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Old January 9, 2017, 05:29 PM   #1
Driftwood
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Modele 1892 Revolver... With a Twist

Greetings! I have a kind of mysterious mystery for you all... I figured this was a typical Model 1892, but when I test fired it, I found a surprise. First, here she is (I hope the photos work out!):

Rev 1 copy 1.jpg

When I tested it out with both commercial 8mm Ordnance (8mm Lebel Rev.) and reloads made from 32-20 cases, the spent cases came out all balloon-ish... although the accuracy was pretty remarkable, considering. Here's a close-up of the cylinder (note it is not typical for straight-walled cases):

Cyl 1 copy.jpg

In the photo below, the case on the left is what a normal fired case should look like. In the middle is what they looked like out of my revolver... and on the right is a dummy cartridge I made by taking all the necessary measurements. It is made from a .38 Special case cut down a bit and necked for the .330" plated bullet.

Cart 1 copy.jpg

Apparently, someone got the bright idea of re-chambering the cylinder for .38 Special brass, but keeping the front of each chamber original dimensions... I guess it would make sense to do something like this, as other brass/ammo options are wonky (if you can get any at all).

My question is, since the cylinder walls are now a bit thinner, would it be safe to shoot a cartridge of this kind? (I would likely keep the 2.6 grains of Bullseye that I used for the 8mm Ordnance reloads)... and with the higher pressure cases, does that make up at all for the loss of cylinder metal? I guess I could even use .357 Magnum cases, if the pressure tolerance is higher.

I've done a fair amount of reloading for a few years, but this kind of thing is new territory to me... any advice would be appreciated. If I am able, I'll add another helpful photo or two in the post below this one.

Last edited by Driftwood; January 9, 2017 at 06:35 PM.
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Old January 9, 2017, 05:38 PM   #2
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Below is a view of the cylinder with a .38 Special case inserted:

Cyl 2 copy.jpg

And here is a pic of the dummy cartridge I made up along with a sketch that shows most of the measurements. It chambers perfectly and there is clearance for the cylinder to rotate... also, the ejector was corrected for the .38 Special rim.

Cart comp.jpg

It seems like it was a really well-done job... it has an excellent trigger (approx. 4lbs) and appears to lock up well, with good alignment with the bore. Like I said above, even with the original (incorrect) ammo, it was plenty accurate... pretty amazing! Well, I hope to be able to use this thing, as it sure is a purty pistol (and I think the collector value is gone). Thanks y'all!
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Old January 9, 2017, 06:12 PM   #3
mapsjanhere
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For a really scary thought, someone opened up a blackpowder revolver to take 7.63 Mauser, maybe during German occupation? Either way I wouldn't fire that thing with a 10 ft pole.
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Old January 9, 2017, 06:25 PM   #4
Driftwood
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mapsjanhere: 7.63x25 is close in some dimensions, pretty far off in others. The bore was slugged and measures .326"... seems off for 7.63 Mauser... it would probably shoot, though.

It was was originally a BP cartridge, but used smokeless later on... it's a pretty low pressure number... some would even call it wimpy. Do you think two and a half grains of Bullseye would really blow this gun up?! It seems well built to me, although I might be full of it.

Last edited by Driftwood; January 9, 2017 at 06:35 PM.
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Old January 9, 2017, 06:27 PM   #5
Jim Watson
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4.6 grains of Bullseye sounds like a lot for the original 8mm. Even with the greater volume of the bottleneck, it sounds like a lot for the gun.
CotW thinks 2.8 gr of Bull is enough which is in the ballpark for .32 S&W Long and is a starting load for .32 H&R Mag.
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Old January 9, 2017, 06:38 PM   #6
Driftwood
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Jim Watson, you are right, sir. I was typing and not consulting notes... my memory fails me at times. The 4.6 is what I was figuring for .38 Spc loads (with 110 gr. XTP) and 2.6 is correct for 8mm Ord. I have edited my previous posts. Thanks for pointing that out! So, now with 2.6 grains Bullseye, does this sound like an unsafe situation with this particular pistol?
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Old January 10, 2017, 08:36 AM   #7
Mike Irwin
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The original 8mm French Ordnance round is similar in power to the .32 ACP.

I know people who have used .32 ACP loading data very successfully. I'd stick to mid range .32 ACP loads, and use ONLY plated (not jacketed) bullets.

I have heard of some people experimenting with conversions post World War II when some of these revolvers made their way into the US. I've just never seen one. Absolutely fascinating.
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Old January 10, 2017, 11:40 AM   #8
mapsjanhere
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Driftwood, the bore dimensions and the neck are original to the 8 mm lebel rev. To me it looks like someone just run a straight 3/8 bit down the cylinder to create room for a bottle neck cartridge. And I'm unaware of anything with even approximately fitting dimensions other than the 7.63 Mauser (or Borchart or Tokarev) to match your drawing.
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Old January 10, 2017, 12:24 PM   #9
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mapsjanhere, yeah, you're exactly right about the modification... it's a weirdo. It will surely take some doing to make cases, as there is no die that will do it all. I had to set a few oddball dies in strange positions to get it right, but I guess that once set up, it will be somewhat simple... at least repeatable.

Mike Irwin, I have 100gr plated bullets from Graf & Sons that I planned to use for reloading the standard 8mm Ordnance cartridges... and paid a butt-load for dies, so I think I'll still be able to use the same bullets and the dies will still be useful to a degree.

So, do you suppose the cylinder walls are good to go with a cartridge like this? I would rather not have to dig shrapnel out of my hand or face... it does seem to be a robust enough piece.
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Old January 11, 2017, 12:28 PM   #10
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No, I think if you pull the trigger, even on an empty chamber, that the gun is going to go super critical and wipe out all life on the west coast....

The 1892s were decently designed and made revolvers.

But, I'm not exactly sure how thin that modification would leave the cylinder walls.

So I literally don't have an answer for you.

I'd suggest getting it to a licensed gunsmith for evaluation.
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Old January 11, 2017, 02:19 PM   #11
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Hahaha. Well, seeing as how I'm on the East coast, I won't worry about it. Yeah, you're right... but sadly a good actual gunsmith is hard to come by these days... plenty of gun shops, but the lack of knowledge in general is astounding. It seems like unless it's an AR or whatever new auto pistol is trending, there are just looks of confusion. I've always worked on my own rifles, but revolvers are new to me (as is wildcatting cartridges). I'll keep an eye out and ask around... maybe there is a true gunsmith who is retired or something. Thanks for your advice!
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Old January 11, 2017, 04:03 PM   #12
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New manufactured ammo is available,,,

New manufactured ammo is available,,,
Fiocchi makes and markets it.

I purchased 550 rounds last year for my Lebel,,,
I e-mailed the plant in Missouri for info,,,
They told me what outlets had ammo.

If it were my gun I wouldn't go to the effort of forming brass,,,
I would either find a cylinder or a new pistol to purchase.

Here's some load data just in case it might help.



Mine shoots as accurately as my S&W's,,,
It's a very classy old handgun.

Aarond

.
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Old January 12, 2017, 05:37 PM   #13
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aarondhgraham: yeah, I've seen the Fiocchi stuff around... usually pretty expensive. I don't plan on shooting the revolver too often, so forming brass is no big deal (assuming I can get dies set up for it).

There are two things that make me want to work with this revolver in its' current form:

1. I find it intriguing that someone did the work to create a new cartridge to use in this gun, as the work was done well and the new cartridge may have some benefits over the original (better ballistics -internal and external, stronger cases, more widely available cases, etc.). I'm a reloader and have made cartridges from 32-20 cases that worked out well in properly chambered (8mm Ordnance) pistols.

2. The revolver is -as an individual- a very nice piece... trigger is excellent, overall fit and alignment is about perfect, operates very smoothly overall... whoever did the work on it gave it a lot of love and I'd have an easy time loving it as well.

Maybe someday I will get a 'standard' example, in fact I would really like to... but, for now, I'd like to solve this mystery. It's in my nature to investigate these sorts of things.

Thanks for your information and input. I appreciate it!
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