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Thread: Question about Old Break-Open Revolver

  1. #1

    Question about Old Break-Open Revolver

    My mom-in-law handed me a box of old knives and three old handguns that had belonged to her father. There's a few gems in the knife department. The handguns are less spectacular, but still cool in there own way. The first is a Savage 1907 .32 auto. Next is a S&W .32 revolver SN dated to 1919. Finally, there's an old break-open H&R .32 revolver that I THINK is clearly broken. The cylinder turns clockwise freely (as viewed from the back of the gun.) The chambers do line up with the barrel when dry fired. So-- Since this gun is very old, and since I've certainly not seen everything, maybe an old H&R revolver's cylinder is supposed to turn freely in one direction. I'm thinking it's broke. Anyone help?

    (Not that I'd ever want to shoot any of these guns.)
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  2. #2
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    Do Not Dry Fire any of the old guns.

    Most have fixed firing pins that will break.

    As for the breaktop. I have a hopkins and allen, and its cylinder doesn't rotate, but my dads Iver Johnson does.

    The Break top 32's are commonly referred to as "saturday night specials". Even in their hey day they were cheap pistols for people on a budget. I believe they sold for about $5.00 new.

    The hopkins and Allen I have has a 4 inch barrel and target grips. Why it does I dont know, cuz it shoots a good 12 inches high at 50ft.

    The 32 breaktops are notorious for shaving, or spitting lead, as their timing is usually off a bit. So, I wouldn't recommend shooting it.

    As for the Savage pistol you have.... These are nice little semi auto's. They have one dangerous flaw however. The firing pin tends to rest on the primer of any loaded round, and if carried with one in the chamber, can accidentally discharge. They can also slamfire if they are too dirty, as the firing pin will get stuck in the outward position. This turns them into uncontrolled full auto pistols. So.... if you shoot it, dont chamber a round untill you are at the range with the barrel pointed down range.

    hope this helps
    I got a new 1911 for my wife... I think it was a pretty good trade.

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    Inspect the top of the bolt, it sounds like it's worn down, common on the break tops. Parts can be found for these if you want to repair it. I have a lemon squeezer I shoot regularly, hasn't broke any parts yet. The .38S&W round is not all that powerful but I can't find anyone who let me test it on them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1858remington
    The Break top 32's are commonly referred to as "saturday night specials". Even in their hey day they were cheap pistols for people on a budget. I believe they sold for about $5.00 new.
    No they weren't. The term "Saturdaynight Special" is of fairly recent origin. It was coined by Roy Innis. The historic name for the top breaks was bicycle gun.

    December 27, 1996

    Racist Gun Bans


    Any intent to ban the sale of "Saturday night
    specials" ("The safest possible guns," Nov. 30)
    needs to be examined within a proper historical
    perspective. "Niggertown Saturday night specials"
    was a term used by racists in the South to describe
    pot metal guns used by blacks for protection.


    Today, the "Niggertown" has been dropped, but
    for those of us who know the meaning of the term,
    it's no less hurtful and offensive. In the past,
    because of the economics of the South and its racist
    gun-control law, blacks were confined to the
    sub-rosa market of the inexpensive, dangerous
    so-called "Saturday night specials" to obtain
    means of protection. Today, in many crime-ridden
    minority communities, that need still exists.


    History teaches that racism creeps into law under
    good intentions. Attempts to ban handguns that
    are inexpenssive (but safe) are directly aimed at
    minority gun ownership. It's more useful to
    educate all citizens about firearm safety.


    Roy Innis,
    Congress of Racial Equality
    New York, N.Y.



  5. #5
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    From wiki:

    The earliest known use of the term "Saturday night special" in print is in the Aug 17, 1968 issue of the New York Times. In a front-page article titled Handgun Imports Held Up by U.S, author Fred Graham wrote, "... cheap, small-caliber 'Saturday night specials' that are a favorite of holdup men..."

    M.A. (Merle Avery) Gill's Underworld Slang, a dictionary published in 1929, includes an entry called "Saturday night pistol" with this simple definition: ".25 automatic."

    Now this is a bicycle gun:


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    I believe that cheap knock-offs of S&W break-tops were generally known not as "Saturday Night Specials," but instead as "Suicide Specials"--apparently from a tendency for those so inclined to buy one mail order to do the deed. Some were marked "Secret Service Special," and that term has been generalized, too.

    I suspect the term "bicycle gun" may come from the Iver Johnson guns--they were marked on the barrel rib "Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works"--maybe the bicycle sellers were doing a little co-marketing: "You want a gun with that bike?"

    Unfortunately, Iver Johnson guns have a karma problem: a .32 was used to assassinate McKinley, a .22 for RFK.

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    Smith and Wesson introduced the Safety Hammerless .38 S&W in 1887. This gun was often called “The Lemon Squeezer” because it had a grip safety on the back strap. One had to squeeze the grip in order to fire the gun. In 1888 they produced a few of the .32 S&W Safety Hammerless pistols with 2” barrels. It was nicknamed the “Bicycle Gun” and may be S&W’s first production snubnose, but the Bicycle Gun is very rare. The Safety Hammerless pistols were top-break designs.
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    I heard the term Saturday Night Special way earlier than 1968, and it had nothing to do with race. The late 1920s and the 1930s were hard times. A man had to work 10 the 12 hours a day to survive and on Saturday night, because they had Sunday off to recuperate, they would go visit the Honky Tonks. Strong drinks and cards were the order of the day. Part of your Saturday night dress was either a long bladed folding knife or a inexpensive gun { really the only type they could afford }, one that could be thrown away. a "Saturday night special". It was almost a matter of manhood to be armed. Fights were common and it was not unusual for blades to flash or guns to be drawn. This was the folk lore taught to me by my stepfather and grandfather, both who survived the great depression and came up the hard way. Their stories of the times would make Steinbeck feel right at home.

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    the .32 S&W Safety Hammerless pistols with 2” barrels. It was nicknamed the “Bicycle Gun”
    Noid, I am aware of this unauthored internet opinion. Whoever wrote it is no Roy Jinks.

    Further research will reveal that other makes of small revolvers, and long-barreled revolvers with removable stocks, were also called "bicycle guns" (and the synonym "velo dogs"). The term has even been used to describe small-bore shotguns ("rook guns").

    As we have no first citation to point to, the origin and initial meaning of the term "bicycle gun" remains speculative (cf. "belly gun"). But I like my speculation!

    I like this guy's discussion of "velo dog," too. It would suggest--in contrast to my idea--that "bicycle gun" was simply the Americanization of a French term.

  10. #10
    I watched many videos of the people using this revolver and its look. When they using these revolvers they giving their best essay services about the revolver or its prices in different markets.

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