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Old January 25, 2016, 03:40 AM   #1
Lee6113
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"Modern"/Usable Top-Break Revolvers

Hello all!

My current fascination has been with historic top-break revolvers. I love the look of them, the way they operate, and the history behind them. I was wondering what was reasonably available on the market these days. Schofields? Webley? I know Smith and Wesson had several models...

So which ones could you buy these days with the intention of using and firing a lot rather than just stick in a safe for the collection? Ideally it would be a modern cartridge like a .45lc or .45acp, or maybe .38sp/357 mag... However I do intend to begin reloading this year, and I'd probably not get a revolver like this till later on, but again, I'm fascinated by these types of revolvers!

So, what's out there?


Lee
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Old January 25, 2016, 03:53 AM   #2
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Navy Arms/Uberti/Beretta/Smith & Wesson all have sold top break revolvers recently in .38 Special, .45 Colt, and maybe .44 as well. Webley & Scott produced revolvers until 1982.

The Italian S&W copies are the most common and are serviceable and popular with the Cowboy action guys. My experience, however, is that the steel is fairly soft and the guns tend to shoot loose fairly quickly, which is disappointing as they are works of art as far as appearance is concerned.

Beretta acquired Uberti, and has sold some repros as Berettas, but they are essentially identical to Ubertis except for the name.
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Old January 25, 2016, 12:57 PM   #3
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Howdy

From 2000 to 2002 Smith and Wesson dusted off the Schofield design and produced it again. This time it was made with modern steel. Sorry, I don't know how many were made, but not a whole lot. Remaining true to the original design, this model was only chambered for the original 45 Schofield round, not 45 Colt as some of the Italian reproductions are. These come up for sale on the gun auction boards quite often, but they are sought after and are not cheap.

The Schofields made by Army San Marco (ASM) were terrible and shroud be avoided.

I know several shooters who have the Uberti made Schofield reproductions. As long as you don't hot rod them, they hold up fine. They are chambered for 45 Colt, 44-40, 44 Russian, and 38 Special. The design is not strong enough for a cartridge such as 357 Magnum.

I am posting this photo of an original S&W Schofield to show what they looked like.







Uberti also makes a reproduction of the S&W Russian revolver, with it's characteristic spur on the trigger guard and big hump on the grip. Also chambered for 45 Colt, 44-40, 44 Russian, and 38 Special.

Again, a photo of an original to show the very different shape. I can tell you, if you do not keep your hand below that big hump (S&W calls it a knuckle) it will hurt when the gun recoils.





Beretta, who owns Uberti, sold a revolver they called the Laramie for a while. It was actually a replica of the Smith and Wesson New Model Number Three. I do not know if the Laramie is still in production, but I see them on the gun auction sites fairly often. I believe the Laramie was chambered for 45 Colt and 38 Special, not sure of any other chamberings, but again, no magnums.

A photo of an original New Model Number Three, that the Laramie was patterned after. Notice the knuckle has been reduced quite a bit from the Russian Model. A very comfortable revolver to shoot.



P.S. Because of some design changes, none of these replicas shoot Black Powder very well. If you care about shooting Black Powder. They tend to bind up very quickly. However they are fine for modern Smokeless powders. Suggest you keep your loads light, stay far away from the Max loads.

By the way, the originals handled Black Powder beautifully because they were designed for it.
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Old January 25, 2016, 12:58 PM   #4
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Stay away from ASM (Armi San Marcos). A friend gave me one as a gift. Two cylinders of standard .45 Colt, and I gave it back to him. Looked beautiful, worked like crap. Misfired 3 times, and unlocked twice (once each cylinder).

Found out later that the ASMs have a very poor reputation. And apparently, they are not alone. Some of the Italian top breaks are very good guns. Several apparently are not.

Good Luck
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Old January 25, 2016, 01:25 PM   #5
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I've a S&W New Model#3 New Frontier/45 Colt (Taylor's/Uberti)
http://www.taylorsfirearms.com/hand-...odel-8651.html
Have run a little over 500 rounds through it (both SAAMI 45 Colt & Schofield) without a hiccup.
Very accurate AND with a windage-adjustable target rear sight.
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Old January 25, 2016, 01:53 PM   #6
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My personal favorites are the Webleys, but I doubt we will be seeing any new build pistols. However, there are quite a few out there there are many out there in .455 Webley that have been modified (by machining a few thousandths off the back of the cylinder) to fire .45 ACP in moon clips, or .45 Auto Rim. They have a reputation for going KA-BOOM occasionally as they were not meant to take the pressure of these hotter rounds.

Here is where you come in. The collector value of these guns is much diminished, and they command a more reasonable price. You, being that you intend to handload, can back the pressure down to a safer level, thus ensuring yourself years of shooting pleasure.

I don't handload, but it seems like a trimmed down Auto Rim case would make a good facsimile of the .455 Webley case, allowing it's full length extraction, while supplying the thicker rim needed in the cut down cylinder.
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Old January 25, 2016, 02:17 PM   #7
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My personal favorites are the Webleys, but I doubt we will be seeing any new build pistols.
There's always the Nirbheek which was released in 2014, based on the Webley design...

http://www.guns.com/2014/01/21/india...arketed-women/

Not sure about that .32 though. Nor the 12 lb. trigger pull for a woman's gun. Nor the suggested price for that matter.
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Old January 25, 2016, 02:30 PM   #8
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Look at the H&R "Defender" series. They were good guns, albeit in .38 S&W.

North American Arms has announced a (second) top break mini revolver in .22 magnum.
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Old January 25, 2016, 03:40 PM   #9
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We go through this about once a year. A top break revolver in a high power cartridge is not practical. In order to function, there must be some play in the topstrap latch. And because there is, every time the gun is fired, there will be tiny amount of compression of the metal which will eventually cause looseness. I know everyone claims that if the maker uses hardened unobtanium that problem can be overcome, but so far that has not happened.

A second problem is that the automatic extraction/ejection systems won't fully extract fired cases of .38 Special/.357 length. Manual ejection systems will work, but reloads are then no faster than in swing cylinders.

Top breaks have advantages over swing cylinder guns, but the drawbacks will keep them to old timers or novelties.

Jim
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Old January 25, 2016, 04:21 PM   #10
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I have a 1941 dated Enfield Mk II that I got for $100 from a gun show dealer because the action was frozen. As I suspected it was just congealed grease that flushed right out. I load for the 38 S&W so shooting is no problem and the gun is a hoot.

I looked at a nickel 45 Schofield and it was beautiful.

Don't condemn a model because one example was messed up. Be like an alien dismissing all humans because Rosie O'Donnell was the first person he happened to meet.
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Old January 25, 2016, 06:21 PM   #11
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JAMES:
- Do you consider the 45 Colt/Schofield high power at original 14ksi loadings?
- And while the 45Colt cases will extract cleaning held upside down, the Schofield
...cases are thrown clear no matter what.
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Old January 25, 2016, 06:31 PM   #12
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Neither the .45 Colt nor the .45 Schofield (nor the .44 cartridges for which the original S&W's were chambered) can be considered high power. But folks who insist they must have a "modern" top break almost always want it in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .454 Casull or similar cartridges that are high power.

If the goal is a modern top break in .455 Webley, or .45 Schofield, then my points are moot, but I would have to ask why anyone would design and manufacture a new design gun of any kind for low power and obsolete cartridges. (And yes, the .45 Colt is obsolete except for shooting games.)

Jim
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Old January 25, 2016, 06:49 PM   #13
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Good news.

Anderson Wheeler has introduced an exceptional brand new Webley revolver in .357 magnum. Stunning quality, brand new and made in England. Anderson Wheeler made the double rifle for the movie James Bond-Skyfall.

The bad news. Starting at 6,500 euros.
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Old January 25, 2016, 06:56 PM   #14
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The top break fans often say that money is no object, so here is the chance to prove it.

Jim
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Old January 25, 2016, 07:44 PM   #15
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(And yes, the .45 Colt is obsolete except for shooting games.)
Ooooooohhh....
Wash your mouth out !
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Old January 25, 2016, 08:07 PM   #16
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North American Arms is re-releasing the top break Ranger 2 this year!!

MY 45C
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Old January 25, 2016, 09:07 PM   #17
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Remaining true to the original design, this model was only chambered for the original 45 Schofield round,
Didn't S&W deviate by using a frame mounted firing pin?
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Old January 25, 2016, 09:16 PM   #18
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There's always the Nirbheek which was released in 2014, based on the Webley design...
As usual, misinformation articles abound. First, the gun is based on the Enfield revolver, not the Webley. Second, it has been produced at IOF for a number of years now in a slightly larger version. Whoever wrote the article didn't do their homework.

Unfortunately, it is not available for export to the U.S.
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Old January 25, 2016, 10:01 PM   #19
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Old January 26, 2016, 12:54 AM   #20
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Didn't S&W deviate by using a frame mounted firing pin?
When I said 'true to the original design', I meant that the chambering was the same as the original Schofield, chambered for the 45 Schofield round. The modern replicas made in Italy have slightly longer cylinders, so they can chamber longer rounds such as the 45 Colt and 44-40. The lengthened cylinder in a frame the same size as the original meant that the gas bushing at the front of the cylinder became shorter, and that is the reason the modern replicas do not do well with Black Powder, with the cylinder binding up after not too many rounds. I really do not recall if the firing pin was hammer mounted or frame mounted on the Schofields produced by S&W in 2000.

I have no dog in the fight about 'high powered' cartridges being suitable for a Top Break. The OP stated he was looking for a Top Break that would fire '.45lc or .45acp, or maybe .38sp/357 mag'. I already stated that modern replica Top Breaks are chambered for '45 Colt, 44-40, 44 Russian, and 38 Special. The design is not strong enough for a cartridge such as 357 Magnum.' I did not see 44 Magnum or 454 Casull mentioned in the original question.

Regarding complete ejection, the originals most certainly positively ejected the short 44 Russian and 45 Schofield empties completely. I just ejected some. I have no idea if the modern reproductions will completely eject the longer cases, but a flick of the wrist as you open the gun goes a long way in helping a Top Break eject the empties.
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Old January 26, 2016, 01:26 AM   #21
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When I said 'true to the original design', I meant that the chambering was the same as the original Schofield, chambered for the 45 Schofield round. The modern replicas made in Italy have slightly longer cylinders, so they can chamber longer rounds such as the 45 Colt and 44-40.
I know that the Italian repros have longer cylinders. I have one in .45 Colt and the other is a .38 Special. Of course, I have only been shooting standard loads in the .38, and, even at that, I notice that the gun is getting a tiny bit loose. What really bugged me was the appearance of tiny marks on the rear end of the cylinder in the .38. I finally realized that the marks were from the cylinder hitting the retainer in the topstrap, which made me realize that the metal used is fairly soft.
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Old January 26, 2016, 01:29 AM   #22
Lee6113
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Thanks for all the responses!

My goal would be to have a fun gun to shoot (does not need to be high powered like a magnum; .38special would be fine), and I don't think black powder would be an issue for me, at least I've no interest in that at the moment.

I will most likely end up acquiring a Webley (.45acp moon clips) or Schofield (.38special). And I can always modify the loads I would make for the Webley to make it easier on the gun, correct?

And worst case I'm sure I could find a way to reload 38sw should I need too.

I love all these different break tops!
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Old January 26, 2016, 10:13 AM   #23
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Well - here you go:

https://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/a-n...hot-show-2016/

Caliber is no longer .455 but .357 Magnum. Changing to the smaller caliber opened up the space for a 7th round.

50 guns per year. Engraved versions and exotic grips will be the norm for these. $10,000.

-------

Not going to look for it, but if IIRC, in India they are selling new 32 cal versions of the Webley aimed at the women's SD market.
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Old January 26, 2016, 10:09 PM   #24
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP412_REX
Although we can't get them in the USA, the Russians have had a 357 top break design for quite some time. I can't remember hearing the prototypes actually had any problems. From Russia one might not even if there were issues though.
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Old January 26, 2016, 10:48 PM   #25
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The finish looks beautiful. The stocks look square and horribly uncomfortable. The representative reminds me of the late Alan Rickman. A guy selling revolvers named Wheeler? That's a hoot right there.
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