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Adam M.M.





Joined: 02 Aug 2014

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2015 7:02 am    Post subject: Double-action revolvers in the U.S.         Reply with quote

Why did it take so long for the U.S. to adopt double-action revolvers? It seems they stuck with single-action revolvers until 1892 while the British adopted double-action revolvers in 1853, the French and Spanish in 1858, the Swedish in 1863, etc.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2015 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Reliability and application. You are probably overlooking a great number of US da revolvers that predate the Colt 1878.

Cheers

GC
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2015 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A large part of this is that the Colt company had a very firm strangle-hold on the revolver market in the United States for quite some time, assiduously chasing down and persecuting makers who dared to infringe upon their share by producing similar weapons. Double-action revolvers such as the Schoefield and Smith and Wesson did exist, and were popular in their niche, but Colt simply outnumbered them in production quantity of the basic single-action revolver and therefore commanded the lion's share of the market, advertising, and was able to charge less for the simpler action.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure but a lot of the pepperboxes were DA, then the Starr and others working around the Colt patent. Colt had initially dismissed their design as too fragile..


Cheers

GC
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Robert Frey




Location: Wausau, WI
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Sep, 2015 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As said above, the early ones were too fragile and that made them unreliable. Why bet your life on an iffy DA revolver, when an SA revolver was far more reliable?
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Adam M.M.





Joined: 02 Aug 2014

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PostPosted: Wed 30 Sep, 2015 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Frey wrote:
As said above, the early ones were too fragile and that made them unreliable. Why bet your life on an iffy DA revolver, when an SA revolver was far more reliable?


But most other countries apparently didn't consider them too fragile.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Wed 30 Sep, 2015 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam M.M. wrote:
Robert Frey wrote:
As said above, the early ones were too fragile and that made them unreliable. Why bet your life on an iffy DA revolver, when an SA revolver was far more reliable?


But most other countries apparently didn't consider them too fragile.


You are kind of side stepping the answers already given. Colt had a patent and suppressed the technology. However there were DA revolvers available from other countries and other innovations. Secondly, the US penchant for unification and simplicity. Despite repeating rifles already available in the third quarter of the 19th century, single shot cartridge rifles maintained in normal issue for the rest of the century until the Krag was finally adopted. An excuse often touted as the possible waste of ammunition.

I am not sure what else your rebuttal might offer but all the history is there to read. I don't think anyone is looking to debate your reasoning. If you have something more to write on the matter aside from one line statements, it might be a worthwhile discussion. However, it is somewhat silly to try to rewrite history that is at our fingertips.

The vikingsword.com forum is great for ancient to early modern firearm discussion. There are several American civil war forums you might peruse and contribute to.

You might offer more information and data on the development of European firearms and da revolvers. If I am not missing the mark, it was the development of cartridge arms that made all the difference leading off with the very soon archaic pinfires. Post some numbers of da revolvers made for European military use and some examples of distribution. How many were given to only officers vs how many troopers carried them? I would also point out that Europe had much more conflict going on than America did. Europeans were geared to that industry, more so than America.

Again, American pepperboxes were an early and quite popular da revolver.

Cheers

GC


Last edited by Glen A Cleeton on Wed 30 Sep, 2015 8:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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Robert Frey




Location: Wausau, WI
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Sep, 2015 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam M.M. wrote:
Robert Frey wrote:
As said above, the early ones were too fragile and that made them unreliable. Why bet your life on an iffy DA revolver, when an SA revolver was far more reliable?


But most other countries apparently didn't consider them too fragile.


"The West" was big, Europe was less rural. Repairs could be had quicker in cities, and having a broken gun way out in the middle of nowhere in the West could kill you.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Sep, 2015 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's some naive questions from a sword guy.

What are the relative merits of SA vs. DA?

I had one revolver many years ago that had both DA and SA - I had the impression that using the DA option, you could get more accuracy because of less jerk to the trigger on the shot, but it also slows you down.

Are all DA revolvers like that? Or in some do you have to manually pull the hammer back to pull the trigger? I guess that would fit with the famous hollywood image of the gunfighter 'fanning' the hammer. Is that image real or a myth?

Any other differences?
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Sep, 2015 1:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been a fan of single action revolvers for decades and used double action revolvers in the early days of my law enforcement career. Well, honestly I just like revolvers. Big Grin An SA revolver is easier to shoot accurately due to the shorter and lighter trigger pull. DA revolvers can also be fired in SA mode, of course, but the primary reason for the DA trigger is safety. The longer, heavier pull requires a much more deliberate effort to acttuate. A DA trigger is also faster since the manual cocking of the hammer isn't required. It does take more training and experience to run one efficiently though.

The SA revolvers popularity in the 19th century US stems from several sources: Colt was primarily a company that produced SA revolvers. Their few DA models were fragile and unreliable. Colt had such a strangle hold on the market, due primarily to Sam Colt's PR machine and underhanded dealings with government officials, that every other company was competing for second place market share. Then, as now, the general public was heavily influenced by the militaries choice of sidearm and Colt's Single Action Army was the primary sidearm for the US Army, with the SA Smith and Wesson Schofield serving briefly as a substitute standard, Other companies such as Smith and Wesson offered DA revolvers, but their trigger pulls were so atrociously heavy that accuracy was difficult if not impossible to achieve. Colt's SAA also features a very simple mechanism that could be made to fire even with several broken parts, an important thing on the 19th century american frontier.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Sun 04 Oct, 2015 10:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Here's some naive questions from a sword guy.

What are the relative merits of SA vs. DA?

I had one revolver many years ago that had both DA and SA - I had the impression that using the DA option, you could get more accuracy because of less jerk to the trigger on the shot, but it also slows you down.

Are all DA revolvers like that? Or in some do you have to manually pull the hammer back to pull the trigger? I guess that would fit with the famous hollywood image of the gunfighter 'fanning' the hammer. Is that image real or a myth?

Any other differences?


DA revolvers can almost always (there are a few oddballs out there like hammer-less revolvers) be used in a SA fashion by manually cocking the hammer first. It's just the nature of the beast.

Fanning the hammer is possible, but is fairly inaccurate without serious practice-- historically speaking it's mostly a myth, it's a trick-shooter stunt that got famous in cowboy movies. You see it in some modern Western competition shooting but that's about it.

These days they're about the same in level of quality and precision, but before modern manufacturing standards came on the scene, SA revolvers tended to be a little simpler and more robust. That's already been covered in this thread, though. Both are fine options nowadays, and it might likely be easier to find DA than SA.
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Gordon Alexander




Location: Eagan, MN & Dubois, WY
Joined: 24 Dec 2012

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Sun 04 Oct, 2015 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Here's some naive questions from a sword guy.

What are the relative merits of SA vs. DA?

I had one revolver many years ago that had both DA and SA - I had the impression that using the DA option, you could get more accuracy because of less jerk to the trigger on the shot, but it also slows you down.

Are all DA revolvers like that? Or in some do you have to manually pull the hammer back to pull the trigger? I guess that would fit with the famous hollywood image of the gunfighter 'fanning' the hammer. Is that image real or a myth?

Any other differences?


By single action or double action, one can mean a type of revolver or a mode of firing. The single action mode of firing takes less force on and travel from the trigger since it does not have to rotate the cylinder or cock the hammer. With the double action mode you do not have to cock the hammer with your thumb before squeezing the trigger. Since the cylinders usually do not swing out in SAs they are often less fragile. The swing out cylinder is a development that roughly coincided with the rise of DAs (I think) rather than being essential to them. It is faster to unload and load a swing out cylinder. With very powerful cartridges it is possible to accidentally fire a second shot (sometimes into your head or that of another) due to the effects of recoil with a DA. Want to see how fast each can be? Look up Bob Munden and Jerry Miculek.
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Adam M.M.





Joined: 02 Aug 2014

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2015 7:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
Adam M.M. wrote:
Robert Frey wrote:
As said above, the early ones were too fragile and that made them unreliable. Why bet your life on an iffy DA revolver, when an SA revolver was far more reliable?


But most other countries apparently didn't consider them too fragile.


You are kind of side stepping the answers already given. Colt had a patent and suppressed the technology. However there were DA revolvers available from other countries and other innovations. Secondly, the US penchant for unification and simplicity. Despite repeating rifles already available in the third quarter of the 19th century, single shot cartridge rifles maintained in normal issue for the rest of the century until the Krag was finally adopted. An excuse often touted as the possible waste of ammunition.

I am not sure what else your rebuttal might offer but all the history is there to read. I don't think anyone is looking to debate your reasoning. If you have something more to write on the matter aside from one line statements, it might be a worthwhile discussion. However, it is somewhat silly to try to rewrite history that is at our fingertips.

The vikingsword.com forum is great for ancient to early modern firearm discussion. There are several American civil war forums you might peruse and contribute to.

You might offer more information and data on the development of European firearms and da revolvers. If I am not missing the mark, it was the development of cartridge arms that made all the difference leading off with the very soon archaic pinfires. Post some numbers of da revolvers made for European military use and some examples of distribution. How many were given to only officers vs how many troopers carried them? I would also point out that Europe had much more conflict going on than America did. Europeans were geared to that industry, more so than America.

Again, American pepperboxes were an early and quite popular da revolver.

Cheers

GC


I'm not sure what I did to offend you or why you think I want to "rewrite history", I was only commenting on the specific post I quoted since it didn't make sense to me.

Anyway, thanks for the information.
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E.F. Magnuson




Location: Minnesota, USA
Joined: 14 Jul 2010

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri 20 Nov, 2015 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you are talking about the American Military adoption of DA revolvers there were three big detriments to their wide adoption:

  • Smith & Wesson had the early patents on DA and their Model 1 was strictly small frame and low powered
  • Smith & Wesson didn't have the manufacturing capacity to accommodate general gov't contracts
  • The Gov't had already invested in tens of thousands of Colt SA revolvers, both ball and cap and later cartridge conversions so it was't cost effective to make a wide change in the years immediately following the American Civil War.


In 1870, however, S&W released the Model 3, a large frame .44 cal. DA revolver which the Gov't quickly jumped on and issued a contract for making it the first cartridge handgun and DA revolver in gov't service. This contract was concurrent with a contract to Colt for .45 cal. SA cartridge revolvers. In 1875 the Model 3 update "Schofield" was accepted by the gov't using a shorter .45 cal round than the Colt. This caused problems for the S&W in service though because the large stocks of .45 Colt cartridges wouldn't work in the .45 S&W while the Colt revolver could use either cartridge which eventually led the Army favor the Colt.

In civilian hands the DA Model 3 was very popular, especially on the frontier where the ease of DA was a big advantage in the heat of a fight. They were favored by many famous frontiersmen from cowboys & outlaws the lawmen that hunted them, regardless of what Hollywood would have you believe--which almost always shows everyone using the Colt "Peacemaker" .45. Billy the Kid, Jesse James, John Wesley Hardin all used Schofields. So too did Virgil and Wyatt Earp and Pat Garret among many others.[/list]

In omnibus requiem quaesivi et nusquam inveni, nisi in angulo cum libro.
--Thomas a Kempis
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Gottfried P. Doerler




Location: Tyrol, Austria
Joined: 11 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Nov, 2015 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A
Glen A Cleeton wrote:

You might offer more information and data on the development of European firearms and da revolvers. If I am not missing the mark, it was the development of cartridge arms that made all the difference leading off with the very soon archaic pinfires.
GC

the austro-hungarian army adopted the gasser in 1870. however, i could not find any information, if this 1870 version was already da. might well be, that the da was only introduced with the 1870/74 update. and again, im not sure if the army version was double action. there definitely was a da version, but maybe this was for civillian market. the development of the gasser series is a bit cryptic to me.
the earliest model of which i can definitely say, it was da, is the gasser-kropatschek officers version of 1876.
last and best known of the gasser series probably is the rast-gasser of 1898, as there are still many shootable pieces available on the market today.
forgotten weapons channel did a video about it.

B
one possible explanation for the lack of interest in the militaries for da revolvers might be:
the majority of 19th cent. armies was made up by infantry. enlisted men had rifles, whereas officers were not expected to take part in the actual fighting and so no use was seen in equipping them with a firearm.
in the k.u.k. army, officers weren`t issued a firearm at least as late as the late 1860ies. some would privately purchase revolvers, but just as many would let it be with the regulation saber.
in germany the reichsrevolver of 1879 was completely obsolete, when production started, but no one cared, as individuel pistols were not seen to be useful from a military perspective. (good video)
i`m not sure about france and england, but i believe, in crimean war british officers did not get adams revolvers issued, but had to puchase their pieces privately, if wanted.
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Nov, 2015 6:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Simple preference might also be a factor. I like single action revolvers, and dislike double action revolvers. The main reason being deliberation of action. I have never fired a single action revolver unintentionally, but have fired a double action revolver unintentionally, fairly quickly following a deliberate shot. Of course that is more likely a hair trigger on a particular gun, but the experience is part of the reason for my preference.
In the US, as mentioned above, waste of ammunition or repairs required for more complex actions I'mean sure we're also part of preference. A fancier tool or piece of equipment doesn't do much for you if it isn't working reliably.
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