34 Comments

  1. Ah, yes, a transitional revolver layout. This setup could accommodate both percussion lock and center-fire actions, if you think about where the hammer is going to hit. The Devisme has a lower bore axis compared to other revolvers of the era, so I suppose there’s less muzzle rise upon discharge.

      • I don’t think there are many striker-fired revolvers because hammers are simpler to install and easier to cock on the draw. Plus, a striker-fired design requires both hands to prepare for immediate use!

        • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “true” striker-fired revolver. Even oddballs like the “Little All Right” have a concealed, swinging hammer and a DAO mechanism;

          http://media.liveauctiongroup.net/i/14389/14553136_1.jpg?v=8CF89AF59DD80A0

          Even the present-day Mateba, in regular or automatic form, has a swinging hammer, I believe. It just pivots at the top of the frame due to the extremely low boreline. In effect, the hammer is “upside down”.

          cheers

          eon

          • Uh, what about the Dreyse revolver? It’s a needle-fire design with no hammer… Just like the original Dreyse rifle, the striker must be retracted by hand before you aim at any potential opponent.

          • Addendum:
            a striker-fired design requires both hands to prepare for immediate use!
            @Cherndog: as above-mentioned DECKER revolver shows, such statement is false.

          • Yep, you guys got me. I’d forgotten those. And I should have remembered both, especially the Dreyse & Collenbusch, because it was one of the best designs for a DA close-quarter revolver ever. In fact, one of the early Mateba designs, the MTR-8, used its layout;

            http://matebafan.com/mtr/photo1large.jpg

            Now that one pretty much has to be striker-fired.

            cheers

            eon

          • Actually the MTR-8 is hammer fired, but the concealed hammer hits a very long firing pin. So the MTR-8 is kind of between striker-firing and hammer-firing in that the hammer’s position is not directly behind any chambered round.

            Perhaps the reason striker-fired revolvers (even the double-action ones) didn’t get into the market was because hammer-fired guns were all over the place and easier to understand and maintain…

  2. Interestingly the hammer is out of the way of the rear sight and front sight.
    All of the replicas of handguns I have from that era, the hammer IS the rear sight.

    • To be fair, those revolvers had very high bore axes. Why make a dedicated rear sight when the raised hammer can act as one?

  3. This one looks so well, almost brand new !
    That break-open feature must have been quite useful with cap & ball configuration to protect caps.

    The only complain I would make to European revolver of that era would be about cylinder length : I got the impression they made it a bit too short, and I wonder if with the same technology they could have made reliable and handy models designed for bigger pressure…

    • Well, there were limits to what one could do with black powder cartridges. Back in those days, the prevailing thought was “bigger bullet = more power to smash the other guy.” This revolver would have been used as a gentleman’s defensive piece or a target gun, if I’m not mistaken. Not much need for body armor penetration if the intended recipient of your bullets wears thin cotton or plain wool, neither of which protect against 11mm lead. I also suspect that the bullet’s relatively low velocity upon penetrating the victim means that the projectile will expend its energy ripping up the victim’s innards without exiting…

      • Back in those days, the prevailing thought was “bigger bullet = more power to smash the other guy.”

        Actually, it was simple physics. The burning characteristics of black powder sharply restrict the velocities that can be developed in even a rifle or musket-length barrel, let alone a short (under 10″/26cm) pistol barrel.

        According to my Lyman Black Powder Handbook (1975 edition), maximum powder charges, MEs, etc.,for revolvers are as follows;

        .31 cal (5.75in bbl. Baby Dragoon); G-O FFFFg, 13 gr., 50-gr. ball, 795 F/S, 70 FPE

        .36 cal (7.5in bbl. 1851 Navy(; G-O FFFg, 29 gr., 81-gr. ball, 1,097 F/S, 216 FPE

        .44 cal (8in bbl. Rem. 1860 Army); G-O FFFg, 37 gr., 138-gr. ball, 1,032 F/S, 326 FPE

        .45 cal (7.5in bbl. Ruger Old Army); C&H FFFg, 41 gr., 185-gr. ball, 1,021 F/S, 427 FPE

        As you may notice, the maximum charge (basically what you can get into the chamber and still have room for a round ball) delivers a bit over 1,000 feet-per-second muzzle velocity in each case. This is consistent across calibers.

        Service loads of the era were considerably more “sedate”, with MVs usually around 600-700 F/S, and MEs rarely going much above 150-170 FPE even in large calibers.

        Remember the formula for energy; Mass x Velocity Squared. If you can’t increase the velocity appreciably, the only way to get more striking energy is to increase projectile mass. And that means increasing bore size; see the Square/Cube Law.

        BTW, according to Ian Hogg in Guns And How They Work (Marshall Cavendish, 1979), the vaunted Brown Bess musket (Long Land Service Pattern, 1720), with a 45.5-inch barrel and a caliber of .753in, fired a 490-grain round ball at 600 feet per second, yielding a muzzle energy of 397 foot-pounds (533 joules).

        The semi-legendary Ferguson breechloading rifle, circa 1776, .702in caliber, 34.125in barrel, fired its tight-fitting 450-grain round ball at 750 feet per second, for 562 foot-pounds (765 joules).

        Or in other words, the Brown Bess hit like a modern .45 or 9mm automatic pistol, and the “powerful” Ferguson hit like a “warm” .357 Magnum revolver load. A modern-day 12-gauge shotgun loaded with “old-fashioned” Foster-type rifled slugs will outperform both in power and probably effective range, as well.

        Big bores weren’t just a theory back then. They were a vital necessity due to the inherent limitations of black powder as a propellant.

        Moral; Physics always wins. And you can’t fool Sir Isaac Newton or Benjamin Robins.

        cheers

        eon

        • “The burning characteristics of black powder sharply restrict the velocities that can be developed in even a rifle or musket-length barrel, let alone a short (under 10″/26cm) pistol barrel.”
          Which is maximal speed for metallic-cartridge and black-powder rifle? For example for Cartridge, S.A., Ball, Magazine Rifle, Mark 1.C. Solid Case, .303inch I found muzzle velocity 1830 fps
          http://www.dave-cushman.net/shot/303hist.html

          • Going back to the Lyman 1975 edition, the muzzle velocity champion there is the .36 cal. Navy Arms percussion rifle, 43″ barrel, firing a 71-grain round ball with 70 grains of G-O FFFg. It delivered 2505 F/S and 988 FPE at 14,860 CUP. Energy at 100 yards, however, was only 181 FPE, because the round ball loses velocity very quickly.

            Most other calibers rarely exceeded 2300 F/S, regardless of ball weight and charge. The slowest overall was the .75 smoothbore musket, maximum being 545-gr. ball in front of 150 grains G-O FFFFg yielding 1,213 F/S and 1778 FPE. Retained energy at 100 yards isn’t given, but would likely have been around 1650 FPE.

            Elongated bullets in rifled barrels started out slower (around 1,200 F/S across the boards), but of course had more retained energy downrange due to better sectional density/ballistic coefficients.

            So, the all-out top on a blackpowder rifle with a round ball is about the velocity of a “first generation” smokeless-powder .30 caliber class bolt-action rifle round, like the 8mm Lebel, 0.303in, etc.

            Which actually isn’t too bad, overall. Just remember that its energy is largely bled off by aerodynamic drag in the first 100 yards of travel.

            Old-times like Davy Crockett who “Killed a bar” at ranges under 25 yards weren’t engaging in bravado. They were using their weapons to the best advantage. The best way to bring the target down, ultimately, is to hit it in a vital spot as hard as possible.

            Or as the old saying goes, “get as close as you can- and then get ten feet closer”.

            cheers

            eon

          • Also, it is od advantage, especially with round nose bullets to not to go too fast. Anything going over speed of sound and faster is picking up drag rather rapidly.

            With velocities like 2.5-3M it is unavoidable to go with nothing but modern spritzer bullets. But then, knock-down capability is somewhat uncertain. It’s a tricky balance overall.

    • “with the same technology they could have made reliable and handy models designed for bigger pressure…”
      I will not say it is impossible, but it would be complicated.
      Early center-fire cartridges have some reliability issues, primer-case junction was not very good, primer can be rammed into case or blow out after discharge, some cartridge has special “pole” inside with primer at one end and bullet on other to prevent ramming.
      Also, if I am not mistaken, biggest selling point of metallic-cartridge revolver is that they could be reloaded faster than percussion revolvers.

  4. For some reason this gun really appeals to me. I love that it’s an early cartridge gun in a non-trivial caliber (can’t speak to velocity however)and it looks quite compact! The break action, the ratcheting ejector housing, the off-center hammer, the sweep of the grip are a all very cool. The profile of the gun overall is very elegant and the level of workmanship is just superb. I’m sure I could never afford to own this but it’s the first rare, collectible handgun I’ve ever been tempted to buy. Nice video.

  5. Actually, the Devisme is a top-break revolver. While its hinge point is at the aft end of the cylinder instead of at the front, it still breaks “downward” for ejection, like a Smith & Wesson American or Russian, or a Webley top-break.

    The “bottom break” type hinges the barrel or whatever upward, as on the Smith & Wesson No.1 .22 RF, the No. 2 .32 RF, or the Mauser Model (18)78 revolvers with the break-open system.

    There were three different “M78” types, one solid-frame like a M/1879 Reichsrevolver, and two “bottom-breaks” with different ways of latching the front of the frame shut. All called “Model 78”. Pity the poor guy in charge of the parts department at DWM back then.

    cheers

    eon

    • How would “bottom hinged” suit to you? 🙂
      That hinge look like at the right spot, there is lots of frame section present.

  6. I am absolutely smitten with this design and for number of years. One thing which strikes me is absence of positive indexing; this being replaced with mentioned friction acting leaf spring.

    Well, French seem to have penchant for utter almost provocative simplicity of their designs. I recall the Renault car I once owned had just 3 bolts to hold each wheel (never fell off in my experience). Also, as far as I know, FAMAS rifle was originally made with three grooves in barrel bore. Theoretically, three is good number to definitely locate in primary plane, but still… kind of iffy.

    • The front-wheel drive Citroen 2CV had the same arrangement. Not to mention a 2-cylinder air-cooled engine even smaller, simpler and more mule-stupid to maintain than a VW’s four-cylinder.

      You had to love the four-wheel drive version of the “Deux Chevaux”. Instead of adding a section of drivetrain to convert the front-wheel-drive car to a 4 x 4, they just bolted a second complete engine and standard 2-wheel drivetrain in back. No wonder it did so well in the Paris-Dakar Rally; if an engine died, it just kept on going in 2-wheel drive.

      There’s something to be said for doing things the most direct way.

      cheers

      eon

      • Well, it appears that the Citroen engineers really found the simplest solution to be the best one. Rather than connect a transmission shaft to an engine and possibly overtax it, just add another motor. The only issue is fuel consumption of the double engine setup unless your usual driving scenario covers extremely rough ground where handling the terrain trumps overall kilometers per liter (where does one put an extra fuel tank?).

        Is there any potential military application of a 2CV Sahara, albeit with a different style body, since it won’t require the ludicrous amount of man-hours needed to fix a Humvee? I know it won’t have any real armor, but it might off-road better than any truck ISIL would use as a fighting vehicle or car-bomb…

        • If you need a very easily repairable and simple off-road vehicle, Mother Russia has something to offer:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UAZ-469

          The current model UAZ Hunter has some modernizations (engine and gearbox), but it’s still basically the same vehicle. The thing will go basically anywhere a 4WD vehicle of conventional layout possibly can go, but of course only in the hands of a capable off-road driver.

  7. The Devisme revolver is fairly rare at gunshows here in France and expensive .I talked to a collecter once who shot his percussion version regularly and he said he preferred the colt

  8. This is such a cool revolver. It looks like an old-school Schofield, which is also an old-school centerfire rifle.

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