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Who makes new Top-Break revolvers?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Hugo, May 3, 2004.

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  1. Hugo

    Hugo Member

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    I want one. Smith & Wesson probably won't bring them back for a while. Are they as reliable and safe as a more modern revolver with a swing out cylinder?

    I know Navy arms imports Schofield replicas in .38 special (Why not .357 magnum?), .45 long colt, and .44 russian (interchangable with .44 magnum?). Also I could get a Webley converted to .45 acp with moon clips, though I have no idea where to start looking for one of those. I'd rather not have to get a Curio & Relic license to get a Webley though. Any other Top-Break revolvers out there? Oh and under $1000 if possible, money is kinda tight.
     
  2. ducktapehero

    ducktapehero Member

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    I haven't seen any but I wonder if the replica Schofields in 45 Colt could be converted to use 45 acp with moonclips. That would be sweet.
     
  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    A top break revolver is reliable but is not as strong as a hand ejector (swing-out.) A Webley converted from .455 to .45 ACP is being shot at proof test pressures for the model. Just a good sturdy design and lack of volume shooting is all that makes the alteration at all feasible.

    .44 Russian is a black powder cartridge of about 1880 and is sure as hell not interchangeable with .44 Magnum, except that you could shoot Russians in a Magnum for light target loading. The .45 Colt "Schofields" are meant only for the light Cowboy ammo up to standard loads for old Colts. They would not hold up well with Ruger or even heavy Colt loads. Nor would the .38 "Schofield" be strong enough for .357 Magnum.

    There is no incentive for the companies to come out with a modern top break.
     
  4. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    I've heard that a modern break-top is "impossible". I think that's nonsense. If a company really invested the R&D effort, time, and money, I'm sure they could design a top-break revolver with a latch strong enough to hold up to .44 Magnum power, even. Especially with modern materials and metallurgy.

    Problem is, the gun companies don't see the monetary investment needed as worthwhile.

    The Russians (Baikail) have made a top break .357 Magnum, but it's not being imported as per the US's trade agreement with Russia (even though the rules of the agreement have recently been loosened, I still don't think any centerfire handguns are coming in..)
     
  5. Ardent

    Ardent Member

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    Yeah, they are neat, and there's gotta be a way to build a modern sturdy one with todays technology. The reason there is no .357 version is because the .357 operates at quite high pressure (46 000 cup), too much for the top break design as it exists at the moment. All the other chamberings you mentioned are low pressure rounds from the days of yore. And if you decide to try the .44 mag in a .44 Russian chambered gun (let alone a top break), let me know so I can be sure to be at least 100 miles away.

    Ardent
     
  6. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    The very first commercially successful centerfire pistol cartridge was the .44 Russian by S&W, made in 1871 for their top-break revolvers filling a Russian order. The round was actually 0.44" OD at the case, with the 246 gr bullet sized .429-.430" to fit inside, and over 26 gr of fff blackpowder. The case was lengthened from ~ .955" to 1.150" in 1907 to hold more of the new smokeless powder and became the .44 Special. It was once again lengthened (~1.265") and strengthened in 1955 to become the .44 Magnum. These are all S&W rounds, although only the .44 Magnum is still offered by them (... and the 396 'Mountain Lite' in .44 Special). The Russians will fit and fire fine from a Special - and both will fit and fire from a Magnum. Shorter rounds in a longer cylinder bore will leave a residue ring that must be cleaned prior to insertion of longer cased rounds. The pressures increased, of course, with the use of smokeless powder, so only use modern .44 Russian loads/reloads in modern firearms. I doubt many folks would use an antique S&W 3rd Model .44 Russian to plink with anyway - the cheapest one I have seen at a show was $2,000.

    I bought several hundred Starline .44 Russian cases and loaded them some time back in anticipation of buying the .44 Russian Navy Arms (Uberti) revolver my dealer has. It, and a .45 Colt version of the Schofield, are still on the shelf there - that $649 will buy some nice current S&W's! I have shot and reloaded those cases several times since then. The rounds are very mild, whether in a 3" 696 or 6.5" 24. I still look at that .44 Russian when I visit that dealer...

    I think a .32 top break, much more common, albeit smaller, would be a decent example of a top-break to plink with. Good luck!

    Stainz
     
  7. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

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    Smith & Wesson made their Model 3 Frontier hinged frame revolver in both .38/40 and .44/40 which were the magnum cartridges of their day.

    I feel with modern metals a hinged frame could be made in a heavier caliber. In .45 Colt, for instance, it should be able to handle anything a Colt Single Action Army can.

    However, I think a five shot lemon squeezer type of revolver in either .32acp which would not need clips or in .380 which would, would be a viable enterprise.

    Just my Tuppence, Hapenny (2½¢)
     
  8. Josey

    Josey member

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    I used to have a Cimmaron/ASM breaktop S&W clone in 44-40. The problem was, it would fly open!! Cock it and pull the trigger and your knuckles would get a NASTY rap, the cartridges would be ejected and you would think it had KB'd. I just don't trust breaktops in a large caliber. A CAS 38 Special might be just fine. RUMOUR ALERT!! Cimmaron IS in R&D with a Merwin Hulbert Pocket clone.
     
  9. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

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    Halleflippinlujah!
    If they do a round butt, double action with the folding hammer spur I'll be standing in line for one!
     
  10. JohnK

    JohnK Member

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    Baikal was offering a 357 break top a couple years ago, nothing about them on their website now though. That's the newest, most modern break top I know of.
     

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  11. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    ...and they'd probably sell five of them.

    In ten years of working in gun shops I have never once had someone come in and ask if anyone makes a modern-top break. :uhoh:
     
  12. dogngun

    dogngun Member

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    I agree with stainz ; get an oldie and live with is for awhile. I like to shoot top breaks, Currently have 2 Iver Johnsons, a .38 S&W from 1922, and a .32 S&W from 1921. They are interesting, different to shoot, and cheap ( except for the ammo) - Paid $150 for both
    I have owned and shot old Smith and Wesson top breaks, back about 30 years ago when I could buy them cheap. ( bought a Baby Russian for $120)

    I don't think anyone will be making a "real" top break revolver ever again - there is not enough strength inherent in the design and everyone is lawsuit crazy.
    Find an oldie, see if you really like it. If you do, buy a reproduction import in an old large caliber...That's probably the best you can do.

    Mark
     
  13. cleve land

    cleve land Member

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    Both old Detonics and High Standard had contemporary designs for top-breaks in the late 80s early 90s. The protype Detonics could not be manufactured at an affordable price.
     
  14. Hugo

    Hugo Member

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    Any new news on this topic?
     
  15. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    I doubt anyone will ever again make a top-break revolver for serious use (the nostalgia/repro market doesn't count). Everytime this subject comes up, five or six people say they would buy one. If they can get maybe 2,000,000 more folks lined up with deposit money, some maker might be interested.

    But here is why it is a bad idea. On a cartridge revolver, the top strap takes a lot of the strain of firing. With a top-break revolver, there has to be some play in the latch to allow the gun to open, and with each shot that play increases a very tiny amount. Eventually, the latch loosens, and the gun becomes unshootable and unrepairable. (Yes, I know someone has a miracle metal that will stand up forever, but they are keeping it a secret.)

    I know someone is going to cite both Colt percussion revolvers and the "super strong" Webley revolvers. The latter is nonsense. The Webley revolvers stood up only because the loads were so weak; a Webley Mk VI converted to .45 ACP and shot very much will loosen up, guaranteed! (The British warned repeatedly against firing .455 Webley Auto ammunition in revolvers.)

    As to the percussion revolver, the recoil on those guns was not high on the standing breech, it was in the middle because the whole cylinder recoiled; the force was into the frame and downward, where in a cartridge revolver the force is at the top of the breech and attempts to tear the top strap.

    Jim
     
  16. tex_n_cal

    tex_n_cal Member

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    I haven't been to your shop yet, Tamara:D

    They aren't exactly modern, but I do want a Navy Arms Russian, just because I think that spur triggerguard is cool, and because I would like to work with a gun chambered for the .44 Russian. Shootable Smiths and Colts in the caliber are ahem, a bit pricey.

    I have played around in the past with extra low powered round ball loads in the .44 mag, and they were a bust despite following the Speer manual loads. I had a couple squibs that I had to beat out of my 629:fire: The smaller Rusky case I think would be good for such gallery-type loads.

    S&W did have a replica of the Schofield themselves, in .45 Schofield, which I guess is sorta an amputated .45 Colt. Odds are they used that caliber to keep people from trying "Ruger only" .45 Colt loads in it.:D

    I have heard(and you know what that's worth) that Uberti fired some "Ruger Only" 30,000psi loads in their .45 Colt breaktop, before releasing it. They found the gun held together fine, though wear was accelerated. The original guns held together with 15,000 psi loads, using parts made of very mild steel - the same parts made from modern heat treated alloy steel are much stronger. That said, if you try it, don't blame me if I'm wrong!

    I have no interest in hot rodding one, as I own several magnums up to a .480 Ruger, but I think they would be fine for plinking, and a lot of fun to shoot:)

    (edited for clarity)
     
  17. Onty

    Onty Member

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    I have the picture of Detonics revolver from one of old magazines. It was designed as 7-shooter in 44 and other calibers, but suppose to be used also as top break single shot for cartridges from 30-30 family. I don’t see market for it in North America, but this design will be interesting in some countries where shooters are permitted to have one or two handguns only. With top break design they could have number different calibers legally. Regards, Onty.
     
  18. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    I've seen and shot several Webleys converted to 45 acp. As I recall, the acp bullet is a bit undersized resulting in only fair to poor accuracy. Seems like the chambers looked a bit strange also, like you can see a couple of steps in it from the original chambering and the acp chambering. The back of the cylinder is cut to shorten it for use with the acp round and moon clips. All in all it's not exactly a spectacular conversion. Just a way to sell the old guns that we can't get the original ammo for in this country. About on a par with the WW2 Smith & Wesson guns in 38 S&W cal converted to 38 spl.

    If you want a shootable and reasonably affordable top break, track down a Webly or Enfield in 38 S&W cal. They can often be had for $125 to $175 in decent shape.
     
  19. Hugo

    Hugo Member

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    Anyone have a Navy Arms Top Break Revolver?

    I'm tempted to get a .38 special one but want to know if it's a good, reliable pistol. They are a bit pricy but quite unique as it seems nobody else makes a new top break revolver these days. Any reviews?
     
  20. GaryP

    GaryP Member

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  21. Crownvicman

    Crownvicman Member

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    That hideout model looks pretty neat. I wonder if the butt could be rounded off to a bird's head style. It might make a interesting, if obsolecent carry piece.
     
  22. HiWayMan

    HiWayMan Member

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    http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg49-e.htm



    MP412 "REX" (Russia)

    Type: Double Action
    Chamber: .357 magnum
    Weight unloaded: 0.9 kg
    Length: 232mm (4" barrel)
    Barrel length: 102mm (4"), also available 152mm BBL (6")
    Capacity: 6 rounds

    Newest Russian development - MP412 REX (Revolver for EXport) has some almost unique (for today) features - break-top design and polymer lower frame and buttstock. Revolver has ejector that could be switched off by pressing the button on the bottom of the frame near the "break point".
    This revolver is still in "pre-production" form - according to the manufacturer, the final decision will be made after the IWA-2001.
     
  23. Bart Noir

    Bart Noir Member

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    Just a little cartridge argument....

    The .44 S&W cartridge was the original load for the first big-bore S&W revolver, the Model 3 in the late 1860's. This was later called the .44 American once the Russian officers asked for a redesigned .44 cartridge, which we all call the .44 Russian.

    So there was some level of commercial success with the .44 American, in almost the same time frame as the Russian. But the Russian was, in the end, more popular, accurate, and our first modern centerfire pistol cartridge.

    So, in another direction, does having the .45 ACP or .45 Auto Rim launching an undersized bullet down the Webley bore reduce the pressure a mite?

    Bart Noir
     
  24. 44Caliber

    44Caliber Member

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    Indianna Jones and top breakopen

    I have a question if anybody out there could answer:
    In the Indianna Jones movies Indy also has a revolver. I think it is a top breakopen model, does anybody know what model and caliber ?
    44caliber
     
  25. SoundWave

    SoundWave Member

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    In "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" he has a Webley revolver.

    In the other movies he has a Smith and Wesson Hand Ejector in .45ACP. And he also has a Browning Hi Power in the bar fight scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
     
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