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Old January 29, 2013, 08:15 PM   #1
dansu
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What is this old pistol?

Bought an old pistol from one of my employees many years ago for $5. He was going to throw it away and it looked interesting. Put it in a box and forgot it. He said it belonged to his great grandpa who was involved in some of the border (Mexican/American) skirmishes around the turn of the century. I am cleaning up my gun room and it is a spurless 6 shot revolver, nickel plated, looks like 2" octagon barrel, the bridge above the cylinder has "safety hammer" and "double action". Hammer has "patented April 5, 1887" on it. Handgrips are plastic(?) and have a design that almost looks like S&W but isn't (H&R?). The bore is smaller than a .38, maybe a .32. I'm thinking an early model H&R pocket pistol or something. Serial number is 91 (under the left grip). Any ideas? I had intended on trashing it as junk but saw/remembered that patent date and thought I'd better do further research.
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Old January 29, 2013, 08:25 PM   #2
James K
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In that era, Iver Johnson advertised its "hammer the hammer" (transfer bar system) and H&R had nothing comparable. So they simply removed the spur from the hammer (making it harder for the hammer to be accidentally driven into a cartridge primer if the gun was dropped), called it a "safety hammer" and pretended it was as good as IJ's transfer bar.

H&R and IJ revolvers of that era are gaining respectability with collectors, though they still are not high value and (due to the huge number made) are of collector interest only if in top condition, which very few are. Geneally value runs under $100, but yours should have more value to you because of its history.

IIRC, H&R did not serial number those guns, so the number is probably a batch or assembly number.

Jim
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Old January 30, 2013, 09:09 AM   #3
Rifleman1776
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Picture?
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Old January 30, 2013, 08:36 PM   #4
dansu
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Sorry. I have tried and tried to upload photos but they all fail. I think it may be the size restriction on jpg attachments. I think it says the jpg files are limited to 244.1 kb. All my photos are about 2mb or more. I don't think I've ever taken a photo that was 244 kb. Maybe I'm missing something.....?
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Old January 31, 2013, 07:19 PM   #5
PetahW
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Before you upload your pics to a free pic-hosting website, like ImageShack, preset the size (on the website uploader) to a size that's under 800 pixels wide, so when you copy the pic's direct url & paste it on a forum, it'll be small enough.

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Old February 2, 2013, 02:04 PM   #6
James K
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You can upload it to this site directly. Go down and click on MANAGE ATTACHMENTS, then browse your picture files to find the one you want, click on it, and wait until it uploads. There is a size limit, though, so you might have to shrink it using your photo editor.

Jim
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Old February 2, 2013, 06:56 PM   #7
Rainbow Demon
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The rush to market smaller pistols with safety features came about after a widely publisized accidental death of a child that had found his mothers purse gun and managed to cock and fire it.
For the most part they simply built the double action pocket pistols with horrendous trigger pulls that a small child couldn't over come. The single action feature was often eliminated completely. S&W introduced their "Lemon Squeezer" grip safety. Some manual safeties were developed, just as a few modern revolvers have added a manual safety.
Revolvers firing when dropped was another matter, and more likely to happen to an adult than to a child.
The old "five beans in the wheel" method was the safest, but most prefered to carry fully loaded if possible, and one might easily miscount or let the cylinder revolve without noticing. Also once cocked but not fired it was a hassle to lower the hammer on the proper cylinder should you need to go back to safe carry mode.

I have an old off brand .38 here with much of the lower part of the hammer broken away from being dropped while on half cock, and have seen the same pattern of failure on several 1851 hammers.

PS
Some SAA users would file or whittle a notch in the rim of two cartridges so that when lined up they could rest the hammer nose in the opening between chambers, so they could safely carry with six shots at the ready.
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Old February 2, 2013, 07:16 PM   #8
Hawg
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Quote:
Some SAA users would file or whittle a notch in the rim of two cartridges so that when lined up they could rest the hammer nose in the opening between chambers, so they could safely carry with six shots at the ready.
That might be necessary with todays .45 Colt cartridges, not with original ones or smaller cartridges. I'm not even sure you would have to do it with modern .45 Colt cartridges.
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