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Forehand 32-this is how it was in 1899

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by 38snapcaps, May 1, 2007.

  1. 38snapcaps

    38snapcaps Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    You never know what you'll come across when you take your wife someplace she wants to go and you think you'll be bored.

    Last fall my wife wanted me to go with her to an antiques/crafts store. I am not into crafts but I do love history, but antiques usually seem to me to be just alot of old junk. She headed to the crafts side and I wandered around the antiques side. Suddenly I noticed on the wall of one of the displays a small 5X7 framed advertisement for a "Forehand Perfection Automatic" revolver. The picture showed a small break-top revolver with the neat saying "every home should have one for protection", $4.50". Huh, you could once buy a new revolver for $4.50?

    Now, I thought the ad was fake but on the back was written the ad was genuine and over ninety years old. So for $8 I couldn't resist. As I stared at it on my gun room wall I wondered if I could ever find a real one to go with the ad? I hunted around the Internet and didn't find one, so I just gave up the idea.

    Last Saturday I'm at a gun show and an older fellow has a big table with about thirty old handguns. THERE! I spotted it from six feet away, I had studied the ad picture for so long I knew a Forehand on sight; the break top, the F&W on the top of the grip, the star around the grip screw. My hands were actually trembling when I picked it up. It sure was OLD looking but intact and very very filthy. As I was checking it over I notice the cylinder would turn with the hammer down. I thought it was broken, but I was going to buy it anyway. Price-$75 but he would take $60. As I got out three twenties I could hardly believe I actually had the exact revolver in the ad picture! Who in the world has 32 S&W ammo? Again the lightning bolt of good fortune strikes, on the other side of the room was a guy selling an estate collection and he had one box of cartridges for only ten dollars. This vendor knew old guns and I was delighted to have him look the Forehand over and say it appeared to be in good condition and the free turning cylinder was part of its design.

    Five hours of cleaning inside and out, an inspection and go ahead by a gunsmith and I'm headed to the range to see what it was like to shoot this kind of revolver one hundred years ago.

    The DA trigger is very long and heavy and my hand was shaking from the effort and anticipation of the first shot. The shot? Not a "bang", certainly not a "boom", not even a "crack". It's kind of hard to describe. Hmmm, how about the sound you would make if you made a spitting sound into a one inch pipe. No recoil at all and surprisingly accurate. The sights are almost non-existant, but if you can get them lined up the old girl did quite well. Opening the break-top is fun as the spent cartridges pop right out of the chambers and scatter to the ground. Boy, if they had speed loaders in those days you could Really load this thing fast!

    I don't intend to shoot it ever again, it's going on display under my old advertisement, but it sure was neat to take a trip back in time to 1899 and experience the feel and sounds of shooting a-Forehand 32.
  2. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Mentor

    May 10, 2005
    Kingsport Tennessee
    Remember that was 4.50 in 1899 dollars, when a good month's
    wage was 25.00 to 40.00, a good Colt or S&W was 15.00 and
    a Marlin 1893 in .38-55 or .30-30 about 14.00.

    I had an old Forehand & Wadsworth solid frame .38 S&W but
    couldn't shoot it much because the firing pin hole in the
    frame allowed the primer to crater and lock up the cylinder.

    Most of those old guns are made of materials suitable only for
    black powder level pressures, but they can be fun to shoot if
    you are careful. I strongly recommend safety glasses.
  3. 38snapcaps

    38snapcaps Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Yeah, Carl, my gunsmith warned about that very thing. I noticed the punch in the primer from the firing pin is quite deep. He said too much shooting and the primers may start to jam into the pin's hole. I only wanted to shoot a couple of cylinders worth anyway.

    I had to laugh as I read on another gun forum about how a guy was going to shoot a similar old revolver and before he did he put on heavy gloves, goggles, a heavy jacket, and a motorcycle helmet! I wasn't "too" worried about anything bad happening but it does make you a little nervous. Like I said in my write-up, my hand was shaking from the excitement and the heavy trigger, but maybe subconsciously I was also worried about the gun coming apart.

    Thanks for the explaining how relative money was back then to today. I recently saw an old Sears ad dated 1901, when they sold S&W's (can you just imagine that!!), and their discount price was $12.00.
    Another ad from Forehand said "If your dealer does not stock the model you want, write us and we will ship it direct to your home". Oh, how free America was a hundred years ago.

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