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Old March 10, 2014, 02:30 PM   #1
Doc Hoy
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Picked up a Belgian Frontier Army...

....at the Flea Market in Webster, FL this day.

Pistol is in fair condition. I gave $80.00 for it.

On these style pistols (kind of a Bulldog design for the cylinder pin) when the end of the pin wears, it makes the cylinder a little sloppy. I am thinking of ways to remedy the situation.

In addition, the vendor had a gunsmith make a part to replace the original loading gate. It is a little rough.

Pistol cycles reliably. Works in single and double action. Bore is not bad, although I will not likely shoot it very much.

The grips are very good. The metal will clean up. It has no collector value to speak of and so I don't mind prettying it up.

The revolver is marked ".44 Winchester" on the top of the barrel. It is marked Frontier Army on the top of the frame.

I think this revolver was manufactured for about the same market as the Belgian Cowboy Ranger revolver I spoke of in a previous post. That revolver was marked for ".38 S&W Special and .38 LC Cartridges". But in truth, neither .38 S&W nor .38 LC bullets will work. The cases expand so much you can easily see the expansion with your naked eye. .38 specials don't even fit in the chamber. (Too long.)

So by virtue of the fact that the two revolvers have several similarities, I am thinking that the marking of the barrel as regards caliber, will require a lot of flexability as was that case in the Cowbot Ranger.

I have seen photos online and in many cases, .455 Webley was mentioned..
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Old March 11, 2014, 05:04 PM   #2
Two Old Dogs
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The Solid Frame Frontier Army was made by J. B. Ronge et fils located in Liege, Belgium in the period 1880-1900.
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Old March 12, 2014, 07:19 AM   #3
Doc Hoy
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TOD

That is very worthwhile information.

Can you give me the skinny on the use of proof marks before and after 1894?

This one has the proof mark on the cylinder. Haven't taken it apart to find additional images.

Tnx,
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Old March 12, 2014, 08:32 AM   #4
Mike Irwin
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.44 Winchester would be the .44-40.

I would, however, suggest doing a chamber cast before you attempt to fire it. The Europeans could be kind of... imaginitative... on the proper chamber dimensions.

Of course, don't shoot smokless loads in it.
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Old March 12, 2014, 08:41 AM   #5
Doc Hoy
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Mike.....

Roger all.

I found an excellent listing of Belgian Proof Marks by doing a Google word search of... you guessed it.... "Belgian Proof Marks"

What troubles me about this particular revolver is that even though it is marked for .44-40 I see no accommodation for the cartridge neck in the chamber. I know it is very slight but I really can't see it.

I have some .44-40 smokeless cowboy rounds but they will never be fired from this revolver.

I will take your advice (BP only).
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Old March 12, 2014, 10:14 AM   #6
Mike Irwin
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Measure the chamber at the rear of the cylinder, and measure the chamber at the front.

I'm betting that the chamber mouth it is a LOT sloppier than what one would expect for a .427 diameter bullet, which would lead me to believe that the chambers may simply be straight bored all the way through.

I saw that on a Spanish .44-40 revolver once. IIRC the chamber mouth was a LOT closer to .470 than it was to .430. It sort of amazed me how the bullets were acutally getting to the forcing cone without shaving huge amounts of lead off the sides.

Accuracy was.... generous.
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Old March 12, 2014, 04:00 PM   #7
Doc Hoy
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Generous is a nice way of putting it.

I probably won't put too many rounds through this jewel.

But as you recommend, they will be light BP loads.
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Old March 30, 2018, 10:52 AM   #8
mightythor101
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info on Belgian weapons from this and earlier era's

Here is the story on all of the Belgian copies made in Liege, etc. I learned about it when I was researching a Belgian made Colt model 1851 revolver. When Sam Colt went to Europe to sell his patent on his revolvers, after he went to England, he went to Belgium. There, he was successful in selling it, but he did not have any attorneys explain, or dig into Belgian patent law. What he found out, was that in Belgium, patent law says that if a company buys a patent, and does not begin production within one year of the signing, it is void.......... so the Belgian gun companies paid no royalties to him for all of the Colts they produced. When the American Civil War began, they were making and selling pistols for the American War as fast as they could, it is a wonder that so few of them turn up for sale these days.
The other thing with Belgian firearms on that, and later era, was metalurgy. metal hardening was not a science until after 1900 or 1910, so the steel used to make these pistols is not very good quality, which is why so many of them are wobbly.
They are not really safe to shoot any longer, just like the old wire twist shotgun barrels. I would not recommend shooting any of these, no matter how nice they look.
A local man here from our local gun club fired trapdoor Springfields in our high powered rifle matches for decades, and he always fired the same ones, and about 10 years ago now, one of them that he had fired literally almost all of his life, exploded, and sent metal fragments into his face, and he was seriously injured. So please have a very competant gunsmith check any of these old pistols and rifles out before you shoot them. I am all for firing the old stuff, I shot an 1871/84 Mauser rifle and 1871 Mauser Cavalry Carbine for decades, and those wont have any problems probably ever, but the lock up systems on these old revolvers, and trap door models, combined with the metal craftsmanship of the day, makes them a little shaky.
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