Dardick Model 1500: The Very Unusual Magazine-fed Revolver

The Dardick 1500 was a magazine-fed revolver designed by David Dardick in the 1950s. His patent was granted in 1958, and somewhere between 40 and 100 of the guns were made in 1959, before the company went out of business in 1960. The concept was based around a triangular cartridge (a “tround”) and a 3-chambered, open-sided cylinder. This wasn’t really of direct benefit to a handgun, but instead was ideal for a high rate of fire machine gun, where the system did not need to pull rounds forward or backward to chamber and eject them. In lieu of military machine gun contract, Dardick applied the idea to a sidearm.

The Model 1500 held 15 rounds, inside a blind magazine in the grip. It was chambered for a .38 caliber cartridge basically the same as .38 Special ballistically. A compact Model 1100 was also made in a small numbers, with a shorter grip and correspondingly reduced magazine capacity (11 trounds). A carbine barrel/stock adapter was also made. The guns were a complete commercial failure, with low production and lots of functional problems. Today, of course, they are highly collectible because of that scarcity and their sheer mechanical weirdness.

Sold for $4,888 in the December 2019 RIA Premier auction.

33 Comments

  1. A… Magazine fed… Revolver… That fires triangular rounds?!

    That’s gotta be hands down one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard.

    Really gotta give him props on the design though. It looks like a cool weapon out of Star Wars, and that box got some incredibly modern design for the 1950’ies! It looks like it was designed yesterday. (The box that is!)

    • “(…)A… Magazine fed… Revolver… That fires triangular rounds(…)”
      A… Magazine fed… Revolver… That fires triangular rounds… with cartridge cases made of polymer (remember that year is 1958, well before that anyone produced polymer automatic pistol en masse) and also buried bullet.
      Interestingly municion suggest: http://municion.org/Dardick/Dardick.htm that even more untypical solution – single cartridge case with 3 bullets of caliber .17 (“triplex”). Was it supposed to be used with 3 barrels (or 3-bore-1-barrel)?

      • @Daweo

        Just because similar ideas or parts of the concept were used later, still doesn’t make it a good idea.

        What problem is this guy trying to solve? Revolvers have an advantage over automatic guns in terms of reliability. Automatic guns have other advantages. Rather than “the best of both worlds” with this gun you get the worst of both systems. A revolver with the possibility of feeding problems.

        As for the triangular polymer rounds, that is something that possibly might make sense for a military. But in a handgun not so much.

        • I’m guessing that triangular rounds were necessary to slide in under the top strap while maintaining as much contact as possible between the tround top and the bottom of the top strap. A round round which slid in from the side would leave a lot of unsupported case not in contact with the top strap. If the bottom of the top strap were round to match a round case, a round could not slide in from the side.

        • “(…)What problem is this guy trying to solve?(…)”
          You seems to be overlooking fact that year was 1959. Back then in U.S.A. most automatic pistols have single-stack magazine, so back then capacity 15 must look like really high capacity for handgun. Also it is not self-loading arm, so you might use cartridges with smaller powder charge if you wish, without hindering reliability.

    • Two guys were involved in the Dardick gun. One was an engineer and wanted to make a machine gun. The other one was more of a businessman and wanted to start off with a handgun, which was a wrong decision.

  2. This concept, as indicated, is more applicable to small-to-medium caliber flak cannons or aircraft guns, which can afford to be externally powered up, preferably cycled with electric motors. The lack of a cycling bolt takes a potential weakness out of the system, namely the extraction phase. The downside is if a cartridge fails to eject from the cylinder, but good quality ammunition and well done maintenance should prevent such a failure. I could be wrong.

    • “(…)aircraft guns(…)”
      In 1950s Great Britain, somewhat similar solution was tested code-named “NUTCRACKER”:
      http://www.quarryhs.co.uk/Split%20Breech.htm
      unlike DARDICK it was supposed to have two rotors, with half-of-cylinder shaped orifices. This system would require very tight timing, to avoid firing of cartridge when not fully closed. Little is known about it, whyabouts of it cancelling remain unknown.

  3. I noticed that when Ian inserted the “tround” into the loading port, he had it backwards; the bullet facing the firing pin. I would say this would be a mistake that could be made all too easily when reloading under stress, especially in the dark, and could cost the shooter- such as a police officer- their life.

    That said, the application of this system to a very high RoF weapon is obvious. It would be an entirely reasonable system for a DEFA or ADEN-type revolver-breech aircraft cannon, for instance. The main limit there would be keeping the RoF low enough not to overheat the single barrel, even with ram-air cooling from a 300 KT plus slipstream. A FAAD system, like the old German Gepard Flakpanzer or the Russian 2K22 Tunguska, would almost certainly need liquid cooling of the gun tube(s).

    In a Vulcan “Gatling” type weapon, I could see a 20mm or even 30mm cannon with a really insanely-high RoF; imagine a 30mm GAU-8 type cannon with a RoF equal to an XM214 “Microgun” in 5.56 x 45mm. Just the thing for a CIWS on a warship, short of a laser. It could hose an anti-ship missile out of the air so fast it would need a targeting computer to run it; no human operator would be fast enough.

    The system could be defined as the first practical application of Plastic-Cased Telescoped Ammunition (PCTA). I noticed that the primer end looks distinctly like a shotgun “battery cup” primer and socket. In a future version, I’d expect electrical ignition to replace percussion. Note that in a “tround” like this, liquid propellant would be much more feasible than in conventional ammunition. For an extremely high RoF cannon, a combustible plastic cased (CPCTA) tround might be a reasonable possibility.

    The likely future small-arms application would be a SAW, with a Calico (Evans)-type helical-feed magazine. This would solve two basic problems with a SAW; weight of ammunition in serious calibers for the job (defined as “at least equivalent to a 7.62 x 51mm NATO in performance”), and not having to deal with a belt feed on a man-portable weapon.

    In a rifle, SMG, or pistol, I have my doubts.

    cheers

    eon

    • î This!

      With all the research into polymer-cased, telescoped ammunition as somehow more workable than straight-up caseless á la Gay Elf/ “Kraut Space Magik” H u. K krieg der stern wunderwaffe, mit square-section “patronen” ol’ Dardick might get the “last laugh” when it is re-discovered that the “tround” fits better in the magazine than the old cylindrical cartridges made of brass…

      That said, were each and every cartridge for a reload to be plunked into the magazine from above, or was there a “charger loading” system of some kind envisioned? I had to chuckle more than a little at the “1100” version… So the the “1500” was for the flatfoot patrolman, and the “1100” was for the Joe Friday plainclothes officer?

      Ian has done it again! Very, very interesting and certainly “forgotten!”

      • @eon: “(…)SAW(…)”
        @Dave: “(…) “tround” fits better in the magazine than the old cylindrical cartridges made of brass…(…)”
        Ok, tround might have better coefficient of volume filling of box magazine than cylinders, but why not go step further to… brick-shaped ammunition.
        Hughes (of helicopters fame) did, they created buried-bullet plastic-cased cartridge of brick shape code-named chiclet, see 1st photo from top:
        http://www.cartridgecollector.net/556-x-30-hughes-lockless
        and 5.56 mm LOCKLESS RIFLE/MACHINE GUN see pdf available here:
        https://www.smallarmsreview.com/archive/detail.arc.entry.cfm?arcid=3693
        interestingly it was using …magazine…designed for factory loading and indefinite storage…, could be switched with one hand, has capacity 64. It fired 420 rpm (which looks to be reasonable for SAW) and weighted around 10 lbs loaded.
        Ballistic wise it was superior to then used 5,56×45 NATO cartridges with 55 gr bullets firing 68 gr at 3100 fps, but that obviously is not “(…)“at least equivalent to a 7.62 x 51mm NATO in performance”(…)”.
        Due to flatness of brick-shaped cartridge, relatively high-capacity magazine (64) could be used without extending too much.

        • I forgot to add that “factory loading” of magazine should prevent any mishap of pushing cartridge reversed front-to-end under stress in field conditions.

          • My incomprehensible comment about the German G11 aka. “Sauerkraut/Blaukraut Space Magik” fur krieg der stern was intended to reference the caseless 4,7/4,92mm cartridge that had a rectangular cross-section, with the bullet telescoped down into the middle. Apparently, on firing, the cartridge would be fragmented while the bullet started into the bore, and then the fragmented chunks would detonate and push the bullet down the barrel at high velocity like a normal rifle cartridge, albeit with the further hi-tech wizardry of firing a three round burst before the recoil was felt by the shooter as the whole mechanism was free to move within the plastic box-like exterior… One might truly wonder if the Dardick design may have had some influence on the bold science team working on the G11 insofar as it had a rotating “chamber” that received a cartridge from a factory-loaded magazine box, then turned through 90 degrees to fire the cartridge, and then another 90 degrees to pick up another cartridge and so on. Thanks for the link to the “chiclet” and the “lockless” machine gun.

          • “(…) One might truly wonder if the Dardick design may have had some influence on the bold science team working on the G11 insofar(…)”
            Taking in account numerous differences and few things in common it was shallow if any.
            Common: both have thingy that rotate during cycling…
            but
            …Dardick is multi-chamber one and there was not movement of cartridge along its axis, G11 is one-chamber and there is such movement, thus I assume that it was used to allow orientating magazine alongside barrel
            …Dardick used cartridge with polymer cases – uncommon material in that use in 1959 U.S.A., but much lower thermal conductivity coefficient than brass or steel, thus possibly lessening heating up of rotor, while G11 was truly caseless by design, thus NO isolation whatsever and no ejection of heat inside cases like in fire-arms using brass cases
            …Dardick (in most cases) ballistic-wise replicated existing cartridges (.38 Special in case of handgun IIRC), while G11 spit micro-caliber bullets, thus having lesser impulse than 5,56×45 NATO cartridge

    • “(…)high RoF(…)electrical ignition(…)”
      There existed TRW HIVAP, see 1st photo from top:
      https://raigap.livejournal.com/248125.html
      developed in 1967…1970, which used TROUND ammunition. 30000 rpm was achieved, it was calculated that feed system was able to support up to 42000 rpm, with electrical priming instead of classic 60000 rpm was expected.

  4. The Dardick may be the only magazine-fed handgun which can fire as rapidly as the shooter can pull the trigger. This isn’t terribly useful outside of trick shooting; few people can fire a handgun faster than a semiauto can function and still be reasonably accurate. Still, it’s an unusual characteristic.

  5. Gas operation would be feasible, using a piston and crank to drive the cylinder around. The power stroke wouldn’t have to be very long, and that should translate into a high cyclic rate with no need for external power. Has there been enough progress in high-strength polymers since the 50’s to make firing safe at high pressures? I’m old enough to remember the Dardick when it was introduced, and like every other wiseacre I disparaged it, not realizing that the poor man was just trying to publicize a technology demonstrator. Question: How would you feed a Dardick autocannon? A spring-loaded mag would never do the trick.

    • One possibility would be a “strip” of moulded polymer with the “trounds” moulded into it. Sort of like ->_A_A_A_A_A_A_A_A_A_

      The strip would enter the rotor on the “outside”, between the trounds and the fixed “topstrap”, in essence forming the third side of the tround. as the rotor turned, it would simply pull the strip through by the trounds; in effect a gear rack system similar to a rack-and-pinion gear steering system on an automobile.

      In an aircraft or armored vehicle, the strip could be arranged like the linkless-feed loop in the magazine drum of the GAU-8 cannon on the A-10. Live trounds come out one end, are fed through the breech, fired, and the strip with empties is fed back into the other end of the magazine drum.

      Assuming a sufficiently durable polymer, you could ship the empty strip back to the factory to be cleaned and reloaded.

      Hmm. Rather environmentally friendly.

      cheers

      eon

  6. As a gun, it is wonky as wankel…

    but looking at the internals, it remotely resembles HK G11.
    The mechanics deserve some credit though. I am sure the inventor burned whole lot of midnight oil on it.

  7. As eon and cherndog touched upon, this might have greater application elsewhere. Having spent time with the M39 system (DEFA or ARDEN to you continentals) this doesn’t seem that far fetched for an auto cannon. Maybe not as a “tround” however…

  8. A number of years ago I met someone who was present when the British Government did firing trials with a machine gun version. He told me that very high rates of fire were achieved but there was a serious problem when a cartridge experienced a hang fire.

  9. “This wasn’t really of direct benefit to a handgun, but instead was ideal for a high rate of fire machine gun, where the system did not need to pull rounds forward or backward to chamber and eject them.”

    Obviously nobody ever adopted such a machine gun, but I’d love to know how far development of the idea went.

  10. If the internal shape of the Tround is round, which it seems to be from the primer and bullet sides as well as a patent drawing, then the Tround does not offer any packaging space improvement. The lobes of the round are just thicker plastic and offer nothing to the amount of powder or bullet that can be fitted. It is only to make the case thicker at the top in the firing position. When stacked in a magazine the lobes fill the space that normally is air with polymer. both of which do little for function or performance. The Tround might help with magazine function a wee bit but that’s about it. Being polymer the case has to be thicker in the round part so in fact the magazine has less capacity than with a brass case of like caliber.

    Still a very interesting firearm. Thank you Ian for bringing this to us.

  11. “…both of which do little for function or performance…”
    Actually the shape is a Reuleaux triangle which has interesting geometrical properties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*