The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > The Harley Nolden Memorial Institute for Firearms Research

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old January 15, 2018, 10:39 PM   #1
TXAZ
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 5, 2010
Location: McMurdo Sound Texas
Posts: 3,333
Smallest caliber Old West pistols (mass produced)

I know Colt made a .36 caliber Paterson revolver. Did anyone make a mass produced revolver that was a smaller caliber?
__________________
!أنا لست إرهابياً
TXAZ is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 12:05 AM   #2
Seamus Mc
Member
 
Join Date: March 24, 2013
Posts: 33
.22 rimfire was popular back in those days just as it is now. Dozens of different handguns came in .22. Also, .31 caliber was used in the 1863 Remington revolver shooting a .315 roundball. No doubt others will come up with more examples.

Seamus.
Seamus Mc is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 12:12 AM   #3
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 15,050
.22, .25, .28, .30, .31, .32 that I recall.
Jim Watson is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 02:05 AM   #4
HiBC
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 13, 2006
Posts: 5,921
I am not a Colt SAA historian,I might be wrong,but I have read there were more 32-20 SAA's produced than any other cartridge( Back in those days)
HiBC is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 03:08 AM   #5
Scorch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2006
Location: Washington state
Posts: 13,386
Quote:
Smallest caliber Old West pistols
"Old West" as in 1870s? 1890s? 32 caliber was pretty small for anything shooting black powder, but I think there were Colt 1848 Pocket revolvers in 32. Pepper boxes as well. Once metallic cartridges appeared, there were 22 RF (what we call Shorts), 32 RF, 38 RF. Don't remember any 25s in handguns. Colt chambered the 1873 Model P (aka "Peacemaker" or SAA, although the SAA was rightly only the 45) in 32-20, which was considered a pretty hot number back then. S&W had the 32 S&W. But most black powder cartridges needed heavy bullets to make them effective because of low velocity, so the bigger the better.
__________________
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
Summit Arms Services
Taylor Machine
Scorch is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 09:03 AM   #6
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,937
"I am not a Colt SAA historian,I might be wrong,but I have read there were more 32-20 SAA's produced than any other cartridge( Back in those days)"

No. .45 Long Colt was by far the most produced, followed by .44-40.

Third in the list, though, was apparently .38-40, and a close fourth was .32-20.

Regarding "old west" handguns, realistically any handgun to be found in the east would be found in the west.

But here's an important distinction... despite what Hollywood would have us believe, not every man, woman, and child walked around the "old west" with a pair of Colt, Smith & Wesson, or Merwin & Hulbert .45s in hand tooled Mexican Concha holsters.

By far, probably by a factor of 10 or more, the most popular guns in the old west, and literally across the country, were the smaller solid and break top revolvers chambered in rounds like the .22 Short, the .32 Rimfire, the .32 S&W, and the .38 S&W.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 11:59 AM   #7
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 15,050
An article in the 1880s Sacramento Bee said of mining town Bodie, Cal.
"Army or Navy revolvers in belt scabbards are seldom seen, the usual weapon is a Bulldog revolver in a leather or canvas lined coat pocket."
The basic Bulldog was a .442 Webley, but there were many knockoffs in smaller calibers.

The Bee also said Bodie was known as "Bad Shot Gulch" because there were a lot of shootings bur few fatalities.
Jim Watson is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 12:49 PM   #8
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 39,937
"No. .45 Long Colt was by far the most produced, followed by .44-40.

Third in the list, though, was apparently .38-40, and a close fourth was .32-20."

It just dawned on me...

Obviously, the Peacemaker was adopted by the military in .45, so that would give it a big step up on being the most common chambering.

The other three, though?

It just dawned on me... That was the order of popularity for the Winchester Model 1873 rifle...

Winchester drove sales of the Peacemaker...
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old January 19, 2018, 01:51 PM   #9
T. O'Heir
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 10,254
Paterson revolvers pre-date the "Old West" by about 50 years. It patent date was 1836 and only produced until 1842.
The "Old West" was the 25 or so years roughly from 1865ish to 1890ish. And there were lots of under .36 calibre revolvers. Colts were horrendously expensive and few people could afford 'em. No cowboy(who didn't as rule carry or own any firearm) could ever afford one.
__________________
Spelling and grammar count!
T. O'Heir is online now  
Old January 19, 2018, 05:17 PM   #10
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 15,050
The Texas Rangers of the 1830s and 1840s might have had a different definition.
Jim Watson is offline  
Old February 7, 2018, 09:40 PM   #11
SHR970
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2011
Posts: 1,147
OMG.. are you guys kidding? Smith & Wesson Model 1 22 short.
SHR970 is offline  
Old February 8, 2018, 03:12 AM   #12
Pathfinder45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 7, 2008
Posts: 2,536
The Old West is any time in the West that pre-dates the modern West, i.e. certainly before 1900, and can be further divided into various eras with distinguishing characteristic. For example:
  1. Pre-European contact, i.e., the Neo-lithic West
  2. Early contact by explorers, traders, trapper; the onset of the fur trade.
  3. The collapse of the fur trade; the Oregon trail begins and war with Mexico
  4. The gold rush era.
  5. The Civil War in the West
  6. The Indian Wars
  7. The great cattle drives and the age of the cowboy and open range
That's just a minimal list of episodes in the Old West; but for the sake of brevity, a lot more could be mentioned.

Now, in keeping with the original subject, here is a link to information on Colt's Pocket Percussion Revolvers that were typically 31 caliber: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_P...sion_Revolvers
Pathfinder45 is offline  
Old February 8, 2018, 12:03 PM   #13
aarondhgraham
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 1, 2009
Location: Stillwater, OKlahoma
Posts: 8,319
Don't forget the .31 caliber Remington pocket revolver?

Aarond

.
__________________
Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
aarondhgraham is offline  
Old February 8, 2018, 02:01 PM   #14
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 14,753
This is an Allen & Wheelock .22 made in 1858 shown next to a percussion Bacon .31 pocket pistol also made in 1858. The A&W was a ripoff of the Rollin White patent owned by S&W.

Hawg is offline  
Old February 17, 2018, 01:28 PM   #15
Slamfire
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2007
Posts: 5,261
Quote:
But here's an important distinction... despite what Hollywood would have us believe, not every man, woman, and child walked around the "old west" with a pair of Colt, Smith & Wesson, or Merwin & Hulbert .45s in hand tooled Mexican Concha holsters.
The poverty of that period was such, people were starving. I have read several period auto biographies of Westerners and I recall the section in one where the author was hungry, did not have any money, and could not find work.


Guns were expensive, if you are not making enough money to eat, a gun would be something you could never afford.
__________________
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.
Slamfire is offline  
Old February 17, 2018, 09:02 PM   #16
Gaucho Gringo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 17, 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 363
I also read that some of the famous lawmen of the 1860-1890 time period would sell their guns when times were tough. The people who settled the different frontier ages were survivors who did what it took to survive.
__________________
357 Taurus Gaucho, 22 Heritage RR, 2-Pietta 1858 44 NMA Remingtons, Pietta, Euroarms & ASM 36 1851 Navies, 31 Uberti 1849, 12 ga H&R Topper, 16 Ga Western Field, 43 Spanish Remington Rolling Block, 44 ASM Colt Walker, High Point C9 9mm, Winchester 1906 22, Rossi 62 22 rifle, Uberti 1860, H&A & IJ 32 S&W BreakTop, 36 Euroarms 1858, 32 H&R 04, 22mag NAA SS BP revolver, .44 Rodgers & Spencer, IJ 38 S&W BreakTop, IJ 22 Sealed 8
Gaucho Gringo is offline  
Old February 18, 2018, 09:31 AM   #17
rkammer
Member
 
Join Date: February 10, 2008
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 58
Most history books and events of the times in the Old West would be the period from the end of the Civil War, 1865 to 1895 after which law enforcement became much better.
rkammer is offline  
Old February 19, 2018, 05:16 PM   #18
4V50 Gary
Staff
 
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 20,069
I think the itty bitty 22 Flobert (pre 22 LR) was the smallest bullet out there.
__________________
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
4V50 Gary is offline  
Old February 20, 2018, 10:07 PM   #19
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 14,753
Quote:
I think the itty bitty 22 Flobert (pre 22 LR) was the smallest bullet out there.
Pre .22 short. It wasn't much more than a percussion cap that fired a .22 caliber ball.
Hawg is offline  
Old February 23, 2018, 03:40 AM   #20
Scorch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2006
Location: Washington state
Posts: 13,386
Really?? 22 Flobert was made for single-shot parlor guns, not for revolvers (that's what the OP asked). I can just see the old Tejano pistolero as he draws his single-shot parlor pistol saying "now pardner, you jes step back so's ye won't git hurt none".

As far as Old West, that to me means before the Civil War (pioneers, settlers, Oregon Trail days). After the Civil War, it was the Wild West (Indian wars, gun slingers, cattle drives). Now I'm sure somebody somewhere has it all written down and will prove me wrong, but that's how I think of it.
__________________
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
Summit Arms Services
Taylor Machine
Scorch is offline  
Old February 24, 2018, 07:59 PM   #21
Green Frog
Junior Member
 
Join Date: February 23, 2018
Posts: 3
SHR970 got it in #11! The S&W guys bought the Rollin White patent and chambered three issues of their "First Model" in 22 short. Like as not, you would irritate the bad guy rather than stop him, but like a scratch from a kitten, if it broke the skin, the infection would get ya! There were lots of copies, especially after the R-W patent expired, but the little S&W would be my entry to answer the OP's question.

Froggie
Green Frog is offline  
Old March 6, 2018, 11:31 PM   #22
CCCLVII
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 16, 2012
Location: Idaho
Posts: 398
Quote:
OMG.. are you guys kidding? Smith & Wesson Model 1 22 short.
this one is correct.
__________________
Always looking for a good hunt!
CCCLVII is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:22 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.12130 seconds with 10 queries