Author Topic: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44  (Read 682 times)

Offline DJ

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Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« on: June 23, 2022, 09:28:58 PM »
I recently dropped by an LGS that I had never been to before--it's in a different town about 45 minutes away and Garmin says it's on an "alley," which dampened my enthusiasm.  But I happened to be driving right by it after a business meeting last week, so took the chance.  It turned out to be a nice, but somewhat sparse shop--mostly modern stuff, but a very few interesting odds and ends.  One was a Forehand and Wadsworth New Model single action--something one doesn't run across everyday--and it ended up coming home with me.  Despite its 1880's manufacture date, the shop insisted on a background check, but at least they agreed to pick up the $20 fee for that.

The references on this revolver are pretty sparse--they all seem to crib off one another, but the consensus seems to be that there weren't very  many made, they were mostly nickel plated, and they were all in .44 Russian.  This one was blue (now brown), and pretty sure it's in .44-40.  The cylinder is the right length for the longer round, and the case fits--a .44 Russian case will also go in, .44 Special won't go in the last quarter inch, and .45 Colt will not go in at all.  The bore slugs about .428 but the mouths of the cylinder are all about .442, which seems kind of large.  Still, .44-40 is the closest fit--I'll probably cast a couple chambers to be sure before I SHOOT IT.

So, does anyone have any info on these guns?

--DJ

Offline DJ

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2022, 10:03:23 PM »
Folks like to see pictures.

Offline Abilene

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2022, 12:58:17 AM »
Gee, how cool is that?  Any story from them on how they got it?

Offline Major 2

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2022, 05:26:32 AM »
That is so very cool....  :)
when planets align...do the deal !

Offline Galen

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2022, 07:44:15 AM »
All without plastic.

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #5 on: Today at 08:43:56 PM »

Offline Coffinmaker

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2022, 08:56:55 AM »

 :)  DJ  ;)

Whoah there DJ.  That right there is a righteous nice find you betcha.  Agreed, would do a chamber cast (all of 'em) first.  Then load up some swell BP rounds and go play. 

Caution!!  People are still Contagious.

Offline DJ

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2022, 09:07:43 AM »
Here's what I meant with the various cartridge cases:  .44 Special partially inserted, .44 Russian in the middle, .44-40 at bottom.


Offline Dave T

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2022, 11:42:50 AM »
A great handful of history there. Congratulations on your find! Do the research as suggested and then shoot it with black powder. That's "living history" done right.

Dave

Offline DeaconKC

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2022, 12:04:17 PM »
What a great find! Congratulations.
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Offline Cap'n Redneck

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2022, 07:14:01 PM »
"Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms, 9th. Edition", page 480:
calls it the Forehand & Wadsworth New Model Army.
Made ca. late 1870s to 1880s, total quantity estimated at under 1000.
.44 Russian Centerfire.  Six shot cylinder.  6,5" round barrel.
Finish usually nickel, blue will bring premium.
Says these were traditionally classified as "Secondary martial handguns", although there is no evidence of army usage.

Values in 2007:    Good: $ 1275,-         Fine:  $ 3250,-   

"As long as there's lead in the air, there's still hope..."
Frontiersman & Frontiersman Gunfighter: The only two categories where you can play with your balls and shoot your wad while tweaking the nipples on a pair of 44s.

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #10 on: Today at 08:43:56 PM »

Offline DJ

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2022, 08:44:27 PM »
OK, so I took it apart.  It's a pretty standard design, but with a few quirks.

Sideplate looks very Smith & Wesson, and it has a Forehand & Wadsworth barrel address.

Offline DJ

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2022, 08:54:23 PM »
The cylinder pin has a long spring inset into the side and a ribbed end to give you a good grip--you just squeeze it and pull.  I'm not sure how durable it would be with hard use over time, but this one still works well after 140 years, so maybe it was a good idea.

The three sideplate screws are all different lengths and not interchangeable--I mean the short screws will go into the longer holes, but the longer screws won't go into the shorter holes.  Non-interchangeable screws seems like a silly idea, but F&W wasn't the only company doing it that way.

Offline DJ

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2022, 11:46:16 PM »
Internally it is facially similar to a Smith & Wesson single action, but with differences.  The most obvious difference is the spring that applies pressure to the hand--it's very lightweight and goes around the axis of the hammer as opposed to the stiff spring that is inlet into the face of a Smith & Wesson hammer and pinned in place.

Offline DJ

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2022, 09:25:48 PM »
Here are the hammer, hand, and spring as they lie together and spread out.  The shorter leg of the spring pushes against the back of the hand, and the upper part pushes against a little boss or peg in the frame.  It seems a little flimsy, but it is pretty well protected inside the frame, and so as long as it didn't corrode it should keep working.  Still, it does seem awfully thin--I guess it could be a replacement, but never having been inside another one, I just don't know.  Also not sure about the pin that the hand pivots on--seems it should be longer and at least the length of the hole in the hand, but can't tell if it's damaged, replaced, or just the way it left the factory.

Offline DJ

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2022, 08:44:27 PM »
The sideplate has some fairly rough machining inside, but fits well and is numbered to the frame.

The grips are numbered and also matched to the serial number on the butt-- SN 43.  It's kind of cool that a gun that apparently got quite a bit of use didn't end up with a missing or replaced grip. 

The chambers have rings around them on the back end, but not the front--at first I thought each one had been sleeved, but I think it's probably just a mark left when they were reamed.  Also, the cylinder doesn't match--SN 55--so it's 12 numbers off.  How did that even happen?  Does that mean that two of these were actually taken apart in the same place at the same time and the parts got mixed up?

Anyway, thanks to all for your interest and feedback on this odd one.

--DJ 

Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2022, 09:29:24 PM »
This is all really cool! Thanks for the detailed report and photos. Most of us won't get to handle one, let alone see the inside. You're giving us the chance to join in.

Griff
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Offline Cap'n Redneck

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2022, 05:25:21 PM »
Doug Dukes' "Firearms of the Texas Rangers", page 208:

"Frank M. Moore, lieutenant in command of Co. D, (Frontier Battalion), located at Camp Bear Creek in Kimble County sent a message to Major John B. Jones at Austin (in August 1877).
Moore reiterated the need for eight additional "Winchester improved carbines" as well as a request for six "Forehand & Wadsworth pistols" if they could be purchased at reduced prices."

The author draws the conclusion that the six pistols requested most likely were the F&W Army or Holster revolver in .44 Russian, .45 Colt or .44WCF, and not any of F&W's pocket models.

(This book is required reading for anyone interested in the Texas Rangers and their armament.)

"As long as there's lead in the air, there's still hope..."
Frontiersman & Frontiersman Gunfighter: The only two categories where you can play with your balls and shoot your wad while tweaking the nipples on a pair of 44s.

Offline DJ

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Re: Forehand & Wadsworth Single Action 44
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2022, 01:11:51 AM »
Wow.  There's an obscure reference.  With production of these guns being so limited, it's cool to see information on possible real, workaday use.

Thanks for the post.

 

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