Between 1868 and 1881, a pair of brothers from Mechanic Falls had a dream.
Warren and George Evans wanted to build guns.
“They were the leaders in lever-action, repeater rifles,” said collector Doug Foglio of Waterboro. “They were made in a time when people were still using (single-action) flintlocks.”
The basic idea behind the Evans Sporting and Military Firearms was a 34-shot .44 caliber rotary screw spindle that fed the ammunition through the stock of the firearm. That meant the Evans weapon could hold 33 more rounds than the typical gun of the time.
“They were a high-powered, heavy-hitting gun for their time,” remarked Foglio, one of only three Evans collectors (that he knows of) in the state.
Unfortunately, the Evans firearm never became the success the brothers wanted it to be.
John Malloy, now of Auburn, grew up in Mechanic Falls hearing about the Evans Sporting and Military Firearms.
They were rumored to have been manufactured “behind the old feed store, where the blacksmith shop was,” Malloy said.
“I grew up hearing just that they were made in Mechanic Falls, but it wasn’t a real success,” said Malloy at the Auburn Exchange Club’s 34th annual Twin City Gun Show in Lewiston Saturday, where he got a look at Foglio’s collection.
A failure he thinks was due to the military not buying the weapons as hoped by the brothers.
“They were designed for the military,” confirmed Foglio. “And they geared up to export to Russia. But when they showed up to get the guns, they wanted to buy on credit — which I think was the ultimate demise of the company.”
Foglio, interested in the weapons because they were made in Maine, is still looking to buy them.
“Anything Evans,” Foglio said. “Look at them; they are completely different than any other gun.”