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Old June 15, 2019, 04:18 PM   #1
gonzogeezer
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An American revolver conundrum

Hello all,

I just purchased a nickel plated six-shot top break revolver chambered in .32 S&W with a 3-1/4” barrel. The seller, Ancestry Arms, dated it to the early 20th Century. The only marks on the gun are the serial number on the butt and an inscription along the top of the barrel.

The operation is unusual compared to other revolvers I have seen in that once fired the hammer stays down with the firing pin exposed, and the cylinder is locked. When cocking the hammer back to the first notch the firing fan disappears and the cylinder is free wheeling. When the hammer is fully cocked the cylinder is once again locked. Everything aligns properly and the action seems to have no play.

I removed the grips; I can see two flat springs: hammer, and a smaller trigger return pinned to the frame. I removed the trigger guard and found a third flat spring that appears to be involved in operating the hand and indirectly the cylinder stop. Further disassembly will require removing two pins holding the trigger/hand/stop assembly and a bolt acting as the pivot for the hammer. I am not a wheelgun armorer and have had adventures with flat sprigs under tension in the past, so i settled for a good Ballistol soak and some air pressure to clean things up a bit. No apparent broken parts, nothing binding or out of order. It operates in DA from that hammer down position, although i can feel it pass over that partial cock notch on the way through its stroke. Cocking it always brings a cylinder bore into perfect alignment with the barrel.

I’m starting to think this may not have a rebounding hammer. Maybe it’s old enough that S&W still had an active patent on it.

I did find some data on guns made by the American Arms Company but not that describe this particular gun. I have attached some photos to peruse.

Everything looks solid and safe to my slightly better than amateur eyes. Like I said, I’m don’t know a lot about wheel guns, I’m more of a self-loader kind a guy and I regularly work with and on my 75+ examples. I’m trying to locate some 32 SW ammo and I am going to try to shoot it. I’m convinced it will work safely, it’s just this kind of unusual operation that’s got me Wondering a little.

Any information would be appreciated.

- Gonzo





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Old June 16, 2019, 09:02 AM   #2
Jim Watson
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Looks good.
It definitely does not have a rebounding hammer and should be treated like a SAA, hammer down on an empty chamber.

I don't know the purpose of the freewheeling half cock unless you were feeling bold enough to load six in an era before liability lawyer advertising. You can test that by putting it on half cock, giving the cylinder a partial turn to misalign it, then cock or pull trigger and see if the next chamber comes up in line properly.

A long thread with link to a history site at
https://www.thefirearmsforum.com/thr...evolver.93654/

Apparently there was a lot of corporate coming and going and records are scarce.
At least the OP there has one like yours.
As the advice there goes, it might take .32 S&W Long but .32 S&W would be easier on it.

Materials may not be the best and while it is likely safe to shoot now, it might not hold up well with regular use. There are so many well worn topbreaks out there, it is apparent that some of them did get shot a good deal, getting sloppy in the process.
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Old June 17, 2019, 01:19 PM   #3
SIGSHR
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IIRC there were a lot "store brands" back then-cf Sear's "Ted Williams" in our day.
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Old June 17, 2019, 01:52 PM   #4
Aguila Blanca
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I bought a similar revolver (also .32 S&W) awhile back, in much worse condition, to use as a classroom demo in teaching NRA Basic Pistol. Mine has probably 30% or more of the nickel plating flaked off, and it doesn't work in double action mode. Single action works, though.

I only paid $25 for mine, and that was less than what I would have paid for a non-firing replica of a Remington top break. And that's all I wanted it for -- to show students what a top break revolver is. I picked up some dummy rounds for it, and I ground down the firing pin so it can't fire even if someone has a live round in their pocket. For my purpose, it's ideal.

(Yes, I know the rule is no live ammo in the classroom. There's almost always some doofus -- often a young veteran who is just taking the class to satisfy the requirement to get his carry permit -- who thinks he knows more than the old goat standing up in front of the class, and who is certain that the rules don't apply to HIM. For that reason, I use non-firing or blank-firing guns or airsofts in the class as some assurance that "that guy" won't be able to pull a 9mm cartridge out of his pocket and "just try it out" in a demo gun that's being passed around.)
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Old June 17, 2019, 04:52 PM   #5
gonzogeezer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post

As the advice there goes, it might take .32 S&W Long but .32 S&W would be easier on it.



Materials may not be the best and while it is likely safe to shoot now, it might not hold up well with regular use. There are so many well worn topbreaks out there, it is apparent that some of them did get shot a good deal, getting sloppy in the process.

It is definitely .32 “Short”. The cylinder is a little over 1” so the .91” .32 S&W will fit but not the Long.

I don’t collect black powder, and I won’t own a gun that doesn’t shoot, even if I don’t shoot it much. That’s what’s gonna happen with this. I’m going to use 32 smokeless, when my dealer can find some, I will take it to the range, make sure it works, and I’m going to clean it and put it in the safe. Then perhaps once a year I’ll bring it out on a “senior citizen field trip” to the gun range just to hear a go bang.
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Old June 18, 2019, 01:36 PM   #6
Jim Watson
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It is a tiny little thing, then, the cylinder looks longer in proportion than a S&W topbreak .32.
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Old June 18, 2019, 06:48 PM   #7
gonzogeezer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
It is a tiny little thing, then, the cylinder looks longer in proportion than a S&W topbreak .32.


It’s a little too short for .32 Long.


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