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Thread: French m1873 chamelot delvigne service revolver

  1. #1
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    Default French m1873 chamelot delvigne service revolver

    Gents,

    Have a question of the lockup on the French 1873 revolver and need your help. I have my eye on one and have spoken with the current owner, and from all indications it is in fairly nice condition. However, I have not ever handled one before and so I do not know how tight the cylinder lockup is supposed to be; the gentleman says there is a very minimal amount of cylinder play with the trigger pulled back and the hammer down. Is this normal for this particular model?
    I have a Webley Mk.V .455 that locks up like a bank vault with the trigger back and hammer down and need to know before I commit to a purchase whether this particular 1873 is in need of repair.
    Any help from the group will be appreciated.

    Thanks much, John.

  2. #2

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    Having handled quite a few of these, none of them were locked up like a "bank vault", there was always a tiny play at the cylinder (more functional rather than due to excessive wear), even on the pristine ones, something like 0.3mm.

    Both of mine have such a play and both shoot mighty fine.

  3. #3
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    Capitaine,

    That's good to hear, as I do plan on shooting mine. BP loads of course and may even have some made up by Gads. Any other source for them that you know of?

    Regards, John.

  4. #4

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    Hi,

    As I'm living in France, we don't have access to the same stuff.. Gad is unfortunately unknown to me.
    For manufactured ammo, here we had a company named SPALEK which went out of business a couple of years ago. But their stuff can still be found on gun shows.
    I am re-loading for my 1873s, and I use a kit made by H&C (Histoire et Collection), which is like a Lee loader specially adapted to the 11mm73 cartridge.
    Last edited by Capitaine Conan; 08-30-2008 at 03:14 PM.

  5. #5
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    Capitaine,

    I will need look into this kit made by H&C (Histoire et Collection). Sounds like something that would come in handy for reloading. Would like to see some pics of your revolvers when you have the time.

    Regards, John.

  6. #6

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    Here is the link to H&C's website, they do international orders:

    http://www.hc-collection.com/


    Here are my two 1873s with original ammo packets from WW1:



    Regards,

    Emmanuel

  7. #7
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    Wow, fantastic pieces! I wish I could wrangle one up. I saw one at the big Louisville gunshow for $300, but was fairly pitted and I too was concerned with the lock up.

    Just out of curiosity, how is the accuracy of these old pistols?
    State of Franklin Arsenal
    Est. 2007

  8. #8
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    Capitaine,

    Very nice!! How long did it take you to find two fine looking specimens as these? Would love to get the ammo packets as well, kind of scarce on this side of the pond. How is the accuracy?

    Regards, John.

  9. #9

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    Thanks!

    They're not exempt from light pitting and corrosion on a few spots, unfortunately, but the photo does wonders to hide that! :D
    The accuracy is quite good at 25 meters with a 13 grams conical bullet over just a little bit more than 1 gram (16 to 18 grains) of FFFg black powder, using H&C brass. Shooting the revolver double-action doesn't give good results unless you are at point blank range, because the trigger pull is really heavy. There is definitely some potential to get excellent accuracy with this weapon, but that would mean fine-tuning the revolver, which I am not willing to do.


    I got a custom mould made by NEI, with a bunch of other French shooters, the idea was to try and replicate some of the properties of the 1870 Navy cartridge.

  10. #10
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    Here are few of the French Chamelot Delvigne in my collection.


    Somehow a 1853 Lefaucheux made its way in the picture
    here various Revolvers of different countries belonging to the systeme Chamelot Delvigne.
    French Dutch and Italian

    and the guts of three different models

    AS far as tightness, about half of my revolvers are absolutely dead tight, the others vary up to 1m/m or a couple of degrees of rotation.
    In my totally biased opinion I believe that at their inception, those revolvers were the best that could be obtained, and now adays still one of the most beautiful piece of weapon ingeneering. If the price and the condition are right you should buy it. Unfortunatelly the price of those revolver is constantly rising.
    Best regards
    Robert Olivier

  11. #11
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    Holy crap, how do you find all these amazing pieces? Do you have a book to suggest on the different types of chamelot-delvigne revolvers (in either french or english). I see so many variations and i would like to learn about them.

  12. #12

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    That collection is absolutely fantastic!!

    Congratulations. I've already seen it on a French black powder forum!
    They all seem in perfect condition except one (which has a shortened barrel).

    Comrade Antibiotika,

    This book is very nice. It's in French though:


  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Capitaine Conan View Post
    That collection is absolutely fantastic!!

    Congratulations. I've already seen it on a French black powder forum!
    They all seem in perfect condition except one (which has a shortened barrel).

    Comrade Antibiotika,

    This book is very nice. It's in French though:

    Thanks... you know any place where i can find it? I know enough french to deal with it. It'll be a learning experience.

    Edit: Found a place in england that has a copy for cheap, i'll shoot him an email.
    Last edited by Comrade Antibiotika; 08-31-2008 at 05:25 PM.

  14. #14

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    Here's another revolver from my (very small) collection which is affiliated with the Chamelot Delvigne system.

    The Fagnus / Maquaire, same caliber:




  15. #15
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    Capitaine,

    Nice looking revolver. Are they harder to find then the73's?

    All,

    I may have hit a snag with the revolver I am wanting to purchase. The seller wants to send it through my FFL, I say that is not needed as the revolver is an antique and it would just be making me spend more money than necessary. Is there a way to tell the manufacture date of the revolver, say a stamp or marking of some type? Are there records available to look through on the serial number? I need this information as soon as possible so my thanks to anyone who can help.

    Regards, John.

  16. #16

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    Hi Captain,

    The Fagnus are indeed harder to find but also less sought-after than the 1873.

    regarding the manufacture date of the 1873s, it is normally on the right side of the barrel, following a letter.

    For instance my 1873 which was made in 1881 reads "S. 1881".

    Now that's tricky, because when the arsenal would re-barrel a gun, they would change the date of the barrel as well. But all 1873 were originally made before 1887.

  17. #17
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    These are all antiques as all of these were made prior to 1898
    They are marked with the date they were made on the right side of the barrel ... These were manufactured from 1873 to 1885. Now some do have dates later than 1885 but these were returned back to the arsenals for repair and if a new barrel was replaced it was marked with the new date but the older serial number was transfered to it. The serial number determines the arms date of manufacture.
    1873 - 1876: F block
    1876 - 1879: G block
    1879 - 1883: H block
    1883 - 1885: J block
    I block was not used during production
    Patrick
    Vive La République Française, le Lebel et le poilu
    Verdun 1916: "Ils ne Passeront pas" "On les aura!"
    Fusil d'Infanterie Modèle 1886 Modifié 1893 dit "Lebel"

    Vive le Pinard !
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axfM1sFqIK0

  18. #18
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    Gents,

    That is what I needed to know. My thanks to both of you, and we shall see how things progress.

    Regards, John.

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    The hard thing here in the USA seems to be finding brass and correct bullets for the
    M1873.

  20. #20
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    There is a guy from North Carolina that comes to the Virginia shows that sells handloads for lots of obscure cartridges, the 11mm under discussion is one of them.
    Sorry I don't have his name handy as I am not getting around to well. Smashed my ankle last week and I am currently limited to use of a walker.
    Watch the trader in the future or email mail me direct as I have heard of one comming up for sale.
    Regards, Hank
    Augment & Finagle . . . .
    "I collect therefore I accumulate"

  21. #21
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    Not to hijack the topic, but is there any to be had for a reasonable price in the states? I have a hard time finding one under $700 unless it's a p.o.s.
    State of Franklin Arsenal
    Est. 2007

  22. #22
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    All,

    Convinced the seller that the 1873 is an antique, hope to have it in my greedy little hands by the end of next week:D. In regards to prices on these revolvers; well I paid a bit less than the $700 Kilroy mentioned, but won't be able to tell you if that's good, bad, otherwise, or if it's a POS until it arrives. Most of the ones I have seen over the past year or so, regardless of condition, have gone for at least $600 & up.
    Red Octopus-Would be great if you could come up with that gents info.

    Regards, John.

  23. #23
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    Gents,

    Anyone have a clue as to what this revolver is?

    John.

  24. #24
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    Looks like a german Reichsrevolver but with a much longer cylinder (6mm Velodog ?) and a differently angled hammer spur...

  25. #25

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    This is some solid-frame Montenegrin Gasser revolver.

    The Gasser Army revolver was an open-framed heavy-bore revolver from the late 19th Century that was adopted as the Austro-Hungarian Cavalry revolver as the Gasser M1870. It holds five rounds of 11.2mm centrefire, a long heavy round known as the 11mm Montenegrin that was used in the earlier Fruwirth carbines.
    http://www.dreadgazebo.com/gunporn/?p=305


    Favored by the King of Montenegro!

    According to some sources, King Nicholas of Montenegro made the ownership of such revolvers mandatory for his male population. The King (also referred to as King Nikita I) had a financial stake in the manufacturers. A crowned 'NI" representing the king is stamped into the top of the receiver as shown
    http://sunblest.net/gun/GassMont.htm
    Last edited by Capitaine Conan; 09-05-2008 at 03:27 AM.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Octopus View Post
    There is a guy from North Carolina that comes to the Virginia shows that sells handloads for lots of obscure cartridges, the 11mm under discussion is one of them.
    Sorry I don't have his name handy as I am not getting around to well. Smashed my ankle last week and I am currently limited to use of a walker.
    Watch the trader in the future or email mail me direct as I have heard of one comming up for sale.

    Wish he would come to some Texas funshows.

  27. #27

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    After thinking about it, that revolver photo that Captain John Jarrett posted looks like a reduced version of the Gasser shape. It's probably a 6mm Velodog pocket pistol like Joel said.

  28. #28
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    All,

    Here are the pics of my "new" revolver. Let me know if everything looks as it should and any other observation you might have. Now to get the loading materials and data.

    Regards, John

  29. #29

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    It looks awesome, Captain!

    Congrats. A lovely 1873 with character.
    Everything on it looks right to me.
    Last edited by Capitaine Conan; 09-15-2008 at 06:02 PM.

  30. #30
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    Capitaine,

    Thanks very much. I meant to post this picture, any idea what this mark means?

    Regards, John.

  31. #31

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    I've got no idea, unfortunately. Both of mine have these random numbers right there. The one from 1882 has a P in the shield.

    I think the meaning of these markings has been lost.

  32. #32
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    Those markings are the controllers stamps called Contrôleur Poinçons for the 1st Class Controllers called Contrôleurs de 1ème Classe. These belonged to these men ...
    1878 ... M ... Murgue
    1882 ... P ... Parent, F.J
    Patrick
    Vive La République Française, le Lebel et le poilu
    Verdun 1916: "Ils ne Passeront pas" "On les aura!"
    Fusil d'Infanterie Modèle 1886 Modifié 1893 dit "Lebel"

    Vive le Pinard !
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axfM1sFqIK0

  33. #33

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    Many many thanks 1886Lebel.

    Maybe you could help me regarding the marking on an 1822t Bis pistol which was made in 1855, but rifled in 1862.
    It's a Chatellerault and the mark is a J in a shield with a star on top.

  34. #34
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    I do not have any of the names for Contrôleurs de 1ème, 2ème et 3ème Classe for Manufacture Impériale d'Armes de Châtellerault or Tulle ... only have a small list for Saint Etienne.
    Patrick
    Vive La République Française, le Lebel et le poilu
    Verdun 1916: "Ils ne Passeront pas" "On les aura!"
    Fusil d'Infanterie Modèle 1886 Modifié 1893 dit "Lebel"

    Vive le Pinard !
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axfM1sFqIK0

  35. #35
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    All,

    I just noticed that the left side grip on my 73 has a crack which runs the entire length. Does anyone happen to know where I might find a replacement set?

    Patrick,

    Thanks very much for the info, amazing what you know about these arms.

    Regards, John.

  36. #36
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    Default 1873

    i JUST RAN INTO ONE.owner died and son went looking for it He found it and will let it go for $125.I just have to squeese my wallet.When I saw it it was in good condition for its age.I will know better when I see it again.might take 44 special cases.dia.:D

  37. #37
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    WILDCATT,

    If you decide you don't want it I MOST DEFINITELY DO. Let me know what you decide.

    Thanks, John.

  38. #38
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    Default '73 French Ordnance

    Greetings, Gentlemen,

    A few years ago, some friends and myself posted much information on this board about the '73 French. Too bad it was all lost. I don't think there are any archives. Anyway, here is a photo of mine.
    Regards, Ralph
    Boy, I love these old guns.....

  39. #39
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    Ralph,

    Very Nice and a very nice grouping also. Do you load your own or have it done for you?

    John.

  40. #40
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    Captain John's revolver does indeed look a very nice specimen. I don't think there are any dire penalties in either money or conscience in improving the finish of a revolver that was made and issued in the white. But there is absolutely no reason to do so in this case, since they never were mirror-polished, and it is a fine revolver with entirely acceptable signs of long use.

    .44 Special cases are too small for the 11mm., and a better choice would be .44-40 or .45 Long Colt. They will be a close fit at the head, and the marginally smaller diameter often found in the .44-40 might make them better than the Colt. You don't have to be much of a machinist to make up a die good enough for occasional use. Similarly, there is a Lyman .45 hollow-base muzzle-loader mould, probably no longer current but sometimes on eBay, which can make an acceptable heel bullet if you substitute a plugged .44 case for the hollow-base plug.

    The small revolver Captain John pictured might indeed be for the Velo Dog cartridge, but it looks larger, and better quality than most. It looks to me like some of the pocket revolvers made for the 8mm. French military round which replaced the 1873. I don't think it is exactly the best sort of pocket revolver, except maybe for the man who benefited from French military stores, but they are usually good quality.

    There used to be a supplier of new replacement 1873 grips, through the website of www.lehussard.com . I don't see them now, but perhaps they could get them, or advise you.

    Bastié's book is good, but a better one, extending to other French and Belgian revolvers, is Vuillemin's "Les revolvers militaires français". I think it is out of print, but copies may turn up on www.bookfinder.com, or in the stock of specialist dealers.

    The 1873 Dutch revolvers were sometimes called Chamelot-Delivigne, but neither they nor their later KNIL colonial army revolver should really be so called. The lock design is quite different. But Harrington and Richardson used Delvigne's designer of hammer lifter, derived I think from the pinfire Lefaucheux but with an added tongue to block the hammer fall unless the trigger was pulled, until their demise in, I think, the 1970s.

    If there is play in the cylinder lockup, it is worth noting whether it turns too far, or turns back too far, compared with its direction of rotation. If it is the former, and varies from cylinder to cylinder, you can hardly do a thing about it. If the former and consistent, you could widen the cylinder stop a little, by silver soldering a tiny piece of high speed steel, e.g from a hacksaw blade, in place. It will remain hard at soldering heat. For the cylinder that turns back, you can cut and file a new, slightly taller cylinder rotating pawl. I've done this one, and it works.
    Last edited by Calgacus; 10-13-2008 at 07:00 AM.

  41. #41
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    Default 1873

    I got my french 1873 yesterday for $125.good condition for its age tight good action little heavy.44/40 is good to go,thin rim thickness.cut to length.I have a harbor tool co. cut off saw. $29. it is electric and 2" saw blade,I have used it to cut down 348 to swiss 41.It really is a fantastic tool.I then use neck trimmer to square up the mouth.the only bad is the rifling is rough but strong.
    I think the design is fantastic.the only question is what is the main spring lever for.It took me 5 min to figure out the rammer and cylinder pin.I will have it shooting in a few days.It looks like .451 bullets would work but I have to check again.I only work on things a few hours a day.at 84 I guess I am lucky to do that much.:D

  42. #42
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    The mainspring lever is to relax the spring preload tension, and let it be removed easily, with no risk of breakage. It isn't really necessary, doesn't always appear on civilian versions, and seems to have appeared after the design was submitted to the military selection process, which took the form of a competition.

    One of the other competitors was the Galand. which due to the initial uirements was a solid-frame design, quite different from most civilian Galands. (The latter was a self-extracting revolver, in which a lever under the barrel causes it and the cylinder to slide forward along the axis pin, and the extractor to slide a bit less far.) The military prototype Galand had a small lever in the front of the grip, which permitted the grip frame and panels to be removed. It could then be dismantled in much the same manner as the M1873. So it could really be dismantled without tools, while Delvigne got by with a screwdriver blade attached to the front of the axis pin.

    I think the main reason for the rejection of the Galand was its cost. But it may be that someone on the committee was so hung up on the mechanical beauty of the lever, that Delvigne and the others decided to give him a lever.

    Here is an old Gunboards thread which has been preserved, with a lot of useful information on the 1873.

    http://forums.gunboards.com/showthre...t=John+Wallace

  43. #43
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    Default 1873 rev.

    I am working on my french revolver good shape,brown finish..fair bore.
    now I have made couple cartridges,dont work.so back to the drawing board.the chamber will take 44spec and 44/40.the barrel is .450.however the chamber lead is .430.so I must load .430 bullets to shoot in a .450 bore.I will have to call Lee and see if they have a hollow base .430 bullet.
    I cant afford any other make.leave it to the french to make things hard.having said that,I like the Bertier,I just dont like 236 gr loads.
    Its interesting to study the various countrys guns.I like the Carcano.not the 7.35 carbine.some like the swiss 1869/71 is interesting design.especialy the bolt.I notice the next generation straight bolt is like the 1869 bolt.now back to my frenchman.it would be interesting to have a modern copy.except how did the soldier load that while in combat.the ejecter rod is darn hard to push forward.[to release the pin]:D

  44. #44
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    Just received one from on-line auction, J 25913. Grip is a little loose on the left side, the right one tight. Revolver looks just about new, and has a barrel marked S1914, so I'm guessing this is an 1883-1885 revolver that has been through a full factory rebuild.
    The barrel is mirror-bright, the cylinder locks like a vault, and most interestingly to me, both the hammer and trigger have full "straw." As I noted earlier, it looks to be essentially unfired since whatever was done to it, and presents as new, notwithstanding some 125 years or so of time passed. A wonderful pistol, and a great contrast to my 1884 Swedish Navy one made by Henry and blued.
    I would like to find some French ammo for it--I've a friend who resides part-time in Canne and part-time in San Antonio, Texas, and perhaps could bring some back. Any pointers as to where to send him, and what to look for?

  45. #45
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    Wildcatt, it is a bit difficult to believe that the cylinder mouths really measure .430, which is much smaller than most people find, and too much to be successfully made up by expansion of a hollow based bullet. The hollow in the base of the original military bullet was only 3mm. deep, and even if it did expand, couldn’t hold the nose of the bullet concentric with the bore. Maybe parts have been substituted (from an Italian M1874?), or maybe some member of the intellectual classes has cleverly sleeved the chamber to use modern, non-heel .429 bullets. It is almost certain that this wouldn’t work, and the recommendation of .44 cases you sometimes hear, isn’t a good one either. In fact I think it would be dangerous to fire a .451 bullet through a .430 throat.

    You really do need a heel bullet for the M1873, and there is no cheap source for this. I don’t believe the Lynx mould once available in France is still on the market. At least it isn’t listed by www.lehussard.com. I had the very uncertain idea that it was made for them by Lee, so it might be that Lee have the tooling and could supply one on special order, if they no longer have commitments to Lynx.

    I have just turned a jeweller's loupe on the photo in Bastié and Casanova's book, of an original cross-sectioned M1873. There is no visible step in the chamber, or difference between cylinder mouth and barrel land diameter. The chamber tapers slightly, but not as much as it would have to, to a .430 diameter. All this is exactly as found in my own two 1873s.

    akb, Henry didn’t actually make any revolvers, but supplied 700 to Sweden. The Swedish contract revolvers were made by the Manufacture d’Armes de St. Etienne, and Henry’s status seems to be as a sort of Col. Oliver North, letting the French government out of selling arms to even a pretty uncontroversial foreign country. Another name used for 300 revolvers in the Swedish purchase of 1000 was Sutterlin-Lippmann, whom I believe Henry may bave replaced. A longer-standing name for other commercial sales, possibly domestic ones, was Félix Escoffier.

    Henry could be a French or English name, and intriguingly, Vuillemin in his book describes him as “Mr. Henry”, rather than “M.” for “Monsieur”. I don’t know of any connection to connect him with the Scottish or American Henrys, but he did appoint Col. Reallon, former director of the Manufacture de Chatellerault, as his administrative director, and there couldn’t have been much division of labour in 700 revolvers which they didn’t make. This does seem consistent with absence abroad.

    The Suttelin-Lippmann and Henry Swedish navy revolvers Vuillemin illustrates are both in the white, so it may be that yours was blued later, in civilian ownership. This seems to have been quite common with the French revolvers.

    The 1914 barrel date is a very significant one, which adds greatly to the history of your revolver, but entirely believable. The unexpectedly great losses of men and equipment led to an urgent demand for revolvers, which brought many 1873s out of store. Most went to second-line troops or the colonies, but it was still an excellent weapon, possibly superior to the 1892 or what Vuillemin calls "les horribles Ruby". Perhaps it went to a friendly colony, of which France had many, and spent several decades in a desk drawer. This is one mixed-number gun which should lose nothing whatever in value.
    Last edited by Calgacus; 12-06-2008 at 01:36 AM.

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