Whitney-Beals Walking Beam Pocket Revolver

This revolver, designed by Fordyce Beals (how cool of a name is that?), was developed while Colt’s patent on using the hammer to index the cylinder was still in effect. To avoid that patent, this Beals design uses the trigger to rotate and index the cylinder, with the hammer being cocked separately. The gun was manufactured by Eli Whitney, who ran an industrial factory specializing in working with independent inventors who did not have the capital or resources to do their own manufacturing.

This model of revolver is commonly known as a walking beam or walking lever type, after the mechanism of the trigger moving the cylinder. This was a mechanism commonly used in other application to convert linear motion to rotational motion.

Beals would go on to work with the Remington company on his later pocket pistol design, and would have a major part in designing Remington’s 1858 Army revolver.



  1. How did Colt’s patent affect the sale and manufacture (by the Massachusetts Arms Co.) of Adams patent double-action revolvers in the U.S.?

    I’d expect some issues with at least the Beaumont patent variants with both single-action and double-action modes.



  2. Would not the early Adams DAO revolver avoid Cont’s patent since rotation and indexing of the cylinder was controlled by the trigger rather than hammer?

  3. “Fordyce Beals (how cool of a name is that?)”
    I don’t understand, can anyone explain link between Beals and cool?

    • Fordyce is an unusual first name and carries a certain
      “Old world” connotation or aura. Hence it has “cool”
      appeal due to its association with a bygone age. At least that is what I believe Ian was talking about.

      • No, you’ve got it the wrong way around. In a verge escapement the crown wheel powers the verge through the pallets. The foliot operates like a balance wheel.

        In this revolver the cylinder rotation is powered by the trigger ring through the double ratchet. So it’s the reverse of what goes on in a clock. I suppose you could wind a clock with this kind of system, but that’s not the function of the verge in an escapement.

        If the cylinder was spring loaded and had to be wound before it would work you’d have something like an escapement to index the cylinder. ^__^

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