american bulldog revolver


October 7, 2007, 09:08 AM
i recently got my great uncles pistol and all it says is AMERICAN BULLDOG on the top of the barrel . the gun had a octogan barrel it is chrome and has plastic grips and is in 32 cal. i hav a problem where when i pull the trigger the revolver cycle but the trigger wont return to the normal position and the cylinder spins when it shouldnt... i will try to post a pic but i was curious if anyone knew who made the gun.. what is wrong with it and where i can purchase the parts? the gun is old it just has semential value:confused:

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October 7, 2007, 12:05 PM
Possibly made by Forehand & Wadsworth in Worcester, Mass.
They operated from 1871 to 1890, and made a gun called the British Bulldog.
The company was later sold to Hopkins & Allen in 1898.

But so did many other foreign companies who tried to horn in on the action by making cheap, no, make that cheaper copies.

These guns and others of it's type were considered the Saturday Night Specials of the day.

Your problems probably indicate at least a couple of broken springs.
Parts are hard to come by, and would most likely have to be made by a gunsmith. That would entail a repair bill of much more then the gun is worth if it were working.
There is little or no collector interest to drive prices upward.

You might consider just having it mounted in a nice shadowbox display, and hang it on the wall for sentimental reasons.

Jim K
October 8, 2007, 07:24 PM
I think those American Bulldog revolvers may have been made by H&R, not F&W, but it is really not important.

They are notorious for breaking the trigger return spring, and while new springs are available from Wolff, they have to be fitted, a frustrating job even for a person with practice. Having the gun repaired by a gunsmith will cost far more than the gun is worth, which is why many gunsmiths refuse to even take on the job. (They fix the gun, charge for a couple of hours labor, and then the owner tells them to do something unprintable with the cheap gun! Been there.)

I agree with rcmodel, hang it on the wall.


October 8, 2007, 07:33 PM
Iver Johnson made an American Bulldog too. Learn to do your own work on it if you want to use it, too expensive to have a gunsmith work on one. Replacing the spring(s) won't be too difficult but may get frustrating. You'll likely find the insides quite dirty and in need of cleaning and oiling, requiring a complete disassembly which is very frustrating to work with on some of these guns, but do-able.The grips are actually probably some sort of hard rubber material unless later replacements were added, which resembles plastic but is not really plastic. If you do fire it, I'd stick with blackpowder loads.

Jim K
October 8, 2007, 07:47 PM
Working on those guns requires knowledge of how to use slave pins (ooops, now called "helper" pins to be politically correct). Otherwise, you can go crazy in a hurry.

As "collector" and I have discussed before, I see nothing wrong with using regular factory smokeless loads for the few shots anyone will ever fire from those old guns, especially as BP loads will have to be made up. In any case, those guns were made from cast iron and while of moderate quality when new, they should not be fired to any extent today. (The guns won't "blow up", but more parts will probably break!)

As to the cylinder turning freely, the cylinder stop is part of the trigger, and only engages when the trigger is pulled. When the trigger is forward and the hammer down, the cylinder will rotate freely in the clockwise direction, and sometimes in both directions. In use, that was prevented by the firing pin (hammer nose) resting in the primer of the fired round until the trigger was released and pulled again. The guns were usually carried on the half cock notch (not recommended!), but some safety-conscious owners let the hammer down on a fired case or let the firing pin down between cartridge rims.

The grips, if original, are of a material then called "gutta percha", now generally called "hard rubber." By either name, it was flexible enough when new, but turns brittle with age and cracks easily. Plastic replacements are available for some of the old guns, but not all.


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