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Old December 28, 2010, 10:58 AM   #1
lashlaroe
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Spanish Revolver - 8mm French Ordnance (Lebel)

My Dad gave me this one that he apparently had in his gun safe. I don't know where he got it, for how long he had it, or what he paid for it (hopefully not much).

My research tells me that it's a Spanish made copy in 8mm Lebel Revolver (I guess it's proper name is 8mm Ordnance, but most all references still use the 8mm Lebel moniker).







From what I've read, Tracaola Aramzabal Y CIA Eibar made some very nice quality copies during WW1 for both Britain in .455 Webely and France in 8mm. Unfortunately, this one is a very poor quality copy and probably has a value well under $100.

The fit and finish are poor at best and the trigger pull is horrendous. The trigger doesn't even feel like it's in the correct location. While I like the look of this revolver, I can't see it ever being a serious collector's piece, only a curio at best. I understand that hundreds of thousands of these were made and there is not much interest in even the high quality specimens, even in Europe.

On a positive note, it did cause me to increase my knowledge about a small niche of revolvers one rarely hears about. There is very little mention in most arms history books about these from what I've seen.
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Old December 28, 2010, 11:11 PM   #2
James K
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As you can see, that gun is a poor copy of an S&W Military & Police revolver. After WWI, Spanish makers who had supplied the French, made minor changes and began making the guns in .32-20 and .38 Special for export to the U.S. Some were relatively good, but most were cast iron junk and many thousands have blown up over the years. I strongly recommend not firing any of those guns with any ammunition.

Most were external copies of the S&W (there were fewer Colt copies) but had internal lockwork similar to the Colt revolvers. They are often described as being made out of "pot metal", which some imaginitive folks think is metal melted in a pot. In fact, the term comes from the cheap cast iron used in making the French and Spanish "marmite" or cook pot. For making soup, the metal is fine - for making guns, well, maybe not so great.

Jim
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Old December 29, 2010, 03:09 PM   #3
lashlaroe
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I appreciate the extra information, Jim. I did read about most of what you said except for the part about the lockwork typically being similar to Colt revolver internal lockwork. I did know that this was a poor copy of a S&W and should have said a much, I guess.

I would like to know a couple of things if anyone here has the information or knows where I can find it.

1) As this one is obviously made for the 8mm Lebel cartridge, I assumed that the Spanish also made poor 8mm copies for France after the war also. Is that correct?

2) Is there anywhere where I could look up the serial number just to satisfy my curiousity about when it was made?

And don't worry, as much as I love to shoot old and vintage firearms, this one has such poor quality and action that I wasn't even tempted.

I may take this one apart and dabble with it, since it has little value to worry about ruining it.

As I mentioned, it's really too bad that this is such a poor copy, as I am interested in owning a good quality version of a Spanish revolver made for WW1, in either the .455 British or the 8mm French version. I'll have to keep my eyes open for one.
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Old December 29, 2010, 03:59 PM   #4
James K
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The 8mm Lebel was a fairly common cartridge on the European market both before and after WWI, so Spanish revolvers in that caliber were probably fairly common. But the big market for Spain in the post-war period was the U.S. The 8mm Lebel was never common here, but is close enough to the .32-20 that the makers just modified the guns to the latter caliber for export to the US and South America.

I do note that the makers of that revolver put their names on it, something most of the Spanish makers "forgot" to do.

Jim
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Old December 29, 2010, 05:36 PM   #5
RJay
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And no, there is no way to date your handgun using the serial number.
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Old December 29, 2010, 11:13 PM   #6
James K
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The influx of cheap Spanish revolvers that looked like S&W's led to an interesting S&W feature that is still with us today. S&W's problem was not only the cheap and poorly made competition, but the fact that when those Spanish guns broke or came apart, the owners often sent the remains into S&W to be repaired, which S&W couldn't (and wouldn't) do, but many customers ranted at them for refusing to fix "their" guns.

So, S&W took an interesting step. They had long used color case hardening on their triggers and hammers, so they registered that as a trademark. Now, if the Spanish didn't color those parts, their guns wouldn't look like S&W's. If they did, import would be banned for trademark infringement. A trademark, unlike a patent, can remain in effect indefinitely, as long as it is used and defended. So S&W keeps coloring the hammer and trigger, even though the parts are now MIM and so hard that case hardening is totally unnecessary.

Jim
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Last edited by James K; December 30, 2010 at 01:49 PM.
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Old December 30, 2010, 09:44 AM   #7
lashlaroe
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Thanks for that interesting bit of information, Jim. You have obviously spent some amount of time doing your research and that helps me to learn more...a bit at a time.
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