Q&A #5: Rollin White and Other (Better) Designers

Questions in part I of today’s Q&A:

1:04 – What was Rollin White’s revolver like?
7:09 – Why did pan magazines disappear?
10:14 – Why no pointed pistol bullets?
13:24 – Funky rounds like Trounds or Gyrojet rockets
17:47 – Current US MHS trials
19:55 – Underappreciated designers

Questions in the part II of today’s Q&A:

0:07 – Import markings
2:53 – Military field modifications
7:35 – Replacement of .30-06 with 7.62x51mm
8:22 – Cancelled development programs
11:18 – Future Forgotten Weapons (and Mausers)
13:58 – My father’s interest in Japanese arms
14:54 – Why no ammo for Japanese arms?
18:32 – Gloves for handling valuable guns
22:31 – Austro-Hungarian WWI machine gun (my full video on the Schwarzlose M1907/12)


  1. My take on the Military field modifications -The Israeli Hitchhiker’s Magazine:

    It’s common to see in Israel soldiers hitchhiking on their way home or back to base. Usually for safety reasons the driver’s demand the soldier to remove the magazine from the gun and cycle the gun before entering the car. During the late 80’s & early 90’s there was a kidnapping threat, Arab terrorists pretending to be Israelis gives a ride to soldiers and kill or kidnap them.As so called “counter-measure”; some soldiers (against military orders) home-machined and home-weld a Shorty M-16 mag of 4 or 5 rounds. Totally concealed inside the M-16 magazine sleeve the hitchhiker mag gives the solider the ability to be armed with one round in the barrel and 3 or 4 extra in the hidden mag. The mag usually machined with a small knob at the bottom for extract the magazine from the gun.

    • Why not just have a drawn pistol or a knife upon entering the car? Car seats don’t stop 9×19 mm bullets too well…

      • Rule 1; Never sit up front.

        Rule 2; Always check the back seat and/or back of the SUV before getting in.

        Rule 3; Sit directly behind the driver.

        Rule 4; If there’s a divider between front and rear seats, don’t get in, period.

        Rule 5; If all else fails, knife or 9mm , back of neck or head. Then hit the footwell, because you’re probably going to crash.



  2. On the subject of pointed pistol bullets, one of the major problems that you encounter is yaw. This is true of rifle bullets as well. When you are shooting a long pointed bullet at say 300 yards, there are still some stabilization and yaw issues for instance with full load 308 168G Sierra Match Kings. In pistols at typically 10 to 50 yards, the issue is much greater. With a perfect center hold you could probably end up with a complete shot out circle if you shot enough ammo, with nothing in the middle. The longer the bullet and pointier its gets and the shorter the distance, the worst things get.

    • A longer, thinner, pointier bullet would of course require a barrel with a greater twist rate to stabilize the bullet. Also, shortening the barrel (and thus decreasing the bullet velocity & more importantly, it’s rotational “RPM” speed) also requires having a greater twist rate to stabilize the bullet. (and that’s why many AR15 pistols reportedly keyhole)

  3. I wonder if Rollin White’s design might have been intended for cartridges made of nitrocellulose (or other highly flammable material) or was the assumption that the percussion cap would reliably blast open a cardboard cartridge and ignite the gunpowder directly? (and then if a percussion cap would reliably blast through a cardboard cartridge, then why didn’t cap and ball revolvers normally use them?)

    It seems odd that he apparently didn’t consider (or know about) pinfire revolvers, an already proven design. It would seem that the pinfire patent (if even applicable in the USA) could have been easily bypassed by designing a cartridge with a lower brass end and an upper paper/nitrocellulose end, kind of like a shotgun cartridge without a primer, but with the percussion cap positioned over the midsection of the cartridge, which would have allowed the breech end to be sealed during firing.

    On “spitzer” pistol bullets: 9mm pointed pistol bullets of numerous types have been developed in recent years for armor penetration, and reportedly will soon become standard-issue in Russia. It will be interesting to see what will happen here in the US if and when most criminals use body armor, since any handgun round with the ability to easily penetrate standard-issue police body armor can be expected to be outlawed at some point (including re-interpretation of existing laws, as we saw last year with the ATF’s proposed ban on M855 green tip). Personally, I’ve never understood why the sort of people who rob gas stations late at night almost never wear body armor — is it some kind of macho thing or just plain stupidity? (Not that I’m complaining either way)

    30-06 vs 7.62×51: A reason I’ve always seen given for the switch is that the 7.62×51 was a better design for automatics, with guns with a more compact action, shorter bolt travel, and higher rate of fire. As well as lower cost.

    • “30-06 vs 7.62×51”
      Soviet in parallel worked at 5,6-mm and 6,5-mm and 7,62-mm intermediate cartridge, they finally press into production 7,62-mm which is now known as 7,62×39 model 1943, other were ballistic-wise superior but 7,62 was more industry-friendly thus its choice.
      According to http://www.bratishka.ru/archiv/2011/11/2011_11_6.php
      В. Г. Федоров argued as early as in 1939 that new intermediate cartridge should be 6–6,25 мм caliber, later in his work «Исследование дальнейших путей повышения эффективности стрельбы из стрелкового оружия» (1945) he repeat that new cartridge should be smaller caliber.

    • White’s design was intended to use the same combustible “skin”-type cartridges that were used in Colt’s existing revolvers, just loaded from the rear of each chamber instead of the front. These cartridges were made much like sausage skins; sheep intestine wall material was soaked in a warm-to-hot solution of potassium nitrate in water, stretched over a wooden form, and dried.

      Then they were loaded with powder, the bullet inserted at the open end, and the whole thing shellacked then allowed to dry. The shellac or varnish both acted as a “glue” to hold the bullet in place, a waterproofer, and also to stiffen the cartridge to better resit distortion in transport and loading. On firing, the combination of varnish and the saltpeter impregnation caused the “skin” to ignite along with the powder and burn, thus leaving little or no residue in the chamber. In effect, an early form of “caseless” ammunition.

      Colt rejected White’s design for several reasons. First, as can be seen from the diagrams, there really was no adequate breech seal to prevent powder blowback. Second, the system of loading was clumsy and rather impractical for a one hand arm. And finally, by that time Colt knew that White was a grifter and con artist who specialized in using falsely-filed foreign patents to sue others for gain. He wanted no part of White’s chicanery.

      It was just unfortunate that Horace Smith and Daniel Baird Wesson weren’t so morally upright. And that they apparently had someone in the U.S. Patent Office who managed to not find the Lefaucheux patent of 1851 when White’s patent was granted. It should never have been, a fact pointed out to both S&W and the USPO in detail by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1869.

      I do find it ironic that today, S&W are mainly known for their self-loading pistols rather than their revolvers. Considering that practically every one they make, even disregarding the SW1911, is based on John M. Browning’s patents, filed when he worked for Colt.

      As for the .30-06 vs. 7.62 x 51, while the ’06 will work through a self-loading action (the .50 BMG is essentially a scaled-up ’06 cartridge case), it’s really just a bit too long and has a little too much taper for efficient operation.

      The 7.62 x 51, basically a .300 Savage with a slightly longer neck (to better grip the bullet to avoid “debulleting” when slammed back and forth in a self-loading action) has a more “straight-sided” case, which is better suited to the geometries of self-loading actions.

      You may notice the resemblance between the 7.62 x 51 case and the 5.56 x 45. The .223 Remington was developed from the AR-15’s original chambering, .222 Remington Magnum, by a very similar process. Like the ’06, the .222 RM was designed to ensure reliable feeding in a bolt-action. To make it a more reliable “feeder” in a self-loader, it was given straighter case walls and a more “squared” shoulder angle in creating the .223/5.56 cartridge case.

      The only real difference is that it didn’t need to be shortened, as it was fairly short compared to its rim/head diameter to begin with.



      • I don’t believe S&W is these days better known for semiauto pistols than revolvers. Pretty much anyone who is not a complete newbie in the handgun world knows about the classic S&W police revolvers, many of which are still in production, and of course the Model 29 is still known for the Dirty Harry movies. This is even more so in Europe, where practically no one has a S&W semiauto pistol. S&W revolvers, on the other hand, are everywhere with Ruger as their only really significant competitor in the “modern” revolver market (cowboy action is a different matter). Colt’s contribution to revolvers after WW2 is pretty much limited to the Python, and it isn’t even manufactured any more.

        • S&W really got it right with the 586/686 revolver–just as the wonder-nine semi-autos took over the market. That gun could rival a Colt Python but at a price that more people could afford.

          Still nice guns, and for recreation revolvers are pleasant–especially if one is a hand loader who does not like chasing brass everywhere. In an outdoors setting there is something to be said for a good revolver that is powerful enough to stop a dangerous animal and that does not have a magazine to lose.

          I have noticed though, that people who start off shooting semi-autos do not seem to do well with revolvers while people who started with revolvers tend to do just fine with semi-autos–especially if they learned to shoot well double action. If a person started handgun shooting, besides in the military, before the late 1980’s or so in the US, they very likely started out with revolvers. These days I would guess that most shooters under the age of 30 have never shot a revolver, and if they do it is only a snub nosed model.

          • I have long lusted after a 6″ 686, or for that matter a 6″ Colt King Cobra, which was also fundamentally an affordable Python.

            The Ruger GP-100 would be an excellent choice, as well. If I wanted the ultimate nearly-indestructible .357 revolver, I’d hunt up one of the early Ruger Redhawks in .357 (yes, it was briefly made in that “small” a caliber, along with .41 Magnum).

            The best “survival” centerfire handgun around today is probably the Ruger Convertible Single-Six .357 with the spare 9 x 19mm cylinder. Considering .357, .38 Special, and 9 x 19mm ammunition production, there are probably 150+ factory loads that will work in it. And you’ll likely find at least some of them anywhere on Earth.



          • “Considering .357, .38 Special, and 9 x 19mm ammunition production, there are probably 150+ factory loads that will work in it. And you’ll likely find at least some of them anywhere on Earth.”
            If your main fear is running out of ammunition best choice is Medusa Model 47 which can fire no less than 25 various cartridges from SAME cylinder.
            See videos of Medusa here: http://thefunnybeaver.com/medusa-m-47-revolver-video/
            it is mainly made for use 9mm or .38 caliber round (like .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9×17 Kurz, 9×23 Largo and other) and in DIRE need even .32 Auto (however I think accuracy will be non-existent), but remember that this revolver can NOT use 9x18mm Makarov cartridge (which is in reality 9,2mm)

          • Some rare LE departments still issue revolvers. I have been using S&W Model 64 revolvers on duty for 20 years. We do have Glocks as well, but the vast majority are the wheel guns, not counting 12 gauges and a few Ruger Mini 14s.

          • I believe the French Gendarmerie still uses the Manurhin MR73 and variants to some extent, although they are slowly being replaced by semiauto pistols (Glocks, if I remember correctly).

      • eon,

        “Lefaucheux patent of 1851”

        Which patent is that? I was under the impression that the UK and French Lefaucheux patents for the pin-fire revolver were both granted in 1854.

        • You’re right, it was 1854. Still predates White, though.

          And by a reciprocity agreement we had with France going back to Napoleon’s time, French patents were supposed to be honored over here, too.

          Which strongly indicates some hanky-panky at the U.S. Patent Office.



      • “I do find it ironic that today, S&W are mainly known for their self-loading pistols rather than their revolvers. Considering that practically every one they make, even disregarding the SW1911, is based on John M. Browning’s patents, filed when he worked for Colt.”
        But notice that in our days almost any automatic pistol is more-or-less based on J.M.Browning solutions.

  4. Ian all I got here was the advertisement as well. However when I clicked on the Schwarzlose video that took me to Full 30 and both Q&A’s were there.

  5. One relatively early pointed pistol cartridge designed for pointed armor piercing bullets is the Soviet/Russian 5.45×18mm for the PSM pocket pistol. I wonder why this cartridge has not raised any interest in Western gun companies. It would allow to make very small pocket pistols with similar or even higher capacity than .25 ACP, and the higher pressure and thus higher muzzle velocity would enable expanding bullets without sacrificing penetration too much.

  6. Regarding pointed pistol bullets: the Arcane projectiles developed by the Germans during WW2 are in many ways the genesis of modern armor piercing pistol ammunition. They were made of harder metals than lead( naval bronze being a preferred material in the 80s). They also had an acutely sharpened conical point (30 degree angle or so). This gave a reasonably high mass projectile that looked like a wadcutter that had been turned in a pencil sharpener. They wound up being part of the “cop killer bullet” farce. Any of the fancy new Russian 9mm as well as the military low dings for the 5.7 a d similar ammo are all regulated by that US legislation and are thus not available for new purchase by civilians in the US.

    • “Cop killer bullets” for handguns are freakishly expensive and not likely to work as intended if the intended victim is hiding behind decent cover 200 feet away. A Five-Seven costs over 12 hundred bucks (not including importation fees), and I’m pretty sure the AP rounds cost hundreds of dollars a box! And so called “armor piercing” ammo which was not intended to penetrate body armor (ordinary FMJ 7.62×25 Tokarev) is useless against a charging police car!

      • To get the same effective results with non-AP rounds as a Five-Seven for a lot less, I’d suggest any decent pistol in .22 WMRF.

        The Grendel P-30 aka Kel-Tec PMR 30 is probably a more practical fighting handgun than the Five-Seven. Cheaper to feed, too.



        • There exist Russian DROTIK machine pistol firing 5.45 x 18 cartridge:
          with magazine holding 24 rounds, when 5.45 x 18 has good penetration capability its so-called stopping power is dubious, especially if fired at longer ranges. DROTIK was supposed to out-weight lack of stopping by firing short burst with high rate-of-fire, but in reality it didn’t work well – few examples were produced, but experience gained was used to craft PERNACH machine pistol (9×18 Makarov, if you compare photos of both DROTIK and PERNACH connection is obvious)

          • That is an elegant looking pistol; probably the best looking out of all Russian pistols I have seen. The 9mm Mak version with its auto potential is certainly an awesome option.

        • .22 Magnum is a rimfire cartridge, so I wouldn’t really recommend it for any kind of self-defense of combat use in a semiauto pistol. It is a good cartridge for relatively small high-capacity revolvers, although performance of factory loads with a shorter than 4″ barrel is quite disappointing:


      • Since the AP pistol ammo is only sold to government agencies of one sort or another , anything legally on the U S civilian market is such ammo as was privately purchased prior to the legislation banning such sales. Very likely expensive indeed , though I have not looked for any. Since there are very few practical Applications to begin with and it was only marketed to government agencies, private sales must have been sparse from the get go. I never saw much point in it personally and still feel I can address any anti personnel handgun needs with a .357 and conventional bullets.

  7. What strikes me on these round-ups is the amount of unpretentious common-sense mindset which seem to prevail on both, inquirer’s and responder’s sides. As for myself, even if may have some leads to many questions, I enjoy to listen and add to or correct my own views.

    I believe this is one of foremost qualities for which this web has become world-known and sought for.

  8. Enjoy all that you all do—However, could u make the Q&A dealies where we could link on individual questions, or list the start time of each

    It would make it a lot easier/quicker to go right to those questions of interest to the individual viewer–

  9. Excellent videos as always. Had to watch them on full30 again, for some reason the commercial plays but not the video using Firefox. Loved hearing about your father, I have his book and it has been a godsend for my Japanese rifles. Japanese ammo is fairly easy to get, especially if you reload (I do). If you want hard to get ammo, try 7.62 French Long or 7.62×45 Czech. Would love to see a video on the Czech VZ-52 Rifle, I have 3 of them and I make my own ammo so I can shoot them. (yeah, I know I keep asking) Keep up the great work!!!

  10. Ian the Glove question to wear or not comes down to the preservation method being used. Most collectors use
    OIL and no gloves are wanted or needed. The guns are periodically re oiled. . Museums like to use WAX for long term. Warm hands melt the wax layer so gloves are worn to protect the WAX.

  11. Ian, what I really appreciate in your videos (of course aside from the actual topic, reviews and history of forgotten weapons) is all the efforts you put into pronouncing foreign languages the best you can (with actual results, be reassured).
    Being French, and knowing it’s not the esaiest language to speak, I appreciate you very polite efforts and I thank you for that.
    “Dieudonné Saive” is pronounced quite like “dude-honey save”

    You can use this tool to listen to really good pronounciations of any kind of word (including names) in many foreign languages : http://www.acapela-group.com/?lang=en
    It helps me a lot and I hope it will help you too.

      • Very funny Daweo !

        I do not know where comes the emphasize on last syllable from. It can be a problem for some French speaking foreign languages as well.

        The usage of domestic terms instead of originals are mainly due to the Académie Française, an organism aiming to protect and promote the French language by creating French words when the original term is not.
        We have “courriel” for “e-mail”, etc.
        These words are usually not used except in official or administrative documents, as the people use the original words : we say “un mail” (“a mail”). “A spam” is told “un pourriel”, melting “courriel” (e-mail) and “pourri” (rubbish). Again, we prefer “spam”. Some words are just written in the French fashion, as “bug”, which is frenchified in “bogue” (almost the same pronounciation).

        “Octet” comes from the 8 bits in a computer byte. The words comes from “octo” (8) in greek, one of the roots of French language. It was created because “bit” and “byte” is pronounced the same in French, thus can lead to missunderstandings. the pronounciation of the words “bit” and “byte” is also the same as the word we use to designate male genitals. Some well inspired people found usefull to search for another way to call them… Which didn’t prevented some people to make jokes about it anyway.

        Our habit of defending our language is very strong, even if the new generations is not so inclined to do it. We are one of the very few countries in the world were everything (litterally everything) is translated : all goods, films, books, everything. There is some kind of chauvinism behind this, even if the French people is widely open to foreign cultures.

        • “Some words are just written in the French fashion, as “bug”, which is frenchified in “bogue” (almost the same pronounciation).”
          Russian approach is to write as you hear it, which is applied not only for things but names also. For example there was (and is) Мичман (Michman) rank in Navy, which is from English Midshipman.
          However most technical and military terms are from German – for example Russian Army(Tsarist Era) has such ranks as ефрейтор (from Gefreiter, infantry rank), Канонир (from Kanonier, lowest artillery rank), младший фейерверкер and старший фейерверкер (both from Feuerwerker, artillery rank), фельдфебель (from Feldwebel, both infantry and artillery rank), вахмистр (from Wachtmeister, cavalry rank), ротмистр (from Rittmeister, cavalry rank) and others.

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