Mystery Revolver


The Teacher
September 1, 2012, 11:03 AM
Still trying to identify this lovely revolver my Grandfather brought back with him from WWII. Proof marks suggest it went through Germany, and almost every major part is marked with the number 28. It appeared to be chambered in 38 S&W, but the .38 S&W cartridge doesn't seem to fit, as evidenced by the photo. Any of you more knowledgeable folks recognize this pistol, or the caliber? Thanks for your help!

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September 1, 2012, 11:19 AM
Are you trying to put in a 38 Special or a 38 S&W? The two are not the same

September 1, 2012, 11:25 AM
Webley Belgian "Bulldog"?...

.380, 38-200 or something along those lines?

The Teacher
September 1, 2012, 11:26 AM
oneounce, Nope, definitely .38 S&W.

ApacheCoTodd, thought it might be a Belgian bulldog, but wasn't quite sure. Thanks!

Can't seem to find any .380 Revolver or 38-200 to try.

Cocked & Locked
September 1, 2012, 11:27 AM
Don't know what it is but here is one similar that no one knows what it is. :scrutiny:

Or, this might be yours just posted on another forum looking for the answer?

Whatever it is, I like it.

And heres another one...

And yet another...engraved

The Teacher
September 1, 2012, 11:35 AM
Don't know what it is but here is one similar that no one knows what it is. :scrutiny:

Or, this might be yours just posted on another forum looking for the answer?

Whatever it is, I like it.

And heres another one...

And yet another...engraved
Those are interesting links thanks! The barrel is a little longer than those, and definitely octagonal like the first link. Tried .32, but it was too small

September 1, 2012, 12:02 PM
I'd say it's Belgian. Everything about it looks like the Belgian and French revolvers of the late 1800s.
In fact, it appears to be an Auguste Francotte.
Have a look at this thread. It shows your revolver's identical twin.

I found it with a web search for Belgian Revolvers. Reason being, the loading gate and cyl pin/ejector rod look more Belgian than French.
The late 1800s Belgian/French centerfire revolvers are some of my all-time favorites.

Cocked & Locked
September 1, 2012, 12:26 PM
Looks like you got it!

September 1, 2012, 01:43 PM
Too cool!

The Teacher
September 1, 2012, 02:05 PM
Bingo! Seems to be a Francotte, or Francotte copy. Thank you!!

However, there are none of the Belgian Proof marks, just a "U" and a double crown. Also, it is definitely not chambered in .32.

September 1, 2012, 02:29 PM
it is definitely not chambered in .32.

Could it be .38 short colt or long colt?

Vern Humphrey
September 1, 2012, 04:08 PM
The .38 S&W (which is the same as the .38/200 except for bullet weight) is slightly larger in diameter than the .38 Colt, and longer than the .38 Short Colt.

So what's preventing your gun from chambering the .38 S&W -- is the chamber too narrow, or too short? If the former, it's probably a .38 Short Colt.

September 1, 2012, 10:53 PM
If it's larger diameter than .32 S&W (.314"), it could be an 8mm revolver round (.323" roughly) such as 8mm Gasser, 8mm Lebel revolver, 8mm Nagant revolver.
8mm revolver cartridges were popular in europe in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

September 2, 2012, 08:36 PM
I was getting ready to suggest an 8mm lebel or similar but jaymo beat me to it! Betcha it's one of those 8mm revolver rounds.

Jim K
September 2, 2012, 08:59 PM
It was probably made for the .380 CF revolver cartridge, which has a diameter the same as the .38 Special, but has a case a bit shorter than the .38 Short Colt.

It has German proofs, which would indicate it was made in Germany, not Belgium. It is not a military weapon and was probably surrendered by a German civilian when the Allies confiscated all German guns. (Those not taken by soldiers as souvenirs were destroyed.)

The number is not a serial number, but an assembly number. In production at that time, parts were not interchangeable. They were made close, then given to a fitter who used a file and experience to assemble the gun. Each part was marked with a number. When that was done, the gun was disassembled and the parts hardened and the frame and barrel blued. The numbers then made sure the pieces that had been fitted to each other were put back together.


September 3, 2012, 04:46 PM
A German copy of a Francotte?? Veddy Intellesting.

Did I mention that I love those old French and Belgian centerfire revolvers?
The 1873 French Ordnance Revolver (Chamelot Delvigne 11mm) is my Holy Grail antique revolver.

December 31, 2015, 03:28 PM
Your pistol is probably chambered for .380 Rook aka .380 revolver short and .380 revolver long and in the US called .38 Short Colt and .38 Colt long. Sometime around 1920 Colt thickened the rims of their version. These days ammo is best made by shortening a .38 Special case to about 0.7", thinning the rim (from the case mouth back) to about 0.02". using a 124 grain heeled bullet (available from several sources online) and feeding it about 10 grains by weight of FFF and a small pistol primer. Somewhere on youtube I have a video of me making cartridges for these revolvers and another one of me shooting them. Factory cases for these came in a variety of lengths depending on which ammo maker's product you have. The .380 Rook cartridge dates to about 1968 and was originally used in single shot rifles and pistols for shooting crows and rabbits in a farmer's vegetable patch. In 1879 Webley came out with their Bulldog revolver which was immediately cloned by dozens of makers across Europe, India and China. The quality of these clone varied widely, even within the same maker's shop. Parts were sold wholesale to the makers and some cylinder and frame makers used good steels and some didn't. . They were available in about 20 calibers from .20 to .455. Most of them are black powder only guns. They were the first true double action snub nosed revolvers and fit neatly into most pockets and were much more popular (due to low cost) than the more expensive Colts, S&Ws and Webleys. They did so well that American firms, Iver Johnson, Forehand * Wadsworth, etc also began making Bulldog revolvers. In the early 1880s upon seeing sales slip to these things Colt and S&W stopped feuding long enough to take out a series of newspaper ads warning against these foreign guns and their looks like american cousins and declaring them to be unsafe and not nearly as reliable as a gun made by S&W or Colt. It was a case of the $2 gun competing well against the $12 gun. I have owned and fired a dozen of these things in varying calibers and can attest the ads were mostly BS and very reminiscent of the ads and lobbying GM did in the early days of Datsun and Toyota. Most of them are well made little pistols. In 38 and larger calibers they are usually 5 shot. In smaller calibers they often offer 6 or even more shots. They were reliable double action revolvers (versus the unreliable early Colt designs such as the Lightning and Thunderer), many had counter-bored chambers and also a rebounding hammer to protect against accidental discharges. Often the hammers or triggers were case hardened. Some had very nice bluing, some didn't. Some were engraved, some weren't. Some had folding triggers, some didn't. Some had actual safety switches, some didn't. For the most part they stopped being made after WWI because now everyone was busy making cheap semi-auto pistols. There are still tens of thousands of Bulldog revolvers tucked away all over the planet. Their biggest limitation is most of them are chambered in obsolete black powder calibers that Walmart doesn't carry (see any .21 Velo Dog there lately)

Is OP sure his proof mark is a crown over a U? Check again, it may be a crown over a V. See the proof marks at

December 31, 2015, 04:29 PM
This thread's over 3 years old. I'm fairly sure the OP got what info they need.

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