Mateba MTR-8

The MTR-8 was Emilio Ghisoni’s first revolver design, predating the more popular and better known Mateba semiauto revolvers and the Chiappa Rhino. The MTR-8 was designed for competition shooting, and made in a variety of calibers and configurations, including long carbine versions, different barrel lengths, and calibers including .22LR, .32 S&W, .38 Special, and .357 Magnum. Ghisoni’s design puts the recoil force in line with the shooter’s arm as would all of his later designs, but it does this by moving the entire cylinder down and firing from the top chamber. This has the side effect of decoupling the cylinder from the lockwork and allowing a quite narrow and handy frame with a large cylinder. The .38 and .357 models hold 8 rounds, while the .32 caliber ones have 12-round cylinders and the .22 rimfire guns 14 rounds. The carbine types have even larger capacities. It should be noted that unlike his later Mateba revolver, the MTR series are tradition DA/SA guns, not semiautomatic or self-cocking. A total of only about 500 were made.


  1. The hammer is concealed in the framework, so at first glance it looks like a striker-fire design. I’m under the impression that this particular item had an optional carbine barrel, stock, and sights to match somewhere in the catalog. I could be wrong.

  2. When I saw the extreme front mounted cylinder my first reaction was that it was a revolvers version of a Pardini rapid fire competition pistol. Apparently I was close.

  3. What’s often overlooked about the MTR-8 is that its slim outline makes it very concealable in a shoulder holster.

    As for the layout, the Winter Arms revolver design of the 1980s in many ways was a harbinger of the Mateba and Chiappa revolvers, even to the barrel being low set to bring the recoil axis straight back into the shooter’s hand to facilitate very rapid fire.



    • “harbinger”
      I must say I see some similarity between MTR-8 and Collier revolver:
      though maybe second have not barrel axis placed so low, both seems like their designer decided to make them longer rather than taller. In case of Collier it allowed to made it more similar to single-shot pistols of that day – and thus what customer wanted aesthetic-wise. While MTR-8 looks peculiar (something is wrong there) today, when we consider, for example S&W Victory model to be typical revolver, I think there were similar feelings to early Colt percussion revolver when they were introduced – “hey, it does not look like pistol should look”, which might be one of reasons, why Colt Paterson have folding trigger – this make it looking less tall and thus closer to what customer were accustomed to back then.

  4. I took a detour on the way home from work tonight to abuse a WiFi, and to enjoy Ian’s vid.

    I’m a huge fan of the late Emilio Ghisoni. I was only just getting back into gun designs and his work at the time he was dying. I was visiting family very near to him, in Northern Italy several times a year at that time. There are several regrets for people who I would have loved to have met and talked with. He is one.

    I’ve joked about the sources of his inspiration here (eg “con funghi…”)
    He really did have a different and very practical viewpoint

    Not only with low bore line and sometimes semi auto revolvers, but also with magazine fed semi auto pistols as well.

    Ghisoni was very much a mechanical genius.

    Looking at this gun in particular, I’m actually surprisedat the execution.

    Has the gun been rusted and refinished, or is the pitting / surface porosity, original?

    The walnut grip and it’s stippling are excellent, the metal exterior, less so.

    I gather that functionality of the guns was excellent (and I also gather that Ghisoni was a serious competitor in rapid fire competition. Poor guy already looked old when I first heard of him and this pistol in the early 1980s).

    I would love to digest this and several of his other designs

    There is much more to revolver (or any other gun) design than meets the eye or gets reflected in the average gunzine (for the hard of thinking).

    I never checked out how much in the way of multiple levels of safety features in the lock work appeared in this design, compared to say a Smith and Wesson revolver’s mechanism at the time when S&W were at the peak of their quality standards (before the British venture capital guys got them and sold out on everything).

    I’d miss out on / forgotten about the implications of the suomi like layout… you can potentially put a big drum magazine down there infront of the trigger gyard, without detracting from the excellent grip and trigger ergonomics.

    Thanks for sharing this gun with us.

  5. I’m Italian
    and I can give you some information about the MTR8, taken from various reviews
    of the gun and interviews with Ghisoni from italian gun magazines between 1983
    and 1986. The MTR8 was intended by Ghisoni not for competition but for service.
    Until the end of the 80s, in Italy we can’t buy semiautomatic pistols in
    caliber larger then .30 Luger, so many people used revolvers for self defence
    and service. Ghisoni thought that a revolver with a capacity of 8 cartridges
    could have a market and gave an advantage on traditional sixguns. That’s why he
    did that sort of “magazine”, the clip for the cartridges, to better confront
    with semi automatics. The gun was reliable, but had a fragile striker, it tends
    to break. Quantity produced is unknown, between 300 ad 400 guns, mostly
    exported in Germany and Switzerland, production ended in 1986. Ghisoni was a
    great designer but a very poor business man, he seemed not really interested in
    selling his guns, just design, made a very limited production run (often leaved
    in a warehouse to rust) than pass to another project who had the same destiny.
    His primary business was to design and made kneading machines, guns was almost
    an hobby for him.

  6. Are you guys ever going to do a segment on the 6 Unica, or is it too well remembered? I would be willing to lend one for the cause.

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