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Old October 26, 2015, 12:05 PM   #1
Danielhf43
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Need help to ID old revolver

I'm trying to help a friend identify a revolver left to her by the recent death of her husband.

The revolver is a 6-shooter, with a 6" barrel. The cylinder has a hole at each bore, apparently for a cap of some design because the hammer falls exactly on the hole. There is no firing pin. On the right side of the frame, there is a swing-away "gate" that allows access to the rear of the chamber. The barrel is smooth inside, not rifled, as far as I can tell. The hammer has a v-notch on its top so that is serves as the rear sight when the hammer is fully cocked. The front sight is a round peg.

I have looked at hundreds of photos online and have seen nothing that looks exactly like this weapon. The shape of the trigger guard is unique, and the barrel has nothing under it, as most seem to have.

I have examined the weapon very carefully under good light, with a magnifying glass and can find no markings of any kind. I took the grips off and found no markings there, as well.


Is this a replica or is it an authentic old weapon?

Help!!
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Old October 26, 2015, 12:19 PM   #2
wogpotter
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It looks like one of the French, or Belgian "pinfire" revolvers from the 1850's.

http://www.rockislandauction.com/vie...id/53/lid/1181

There weren't "nipples" but the individual rounds had a "pin" (& thus the name) sticking out of the side at the rear that fired the priming compound. The holes were for the pin to pass through the cylinder & stick out so the hammer could strike them.
I don't know of any modern repros of pinfire guns & the rounds are completely obsolete & unavailable so I assume its probably original.

More on pinfire here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinfire_cartridge
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Old October 26, 2015, 12:25 PM   #3
P5 Guy
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Pin Fire Revolver

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNgQJGkEWAU

http://www.gunsinternational.com/gun...n_id=100567839

European pin fire. Looks a bit like this one?
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Old October 26, 2015, 01:50 PM   #4
Danielhf43
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Thanks for your help

Thanks, Wogpotter and P5 Guy. You provided very helpful information.

P5 Guy, the photos you referred me to are almost exactly like the weapon I have, except the grips are different and the butt appears to be a little different. I had already came to the conclusion that it had to fire a cartridge with a built-in firing pin. Measuring the diameter of the bore with a ruler, I had concluded that it is a .44 or .45 caliber. That would be close to the 12mm caliber of the weapon you referred me to.
It appears to be very tight, so it may actually have some value.
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Old October 26, 2015, 03:21 PM   #5
James K
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Until recently, those guns had a very low value as curiosities. But with good quality American guns (Colt, S&W, Remington) being priced beyond the range of any but well-off collectors, both inexpensive American guns and European guns of the pre-1899 era have become of interest to collectors.

FWIW, the rimfire cartridge never caught on in Europe; the cartridge that filled the gap between the percussion revolver and the center fire was the pinfire. We think of pinfires as being rare, but they were made by the millions in Belgium, Spain, France, and Germany, filling the same market niche as the inexpensive .30, .32 and .38 single and double action revolvers made and sold here by the ton. (The British developed the center fire pretty early, and never used the pinfire very much.)

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Old October 26, 2015, 04:26 PM   #6
wogpotter
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The thing to remember is that everybody & his uncle Claude were making copies of each others designs, some licensed & some utterly bootleg. Between the multiple French, Spanish & Belgian copies of each other & the individuals making them behind the barn yours may be "rare" simply because old Claude only whittled 3 copies of Emile's ripoff of Hercule's original.
You may never find exactly what it is.
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Old October 26, 2015, 05:48 PM   #7
Danielhf43
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Reply to Old Revolver

Since this weapon has absolutely no markings, it is most likely a bootleg copy and I'll never learn anything about it. There are a couple of places on it that might be scratches, or might be proof marks. I just can't see them well enough to determine which.
I may buy it from my friend just to say I have a pre-1900 gun.
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Old October 26, 2015, 06:05 PM   #8
gyvel
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When I magnified the pics, I saw tantalizing hints of proofs, but I really couldn't tell if they were proof marks, dings or just rust clumps.
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Old October 26, 2015, 06:15 PM   #9
Danielhf43
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I looked at them under good light, with two different (though inexpensive) magnifying glasses and couldn't see them well enough to determine if they might be proofs. Better optics might allow a better look, but I don't have access to anything better.
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Old October 26, 2015, 11:03 PM   #10
James K
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Check the back end of the cylinder. You might find an oval marking with the letters E L G in it. If so, that is a Liege, Belgium, proof mark. Many Belgian makers didn't put their names on their products, or the guns were made by a consortium, but the law required that they be proved with an overcharge and marked that they passed (didn't blow up).

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Old October 27, 2015, 06:30 AM   #11
Mike Irwin
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The only truly significant use the pinfire saw in the United States was during the Civil War, when guns and cartridges were smuggled into the states in rebellion.

The British did have a significant flirtation with pinfires in the form of shotguns, especially among the upper class.

Francis Bannerman sold pinfire revolvers and cartridges for many years.
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Old October 27, 2015, 10:42 AM   #12
Danielhf43
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James,
Thanks for your hint. I took a look at what I can see of the rear end of the cylinder, by opening the loading access (or whatever the "gate" is called). The only mark I can see is a small round mark, about 1/16" in diameter that looks like a punch mark. It could even be an accidental mark.
Do I need to disassemble the gun to see the entire rear of the cylinder? Or can I assume that a proof mark would have been placed in a location that was accessible while the gun was fully assembled?
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Old October 27, 2015, 01:48 PM   #13
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Primary disassembly should not be hard. Try removing the screw in front of the trigger guard, then unscrew the whole barrel assembly from the cylinder arbor.

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Old November 2, 2015, 05:01 PM   #14
Danielhf43
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James,
Thanks for your latest hint. Sorry to be so long in responding. I did the primary disassembly as directed. I took the cylinder out and cleaned it thoroughly. The "punch mark" that I had seen on the back of the cylinder
turned out to be a very distinct 2, located about the center of a space between two chambers. I see no other readable marks anywhere on the weapon. I examined the frame all over while I had it disassembled, and say nothing. As previously noted, there are a couple of spots that show scratches or perhaps marks that have been rendered unreadable by age or rust. When the one mark so distinct, though, I would be surprised that other marks would be drastically less distinct.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. I'm convinced that I will not be able to nail down the history of this old weapon, but I get a thrill out of owning one that is surely more than 115 years old!! It certainly looks exactly like the M1858. Quite a good knock-off!!
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