Why no modern top break revolvers?


July 19, 2003, 04:15 PM
Anyone who has even owned or shot an old top break seems to agree that they are faster and easier to load and unload so why did this design fail? I know most of the top breaks were fragile but with modern heat treating and technology I think they could make a pretty decent top break.

I love the top break because it easy to load with the cylinder being in the center of the gun and being more open that modern swing out cylinder guns. Also I think it would be better suited to left handed shooters.

A great gun would be a 3" K frame sized gun in .357 with the top break action or a J frame snubbie. The snubbie would be great because it would eliminate the problem of the too short ejector rod that doesn't provide enough length for compleat extraction of the empty shells.

I think revolver design is stuck in a rut and we need more inovative designs. Everything that is old is new again, there is nothing new under the sun, etc., etc.:D

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July 19, 2003, 04:52 PM
Run a search on TFL and you can find photos of a modern-day Russian top-break design. We all talked about this over there for some time. A lot of people agreed with you.

July 19, 2003, 06:19 PM
The solid frame revolver is an improvement over the top break. So we can't say that a top break would be an innovation. What you cited as the biggest advantage of a top break is also it's biggest weakness. That latch can only take so much pressure, advanced metallurgy notwithstanding. Solid frames can handle more pressure = more power = our beloved magnums.

I can see making a low powered top break. Heck I'd buy one if Smith makes a RF model and the price is right. I wouldn't go near a 357 model though.

Standing Wolf
July 19, 2003, 08:58 PM
Actually, if you wanted a breaking revolver, why not a bottom break? Release the latch. Swing the barrel up. The cartridge cases fall downward.

I think I'll stick with solid frame revolvers.

Old Fuff
July 19, 2003, 09:08 PM
Back in the 1980's I knew a small manufacturer who was seriously considering making a top-break pocket revolver chambered in 9mm Parabellum. He was satisfied with the engineering, but didn't go forward because it would have been expensive to make - lots of close fitted parts - and his market studies didn't come back positive. But bluntly, only a relatively few people were interested. I thought he might have something because the cylinder was true "9mm" length and therefore the overall length of the gun was less then a similar hand ejector designed around the .38 Special cartridge.

July 19, 2003, 10:35 PM
It's an inherently weak design, compared to the strength we have all come to expect from medium to large frame revolvers.
It would certainly work but would probably have to be limited to .38 Special +P pressures at most.

July 19, 2003, 10:58 PM
A 9mm top break would be perfect! It would have a shorter overall length and more power than a .38spl. If the quality was as good as S&W or Ruger and the price was in the same ballpark, I would certainly buy one as long as it was sturdy and reasonably accurate.

I doubt it will ever happen because I don't think the public is ready for it. If it doesn't sell, why make one? Guns are conservative marketplace in a lot of ways. If the new product isn't vastly superior or a big inovation, it will be met with faliure.

I think a top break 9mm would be a great idea but it really doesn't offer a HUGE advantage to the shooter. It is a little more ergonomic and faster to load and unload but nothing that will set the market on fire. It would be nice to see but I am not holding my breath.

July 19, 2003, 11:16 PM
I just don't see how emptying and loading a top break revolver could be any faster than a revolver using full moon clips.:)

July 19, 2003, 11:20 PM
I have to side with design improvements and strength.

I really liked my HR 999 accurate and all, just kept having sights work loose and the main hinge pin work loose. traded for something else, I think a Model 18--can't recall. The 999 Being a 22lr -I can just imagine the stresses on larger calibers. They are neat, part of history, and all tho'.

July 20, 2003, 04:07 AM
It seems that in the days of easily concealed semi-auto pistols that the biggest advantage a revolver has is its ability to digest more "powerful" ammunition. With a break top you are negating this. And you are also adding another part that can fail, thus (possibly) negating the added reliability of carrying a revolver over a semi. But, for range use or plinking i think a rimfire schoefield (sp) replica would be pretty dang cool.

July 20, 2003, 07:53 AM
I just don't see how emptying and loading a top break revolver could be any faster than a revolver using full moon clips.

Extracting empties on a top break is done in one less step as compared to the swing out cylinder, so the speed is faster. Loading speed is the same with both designs.

4v50 Gary
July 20, 2003, 02:23 PM
Never mind a top break 9mm. How about a top break 40 or 10mm?

July 20, 2003, 05:10 PM
On a top break revolver using full moon clips (if such an animal existed) the gun would probably have to be flipped upside down to drop the clip and empties.
I'll betcha I can slap the ejector rod on my 625 just as fast as a top break gun can be flipped upside down to drop the clip full of empties. :)

July 20, 2003, 06:38 PM
Top breaks had spring loaded ejector rod that popped back when the barrel was fully opened. Sorry, you would not be able to beat it in speed.

The same concept exists today in double barrel shotguns with ejectors. When you break the action open the empties fly out the chambers.

July 20, 2003, 09:45 PM
I have never handled a top break revolver that had ejectors. Every one I've ever handled simply had extractors. Break the gun open, invert and shake.
Of course there are a pantload of top break revolver designs that I have never even seen!
Which ones had ejectors rather than extractors? :)

Old Fuff
July 20, 2003, 11:22 PM
For the last third of the 19th century it was the mainstay of Smith & Wesson's revolvers. After the patents expired a whole bunch of little-known companies made copies. The best of these were Harrington & Richardson and Iver Johnson. After World War Two H&R made a top-break .22 that had a manual extractor, but the vast majority were "auto extracting" and ejected, rather then extracted the fired cartridges.

July 21, 2003, 12:19 AM
Old Fluff was too quick on the trigger for me to answer. :D

July 21, 2003, 01:28 AM
Thanks guys!:) I learn something new around here almost every day!

July 21, 2003, 01:35 AM
I think top breaks are faster to reload also. The cylinder is more open and it is in the middle so you don't have to tilt or twist the gun in your hand to reload. I think the loading of revolvers is by far the most difficult thing to do with any speed. It takes a lot of coordination and fine motor skills. I am still not very fast at it. I don't use speed loaders because I can't get them to work half the time, one round always messes up while reloading. The best thing I have seen are the speed strips.

July 21, 2003, 10:19 AM
Yeah, I'd love to see someone come out with the trigun revolver. Top break with a mateba style barrel in 357 would be great. You would probably have to give it a manual ejector/extractor, but its still a neat idea. The lower bore axis should allow for more power cartridges because the top break lockup would have a longer moment arm.

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