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Old June 4, 2014, 06:18 AM   #1
gyvel
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Davis Warner Infallible

Any of you guys out there ever shot a Davis Warner Infallible .32 auto?

What was your general impression of the gun?

The D-W is always listed as one of the six American-made .32 autos manufactured in "pre-modern" times, along with the Colt, Savage, Remington, Smith & Wesson and Harrington & Richardson.

They look funky, but how do they work?
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Old June 4, 2014, 06:42 AM   #2
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I've not shot one, but I have handled one, and to be perfectly honest, the way the grips (don't!) fit my hands, I really don't want to try shooting one.

I suspect that even the light recoil from the .32 would cause me quite a bit of pain.
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Old June 4, 2014, 07:44 AM   #3
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LOL!!! From other sources, I've heard that they defintiely were NOT the best .32 auto ever designed.

I've actually handled one, too, when I had to dispose of a late friend's collection, but never shot one.

I'd still be curious to see how one shoots, though. I've shot the other 5, but never a D-W.
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Old June 4, 2014, 09:52 AM   #4
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I'd be inclined to shoot one, but I think I'd wear a glove.
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Old June 4, 2014, 11:14 AM   #5
gyvel
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Quote:
I'd be inclined to shoot one, but I think I'd wear a glove.
LMAO!!
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Old June 4, 2014, 12:39 PM   #6
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I have fired two (two of the three variations). They are a .32 auto, and that about says it all.

The problem is that the breechblock is held to the recoil spring rods by a pin that can be left out or not locked. If that is the case, the breechblock can come back in the shooter's face, resulting in something less than a fun day at the range. In spite of being the product of a prominent gun designer of the period (Andrew Fyrberg, who worked for I.J. for many years), it is not a good design.

A Google search will turn up a lot more info, and there is a good summary here:

http://www.triplek.com/Products/id/38/grp/412/prd/1381/

The Schwarzlose mentioned is an odd blowforward piistol; there were two variations, both imported by Davis-Warner. The Infallible was made, deliberately, with an outward appearance similar to the Schwarzlose, but the Infallible is a straight blowback, without the complexity of the blowforward design.

Jim
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Old June 4, 2014, 12:54 PM   #7
gyvel
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Jim, when you shot them, did they at least function reasonably well?

I have to confess, based on outward appearances, they never looked like anything that was overly practical and, for that reason, the times I have seen them at gun shows, I just glanced and kept walking.
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Old June 4, 2014, 01:26 PM   #8
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"...I just glanced and kept walking."

For anyone looking for a practical, using gun, that is the best policy. But for a collector, they are very interesting.

Reliability? I only fired a couple of magazines from each. IIRC, one worked OK for that little bit of shooting and the other had one misfeed, but in any case, I wouldn't want to trust my neck to an "Infallible" pistol.

That was better than either of my Schwarzlose pistols. One fires but doesn't want to feed, and the other fires only when it wants to, which is about one of three times (the hammer won't stay cocked). Since all are strictly collectors items, I am not going to even try to get them to work right.

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Old June 4, 2014, 01:58 PM   #9
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"The problem is that the breechblock is held to the recoil spring rods by a pin that can be left out or not locked."

Wow. That's just a lovely design concept.

Sounds like something Kinjiro Nambu would have embraced.

In fact, it looks vaguely like the Type 94 Nambu...
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Old June 4, 2014, 03:13 PM   #10
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Yes, the Type 94 is, indeed a travesty, but somewhere in the back of my mind is another pistol that used something similar as well; A Bergmann, I think.
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Old June 4, 2014, 03:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
That was better than either of my Schwarzlose pistols. One fires but doesn't want to feed, and the other fires only when it wants to, which is about one of three times (the hammer won't stay cocked). Since all are strictly collectors items, I am not going to even try to get them to work right.
"Accept the challenge."
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Old June 4, 2014, 10:18 PM   #12
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Parts for the Schwarzlose are simply unobtainable, and the gun is made in such a way that it is impossible to see how things work or figure out why they don't. I think it was the product of someone who simply had an idea and was determined to make it work. When fired, the barrel blows forward against the recoil spring, ejecting the empty case, then comes back, cocking the hammer and stripping a round from the magazine. The hammer is concealed and has a fixed firing pin, like a revolver hammer.

As to the Japanese Type 94, I think it is actually a pretty clever design. Since the key that holds the breechblock in place also retains the firing pin, firing the gun without the key seems unlikely. (Part of the dislike of the pistol probably stems from the silly "suicide pistol" myth.) Another pistol that leaving out a part can result in unpleasantness has an American name - Colt. All the old dual link Colt pistols have a key (Colt called it the "slide stop") that must be in place to keep the slide from coming back in the shooter's face. It is hard to imagine a major gun company putting out such a gun today, but around 1900 it was hailed as a great advance.

Jim
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Old June 4, 2014, 11:29 PM   #13
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I had always assumed that Andreas Schwarzlose himself was responsilble for the design of the blow forward. Legend has it the the design was to prevent the very thing you describe about old Colts. His relatively slow-firing machine gun had a fair amount of success in the early days for the Austro-Hungarian Armies.

There is a pretty good picture of the the internals of the 1908 in Smith's book Pistols and Revolvers. Overall, it actually looks fairly simple, mechanically, if you overlook the unorthodox way it operates. Smith also writes that the recoil tends to be excessive.
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Old June 5, 2014, 06:49 AM   #14
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The Type 94's abysmal reputation came from the exposed sear, which was recognized as a serious design flaw at any time (yes, the whole suicide pistol thing is a crock), the horrid ergonoics, and abysmal build and quality standards.

I've seen late war 94s that are made with "steel" that is so soft I can swear you could cut it with a fork.
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Old June 5, 2014, 07:39 PM   #15
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The Type 94's ergonomics certainly does not conform to what we would want in a handgun, but then it was not designed for westerners with large hands; I assume it was more suitable for the Japanese. I don't see the outside sear bar as that much of a problem if either the chamber is kept unloaded or the safety is kept on until ready to fire, reasonable provisions for any auto pistol.

Even given one made before quality control went south, the 94 it is not what I would want to carry or use as a defense pistol, but I can think of worse handguns.

Jim
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Old June 5, 2014, 09:25 PM   #16
Mike Irwin
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I don't have particularly large hands, either, and even compared to the Type 04 or 14, the ergonomics of the Type 94 are appalling.


"I can think of worse handguns."

Other than the Rohm revolver, I'm having trouble thinking of any that are truly at the crap level of the Type 94.
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Old June 6, 2014, 11:13 AM   #17
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I would put those cheap American auto pistols and those Spanish 1920's imports pretty high on the "ungood" list. Talk about soft metal!

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