Skip to Main Content

American Firearms and Their Makers: A Research Guide

Manhattan, Marlin, Merwin-Hulbert

Collection of Revolvers at the National Museum

Collection of Revolvers at the Natl. Museum, 3/6/26. 1926. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The Manhattan Fire Arms Manufacturing Co. was founded in 1856 to take advantage of the expiration of Colt’s patent for revolving firearms in 1857. In 1859 the company moved from Connecticut to New Jersey. It also made copies of other American firearms no longer under patent protection. Manhattan changed its name in 1868 to American Standard Tool Company and began to market industrial tools as well as firearms. American Standard Tool closed during the financial panic of 1873.

John Mahlon Marlin founded Marlin Firearms in the 1870s, focusing on single-shot firearms. In 1881 Marlin began to sell an assortment of firearms, including lever-action repeating rifles for which Marlin has become famous. In 1861 Charles H. Ballard had designed and patented what was to become one of the finest single shot rifles made in the United States. After receiving the patent C.H. Ballard sold his interests to Warren Williams of the firm Ball and Williams. The Ballard single shot most recognized by today's enthusiast debuted in 1875 after John Malon Marlin& (1836–1901) worked over the old patent and began production in his plant. Between the years 1875 and 1891, J.M. Marlin, later the Marlin Firearms Company, offered more than twenty different models of the Ballard single shot rifle. During World War I Marlin became one of the world’s largest machine gun producers, but thereafter returned to its sporting arms heritage.

Merwin Hulbert and Co. was a firearms design and marketing firm based in New York City that produced revolvers and rifles through its manufacturing subsidiary, Hopkins & Allen of Norwich, Connecticut, from 1874 through 1897. During the late 19th century, Merwin Hulbert revolvers were used by the police departments of many cities in the eastern United States. After Merwin's death in 1888, the company became known as Hulbert Brothers & Company, which was liquidated in 1896. Hopkins & Allen, however, continued to manufacture Merwin Hulbert style rifles, primarily .22 and .32 caliber single shots, until 1916 when that company went bankrupt and was subsequently bought by Marlin Firearms the following year.

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to online resources are included when available.

Manhattan Firearms

Marlin Firearms

Merwin Hulbert