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Old 08-25-2010, 02:47 PM   #11
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Here's my take on top-breaks:

I've owned several in .38 S&W caliber, and had some experience with the Webley top-break. MOST top break revolvers suffer from the weakness of the latch/frame lugs having excessive wear in a short time. This results in the gun "jumping open" upon firing. Usually doesn't flip out the cartridges, just comes unlatched. The exception to this was the big old Webley revolvers which were rugged as a Sherman tank. I've never seen anyone blow up a Webley, many are still in use in former colonies of England.

By their design, top-breaks required a rather short cartridge, as the long cylinder, plus the hinge required, made a rather long and ungainly revolver. Detonics did experiment with a .357 Magnum top-break late 'sixties or so, but don't think it ever reached production.

As to auto cartridges in revolvers, the best solution is to have the extra cylinder for a single action revolver. These require no half-moon or full-moon clips, and the shorter cases punch out much easier than the longer revolver cartridge cases.

Unless you have an abundance of ACP, or 9mm Parabellum, brass, the auto-pistol cartridges really offer no advantage over the revolver rounds.

Bob Wright

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Old 08-27-2010, 04:04 AM   #12
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Default Top break in .22

Just got this H&R .22 Special, made in 1928-30. Good shooter, flips all 9 empties lickity split.... 6'' barrel, nice tight action

100132249-1-l.jpgh-r-top-break.jpg   100132249-4-l.jpg  
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Old 08-27-2010, 03:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodent.22 View Post
Just got this H&R .22 Special, made in 1928-30. Good shooter, flips all 9 empties lickity split.... 6'' barrel, nice tight action

If I remember correctly, those are Walter Roper designed grips. I saw one of those recently for sale, but it was in pretty bad condition so pased it up.

You say .22 Special? As in .22 Winchester Special? Interesting.

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Old 08-27-2010, 10:55 PM   #14
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No Bob, the gun is .22 LR. The ''Special'' designation is a sales moniker back in the day. The ''saw handle'' 2 piece grips are original to the gun. In 1930 they went to a one-piece grip. The screws have never been out of this gun, lots of drawer wear though....Gary H.

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Old 08-30-2010, 07:23 PM   #15
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9mm (and .40 caliber) revolvers aren't obsolete per se, but are rather instead special purpose revolvers not intended for general consumer sales. The most usual reason for them to be made is for special orders from foreign military or law enforcement agencies. Generally speaking Reserve or auxiliary forces get the revolvers while full fledged (fully trusted), full time members get the semi automatic. The Ruger 9mm mentioned was briefly made for the Israeli Defense Forces. I believe S&W also made a revolver for that contract (J frame model 940?). That was decades ago. What did them in was the shift from 9mm to .40 S&W. More recently was the news that here in the US Charter Arms is bringing out a caliber 40 S&W as a back up weapon for police. S&W of course made the 646 in 10mm (.40 caliber). Then Ruger makes a 9mm SP101.. So the concept is still alive.

A 9mm and a .38 Special offer virtually identical ballistics from a revolver, so there is no advantage to either one. Both are pale shadows of a .357 magnum.

Top break weapons can still be purchased new. As someone already said there are newly manufactured versions of the old S&W Schofield. You shouldn't use hot reloads in those though.

Top Break is an old design dating back to the introduction of cartridges. In Europe pistol design kind of stagnated after the period of the US Civil War. As long as the cartridge was a black powder cartridge Top Break was just as effective (and faster to reload) than solid frame single action revolvers. This is why at one time the US Army used both the Top Break S&W Schofield as well as the more famous (thank Hollywood and someone smart in the Colt PR department) Colts during the Indian Wars period. In Europe double action revolvers were already common place then. S&W lost the contract and Top Breaks faded into obscurity on this side of the big pond. In England however Webley kept right on making them for the English. When Colt and S&W began making double action weapons they chose the solid frame design because they ran into pressure issues with top break designs and smokeless powders. Webley didn't see that problem as the .455 Webley load was/is a little anemic. Again, when England went down to the .380 caliber they (initially) preferred it in a traditional top break made by Webley and later Enfield. Those English top break pistols remained in govt service in one part of the world or another until the 1980s. [Guess spare parts were getting hard to find by then. My own Webley MK VI was made in the 1920s and finished govt. service in Kenya circa 1975. Nothing weak about it.] Around that time S&W managed to crack into that market with variants of the Model 10 and 15, but in English .380 caliber. Think of it this way. Top break is fine to about 20,000 PSI. Above that you want a solid frame.

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