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Old June 16, 2012, 08:49 PM   #1
barnbwt
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Join Date: May 17, 2012
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Belgian Clone of the S&W .44Russian Top Break

I saw one of these in the local Cabela's, and I'm highly intrigued. I've always liked the looks and function of top breaks, and this one appears to be in a fairly stout caliber (well, heavy caliber, anyway). The revolver in the shop is in pretty good cosmetic condition, no rust or bad scratches, and all functions but one checked out. DA/SA is consistently heavy on all chambers (I have a feeling this was normal).

The one problem is the timing. Everything on the gun is tight like a vault except the chamber lockup. It appears the contact points on the extractor star and hand protrusion are at least somewhat peened, and a little worn. The pawl below the cylinder and it's lands are probably worn as well, but lock up was much tighter in that direction. On all but two cylinders, I could rotate the cylinder on its axis about 1/32" each direction, but on the bad two, it was about 1/16" against the hand (1/32" against the pawl).

They want 170$ for it, which I think is still high for a probably-unshootable clone. But the otherwise good condition has me wondering if the star could be recut, and the hand replaced/reshaped to get the gun in working order again. Or is the slop I've described acceptable (sure doesn't seem so, but I'm used to precise modern revolvers). The chambers are held centered with the barrel, just not very firmly (kinda springy/spongy). How hard is it to keep these old wheelguns in working order?

Thanks for the help,
TCB

The photo attached isn't mine, and there seems to be a dearth of photos of these Belgian Clones online. The one I saw had old wood grips, and a dark grey/blue matte exterior (probably left when the original finish wore off).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg revolver.jpg (91.9 KB, 45 views)
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Old June 17, 2012, 12:08 AM   #2
barnbwt
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Well, I've found these going for 90$ to 900$...

I'm pretty sure it depends on whether or not the thing is shootable. How much rotation of the cylinder is permissible at lockup for a safe shooter (obviously at very low pressure levels)? I suppose I could fire wax slugs with a bit more impunity, right?

Info on these seems to be pretty sparse. Apparently everyone and their brother in Europe was plagiarizing S&W in the '10s and '20s, and the Belgians and Spanish were the most prolific at forging the S&W no. 3 top break. Many makers were small scale shops, so maker's marks are typically absent, as well as any subsequent info. Each pistol should be treated as unique in terms of quality and function.

Since the quality and function are pretty good aside from the the lockup, is there anything that can be done to remedy the squishy/springy cylinder alignment?

TCB

I may pick this up simply because 160$ appears to be fair for a badly pitted non-functional specimen, and this one is in better shape than that. Real S&W's are +1000$...
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Old June 17, 2012, 10:09 PM   #3
barnbwt
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Well, I decided to go and buy it.

Upon closer inspection, I found the lockup was better than I thought, it just depends on how hard the trigger is squeezed (I suppose that means trigger slap would be a b**** if I fired it). The timing is slightly off, there is about .01 of cylinder face for a pencil to catch on on a couple of the cylinders, probably due to peening of the star/hand. The hand/star carry all the timing stress in one rotational direction in this design, so they peen quickly. I figure this is probably good for firing (remotely?) extremely low power loads (wax?) that just barely throw the bullet clear of the barrel. There is a crest that I believe indicates smokeless proof.

I won't link to it, but a more thorough review w/ pics is on THR revolver forum.

*sorry for the redirect, Mods, I'm just too lazy to copy/paste the whole review at the moment . If it's an issue, I'll copy the review here tomorrow.

TCB
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