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Old August 9, 2013, 12:13 AM   #1
Nate7504
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Please educate me on this firearm

Hello all,and thank you for taking the time to read this! First off I am a total noob when it comes to firearms,truth be told I have never fired anything larger then a pellet gun,so with that being said please forgive my severe lack of knowledge! I recently purchased a six shot revolver,ingraved on top of the barel is the following...HARINGTON&RICHARDSON ARMS COMPANY.second line...WARCHESTER MASS USA.PATD OCT 4th 1887,(I think) marked on the star shaped thing that ejects the shells 823,stamped on the front of the cylinder where the shells are loaded 823,under the left grip 6823.the finish is nickel there are no other markings that I can find,it is break action.also the grips have a target looking symbol on both of them,I am not terribly conserned with the value,more so was wondering the caliber,if I can purchase shells,how old it might be things like that? I only paid $30 bucks for it,and I would say 85% of the finish is intact,and all the movement of the parts feels very tight (as in still in good working order) still very precise.thank you so much for any info you folks can provide.
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Old August 9, 2013, 12:21 AM   #2
James K
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Can you post pictures, including a picture of the caliber marking (should be on the side of the barrel).

I will say that H&R's of that era are not generally high ticket guns and you probably paid a reasonable price. There is some collector interest, but only for those in top condition since H&R made millions of revolvers in that period.

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Old August 9, 2013, 06:16 AM   #3
Nate7504
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I will try to post up some pics,but I searched the whole gun,I see no other makings at all.
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Old August 9, 2013, 06:36 AM   #4
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From your description you have a turn of the century top break revolver made by H&R one of dozens of companies that copied the S&W design. H&R was one of the better copies. There has never been much collector interest but at $30 you made an ok deal. Many of these guns are worn and/or pitted from corrosive ammunition, most were .32 or .38 S&W caliber.
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Old August 9, 2013, 07:53 AM   #5
Nate7504
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I believe I read somewhere that if there where no markings stating the caliber that it was to use a black powder shell? I really would like to fire it,after proper inspection! For all I know this thing could blow up in my hand.
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Old August 9, 2013, 09:34 AM   #6
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if it is patented 1887 odds are it was never built with smokeless powder in mind. I am no expert in antique revolvers but using smokeless powder in anything prior to 1900 is bad joo joo for the most part.

if you know anyone that reloads there is a smokeless powder called trail boss that simulates black powder pressures, you may be able to load up some light loads depending on the condition of the gun. however with anything that old you should take it to a gunsmith to inspect and make sure it's even safe to attempt to fire before going out and building loads.
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Old August 9, 2013, 11:47 AM   #7
Jim Watson
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As best I can tell without pictures of the actual gun and the reference books...

A six shot top break Harrington & Richardson is probably a .32 S&W.
If the caliber is not stamped on the barrel, it is a black powder weapon.
I am sure a lot of them have been shot with smokeless, which is not loaded any hotter than it ever was, but I am not telling you that it is OK for you and your gun.

The single patent date spelled out marks it as a second variation, made only from 1890 til 1892.

Magnum Wheel Man can probably give you some pointers on shooting the old gun.
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Old August 9, 2013, 07:20 PM   #8
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The concern about "black powder" in those old guns is pretty modern. The owners fired millions of them for years with smokeless powder (that is all there is or has been since about 1915). I am sure some weak ones did let go, but H&R's are pretty sturdy. I have fired literally hundreds of those guns with modern ammo and never had one let go. That is not to say they can't, so, like others, I have to say there is some risk, mainly to the gun.

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Old August 9, 2013, 08:53 PM   #9
Nate7504
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Ok so let's assume its in good enough shape to fire and its .32 cal,and I decide to give it a shot (pun intended) exactly what ammo would I buy (modern), just look for 32 cal ammo?
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Old August 9, 2013, 11:32 PM   #10
Jim Watson
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.32 Smith & Wesson.
Some call it .32 S&W Short; but Smith & Wesson don't.

There IS a .32 S&W Long, don't get that.

Do NOT put .32 ACP in an old topbreak.
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Old August 10, 2013, 12:06 AM   #11
Nate7504
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Thanks a lot sir! I found a couple places online that sell it,pretty expensive though.why is it so $$ ? Is it just an unusual caliber? Oh we'll,it will be well worth it to see this old firearm shoot again,if possible.
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Old August 10, 2013, 12:12 AM   #12
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I believe that's Worcester, MA.. The gun was called The American.
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Old August 10, 2013, 01:40 PM   #13
Nate7504
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I found some ammo at my local store,it's .32 cal fmc,is that full metal jacket? Can that be used,or should it be all lead only?
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Old August 10, 2013, 04:51 PM   #14
tahunua001
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FMC is full metal case which is pretty much the same as a FMJ. should shoot fine.
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Old August 10, 2013, 08:44 PM   #15
Jim Watson
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I never saw a FMJ .32 S&W
Are you SURE they are not trying to sell you .32 ACP?
That is way too hot for that old top break.
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Old August 10, 2013, 09:31 PM   #16
Nate7504
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It was at Walmart it was Remington .32 fmj,it might have said auto,but def did not see acp.
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Old August 10, 2013, 09:41 PM   #17
Jim Watson
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ACP = AUTOmatc Colt Pistol.
Not what you need.

http://www.midwayusa.com/find?newcat...ensionid=10037

Too bad Midway hasn't got any but this is what you need.

Assuming it is a .32 S&W and not a .38 S&W, although I don't think it is.
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Old August 10, 2013, 10:16 PM   #18
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The boxes should be marked ".32 Smith & Wesson" or ".32 S&W". The headstamp should be ".32 S&W". The bullets will be lead, not metal jacketed. You don't want .32 ACP" or ".32 Automatic".

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Old August 11, 2013, 12:35 PM   #19
tahunua001
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as has been said there are so many 32s out there it's insane.
32 smith and wesson
32 ACP(automatic colt pistol, also called 32 auto for short)
32 smith and wesson long
and then there is 32 special which is actually a rifle cartridge.

32 wouldn't do you much good, it's a rimless case so there's no way to extract it once it's fired... assuming your gun can take it.
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Old August 11, 2013, 02:00 PM   #20
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I think you mean .32 ACP wouldn't extract. The problem is that .32 ACP is NOT a rimless cartridge. It is semi-rimmed, and will fire and extract in those old revolvers made for .32 S&W. But the pressure of the .32 ACP is 20,500 psi, about 7000 higher than the .32 S&W. That difference can destroy an old and weak gun.

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Old August 12, 2013, 05:39 PM   #21
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Nate 7504: You have an automatic Ejecting Second Model, second variation. that was produced in 1890-1892 and is a BLACK POWDER ONLY revolver chambered for the Black Powder .32 Smith and Wesson cartridge..

Do not fire this revolver with modern smokeless powder ammunition or even reloads with powders such as previously mentioned Trail Boss. Smokeless powder produces chamber pressures dangerously in excess of those that this revolver was designed to handle.

This revolver was produced with materials and technology that is in excess of 120 years old. I consider it senseless to risk your eyes, hands, fingers and other vital body parts or those of bystanders just for the thrill of firing and old revolver.
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Old August 13, 2013, 12:14 AM   #22
tahunua001
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and yet people do it with trapdoors all the time
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ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
I never said half the crap people said I did-Albert Einstein
You can't believe everything you read on the internet-Benjamin Franklin
Bean counters told me I couldn't fire a man for being in a wheelchair, did it anyway. Ramps are expensive.-Cave Johnson.
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Old August 13, 2013, 07:57 AM   #23
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HI... TWODOGS puts out a good warning ( in general )

however I do shoot this type of revolver all the time, & with smokeless powders ( Trailboss to be specific )

I hand load actually 5 levels of 32 S&W... my level one load is safe in any gun, that is functional enough to shoot, it's comprised of a "pinch" of Trailboss & a soft lead round ball... & barely has enough pressure to push the soft lead round ball to a target... it's the load I use to test fire any in my collection... I have mild target loads, medium loads, & even a load using Unique powder ( I would not use the Unique load in a gun like the OP is posting about ) even a self defense load that is used occasionally in one of 2 S&W's

a couple things about these guns... ( "these guns" are a group of cheaper high volume produced guns, that include, but are not limited to Iver Johnson, Hopkins & Allen, Harrington & Richardson, & any number of unbranded Belgian & Spanish revolvers ) many of these companies offered different models, or "off brands" so there are a lot of them out there... some people may use the term ( which I don't like ) of Suicide Specials... incidentally, even the S&W's & Colts of this era ( in pocket guns ) weren't that much better in either metallurgy or machining quality

they are made from iron, or early softer, easier to machine alloys, often working parts were just surfaced hardened, & sometimes not even surface hardened... so good lubrication of the movement is critical if the gun is to be fired without undue wear... the bores often varied a lot... from too tight, unsafe to fire as new, to so loose a bullet would drop through... they were fired using corrosive ammo, & the barrels are often pitted... a pitted barrel, on a tighter bore, can push a gun over pressure pretty fast with a hard cast lead bullet...

as far as bought ammo... I personally wouldn't... but something like this... maybe...

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=359117378

however I much prefer to control the amount of powder, & the weight & hardness of the bullet...

this rack is all 22's & 32's ( BTW... I shoot all the 32's on this rack with one or the other of my smokeless loads )

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Last edited by Magnum Wheel Man; August 13, 2013 at 08:16 AM.
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