Unusual Revolvers

Gallery opened 8 March 2021

Updated: 15 April 2021

Yet more on 30-shot revolvers added

Index added
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There are many guns that can be considered 'unusual'. The classic book on the subject is Lewis Winant's 'Firearms Curiosa', published in 1956 by Arco Publishers. In more modern times, all sorts of odd firearms can be found by Google, or on YouTube. I am therefore being severely selective here, as this page only deals with revolvers capable of firing an unusually large number of shots without reloading.

Let me say at once that I am by no stretch of the imagination am I a firearms expert; if I get something wrong do please tell me.

We immediately face the question of what is 'an unusually large number'. Let us see:

7-shot revolvers are not unusual, you can buy them today (if you live in the USA, anyway) from Smith & Wesson and Taurus

8-shot revolvers are not unusual, likewise you can buy them from Smith & Wesson and Taurus.


9-SHOT REVOLVERS

Left: A nine-shot 0.22 revolver by Ruger

The cartridge is 0.22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) also known as 0.22 Magnum. The .22 WMR is larger than the more popular .22 Long Rifle (LR), both in diameter and length. According to Wikipedia, the cartridge is used for hunting only. This site is unimpressed with its potential to stop people.

You can see it on the Ruger site. And here is a review of the gun.


10-SHOT REVOLVERS

Left: A ten-shot 0.22 revolver by Ruger

This picture is a still from a YouTube video uploaded in 2015. You can see it on the Ruger site.

The cartridge is 0.22 LR (Long Rifle) According to Wikipedia "...a .22 LR bullet is easily capable of killing or injuring humans." However it also says "As a defensive cartridge, it is considered inadequate by many,"


11-SHOT REVOLVERS

The very odd Dardick revolvers (see below) were made in 11-shot and 15-shot versions.


12-SHOT REVOLVERS

Left: A twelve-shot revolver

9mm (0.35 in) calibre pin-fire. According to Taylerson, it had a spring safety-catch

The loading/ejection gate is to the left of the cylinder, and the ejector rod is under and to the side of the barrel. Note that the centre of the cylinder has been machined out to reduce weight.

The gun has Birmingham proof marks, but otherwise is marked only 'No 1000' which suggests a prototype.

The scale presumably represents 3 inches.


15-SHOT REVOLVERS

Left: A fifteen-shot Dardick gun: 1958

Probably the least unusual thing about Dardick guns is the number of rounds they hold. The Dardick gun had a 3-chamber cylinder, which was replenished from a fixed magazine in the butt. This could be reloaded one round at a time or with a stripper clip via hinged gate just below the cylinder. Perhaps the oddest feature was the rounds, which were triangular, and called 'trounds'. The gun had other features, such as an open chamber when firing and a pre-stressed frame. The design was patented by in Dardick 1958. It had interchangeable barrels and could fire either 0.38 centerfire or 0.22 rimfire rounds.

The Dardick revolvers were a commercial failure.

There is an excellent account of the Dardick gun in Wikipedia. There is some more info from Guns & Ammo.


16-SHOT REVOLVERS

Left: A sixteen-shot HDH revolver: 1875-1890

This revolver was recently sold at auction. This was the auctioneer's description:

"Date: 1875-1890. Provenance: Belgium. Octagonal barrel with fore-sight, rifled. Calibre 0. 22 sixteen-shot cylinder, frame marked 'HDH', 'CAL22' and with stamps 'Z' and 'R'. Loading gate, trigger-guard with finger support, wooden micro-checkered grip scales. Length 27.5 cm."

HDH was the Belgian firm of Henrion, Dassy & Heuschen (HDH) who made revolvers based on their 1910 patent in various calibers; 6.35 mm, 6.5 Velodog, and 7.65 mm. Only the largest calibre version had 16 shots; the two smaller calibres had 20 shots. The cartridges were held in two concentric rings, staggered so the double hammer only fired one chamber at a time. This sounds so much like the earlier Lefaucheux that one wonders how they got a patent.

Just possibly you're wondering what on earth a Velodog cartridge was. Fear not, it has a Wikipedia page. It was invented especialy for cyclists (velo) to defend themselves against dog attacks. The name is a compound of "velocipede" and "dog".

HDH has a Wikipedia page.

The price the gun sold for is unknown, but the pre-auction Estimate was €400 - €800.


18-SHOT REVOLVERS

Left: A eighteen-shot triple-barreled revolver

This is a relatively famous revolver. The marking 'Pistola con Caricato' indicate that the revolver was made in Italy. Caricato is an Italian word meaning either "stuffed" (as in farce/farci in the French?) or "caricature", which seems to indicate it was not meant to be a serious weapon. Probably it was a bit of fun for a wealthy gun enthusiast.

The cylinder holds eighteen 6.35 x 16 mm cartridges. I am not entirely sure if this is equivalent to the 0.25 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) round. These are the lowest power standard cartridges still made, apart from the rimfire .22 short. Note the relatively thin metal at the outside of the cylinder, suitable only for a low-power cartridge.

The gun has four firing modes plus a safety setting that prevents the hammer from hitting any firing pin. A selector button on the left side of the gun allows the shooter to choose which of the three barrels will fire; the fourth mode fires all three barrels at once for each pull of the trigger, for when you really mean business. There is more information here.

The gun is believed to be currently owned by a Russian collector.


20-SHOT REVOLVERS

Left: A Lefaucheux double-barreled twenty-shot revolver

This double-action, selective hammer revolver carried its 20 shots in two concentric rings of ten in the cylinder. The inner ring fired through the lower barrel and the outer ring through the upper barrel. It fired its 20 shots alternately from its two barrels by means of a vertically sliding piece under the hammer which selected the inner or outer cartridge ring. It is not yet clear if the alternate action was automatic or if it depended on the user manually sliding the piece.

According to Taylerson, these weapons were not only bulky and hard to handle, but also mechnically fragile.

7mm (0.32in) calibre pin-fire. Marked 'E. Lefaucheux'. Lefaucheux had workshops in Liège, Belgium (a major gun manufacturing city) and shipped guns to Paris for assembly, finishing and marking in their workshops at 194 rue Lafayette, Paris.

Date of manufacture unknown

Left: A Lefaucheux double-barreled twenty-shot revolver

This double-action, selective hammer revolver carried its 20 shots in two concentric rings of ten in the cylinder. Note the ejector rod just underneath the barrels; this swung on a hinge so it could be used on both the outer and inner rings in the cylinder. At the left of the cylinder can be seen the loading/ejection gate.

Loading this firearm must have been a time-consuming business, and probably best not done in the middle of a fight. Each pinfire cartridge not only has to be inserted into its cylinder chamber, it also has to be in the right orientation so that the pin on the cartridge aligns with the notch in the chamber.

The gun is marked MODEL 'LEFAUCHEUX PATENT', serial no. 1304. It was recently sold at auction for an unknown price.

This was the auctioneer's description:

"A RARE CASED 7mm PINFIRE TWENTY-SHOT OVER-UNDER REVOLVER, MODEL 'LEFAUCHEUX PATENT', serial no. 1304, circa 1865, with over-under 5in. barrel configuration, applied fore-sight, the top of barrel signed 'E. LEFAUCHEUX BTE PARIS' in script, underside marked 'RAFAEL BASCUNAN VALLEDOR' in gothic lettering, fully fluted twenty-shot staggered cylinder firing on alternate outer and inner chambers, open iron frame, the recoil shield with full pin guard and swing open loading gate, external spurred hammer with sighting notch to the nose and decorative tail to head, iron grip-straps with chequered semi saw-backed ebony grips, separate chequered panels to the domed pommel and lanyard ring at heel, folding trigger with over-travel stop and plunge ejector rod on hinged crane, traces of probable original finish and complete in a later walnut case with rounded corners and loose brass folding handle to lid, the interior compartmented and relined in green baize accommodating the revolver and a later wood cleaning rod."

"Sold as an exempt item under Section 58 (2) of the 1968 Firearms Act, to be held as a curiosity or ornament."

Left: A Lefaucheux double-barreled twenty-shot revolver

This is a still from a Forgotten Weapons YouTube video. The gun is marked 'E L Malherbe et Cie, Liège' on top of the upper barrel, but it looks very much like the Lefaucheux revolver just above. The gun is elaborately engraved and both barrels are covered with gold studs. Possibly Malherbe et Cie just did the fancy decoration.


30-SHOT REVOLVERS

Left: A double-barreled thirty-shot revolver: #1

This gun can load 30 pin-fire cartridges.

Regrettably the provenance of this picture has been lost. The distinctive shape of the support at the front of the cylinder suggests it is a Lefaucheux design, possibly a prototype. Note folding trigger.

Left: A double-barreled thirty-shot revolver: #1

This is the cylinder of the revolver just above. There are twenty chambers in the outside ring and 10 in the inner ring.

Note the pin-fire cartidge loaded in the top chamber. Note also that the metal of the outer ring is relatively thin- these were not powerful cartridges.

Left: A double-barreled thirty-shot revolver: #1

The twenty chambers in the outside ring and 10 in the inner ring; they are staggered so that cartridges are fired alternately from inner and outer rings by a double-hammer.

Left: A double-barreled thirty-shot revolver: #2

This 30- shot revolver was recently sold at auction. This was the auctioneer's description:

"Produced by an unknown maker with a design suggesting European, possibly French, manufacture. The revolver is fitted with a set of over/under barrels and a 2-layer cylinder with 30 chambers. Blade and notch sights, with a fixed double firing pin configured to shoot each barrel in sequence and a smooth grip."

The Estimate Price was $3,500 - $5,500, but it sold for $11,500.

Unfortunately the calibre is not given, but to make the gun a reasonable (?) size and weight it almost certainly used 6.35 x 16 mm cartridges.

Left: A double-barreled thirty-shot revolver: #2

The other side. On both sides there is what appears to be a tear-drop shaped aperture just below the lower barrel; its purpose is unknown.

Left: A double-barreled thirty-shot revolver: #2

Close-up of the double-hammer and the mechanism for rotating the cylinder. The function of the ratchet wheel is unknown. Can anybody help?

A WARNING

If you are searching the Web for unusual weapons, be aware that some you will come across are rendered CGI and not real weapons. Often it's obvious, but sometimes far from it. Here is an obvious example; the Blue Rose revolver.

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