Getting That Last One…

No at matter how close you think you are, it seems that a proper gun collection can never really be complete. The closer you get to having a one of each necessary example of whatever theme you’re going for, the more rare and odd example you discover. There’s just always another variant or factory or marking style, right?

Take, for example, self-cocking (“automatic”) revolvers. Most folks who are aware of them are aware of the two main ones – the historically noted Webley-Fosbery and the modern Italian Mateba. Get them both and you’re set, right? Well, setting aside the fact that they are/were both made in multiple calibers (357 Mag and .44 Mag for the Mateba; .455 and .38 for the Fosbery) and multiple barrel lengths, there is another, rarer, example of the auto-revolver that is necessary to complete the collection: the Union self-cocker, made in Ohio for a very brief period. Well, my friend who has the first two found himself a Union (one of 80 made), so mission accomplished, right?

Self-cocking revolvers
Self-Cocking Revolvers. Counter-clockwise from top, Mateba .357, Mateba .44, Webley-Fosbery .455, Union .32

Nope. Turns out there is another one, made by Zulaica y Cia in Spain around 1905.

Zulacia y Cia automatic revolver
Zulacia y Cia automatic revolver

And I’ve seen reverences to a Belgian design as well. It’s like following a fractal down to the very end…a path treasures for the adventurous and a path to madness for those poor souls afflicted with OCD. 🙂


  1. Nothing quite being a collector…of anything, part passion some OCD thrown in, it’s a gas!

  2. It almost seems like the past is even more vast than the future. Especially when basing those estimates on current (lack) of major innovation in firearms design. That’s okay. We’re all fans her of digging into history to find ideas that are different if not necessarily better. The era we live in caters to a different kind of want – Often described as consumerist. While I’m certainly not complaining of the fact that I can get a decent modern gun for a fair price and do so in a convenient, repeatable fashion, there’s just something about the way humans will treat their possessions if it actually took sacrifice to acquire them.

  3. Ian,

    Would you happen to have the dimensions (overall and barrel lengths, and mass, especially) of the Union self-cocker revolver ? I can hardly find anything online but the caliber…

    I’d higly appreciate the same for the Zulaica, but hey, if all you have is a single picture of it, I won’t hold my breath. 😉

  4. A.B. Zhuk’s book of line drawings of handguns is a goldmine of obsolete revolvers, including the various “automatic” types.

  5. For a dyed-in-the-wool gun collector,historian or firearms enthusiast, there is no such thing as “the last one”. That will only happen on a very personal basis ( at least on this earth — who knows what lies beyond? ) when one actually passes on.

    This thing sold in Sweden for about 1200 dollars US in brand new condition with the aimpoint because hardly anyone could get the papers for it, and the people that could own it had no idea what it was. So because there was no demand for it, it lost all value.

    • Poor Ghisoni, that thing is restricted so many places and for so many reasons.

      Britain: either as breech loading handgun or as a semi auto carbine

      US: short barrel rifle / pistol with a shoulder stock

  7. Most attractive point of a self cocking revolver over straight magazine feed
    versions should be solid sights integrated with barrel through over all life
    of the gun. Common self loaders generaly have these two members as seperated
    and effecting with motions at least during usual field stripping. However,
    barrel-cylinder gap of revolvers should be most anticipating feature affecting
    especially two hand hold.

  8. There is also this one
    prototype revolver made by Dragan Bardrljica, whats unique about it is that it uses small piston located above the barrel to cock the hammer after each shot. Additionally according to the text in that picture there is also some sort of automatic safety, which enables you to carry the revolver with the cocked hammer, also the safety ensures that the revolver will only fire if it is held properly in the hand.


    As well as the 1863 Orbea revolver, (as detailed in R.K. Wilson) there’s also the Newton revolver of 1854 and the Paulson of 1886, if they still, (or ever did,) exist.

    Of course, if you count clockwork as semi-automatic, there’s also the “Mershon & Hollingsworth”. And remember the Pancor Jackhammer, if you’re counting shotguns.

    And if you count gas-ejection there’s the later Spanish designs pictured here: .

    Gotta catch ’em all!

  10. Beware of using ‘self-cocking’ to describe revolvers, as the term was originally applied to the British Adams percussion and conversion revolvers – DAO by modern standards, but defined as ‘self-cocking’ at the time and to this day by those that collect and study them.

  11. The Mateba actually comes in 3 different calibers. In addition to .357 and .44 Magnum, there’s also .454 Casull.

  12. Awesome you a colombo ricci (well i do not know if that is the ricci). Although not the exact colombo however you got the gun follows the same principles. Awesome!

  13. Maybe you got the last ones, but you missed the first: mershon & hollingsworth

    I’d love to see one of those on your channel.

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