Bird's head grips history
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Bird's head grips history


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Old 01-07-2016, 09:58 PM   #1
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Default Bird's head grips history

Hi there!

I roamed the net to and fro and can't find an answer to my question.

When did the first bird's head grip appear and are there occurences of such grips on BP Colt revolvers?

More specifically I used the best bird 's head grip of one of my 1860 snubnose (Avenging angel) Colts and put it on the best 8" 1860 barrel/frame I could find.

The result is an absolutely exquisite gun that litterally disappears under a jacket while in the holster but, more to the point, is a delight to shoot and a real improvement compared (for MY hand and target-shooting style) to the original grip.

Of course I know you know what me next question's gonna be: could it have existed at the time (say between 1860 and around 1900 when those cap and balls guns definitely fell out of use for their cartridge counterparts) ?

Cheers from Paris France guys!


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Old 01-07-2016, 10:23 PM   #2
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Some the earliest had a bit of a saw handle at the top.
Thought it was used on early double action cartridge revolvers to grip it securely enough to pull the heavy double action trigger pull required to fire early double actions, due to the shape the plow handle as you gripped the trigger tighter your hand would just slide up the grip and choke up behind the hammer.


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Old 01-07-2016, 11:01 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick answer and pics.
If these are the earliest we're talking late 1870's right?
No chance of my "special 1860" ever happening for real at the time then or... ?
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Old 01-08-2016, 03:29 AM   #4
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No, even some of the double action's of the cap and ball era had conventional grips.(very interesting era) and 7 - 8" barrels in .36 and .44, .45, and even .52cal (brit Harvey).

The Starr, Pettingill, Savage North Figure 8, Adams, and Tranter civil war era double action cap and ball fired revolvers, in the case of the Savage, a gas seal revolver.
And the British made Harvey the only striker fired cap and ball revolver at the time.
Also tacked on a photo of a M&H coil spring fired self cocking mechanism mod fitted to a 1860 colt.
http://www.guns.com/2013/04/25/mershon-and-hollingsworth-self-cocking-revolver/
Funny thing Mershon and Hollingsworth also produced a Revolving Cylinder Automatic Rifle, in 1855.
Semi-automatic, but capable of fully-automatic fire, accomplished by winding up a spring using a ratchet.
http://sportingoutdoors.blogspot.com/2008/02/mershon-and-hollingsworth-revolving.html?m=1
And lastly a under hammer fired revolver of a different flavor.
The British made J.R Cooper patent underhammer double action pistol, double action revolver fires from the lower chamber of the unfluted cylinder via an underhammer mechanism. At first glance, the barrel appears to be upside down, but it is in fact installed correctly and has an interesting, flip up, tall front sight.
Even the DREYSE needlefire revolver of the 1860's sported a plow handle grip.
http://www.horstheld.com/0-Dreyse.htm
What does all the above jee wizz information reveal?
Mid to late 1800's Firearms development in Europe and Americas were pretty much on the same page at the same time.
The saw handle birds head grip on American belt revolver's didnt come about till use of metal cartridges were in common use.
The last pair of photos shows the plow handle single action cap and ball LeMat Revolver vs. The metal cartridge firing saw handle model.
I can only guess it must have been fad?
I have a Ruger bird head grip model .45 and I love how well it handles, why they never csme out with that grip frame earlier is a very good question.
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Old 01-08-2016, 08:02 AM   #5
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Id gone through quite a bit of time going through data of various brands of early revolvers, I cant really say there were any distinctive birds head grip type colt cap and ball revolvers.

http://www.horstheld.com/0-Colt.htm
http://www.horstheld.com/default.htm
http://www.littlegun.info/arme%20americaine/a%20a%20images%20armes%20americaine%20gb.htm
http://www.littlegun.be/arme%20belge/a%20a%20site%20belge%20gb.htm
http://www.american-firearms.com/american-firearms/Manufacturers/START.html
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Old 01-08-2016, 08:44 AM   #6
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Wow that's plenty of information for me to browse thank you for that.
But I think that -sadly- I'll have to admit that I created a gun that might never have existed. Which is just too bad because you'd be amazed how this .44 8" gun disappears in a jacket once fitted with a bird's head !!! XD
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Old 01-08-2016, 02:28 PM   #7
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Though they are not Cap & Ball, I was able to dig up that Remington made a few birds head grip handguns, the Remington Smoot model 2, 3 and 4.
Revolvers that dont have removable grip frames that the Colt did.

http://www.rockislandauction.com/viewitem/aid/1020/lid/1702

Found Smoot revolvers on this sight.
http://www.american-firearms.com/american-firearms/Manufacturers/START.html
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Old 01-08-2016, 05:21 PM   #8
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Beginning in 1871 Colt made a bunch of spur trigger type small framed Single Action pistols with birds head shaped grips. New Line, House, Open Top, etc. Several dozen other US firms also made spurt trigger SA revolvers with birds head grips.

I can't find any Double Action Colt revolvers before the 1877 Colt Lightning and Thunderer series. That was followed by their Frontier series of 1878 (one of mine (US 1902 variant) pictured). In Europe the Webley Bulldogs (and their clones) were mostly all birds head grips.


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