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5 Revolvers You Probably Never Heard Of

There’s something special about the venerable revolver. It was the predominant handgun for over 100 years, from the frontier period of North America through the 1980s even after the introduction of the semiautomatic pistol in the late 19th century. They were ubiquitous and well loved. Of course when semiautomatic handguns fully came into their own with reliability, increased capacity and the ability to reload quicker; revolvers started to fall by the wayside.

For many years used revolvers were considered “bargain basement” items and seen as a relic of a bygone era. That perception has changed in recent years, particularly with older Smith & Wesson and Colt revolvers that are no longer in production. They have now become collector’s items.

When people want a revolver they go for the Smiths, Colts and Rugers, but there are hundreds of other models by other manufacturers that are not even on the radar of most gun owners.

Here is our list of five of the more obscure ones that are still floating out there.

5 Revolvers You Probably Never Heard Of

Merwin Hulbert

In their day, these unusual revolvers were rivals to Colt and Smith & Wesson. Their unique action opens via twisting the barrel to expose the cylinder, live rounds remained in the cylinder and empty cases would fall out.. This also allowed shooters to change out barrels of different lengths without worrying about headspace issues or cylinder gap lengths. This vacuum based action was far ahead of its time and other innovative features included folding hammers on double action models as well as skull crusher type grip frames that could be used in close quarter combat.

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Sadly, through a series of financial mishaps, the company went bankrupt and was eventually lost to history. A few efforts have been made to revive these designs, but as of yet, none have come to fruition.

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From outlaws like Jesse James to lawmen like Frank Hamer, the Merwin Hulberts proved to be favored by gunmen on both sides of the law.

Dutch East Indies Revolver M73

These revolvers were made in the early 20th century for Dutch police in the East Indies. The trigger pull weighs in at over 14 pounds and a unique safety that locked the cylinder to keep the revolver from firing is an example of how a revolver can be equipped with a safety.

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The ammunition is even harder to find than the revolvers and has become a collectible in its own right. 9.4 mm is about as anemic as a 380 ACP loaded in a necked-down 41 Magnum case with a black powder era load. Trying to reproduce this round is literally a waste of good brass.

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They make an interesting collectible as a footnote in revolver history and development, but their shortcomings are reminders of why the design never survived past 1945.

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J Braddell & Son Revolver

We picked this revolver up because it was the only firearm we have ever come across that was actually made in Ireland. It dates to the 1890s and is chambered in 450 Adams.

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Built by the famous arms maker Webley for Braddell, a sporting goods retailer still in business for over 100 years, these revolvers were based on the design made for the Royal Irish Constabulary. General Custer was said to have carried a pair at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

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The short barrel, solid frame, birdseed grip with walnut checkered grips and unfluted cylinder made them popular on both sides of law and order.

Osgood Duplex revolver

This unique 19th Century revolver was a single action spur trigger top break model with two barrels (hence the name Duplex). The cylinder held 8 rounds of 22 Short and the center pin was actually a single 32 rimfire barrel. (Photos courtesy of Cabela's Reno, NV Gun Library)

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That concept is not that original and was more commonly seen in the much larger LeMat revolvers of the Civil War which boated 9 shots of 44 black powder in the cylinder and a center barrel in 20 gauge shotgun. Yet the Osgood was handier and more easily concealed.

Not very many of these little revolvers were made and their modern day prices upwards of $1000 reflect this.

Griswold & Gunnison

Often confused with the more famous Colt Army and Navy cap and ball revolvers, Griswold & Gunnison revolvers were made between 1861 and 1865 in a small shop outside of Macon, Georgia.

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Where the Colt revolvers had a steel frame and brass grip frame, both of these components were made of brass on the Griswold & Gunnison. Additionally, many of the G&G revolvers used twisted iron instead of steel for the barrels because steel was a commodity denied to the Confederacy during the war. G&G's bbls were round as opposed to octagon as found on the Colt, too.

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Less than 3000 of these revolvers were made and because of the weaker materials, very few survived the 19th century with most of them found today fetching as high as seven figures at auction.

What wheelgun would you want? Assuming you were restricted to just one (which would be a crime).


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