The most well-known historic automatic revolver is the British Webley-Fosbery, but there were other handguns of the type that were put into production. One example is the Union auto-revolver, made in Toledo, Ohio shortly before the First World War. While the Webley-Fosbery was intended to be a high-quality military and competition gun, the Union Firearms Company intended to have their auto-revolver compete with inexpensive common revolvers. It was chambered for .32 S&W Short, with a 5-round cylinder and a shrouded hammer. Mechanically, it is very similar to the Webley, although simplified and clearly not made to the same standards of fit and finish. The design was patented by Charles Lefever – who you may recognize as the son of Daniel Lefever, who built Lefever shotguns (which were eventually taken over by the Ithaca Gun Company).
Only about 300 Union pistols were made before the effort was abandoned – the guns were much too expensive to manufacture to compete effectively in the chosen market. The retail advertised price for a Union was $10, when one could buy a new Iver Johnson, Hopkins & Allen, or similar traditional revolver for $3 – $6. For the Union’s $10 price, one could get a Colt/Browning Model 1906 semiauto, which was smaller, lights, more advanced, and much better made.
Union Firearms Reifgraber pistols: