfield cartridges. Please add to these 100 cartridges for the 405 Winchester and the cleaning apparatus, with oil, and have them put in a case that will enable the President to use them on the steamer…”

TR knew full well that he could hardly spend some three weeks at sea and resist the temptation to open his tin-lined cases and shoot. The two rifles with silencers would solve that problem nicely.

President Roosevelt understood and appreciated the usefulness of Maxim silencers. He used them for their intended purpose; to keep from annoying his neighbors and fellow travelers.

Silencers serve the same purposes today. And we know, too, how important they are in protecting hearing when hunting or target shooting.

When the Franklin Roosevelt administration later made silencers prohibitively expensive and absurdly regulated for the common man, no one could explain why and none was given in the legislative history.



©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch

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  1. Love me some history. Thanks Dean.

    I’ve not been able to shoot the .405. It seems like an interesting cartridge.

  2. I have one of Roosevelt’s books on my nightstand. Many more in my home. Didn’t know he liked suppressors. Enjoy firearms history.

  3. To suppress something like the 405 I suspect the can would need to be the size of a trash can.

    TR is probably the last president with real balls of brass.

    • Dunno about that! Bush 41 got shot down by the Japanese and narrowly avoided death. As a veritable kid. And JFK also nearly died from the Japs. Teddy was brave fer sure…

      • “Bush 41 got shot down by the Japanese and narrowly avoided death.”

        I’d say avoiding human cannibalization constitute brass balls the size of beach balls…

  4. Wait, .30-30 to suppress varmints? Isn’t that like, max overkill? Or were deer included in that list of varmints?

    • Unfortunately, I don’t own a suppressor but I do use a Savage Model 12, .308 to…..vaporize?…..prairie dogs. Speer 130gr varmint hollow points do a phenomenal job at it. Many friends have witnessed first hand and given it a go themselves. The look on their faces afterwards is…..priceless!

    • Overkill lol
      No such thing as overkill on stuff you ain’t eating or taxidermy.
      You make it dead. Real dead real fast. The end.

  5. Hey guys James Campbell is back, so it is only a matter of time before he tells us how many of these guns he owns or used to own.

    • “…the same Franklin liked human rights: Suppressed.”

      Democrat president Roosevelt liked human rights suppressed in government-run concentration camps, what did Franklin do?

      • FDR also raped 30 US navy sailors to find out who was homosexual (yes, really), intentionally starved millions of Americans for a failed price fixing scheme, and ran show trials to circumvent the Constitution.

  6. And in other news today Der Fuhruer of NY State has declared that the orthodox Juden of NYC must comply with his decrees on closing their synagogues or there will be consequences. Who could have guessed?

  7. My favorite President, bar none.

    Toured Sagamore Hill as a kid. Read some of his books and a couple of biographies. America never saw the like of him before or since. Brilliant in so many ways, Medal of Honor in the Spanish American War and the Nobel Peace Prize for the Russo-Japanese War. Made massive changes in American law, or set them in motion for others to complete that bettered lives and saved lives. Announced America’s arrival on the global stage as a major power, not to be trifled with.

    Theodore Roosevelt was a force of nature in all the best ways.

    Nice house too!

      • That’s an excellent question – Are there any known examples of ‘Undark’ used in gun sights?

        (The only Tritium was in government-run weapons labs probably until the 1960s or later. It was considered a ‘National Resource’ to boost the output of nuclear weapons…)

  8. Downtown, at the courthouse, in NW MT, they have a Teddy Roosevelt exhibit. He apparently came her a couple times to hunt, and one tie managed to almost kill himself falling off a cliff. He recommended hunting here for moose, elk, (black) bear, and bighorn sheep, but apparently only managed to take some mountain goats. Currently, they are refurbishing the hotel he stayed in – a pain since it is on the historic registry.

    • I’ve dealt with that historic registry. A massive PITA. But the workmanship in those buildings that were built 120+ years ago was something to see. And the materials. I worked in one place were the rebar in the basement walls was rail road tracks.

      Those old timers built to last.

      • Unlike the Chinese who have problems with buildings falling over before they are a decade old. If they don’t crumble first.

        • There will be a Chinese national reckoning over that, especially if there’s an earthquake that makes a bunch of them collapse all at once.

          Chinese construction companies are taking lethal shortcuts with concrete construction, and they won’t be able to hide it if an earthquake hits…

  9. $9.70 in 1909 equals about $300 in current US Funny Money Inflato Bucks – still a nice price since there weren’t any Mother may I extortion fees added on. TR is a bit of a mixed bag – some of the things he pushed metastasized into monstrosities – but there’s plenty to admire about him. He had one foot in his own romanticized version of the 19th century while adroitly dealing with the rapidly changing 20th. Which is why he deserves to be up there grinning on Mt Rushmore!

  10. My Grandma’s favorite president was T Roosevelt, she even had a bronze bust of him, I ask her “Who’s that?” She sat down and gave me a history lesson. Now that bronze bust might not seem like such a big deal, but being poor dirt farmers to go and buy something that didn’t do nothing but sit there was quite a statement.


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