Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nifty Old Revolvers

Since I'm sort of in the Steampunk/ "Lamplight Adventure" mode these days, I thought that I would show off and discuss a couple of interesting revolvers that have come my way. Sadly I only actually own one of them, but what the heck, it's fun just to be able to enjoy fiddling with them while in one's possession. And when you get down to it, such old things aren't actually OURS anyway, we're just the temporary stewards of them, while they make their way through their existence.

To begin with, I'll show off the Galand-Sommerville revolver, patented in 1868. It's pretty advanced for the day, and had a very reliable extraction system not unlike the later Enfield revolver of 1876, which the British Army adopted for general service and issue. Anyway, check it out. Here it is closed, as one would have it when either carrying it in the holster or readying to fire.

Next it's open, after having fired all of the rounds. Note how it pulls the cartridges out by their rims, and dumps them out, clearing the chambers for the next load of cartridges. The one disadvantage is that if you've only fire one or two shots, you still have to to through the motions of dumping out all of them. One would hope that the bullets still in the loaded cases would prevent (or at least slow them down) from just dropping out, but I haven't tried it with loaded rounds, so I don't know for certain. Hard to come up with Webley .442 ammo these days, I'm afraid.

The revolver itself no doubt has a very long and interesting history, which sadly we don't know. My friend who owns the revolver purchased it at a store in Herrat, Afghanistan some 20+ years ago, and it definitely shows some age and hard use. The grip is quite obviously a local replacement, but probably done some years ago. I'm betting that it's an original Galand, as the proofs and marks seem right, but there is also the possibility that it's a "Khyber-made" piece, based on one that may have been picked up somewhere (read "Dead Englishman") by a local and replicated several hundred times over the past 150 years. No matter, it's still a very cool piece.

The next item is also rather interesting in its possible history, and interesting enough in just its pedigree. It is of the Austrian Gasser design, of the pattern decreed by King Nicholas I of Montenegro to be carried by every male subject in his kingdom. (Handy too that King Nick had financial interest in the Gasser company, what?) Unfortunately for Nick, his decree only stated "Gasser Pattern", rather than manufacture so the Belgians, who are always up for a commercial enterprise, filled the gap with their own versions, as this one here is. What is more astonishing though is that, according to some (though I have not found solid evidence, but what the heck. I go with the "It is almost certainly true, because it sounds good!" theory for now) was purchased by Pancho Villa for his revolutionary army ca. 1912 or so. It DOES say on the top of the barrel "For .44 Winchester Cartridge", which to say the least would be an unusual one for Central Europe, but why in English, rather than Spanish? Or did Pancho's purchasing agents figure that the ".44 Winchester" was sufficient? Or what? Hard to tell, but it IS in .44 Winchester Center Fire (AKA .44WCF and .44-40), so who knows. Might even have been for the US market, though I can hardly credit that. On the other hand, Americans HAVE been known to buy some pretty outrageous things because they look cool (Hmm... I guess I'm guilty of that myself...) so here it is.

You'll note that it's a pretty big gun. It IS big. What is odd though is that for all of it's size, it still is only a 5-shooter. The cartridges only come about 3/4 of the way down the chamber, so I guess that the 11mm Montenegrin Gasser cartridge must have been BIG! Lots bigger than the .44WCF at least, and that's a pretty decent sized round. Anyway, here it is now open, with five nice new .44WCF empties in the chambers. Pretty cool old gun, I have to say.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll post again when I get something new that's interesting, or go on some new wild adventure.