John Farquharson

John Farquharson was born in Glenfernate, Perthshire in the mid-1830s. He won many prizes and is notable for shooting from the “back”, or “Farquharson,” position. His patent breech action was eventually reassigned to George Gibbs, Thomas Pitt and William Ellis Metford.


The Farquharson breech, which is attached to the Metford rifle as manufactured Mr. Geo. Gibbs, of Bristol, is one of the oldest actions we have among the rifles of the present day. The inventor – Mr John Farquharson – is a Scotchman, and we remember having seen him at Irvine, in 1871, exhibiting the action, which was then fitted to a Henry barrel. Mr Farquharson approached several Governments with the view of getting his invention adopted, but it was just a little too late. Nearly all of them had selected a breech action shortly before, and they were therefore unwilling to re-open the question and incur additional expense before giving the newly chosen weapon a fair trial. Ultimately the action was purchased by Mr Gibbs, who proceeded to perfect it and protect it by letters patent under the Great Seal.

The Gibbs-Metford Rifle

The 1865 Cambridge Cup match in Great Britain, which comprised two days shooting at 1,000 and 1,100 yards, fifteen shots at each range each day, was won by Sir Henry Halford using a Gibbs-Metford match rifle. The Times of 15 June 1865 had this to say of the rifle: “The weapon with which the prize was won, will, it is said, create some stir among those interested in small-bore and long-range shooting, being on entirely new principles.”

George Gibbs

George Gibbs carried on for a great many years the business of a gunsmith in Bristol, which is still in the hands of his family, and at the time of the commencement of the Volunteer movement in 1859, he probably knew more of the manufacture and use of weapons for warfare than anyone in the Bristol District.

Obituary: George Gibbs

Another aged and respected citizen has been withdrawn from amongst us by the death of Mr. George Gibbs, the well-known gun and pistol manufacturer, of Corn Street and St. John’s bridge, which sad event occurred yesterday, at his residence, Park place, Clifton. The deceased gentleman, who was in his 72nd year, had been ailing for some time, but the painful illness to which he succumbed was of comparatively brief duration.

George Gibbs, Bristol

This large business was founded some fifty or sixty years ago in Thomas Street, and from there was subsequently transferred to 21, Clare Street. In 1858 the firm removed to their present premises at 39, Corn Street. The manufactury, Rupert Hall, St. John’s Bridge, was built in 1875, and the tools and appliances there are most perfect. Mr. George Gibbs has a national reputation for first-class guns and rifles, and his house is one of the very few establishments outside of London and Birmingham where guns and rifles are manufactured throughout.

Gibbs & Metford

The Small Arms Committee at the War Office has adopted the Metford rifle (with some modification in the addition of a magazine on the Lee principle) as a rifle for the British army. For the last 21 years – ever since Mr Metford brought it out as a muzzle loader – it has been the favourite weapon of the crack shots in the national rifle competitions, and from the time it was converted into a breechloader it has won its way to the very first rank.