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Old August 15, 2018, 07:39 PM   #1
AssembledInUSA
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Question from a beginner regarding break actions

Hi All,

I'm a new member to the forums (been lurking as a guest for a while now), so please be gentle with me, especially if this is posted in the wrong place.

I've been shooting handguns for several years, and have a soft spot for a well made wheelgun. I'm new, however, to the shotgun world. My buddy is getting me into sporting clays and I'm absolutely loving it. I'll need an upgrade from my 870, but that's for another post.

My question is this...

I was reading up on break-action revolvers of old, and why they're no longer used for almost anything but reproductions. The consensus is that the latch mechanisms are weak, sloppy, and prone to failure if used with higher pressure (aka modern) ammunition. That makes sense to me, but why then, are high-end over/under shotguns that cost more than my first car using a similar break-action configuration? How is the latching mechanism eliminated as a design vulnerability on shotguns when it no longer suffices on revolvers? Is the mechanism fundamentally different? Are shotgun shells operating at acceptably lower pressures? Are the latches still a weak point, but nobody has come up with a better idea? I'm sure there are many well informed opinions on this matter out there, and I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts.
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Old August 15, 2018, 08:03 PM   #2
tangolima
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Center fired revolver cartridge generate much higher pressure than shotgun shell, more so considering the size difference in lock lugs.

There is cultural factors on top of technical considerations. I was told in Europe, if one shows up in a proper skeet / trap event with a pump gun, he will be politely asked to get lost. Break action shotguns are considered more appropriate than auto, and pump is definitely for red necks only.

-TL

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Old August 15, 2018, 08:24 PM   #3
Doyle
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Tangolima has it. You have the coupling of a MUCH larger locking surface with a lower operating pressure. PLUS, a shotgun doesn't have to worry about the loss of strength caused by the relatively large "cutout" area for the cylinder.

There are indeed break-open handguns that can handle tremendous pressure. The Encore comes to mind. It handles the .460S&W better than most shooters who want to try and use it.
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Old August 16, 2018, 01:51 AM   #4
44 AMP
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Quote:
I was reading up on break-action revolvers of old, and why they're no longer used for almost anything but reproductions. The consensus is that the latch mechanisms are weak, sloppy, and prone to failure if used with higher pressure (aka modern) ammunition. That makes sense to me, but why then, are high-end over/under shotguns that cost more than my first car using a similar break-action configuration?
And there's more to it than just "weak, sloppy and prone to failure..." Note that the old top break revolvers still work well enough with the black powder pressure cartridges they were originally designed for. And shotguns operate at those same pressure levels, and, as mentioned the locking mechanisms are larger and stronger than those on top break revolvers, so they endure less actual stress.

Another reason top break revolvers are only reproductions today is economics of the market. They require a different and more extensive amount of fitting than solid frame revolves, so they are more expensive to produce, and the pre-1900 designs can't handle modern high pressure magnums (30,000psi+) and no one wants to pay the cost of a design that could.

The shotgun, on the other hand, has a LOT more metal holding it shut, and is only lightly stressed by the pressure. Do note how thin shotgun barrels are, compared to rifles and pistols. They are as strong as the need to be, and a bit more.
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Old August 16, 2018, 08:43 AM   #5
kozak6
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I don't see why one couldn't be designed, but there just probably just isn't enough demand for it. Revolver enthusiasts are fairly conservative, and there's also the severe problem that swing out revolvers are really good.

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Old August 17, 2018, 07:07 AM   #6
FITASC
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Quote:
There is cultural factors on top of technical considerations. I was told in Europe, if one shows up in a proper skeet / trap event with a pump gun, he will be politely asked to get lost.
In many countries, the pump gun is considered a military/police weapon and thus not suitable (or legally allowed) for civilian use. Besides, in Europe, they shoot the international/Olympic versions and a pump would be at a severe disadvantage.

Break open guns can be some of the strongest actions; many African/dangerous game guns are a double rifle configuration including cartridges like the 600 and 700 NE
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