Q&A #8: Triple Locks, New gun development, and the .50 Cal Lewis

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The tools I mention in today’s second question are these:

Screwdriver set
Punch set
Bore gauge

Today’s Questions:
0:51 – What is the S&W “Triple Lock”?
4:13 – Tools for shooting and working on guns
6:48 – Making the HAC-7 a viable commercial rifle today
11:45 – Gun collection preservation
14:05 – Why the RPK in favor of the RPD, and how about the M27 IAR?
17:46 – US slow adoption of new arms technology
20:51 – Gun culture in Europe
23:22 – What is my process and schedule at auction houses?
28:20 – How will drones affect the Second Amendment?
30:17 – Do I like Arizona?
31:05 – Stocked pistols besides the Luger, C96, and Hi Power?
33:17 – Logistics of officers supplying their own pistols
37:01 – Pistols using Mannlicher-style clips?
38:27 – Was there a .50-cal Bren or Lewis?
40:18 – Post-WWII gun production in Germany and Japan
42:30 – Why top-mounted magazines in guns like the Bren and Nambu?
45:46 – Cristobal carbines


  1. Re.: 37:01 – Pistols using Mannlicher-style clips? I’m surprised you didn’t point out the Laumann and Salvator-Dormus pistols.

  2. The YouTube link doesn’t have the viewing window it just shows the text of the link. Windows 10 internet explorer.

    • Having a “raw” URL is really the best idea possible. It can be seen by absolutely EVERYONE, regardless of their web browser (+plugins, +settings, +version) — which is almost never the case with any kind of embedded Web2.0 window.

      Personally, I think there probably should be a law requiring webmasters to flag (in plain text) in some way every place in the page where there is an embedded video, PDF, or whatever else, so people will know that there is supposed to be something there in the page, whether they can actually see it or not.

      On another blog/site that I used to visit regularly for many years, there were almost-daily PDF legal documents posted in an embedded window using SCRIBD — which I only discovered years later because the Scribd window was invisible to me. I hate to think of all the time I wasted trying to hunt down those legal filings elsewhere over the years (and sometimes never found them) when they were right *there* (though invisible) on the page in front of me!

      The Full30.com video embedded in nearly every ForgottenWeapons.com page is also completely invisible (not even a blank space on the screen) if your web browser does not have Javascript and Flash turned on. It’s interesting that many Forgotten Weapons pages say “(video)” in the title, but many other FW pages that have videos do not.

      It’s worth noting that the current code that most web sites use to embed Youtube videos will show a blank Youtube box in places where there is supposed to be an embedded video — but for whatever reason cannot be displayed by that person’s browser (Youtube’s older page code generally showed a big blank space on the screen for ‘invisible’ embedded videos)

  3. Regarding post-WW2 gun production in Japan, actually there has been quite a bit, but it rarely gets noticed because it’s licensed production for foreign firearms.

    Browning Arms, for instance, had a lot of their various runs of the BLR lever-action rifle made by Miroku in Japan because it was cheaper than having them made in the U.S. or Belgium. The Browning Superposed skeet and trap guns were also made at Miroku for a time. More recently, the limited-run production of the Browning M1886 Winchester repro and the Model 71 repro were also Japanese-made.

    While domestic laws sharply restrict civilian ownership and thus the domestic market, Japanese makers like Miroku, SCK, etc. do make arms for the Japanese police and military, such as the domestically-produced Sig 9mm automatics and the new Ingram-type SMGs in 9mm.

    But other than that, Japanese firearms manufacture is mainly for foreign firms. Which results in Japan having substantial “penetration” in the civilian arms market worldwide without a lot of people even realizing that they are in it at all.



    • I’m pretty sure that Miroku sells shotguns in Europe under their own name, where they’re fairly well regarded. The same is true for some Japanese rifles (Howa, I think?).

      It seems to be harder to sell into the US market if you’re not either an American brand or at least a very famous European brand. As a result, Japanese and Turkish guns seem to get sold in the US only under someone else’s brand label.

  4. It wasn’t asked, but you also answered the question: why the clockwise cylinder rotation better from the viewpoint of cylinder locking if the cylinder swings out to the left? This question has intriguing me for years. Thanks Ian. 🙂

    By the way: as far as I know (=if I should, I can’t put a reference in an essay), the Smith&Wesson .44 Hand Ejector 1st Model “New Century” was the first revolver ever with ejector rod shroud – it’s correct?

    • The principle advantage of Colt-type (clockwise) rotation is not obvious at first. That being that it puts the cylinder stop “cuts” off the centerline of each chamber. They are offset about ten degrees from the thinnest part of the outer chamber wall. on S&W-type revolvers with even numbers of chambers in the cylinder, the bolt cuts are exactly on the centerline of each chamber.

      The Colt setup removes the cut as a weak point in the outer side of the chamber wall near the cartridge case head. In S&W and similar revolvers (Taurus, etc.) in Magnum calibers, it is not uncommon to find a “dimple” developing in the chamber at that point with sustained use of full-power (high-pressure) ammunition.

      The Colt-type revolver cylinder has the stop cuts offset over thicker steel, thus eliminating this problem.

      The only way you can have a S&W type revolver cylinder with the bolt cuts offset is if it has an odd number of chambers, like the five-shot S&W Chief’s Special, Bodyguard, or Centennial pocket revolvers or the Taurus Model 44 or 85, or the seven-shot S&W 686 Plus or Taurus Model 617 or 817. This puts the bolt cut over the center of the thick triangular “web” between chambers, moving it even father from the chamber centerline than the Colt cylinder.

      Any even-numbered chamber S&W-style cylinder, even an eight-shot like The Taurus model 608, will have the bolt cuts over the thinnest part of the outer walls of the chambers. Which in that particular revolver’s case have very thin walls to begin with, by Magnum standards.



      • “The principle advantage of Colt-type (clockwise) rotation is not obvious at first. That being that it puts the cylinder stop ‘cuts’ off the centerline of each chamber. They are offset about ten degrees from the thinnest part of the outer chamber wall. on S&W-type revolvers with even numbers of chambers in the cylinder, the bolt cuts are exactly on the centerline of each chamber.”

        I can’t understand, why the S&W-type (counterclockwise) cylinder rotation makes the offset of the cylinder stop grooves from the centerline of the chamber impossible.

        • First swing out cylinder Colt revolver, Model 1894 had counter clockwise cylinder rotation with twin stopping cuts for both cocked and uncocked situations of the revolver and only the cocked mode being off set with centerline of the barrel. These revolvers had a side plate at the right and the cylinder rotation direction; from right to left, was chosen, most probably, to easen the frame inside cutting works from the open side and locating the rotating hand at nearer to the most reachable place when the revolver disassambled. At later models, the side plate was transferred from right to left side and the clyinder rotation also changed from counter cockwise to clockwise direction. Smith Wesson has all right sided side plates and all counter clockwise cylinder rotation excepting latest plastic framed models. Location of cylinder locking latches and their getting along with cylinder rotation levers should be another reason for cylinder rotation directions; They should be at opposite sides for sufficient assembling rooms. According to the mechanical preferances companies used, they invented various causes for their cylinder rotation directions such as; supporting the cylinder lock to keep the cylinder inside the frame when fired for Colt’s.

          Smith Wesson Triple Lock, was mostly considered as the “Finest Revolver Produced” when introduced in the year 1907 and the first fully shrouded extractor rod which also carrying the “Third Yoke Lock Bolt” in and underside. These revolvers had three locking bolts at rear of cylinder, at yoke and at the front of the extractor rod and all were going open only through one push at the unlocking latch.

      • The advantages of clockwise rotation with a crane opening to the left never occurred to me, so the point about the direction of force was very interesting to me. But, as to the off-center positioning of the cylinder stop cuts, my Ruger GP100 rotates counter-clockwise opens to the left (like most S&W revolvers), but has cylinder cuts offset to the right rather than centered on the cylinder chamber holes..

      • Well, it seems to me I didn’t used the proper English term. I mean, the first revolver with swing-out cylinder and ejector rod housing/shroud(?), which encloses and protects the ejector rod, and looks the same, as on the Smith&Wesson .44 Hand Ejector 1st Model “New Century”.

  5. One aspect of top mounted magazines that you did not mention, but I think is worth bringing up is that it allows the gun to function more effectively as a crew served weapon. The assistant gunner in the bren team can change the magazines, and help change the barrel, while the gunner focuses on shooting.

    • This is an aspect of the firearms world that doesn’t get a lot of attention–Things like basic tactics and crew drills. The differences between an Automatic Rifle (i.e., the BAR) vs. the BREN don’t seem readily apparent to people who don’t use these things tactically, so the minutiae of why there are differences and how those differences affect the gun’s use are not things they’re at all familiar with.

      The BAR, for example, is a huge pain in the ass to try to handle with two people. With the magazine mounted below the action, the gunner has to at least move the gun and cooperate with his loader in order to enable that loader to do his job. With the BREN, the gunner is able to focus and maintain his attention on the targets downrange, while his loader simply does what needs doing, in order to keep the gun fed and in operation.

      This is a hugely significant thing, tactically speaking. And, it’s also invisible to nine-tenths of the people arguing the merits of the guns themselves, because there aren’t too many civilian enthusiasts for machinegun operation. Usually, a civilian goes to the extent of blasting a few belts or magazines downrange, and that’s the end of it–Putting the gun to real marksmanship uses and tactics is unheard of.

    • The primary reason during the design of the Cech machine gun…later adopted by England as the BREN …was survival….a top mounted magazine allowed the gunner
      tp get closer to the ground…the magazine does not keep the gunner from ” going to ground “.

  6. With regards to gun culture in western Europe, due to the high population density there are fewer opportunities to engage in the activities associated with owning guns, so there is less incentive for people to own them. Hunting is often quite expensive because you need to pay the landowner for permission to hunt on their land and to shoot their game. Even having the right connections to get to go on a good hunt can be difficult. Hunting and shooting tend to be more activities for the better off, or at least people who want to be perceived as being such.

    As a result, people tend to use guns in a different social setting than in the US. The guns they prefer are also usually ones which suggest tradition, craftsmanship, and quality. Showing up at a shoot in much of Europe with the sort of “tacti-kool” gun you see on many US ranges would cause many local gun owners to think you are more than a little bit weird and perhaps not the sort of person they want to have at their club.

  7. With regards to officers’ sidearms in the 19th century, in the British Empire officers had to buy all their own equipment. They bought their pistols, their swords, their uniforms (which they still do), their horses – they paid for everything. An officer bought his uniform at a military tailor, he bought his sword from a sword maker or retailer, and he bought his pistol from a gun maker. He paid for his food and accommodation.

    They also didn’t get paid very much. It could cost more money to be an officer than he was paid. As a result, you often needed an outside source of income, such as from wealthy relatives, if you wanted to be an officer. However, if you could afford to be in a prestigious regiment, you made good social connections which could help you later on in life after you left the military career.

    This is why if you look at lists of official service equipment prior to WWI or even to some extent WWII, you may not see the pistols which army officers carried. That’s because officers’ pistols weren’t issued, they were private purchases and officers could generally purchase whatever they wanted so long as it used standard ammunition. Any pistols that were issued would go to common soldiers for special purposes, such as the military police, and may be of a different type altogether than what the officers purchased for themselves. If you want to know what the officers carried, you probably would have to read contemporary accounts or look at photographs.

    Winston Churchill by the way rather famously carried a Mauser C96 in the cavalry in the Sudan war in the late 19th century.

  8. With regards to the rate of adoption of new firearms technology in the US, I think that by and large you have to split it into two eras – before and after WWI.

    Before WWI, the US didn’t really get involved in wars with major military powers. Instead, it confined itself to internal security and minor colonial conquest. As a result, the US had a relatively small military budget and simply didn’t have a lot of money to spend on new weapons.

    After WWI, the pendulum in the US swung in the other direction, and the US ended up with an up to date rifle and carbine, although their light machine gun (the BAR) was behind the times.

    After WWII, the innovation pendulum continued to swing, going too far in fact. What followed was a series of usually efforts to “revolutionize” small arms technology. As each effort in turn failed the US was left with their existing M14 and M16 rifles.

    I would say the US still has the M16 not because it’s perfect, but because the efforts to replace it were overly ambitious and so failed.

    • “Before WWI, the US didn’t really get involved in wars with major military powers. Instead, it confined itself to internal security and minor colonial conquest. As a result, the US had a relatively small military budget and simply didn’t have a lot of money to spend on new weapons.”
      But M1895 Lee-Navy repeating rifle was adopted which might be described as state-of-art 1890s repeating rifle. Colt Potato Digger also was introduced, which uses gas-operation and was relatively light.

  9. Regarding US military arms innovation, the M1 carbine is an example of something that was fairly innovative at the time. Light, handy, not terribly expense to produce, simple enough for a lot of non-firearm companies to produce, and used detachable magazines. The program was forward thinking, and would have been hard to beat if not for a cartridge that people claimed (rightly or wrongly) did not have much stopping power.

    • “M1 carbine”
      I would say this was effect of lack of effective sub-machine guns.
      Firstly .45 Auto has quite low muzzle velocity (compared to 9×19 or 7.62×25) which effect accuracy due to less flatter trajectory.
      Available sub-machine guns also has their own drawbacks, Thompson sub-machine gun was expensive to make and heavy, M50 Reising was lighter but lacked reliability.
      Finally M3 Grease Gun was developed to make light, reliable, and easy-to-produce sub-machine gun.

      • Such as it is, warts and all, the “Grease Gun” was anything but ‘light.’
        My Dad was the Commanding Officer and Rangemaster of our (US) National Guard unit and I grew up occasionally shooting this submachine gun on random weekends. Age 8 or 9 or so.
        Not politically correct, but who’s going to argue with a Cub Scout armed with a 45 caliber submachine gun?
        (Dead reliable and way accurate, by the way.)

      • but many troopers found tdhat the M-3 Greasegun magazines as first issued were not reliable…frequent jams when switching from one magazine to another….seemed a good dealof time was used to test magazines in various weapons prior to combat deployment…but the ” problems ” were later much reduced with improved magazines….imagine getting a magazine tossed to you during a fire fight ….and it will not feed “in this XXX!!!! gun “

  10. For serious Gun Buffs;

    – Very detailed sets of screwdrivers,
    – Very detailed sets of punching pin rods,
    – Fine diamond files,
    – Emery papers and clothes from 250 to 1200 mesh,
    – Double side sticker bands and steels liner strips and wooden rods of various widths and thickness and lenghts, for using to polish inside surfaces,
    – Liner gauges,
    – Magnifying glass or optics wearable on head,
    – A good table vise, preferable to rotate for various angles,
    – A hand vice,
    – A small air compressor for cleaning hard to reach places,
    – Solvents, oils, cleaning patches, ramrods for various calibers and barrel lenghts,
    – Very fine steel and bronze and plastic hand brushes,
    – Handlights and if possible. standing lights,
    – Steel and plastic hammers of various weights.

    For more serious enthuisasts with merits;

    – A butane torch,
    – Files of various forms and teeths,
    – A Bench drill,
    – A hand drill,
    – A high speed rotating hand piece like Dremel for use in emergency polishing situations.

    Should be necessary.

  11. Stocked pistols excepting C96 and BHP; Borchardt, FN 1903, Luger, Nambus, CZ24, Radom, Steckin, Colt 1911, Lahti, Star, Astra 900, HK VP70, Beretta 92, Glock, Caracal… are the ones just remembered.

  12. Hy, i’m not sure if this is the right place for a question but i would like to know why all classic military bolt action rifles like the Mauser, the Moisin, the Lebel etc have just 2 (main) looking lugs. Why not 3 or more?

    • Iwan,
      Geez, what do you plan on launching?
      ‘Little David’ mini-nukes?
      You know they only go about 200 meters and leave a 300 meter crater, right?
      Not too popular with the line troops.

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