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View Full Version : why most single action revolvers made today aren't break top?


cajun47
February 6, 2011, 09:20 AM
the question applies to all cal. but i wanted a .22lr revolver to put in my small boat survival box.

so why would any manufacturer or customer want a single action revolver where you must unload and load each cylinder over a break top single action? they are way faster to unload and i think speed loaders would be easier than even double action revolvers.

so im looking into .22lr revolvers and the taurus .22lr da revolver has a bad rep. i will not mess with. s&w .22lr da is way too expensive. i hear the new north american break top mini revolver will be priced over $400, too much imo. ruger makes really nice single actions, too slow to reload.

i guess im asking why the rough rider or ruger .22lr single action isn't break top??

461
February 6, 2011, 10:15 AM
A top break requires a lot more machine work than a standard single action and the market just isn't there for the most part. While it makes no difference in a .22lr, in centerfire, the top break is a pretty weak design. You get what you pay for in the world of today, The Heritage is cheap because it's a cheap gun.

BlkHawk73
February 6, 2011, 10:51 AM
It's not always about speed loading. If it's faster reloads you want, go with a semi-auto or at least a double action. Evidently the market doesn't support the idea either.

* Taurus has a bad rep
* S&W too expensive
* $400 too expensive for a NAA
* Ruger too slow to reload

Things are rough all over. :p

Now look at the models that are made as a top-break and compare their prices to that of the traditional single action revolvers - they're considerably more. seems that were such a critter as you want was made, it too would be deemed too expensive. So again, it's back to "I want this ______, but it's gotta be cheap." :rolleyes: If it's important enough to have, the price starts becoming less of an issue. ;)

I'd suggest finding one of the SP101's in .22lr. Then agin, you're looking at $500+.

Jimmy10mm
February 6, 2011, 10:54 AM
Didn't Harrington & Richardson make top break 22s years ago ? Seems to me I remember those but maybe I'm imagining things. :p

savit260
February 6, 2011, 11:05 AM
Yup, H&R made top break .22's , but they won't fit in your pocket. They are around, and not exactly fetching big money on the used market. $250 should get you a pretty nice one.

I believe they also made some inexpensive , swing out cylinder d/a 22's as well, some of which will fit in a pocket. Don't expect a S&W or Colt quality trigger though. Those can be found quite cheap if you hunt around. These also can be found in 32 S&W and 38 S&W calibers.

bossman
February 6, 2011, 11:46 AM
I believe with as many 22 shooters out here a good top break 9 shot 22lr/22mag would be jumped on. I love my singles but when I'm out to shoot 500 or so rounds it gets old really fast. The market is here, now someone just needs to fill it.

32 Magnum
February 6, 2011, 12:55 PM
If you're really interested in the break top .22 pistols, here's somethings to consider:
H&R made the SPORTSMAN model, hinged frame, auto ejecting, with 6" barrel from 1932 up into the 1999 era. In the late '80s and 90s a 4 " barrel version was available. There are quite a few of the later models showing up on the internet auction sites and in local gun shops. Excellent condition pieces are running at retail in the $350 to $425 range (a NIB 1994 manufactured 6" recently sold on gunbroker.com for a bit over $1000 - can't figure that one.) The older (pre 1952) versions are generally selling for about $75 to $100 less than the newer ones.
H&R also made a 7 shot, small framed, hinged frame, auto ejecting .22 rf up to WW2 - it is the PREMIER model and there are often several offered on the on-line auction sites. Prices generally run less than $200 for a v.good to excellent condition example.
I own and have fired several dozen examples of each model - all work well and are well built. Accuracy with the Sportsman pieces in excellent. Premiers with shorter (3") barrels are v.good at shorter ranges - and depending upon your skill levels can be v. good out to 25 yards.
My take on why no one currently makes these or similar guns - too complicated, too costly to produce and the old pieces in the market are sufficient to meet current demand. As the Sportsman pieces continue to increase in value - we may see one of the Italian Repro. manufacturers put out a re-release?????
67100

67101

L_Killkenny
February 6, 2011, 02:41 PM
Traditionally DA's had breaktop or swing out, SA's have a loading gate. Why no one is making a SA top break or swingout is largely due to the fact that SA shooters generally want traditional loading gates and guys that like topbreak and swing out aren't opposed to DA. I mean really? A top break SA is a solution to a problem no one is having. Ya want top break or swing out go with a DA. It's that simple. You can still shoot a DA in SA if ya like and unless you are after traditional looks and feel (obviously you aren't if you want a top break SA) than a SA has zero advantages over a DA.

Now if ya are after that western SA look but still want a .22LR that reloads faster High Standard made a gun called the "Double Nine" that had cowboy looks but a swingout cylinder. It was DA also.

There are literally boat loads of .22s out there that cost less than S&W's that are top break or swing out cylinder. You seem stuck on the SA part for some odd reason.

LK

SIGSHR
February 6, 2011, 03:21 PM
I read that when S&W received the Russian contract, that took all their production capacity and left the market pretty much to Colt and to a much lessee extent Remington. Hence to most purchasers and users a SA revolver was a Colt. Also I read somewhere (forget where) that break top revolvers have a power limit to the cartridges they can handle and it's on the low side.
And many modern shooters saw Colt and Colt style revolvers used by movie and TV cowboys, that's what they wanted.

Claddagh
February 6, 2011, 03:26 PM
Ditto the H&R 999 if you want a top break RF revolver that's rugged, durable and reasonably priced. As was mentioned, if you don't care to shoot it in DA mode, just cock the hammer for every shot. Works just dandy.

For many years my grandfather kept an old pre-Sportsman 999 H&R revolver with a 6" barrel loaded with "ratshot" cartridges hanging from a nail on the wall of the feed locker in his barn. The only care it ever got was the occasional once-over wipe with an oily rag but it always worked and would always hit what you were pointing it at when you did your part right.

IMHO, a 4" 999 would make a fine tacklebox/utility revolver for you.

Old John
February 6, 2011, 04:19 PM
Navy Arms use to make a "Break-open" .45 Colt or .45 Schofield, revolver.
It has been a couple years since I looked them up.

They were used in CAS, Cowboy Shooting.
You might check on the Navy Arms Web site to see if they are still made, if that's something you really want to add to your collection.
Have Fun!

PS. I looked it up for you........Here's a Link:

http://www.navyarms.com/top_break_revolver.html

Have Fun!
Old John

rclark
February 6, 2011, 05:13 PM
so why would any manufacturer or customer want a single action revolver where you must unload and load each cylinder over a break top single action Question is.... Why do you want to do it 'quickly'? When I want to shoot 'quickly' I grab my Mark II semi-auto (which isn't to often). Otherwise the Single Action Rough Rider, Single-Six, Colt Frontier Scout get the nod. Again, spending a day in the hills or at the range shooting there is no need for 'fast' reloads (for me anyway!). Take my time to shoot six (or five), then take time to reload. Doesn't get old, and it makes for a fun few hours.

Paochow
February 6, 2011, 05:17 PM
Uberti has a few variations of the Schofield as well...

http://www.uberti.com/firearms/top_break.php

None are .22 however.

DPris
February 6, 2011, 08:32 PM
Navy's were made by Uberti, who still does them for more than one importer.
Denis

WANT A LCR 22LR
February 6, 2011, 10:48 PM
There is a pretty strong rumor that Ruger is coming out with a double action 22 LR revolver. No idea what frame it will be on though. ( I'm wanting a LCR 22 )

Auto426
February 6, 2011, 11:00 PM
Traditionally DA's had breaktop or swing out, SA's have a loading gate. Why no one is making a SA top break or swingout is largely due to the fact that SA shooters generally want traditional loading gates and guys that like topbreak and swing out aren't opposed to DA. I mean really? A top break SA is a solution to a problem no one is having. Ya want top break or swing out go with a DA. It's that simple. You can still shoot a DA in SA if ya like and unless you are after traditional looks and feel (obviously you aren't if you want a top break SA) than a SA has zero advantages over a DA.

Not quite. There were plenty of single action revolvers from the period that did not have loading gates. Just look up the Colt percussion guns, the S&W Schofields, or the Merwin Hulbert's. Tradition has nothing to do with it, because a top break SA is just as traditional as a SA with a loading gate.

The truth is that top breaks are expensive to produce, because of the precision machine and assembly work involved in making the frame hing and lock back together. There's also the issue of strength, because top breaks are not as strong as solid frame revolvers. They shoot themselves loose much quicker than a normal revolver without a hinged frame.

There are a handful of modern top breaks though. Uberti makes replicas of the S&W Schofields which are sold by a few different importers. A company in Russia tried making a top break .357 with a polymer frame, but they never really made it past the prototype stage.

NAA has just recently introduced a gun I can't wait to get my hands on. They redesigned their .22 magnum mini revolver to be a top break, and called it The Ranger:

http://www.gunblast.com/images/NAA-BreakTop/DSC00002.JPG

I believe they are just finishing up their initial production run of around 500 guns currently. These are pretty much a test run where they are trying to fine tune the manufacturing process and seeing how big the demand is. They aren't cheap, costing around $500 where a normal NAA mini costs less than $200. I think I might nab one of them from a future production run though.

James K
February 6, 2011, 11:18 PM
For some reason, folks just want to believe that some kind of plot is keeping powerful break-top revolvers off the market. The simple fact is that no matter how well made or how precise, top break revolvers won't stand up to high pressures. The top joint will eventually batter and loosen.

In addtion, the extraction systems normally used won't work with long cartridge cases; .38 S&W is fine - .357 Magnum is not.

Sure powerful topbreaks have been made, and written up, and advertised, and touted by people who would like such a thing to be available. But those who spent time and money trying to actually make the guns eventually give up for the above reasons.

(Please, anglophiles, don't tell me how the super powerful .455 Webley was used in the immensely strong Mk VI revolver.)

JIm

DPris
February 6, 2011, 11:23 PM
And, once again- not ALL S&W single-action large caliber breaktops & repros are Schofields. The Schofield merely uses a modified latch in the Number 3 series.
Denis

Auto426
February 7, 2011, 12:07 AM
And, once again- not ALL S&W single-action large caliber breaktops & repros are Schofields. The Schofield merely uses a modified latch in the Number 3 series.
Denis

I am well aware of that, I was just trying to make a point (and was drawing a blank on the names of the other S&W top breaks). The Schofield's are simply the most famous of S&W's SA top breaks, and would likely yield the best search results.

S&W was making hinged frame revolvers long before Colt started putting loading gates on their cartridge guns. The No.1, while not technically a top break, was introduced in 1857, and I believe the first Colt conversions with loading gates started coming out in 1871.

DPris
February 7, 2011, 01:40 PM
Auto,
The Schofields were produced in relatively small numbers compared to other versions of the No. 3 that included the .44 Russian contract guns, and the rest of the No. 3s made & sold during its run.
The No. 3 was just a frame size, not a model, and included several variations.

Didn't necessarily mean to single you out, but it seems "Schofield" is becoming a generic term for any No. 3 breaktop in peoples' minds. :)

The Schofields used a latch modified for better cavalry use on horseback by an officer named Schofield and were adopted by the Army, but were never made in large numbers & were eventually dropped from military issue because of the logistics of maintaining two different "standard" cartridges, the .45 Colt for Colts and the .45 Schofield for Smiths.

Denis

Ideal Tool
February 7, 2011, 05:38 PM
One of the most accurate single-action top-break revolvers was the Smith & Wesson No.3 Target model. Many world records were set with these in 100 shot matches at 50 and 100yds. in the 1880's and 90's.

FireForged
February 7, 2011, 07:29 PM
I would suspect that it is a strength and safety issue.

Glenn E. Meyer
March 19, 2011, 11:13 AM
Looks like the top break NAA Ranger is not going into production. Only the initial 500 are being made.

I saw one at the gun show and passed. Might have been an investment. Oh, well. :o

http://www.naaminis.com/sandy1.html

22-rimfire
March 19, 2011, 11:36 AM
I can only guess why there are few top break 22 revolvers. The NAA Ranger is a good example. Production costs are too high for the perceived market. It might be cool, but I doubt they would sell well.

If I were you, I would look for a used H&R revolver, probably the Model 999, and go with that.

There is a reason why the Smith's are more expensive, they're BETTER than pretty much any new double action 22 revolver in the current market.

triumph666
March 20, 2011, 11:17 AM
Sounds to me a High Standard Durango fits his bill.....

Looks and feels like a ruger single six BUT has a swing out 9 shot cylinder and fires in DA or SA

Webleymkv
March 20, 2011, 12:33 PM
While I love top-break revolvers, they are not without issues of their own. They are a more complex mechanism which is more difficult and expansive to produce, they are weaker than a solid frame and thus cannot handle powerful, high-pressure cartirdges, and the auto-eject system is limited to shorter cartridges in order to ensure positive extraction.

These issues can be seen even with the Webley revolvers which were probably the pinnacle of top-breaks. While the Webley Mk. VI was the largest and strongest of the series and the .455 Mk. II cartridge was a very effective one, the gun and cartridge were not as strong and powerful as their solid-frame contemporaries. The .455 Mk. II cartridge is actually quite short and very low-pressure. Because of the pressure, and therefore velocity, limitations of the top-break design, Webleys rely on heavy bullets at moderate velocities in order to achive their effectiveness. Neither the .455 Mk. II nor the later .38/200 cartridges break 700fps in their normal loadings but they do use rather heavy bullets at 262grn and 200grn respectively.

As large as the Webleys were, they still did not handle high pressures very well. Even with the Mk. VI which was the largest and strongest of the various models, the use of standard-pressure .45 ACP ammunition (which is not a very high pressure cartridge itself) in converted revolvers will shoot the revolver loose in fairly short order. Use of .45 ACP ammo in a Mk. I-IV revolver (the original .455 Mk. IV rather than the later .38 model) is not safe as the Mk. I-III were designed for black powder and the Mk. IV is considered marginal for smokeless at best.

Of the above-mentioned issues, only the latter two really apply to a .22 as it is a relatively low-pressure cartridge that isn't very hard on frames and latches. However, most revolver manufacturers also make revolvers in other calibers. It is simply easier and more cost effective to modify their existing solid-frame platform to .22 than it is to design a completely different and more expensive top-break platform for .22's. For the OP's needs, I concur that the H&R Model 999 Sportsman would be a good fit. While these are no longer in production, they aren't particularly rare nor expensive (I picked up my specimen for $200). Also, I believe Iver Johnson used to make a similar revolver called the "Super Sealed 8" which would also fit the bill nicely. Finally, if you can't find a top-break, the High Standard Sentinel series of revolvers are of decent quality and can often be found for $300 or less. The Sentinel is a traditional swing-out cylinder DA revolver.