Lost Opportunities—-The .278 Bethel Burton Rifle
In the 1880’s the British War Office kept receiving an oddly designed rifle from the quirky gun designer Bethel Burton. The old guard of the war office were accustomed to muzzle loading muskets and single shot rifles, so they scoffed at the rediculous contraption that Burton had created.
In reality the Bethel Burton rifle was an ingenious design that was just too far ahead of its time. It was a bolt action rifle, however the bolt was operated by a lever located at the bottom of the receiver. One simply pulled back on the lever to eject an empty cartridge, and pushed forward on the lever to insert a new cartridge. Ammunition was fed from magazines that were inserted into the side of the receiver. Amazing both sides of the receiver had magazine ports making it an ambidextrous rifle. Finally the Bethel Burton was chambered in a .278 caliber cartridge, incredibly small for an era when most military rifles were over .50 caliber.
Unfortunatly due to the limited imagination of the powers that be, the Bethel Burton would never be adopted by the British military or sold widely on the civilian market.