Author Topic: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....  (Read 8968 times)

Offline RattlesnakeJack

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1631
Just received a recent acquisition which might be of some small interest to participants in this forum.  It is a .455 cal. Great War vintage British-accepted "Pistol, Revolver, Old Pattern, No. 1 Mark I" (pp. 57-59, Revolvers of the British Services, 1854-1944; pp. 93-94, Howdah to High Power ...)





I am hoping someone (Spanish Marshal?) will be able to steer me in the direction of more information about the 19th Century Spanish military use of this pattern of revolver (see below ...)

Some background on this particular revolver - During WWI, British production capacity was woefully inadequate to supply the one million .455 cal. revolvers that the Ministry of Munitions, in 1915, deemed would be required, so it was decided that "substitute standard" revolvers would be acquired from non-British sources.  The two primary criteria for the selection of suitable models were (1) that the country of origin had to be a non-combattant and (2) must have production capacity deemed to be adequate for the purpose.  The best known substitute revolvers contracted for by Britain, of course, were the American Smith & Wesson "Hand Ejector" and Colt "New Service" models. 

However, the Ministry also turned to Spain, which had a strong firarms manufacturing industry, and selected two very similar models being produced there, which were essentially copies of the top-break S&W ".44 Double Action"introduced in 1881.  My references indicate that these models of revolver were approved for Spanish military officers by the 1884 Royal Decree which introduced the Spanish 11mm center-fire service revolver cartridge.  (The "Old Pattern" nomenclature used to describe these models by the British in 1915 relates, of course to the 1880's origin of the design ...) 

My acquisition does have British military proof and acceptance markings, but at some time in its post-military life it has been "pimped" with nickle plating ....  Other than that, it is in good shape, with strong rifling, but has an intenal problem (which resulted in my getting it for a good price, but which I understand should actually be a fairly easy fix ...)  I thought it would make an interesting addition to my collection of Canadian/British service pistols and, assuming I can get it operational, hope that I can even use it in NCOWS/GAF events. 

These revolvers were produced by a sort of "consortium" of Spanish manufacturers - this one was made by Fa. de Trocaola Aranzabal Y Cia., of Eibar...
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/

Offline Dr. Bob

  • Dr. Bob
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 3673
  • Physician and Sporting Gent aka Bob Dorian
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2006, 12:52:22 pm »
RJR,

A great looking revolver!  Were the contracts with S&W and Colt completed prior to the US entering the conflict?

It would appear that you are amassing quite a collection of Canadian/British military firearms.  Have you considered opening a museum??

Regards, Doc
Dr. Bob Butcher,
NCOWS 2420, Senator
HR 4
GAF 405,
NRA Life,
KGC 8.
Warthog
Motto: Clean mind  -  Clean body,   Take your pick

Offline St. George

  • Deputy Marshal
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 4618
  • NCOWS , GAF, B.O.L.D., Order of St. George, SOCOM,
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2006, 12:53:22 pm »
It 'markedly resembles' the S&W  - so from that standpoint, I'd imagine it will fill the bill for use.

Your cited reference - Revolvers of the British Services 1854 - 1954' - by Chamberlain and Taylersen - gives ample information on the 'actual' production and use  of this particular revolver - most is cited on pages 58/59 - in the Chapter titled 'Foreign Objects 1900 - 1945' - and states that these Spanish-manufactured revolvers were 'approved' to be built and 'sealed'  on 8 November 1915 - for the Ministry of Munitions.

They were produced by Garate Anitua & Co and Troacola Aranzabel & Co., and were introduced into Service in List of Changes, Para. 17555.

Orbea & Co. were also producers but no Sealed Pattern seems to exist.

They had a 'very' high rejection rate - with no deliveries being accepted after 31 July 1916.

The Brits 'tried' to get the Canadians to turn in 'their' S&W .455 Hand-Ejectors and .455 New Services in exchange for these weapons - to no avail - and eventually - they wound up in the hands of the Italians.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!
"It Wasn't Cowboys and Ponies - It Was Horses and Men.
It Wasn't Schoolboys and Ladies - It Was Cowtowns and Sin..."

Offline RattlesnakeJack

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1631
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2006, 01:09:05 am »
...  Were the contracts with S&W and Colt completed prior to the US entering the conflict? ...
Dr. Bob:
Revolvers of the British Services, 1854-1954,  Chamberlain & Taylerson, states (with respect to contracts with Colt to produce 100,000 units, and Smith & Wesson to produce 40,000):  "All Smith & Wesson contracts were cancelled in January, 1917, and Colt completed outstanding contracts that October."  (According to the End Notes, those statements are based on British Ministry of Munitions official reports...

St. George:
Actually I hope to be able to document more than just a "marked resemblance" to 19th Century S&W revolvers.  Rather, I'd like to track down the documentation (alluded to by Chamberlain & Taylerson) establishing that this very model of revolver was being produced in Spain as early as 1884, for sale to Spanish military officers, among others.
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/

Offline St. George

  • Deputy Marshal
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 4618
  • NCOWS , GAF, B.O.L.D., Order of St. George, SOCOM,
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2006, 11:06:10 am »
A.W.F. Taylerson wrote a three-part compilation - 'The Revolver'.

He divides them into year groups:

'The Revolver, 1818 - 1865'
'The Revolver, 1865 - 1888'
'The Revolver, 1888 - 1914'

Check your better-appointed Libraries for a specific copy - or an Inter-Library loan, since they're fairly pricey on the secondary market.

He did perhaps more research on the subject than anyone and his books are considered 'bibles' by those who collect revolvers in their many forms.

Spain's small arms history is interesting - and archived moderately well - but there don't seem to be many books on Spanish military weapons, beyond modern ones.

They had an abysmal reputation in America due in large part to the 'flooding' of these shores with low-end guns after WWI - though many of their manufacturers produced fine weapons - and still do.

Could be that because of that - no one really thought of collecting them and doing the needed research.

Personally - I'd question actual 'purchase' of anything other than a Webley, Colt or Smith & Wesson by a serving British or Colonial Officer - simply due to that form of 'peer pressure' that junior Officers are subjected to.

The various shops that catered to the equipping of those 'young gentlemen' had something to do with that - as did the advice of older, seasoned Officers.
(makes you wonder what those old soldiers thought post-WWI, when the .38/200 came about...)

The period of issue for 'these' revolvers was quite short - though the design pre-dates it.

They're something that belongs in a WWI collection - and in a collection of British-issued small arms, because they show what lengths are gone to in order to arm and equip an Army in wartime.

Vaya, and Good Hunting - researching can sometimes become a daunting task - but a damned enjoyable one, and I wish you Luck.

Scouts Out!



 
« Last Edit: May 15, 2006, 08:01:58 pm by St. George »
"It Wasn't Cowboys and Ponies - It Was Horses and Men.
It Wasn't Schoolboys and Ladies - It Was Cowtowns and Sin..."

Offline RattlesnakeJack

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1631
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2006, 12:59:11 pm »
Thank you for your excellent input, St. George!

Is Taylerson's 3-part work limited to British-made and -used revolvers, or does it cover revolvers "world-wide" as it were?  The reason I ask, of course, is that if it is limited to "British" revolvers, it may not touch upon these Spanish "Old Pattern" ones, since the UK didn't start acquiring them until 1915, I believe .....

I agree that it is unlikely that a British officer would purchase one of these revolvers - I gather that they were acquired for issue to "Other Ranks" (and, I suspect, that would likely have been done only as a "last resort".) 
« Last Edit: May 15, 2006, 01:08:17 pm by RattlesnakeJack »
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/

Offline Dr. Bob

  • Dr. Bob
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 3673
  • Physician and Sporting Gent aka Bob Dorian
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2006, 04:26:50 pm »
RJR,

The Spanish Marshal posted on Spanish revolvers on April 11.  1872 Officers were "suggested" to carry Mod. 3 S & W Russian model in cal. 11mm. In 1884 it was a Spanish made Model 7 also in 11mm. which was  Spanish "improved" S & W MODEL 3.

Looks like the Spanish Marshal is the go to guy on this topic.  I'm sure that he will reply when his duties permit.
Regards, Doc
Dr. Bob Butcher,
NCOWS 2420, Senator
HR 4
GAF 405,
NRA Life,
KGC 8.
Warthog
Motto: Clean mind  -  Clean body,   Take your pick

Offline St. George

  • Deputy Marshal
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 4618
  • NCOWS , GAF, B.O.L.D., Order of St. George, SOCOM,
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2006, 07:52:17 pm »
Taylerson's works cover the 'range' of revolvers.

They're a worthwhile acquisition to the library when they can be found reasonably priced - but doing 'that' is going to require some luck.

'Old Pattern' is the British term.

What I found 'interesting' was the fact that the Brits tried to 'force' the Canadians to swap - recognizing both the superiority of 'their' arms - and inferiority of the Spanish-made ones and wanting to fob them off on any 'non-English' element of the Commonwealth.

That the Colts and S&Ws were essentially 'purchased' by the people of Canada 'for' use by Canadian soldiers was the argument used to retain them in Canadian hands.

As an aside - beware of 'marked' revolvers featuring Broad Arrows, inscriptions and Unit markings.

Buy the weapon as if un-marked in any way - and force yourself to buy un-altered guns, as too many were made into .45 ACP and poorly...

There's a pretty 'industrious' guy creating Marks IV, V and VI Webleys as Unit and/or individually-owned marked sidearms.
The big S&Ws  and Colts have been seen as well - but as they bring more money as is - they're harder to just buy in order to alter - whereas the various Webley revolvers can still be had reasonably.

Regrettably - Commonwealth-issued weapons are damned difficult to 'prove' - and the Unit's Armourers used individual letter/number stamps - though REME Armourers generally did a much 'neater' job of it.

The Spanish gun makers copied all manner of weapons - figuring out exactly 'when' they did so is going to be interesting.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!







« Last Edit: May 15, 2006, 08:02:45 pm by St. George »
"It Wasn't Cowboys and Ponies - It Was Horses and Men.
It Wasn't Schoolboys and Ladies - It Was Cowtowns and Sin..."

Offline Spanish Marshal

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 307
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2006, 01:13:33 am »
  Good Morning from Spain, Sir:

 This weekend, I was outside of house. Now I have read your post. This afternoon, (in Spain of course), from my house, I will try to answer with the information that can gather on this model in the Spanish Army.

     Sir.

    Spanish Marshal
Warthog

"Buena suerte amigo"

Offline RattlesnakeJack

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1631
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2006, 11:03:20 am »
Spanish Marshal:

I look forward to your assistance!  I assume that my revolver is essentially one of the "Smith and Wesson system ONÁ" revolvers referred to in your April 11 post on 1860-1890 Spanish military handguns (though mine is of later manufacture, of course.)

If you are able to confirm that, and provide further detail on the model and the official "recommendation" for use by officers, it will likely give me the necessary proof that this particular Spanish revolver design is "Pre-1900" and thus OK for use under NCOWS rules. 

Also, what does "ONÁ" mean, or refer to?
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/

Offline Spanish Marshal

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 307
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2006, 01:50:46 pm »
  Good evening from Spain Sir:

  Of the documentation that I have and that I have requested to other friends, I can confirm you that this type of revolver, " modelo 1884",was the Smith and Wesson system ONA: 
       caliber: 11 mm. 
       total length: 315 mm. 
       length of the barrel: 178 mm. 
       number of chambers: 6

  It was "recommended" by Royal Order of October 6th, 1884, knowing it like "modelo nº 7, de Orbea Hermanos", (model number 7, of Orbea Brothers).   
  Its mechanism was of double action. 
  Although it was not regulation firearm, it was used in big quantities by the Officer of the Spanish Army.  It was adopted by the Guardia Civil until for Royall Order of October 5th,  1922,  it was substituted by the Star pistol, in 9 mm.Largo.

   During the First War World  and on account of the great demand of short weapons, this model and others,were copied by many Basque makers that sold it to the allied countries, but with a very poor quality.
 
  ONA, in basque language mean "GOOD".

  Sir, I hope to have been of some utility and if I can help you, You know where I am.  ;) and excuse you my bad english.

   Sir.
   
      Spanish Marshal

Warthog

"Buena suerte amigo"

Offline RattlesnakeJack

  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1631
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2006, 04:39:22 pm »
Muchas Gracias, Spanish Marshal!

That helps a great deal. 

(No apologies necessary for your English.  I assure you that it is much better than my Spanish!)
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier
Old West ClipArt & History Website:  http://rattlesnakejacks.com/

Offline Major E A Sterner

  • "Honorary Southern Gentleman"
  • CAS-L Ghost Rider
  • Top Active Citizen
  • *
  • Posts: 1730
Re: Spanish copy of S&W "44 Double Action" Top-Break revolver ....
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2006, 08:04:22 pm »
Brevet Col. Rattlesnake Jack,Sir
 I just happen to have a copy of that very same revolver, But mine states "Foe .44 special and U.S. service Ctg." on the barrel. Not sure what the .44 U.S. Service Cartridge is, but I was surprised that someone else has the same revolver.
Respectfully
Brevet Col. Major E.A. Sterner
Respectfully,Major E.A. Sterner
G.A.F #118
R.A.T.S.#125
"If violent crime is to be curbed, it is only the intended victim who can do it. The felon does not fear the police, and he fears neither judge nor jury. Therefore what he must be taught to fear is his victim." - Jeff Cooper