Burgess police gun / pump action shotgun (USA)

The Burgess Police Gun was created by American gun designer Andrew Burgess. He patented this unusual weapon in 1893-94, and established his own company – The Burgess Gun Company, to produce shotguns and rifles of his own design.

His rifles are exceedingly rare, while the shotguns are slightly more common. The latter were produced in two distinctive versions. These were Police / Riot gun and Sporting, intended for hunting. These last, featured longer barrels and a take-down design, with detachable barrel and magazine assembly. The Burgess Police / Riot gun was one of the first shotguns in the USA to be purposely designed as a tactical weapon, long before the term was coined for specialised fighting weapons.

Advertised as ideal weapons for police, security agents, plainclothes guards and others who might need an easily concealable yet powerful weapon, the Burgess Police Gun featured a unique folding design and short, 20-inch barrel.

Burgess police gun in ready to fire condition

The Burgess Police Gun in ready to fire condition


Burgess police gun folded

Burgess Police Gun folded


When folded, the gun could be carried in a special holster, attached to a cartridge belt. It could then be easily concealed under a trench-coat or jacket. Once retrieved from the holster, a flick of the wrist is all that’s needed to bring the gun into firing position, as can be seen in the animation below.


Animated segment from ForgottenWeapons.com video showing how the Burgess Shotgun can be quickly brought to action from its holster.


Burgess shotguns were produced for a relatively short period of time, only between 1894 and 1899. At the end of  that time the assets of the Burgess Gun Company were bought out by Winchester in a successful attempt to reduce competition to their own Winchester 1897 riot gun.

Perhaps the most famous purchaser of the Burgess Police Gun was the New York State Penal System.  This department bought about a hundred of these guns, apparently for use by prison guards and agents that guarded prisoners, specifically during their transportation.

This shotgun is a manually operated, pump action weapon. This gun did not use the most common method of cycling the action, through movement of the handguard, as is so often seen today.  At the time this feature was protected by the patents of Roper and Spencer.  The Burgess gun utilised a reciprocating sleeve, placed around the wrist of the stock. To cycle the action, the shooter has to pull back the sleeve, with attached grip and trigger guard, and then push it back forward. This movement unlocks the bolt, ejects the empty shell from the barrel and then chambers the next round from the tubular magazine located below the barrel.


View on the open bolt and retracted sleeve / grip of the sporting version of Burgess shotgun

View on the open bolt and retracted sleeve / grip of the sporting version of Burgess Shotgun


The unique folding design was achieved by screwing breech ends of the barrel and magazine tube into a single steel adapter, hinged at the bottom to the receiver of the gun. Design of the hinge allows a slight vertical movement of the adapter in relation to the receiver. Then, in its uppermost position several lugs at the top of the adapter can engage respective cuts on the underside of the receiver roof. This locks the barrel and receiver together. The whole assembly was held together by a special spring-loaded latch, located above the breech end of the barrel.

To fold the gun, the user has to rise the latch, slide barrel assembly down slightly to disengage from the receiver, and then rotate it down and toward the stock. To bring the gun back to ready to fire condition, the operator has to rotate the barrel back. Upon the end of this movement, a spring-loaded latch would then automatically lock the barrel and receiver together.

The tubular magazine was normally loaded through the port at the bottom of the receiver, with bolt retracted to rearmost position. With the bolt in battery, the bottom port was securely closed by a sliding cover, attached to the grip slide, in front of the trigger guard. When in folded position, the loaded ammunition was held in the magazine tube by a special spring-loaded catch.


patent diagram for folding system of the Burgess Police gun

patent diagram for the folding system of the Burgess Police gun


Specification Value
Full text name Burgess police gun / pump action shotgun (USA)
Action type manual
Trigger type sa
Overall length, mm 1016
Length, folded, mm 508
Barrel length, mm 508
Weight empty, kg 2.7
Magazine capacity, rounds 6