Revolvernomics

Where is it written that most single action revolvers have to require chambers to be loaded/unloaded individually whereas a double action usually has a tip-out cylinder?  For that matter, where is it written that, if one wants to run a revolver in single action, one can’t buy a double action and run it exclusively as a single action, benefiting from the superior reloading system that is the tip-out cylinder?


If Major Schofield had come up with the moon clip back in the 1800s, and called for a double action, he’d have created what might be regarded as a modern revolver even by today’s standards.


It’s my understanding that the moon clip was created as a stop gap measure after W.W. I, allowing .45 ACP ammunition to be used in revolvers, with a minor alteration to the cylinder, at a time when 1911 pistols were in short supply.  Why don’t we see more moon clips, which allow faster reloading, used with rimmed cartridges?  Instead of carrying speed loaders, you carry the loaded moon clips and drop the whole business into the cylinder.


Cylinders with an odd number of chambers make it easier to place the lock notches in between chambers instead of at the thin spot right atop a chamber.  If I were getting a revolver chambered for a high pressure round I think I’d want a seven shooter or a nine shooter.


An 1858 Remington New Model Army, with its change-out percussion (“cap and ball”) cylinder, can be reloaded faster than the later Colt Peacemaker, so long as you have another loaded cylinder.  The consumable envelope cartridge of the 1860s can (if you’re willing to risk igniting the powder from the hot residue in the just-fired cylinders while you’re ramming the balls in) allow a percussion revolver to be reloaded almost as fast as the Peacemaker.  One problem was their fragility.


The French had combat caliber (10 and 11 mm) metal (pinfire) cartridges and bored-through cylinder revolvers years before the outbreak of our War Between the States.  I did not know that.


I can’t fully explain why, but I want a percussion revolver based on the 1858 Remington but with a lengthened and beefed up frame and cylinder so it can safely handle a 250 grain 45 caliber cast lead bullet and 60 grains of FFF black powder.  It’s what the Colt Walker should have been.  By comparison, the later .45 Colt metal cartridge used a maximum of about 40 grains black powder.  That and I want a matching carbine so they can use the same cylinders.  No fooling around with reloading metal cartridges – just cast the bullets.  Among the reasons I want these is that the way I read the WA State hunting regs for muzzleloader season (last year’s anyway) they’d be legal on deer.  Plus I think it would be cool.

5 thoughts on “Revolvernomics

  1. RE: moon clips. Great idea, sort of. I shoot a 625 in IPSC and ICORE that uses moon clips, and reloads are much many fast. That said, get your hands on a 686 with a cylinder cut for moon clips and see how fast you can get 6 rounds of 357 magnum lined up and in the chambers. And, after you’ve mastered that (or it’s mastered you), try it again, but with 8 rounds of 357 in a Model 627. Then try it with moonclipped 38 Short Colt and see how much faster it is.

    Moon clips work well for short cartridges, long ones not so much. Which is why a lot of ICORE Unlimited guns are cut for moonclipped 9MM and 38 Super and most of the 38 Special shooters use Safariland speed loaders.

  2. There’s lots of things like that that just “are”. In action, a rifle with a fixed magazine and stripper clips can be loaded more quickly than a rifle with detachable magazines (SKS vs AR) simply because you are going to run out of magazines before you run out of strippers, especially if the ammunition is coming that way from the factory. Detachable magazines have still won the day, and stripper clips are considered archaic and quaint. Go figure.

    (The funniest part is reloading detachable magazines from stripper clips, which is the current military practice.)

  3. The Old Army is a fine and very sturdy piece by all accounts, but its chambers aren’t long enough to hold that “magnum” charge of BP, and its barrel length is under the WA State requirement for a BP handgun on deer. That and the ’58 Remington’s switch-out cylinder is very handy.

    I didn’t know there was an issue with longer carts in moon clips. I had just assumed that if it (the idea of dropping all rounds in at once) works for the speed loaders, it would only work faster with the clips. I suppose bullet shape would play a role too.

    I guess we’re usually counting on the fight being over before we run out of loaded magazines. If we’re firing from the back of the ammo supply truck and we have as many or more zombies than rounds, we’d better hope we’re sitting in a truck load of loaded magazines. Or loaded clips. If they’re all loose rounds we have a problem regardless of the magazine type or loading mode. In either case, barrel integrety may become a problem before we run out of ammo. Enter the belt-fed, switch barrel machinegun. Only we’d better have a lot of loaded belts.

    If you’re not firing from the ammo supply truck, or the ammo supply dump, it becomes a matter of how much weight you can carry, which is a different paradigm. If I’m not mistaken, 30 rounds of .223 in an AR mag is about 0.2 lb lighter than 30 rounds of 7.62 x 39 in SKS clips, so for an equal pack weight, you can have the AR with loaded 30 round mags and more total rounds.

    I figure with the number of clips I have loaded, I can deliver sustained fire from an SKS much longer than I can with my AR-15 (assuming barrels of equal round count life). But I’d have a hell of a time lugging around the 750 round cans. If I have two or three people to loag mags, I bet it would tip the other way, except for the fact that I don’t have the number of the more expensive .223 that I have in the 7.62 x 39 I got years back for $75/M. Then there’s the fact that I have several SKSs and only one AR. At some point any gun becomes a club. Or a pike.

  4. If I’m not mistaken, the .45 Auto-Rim was created so people with revolvers made or modified for .45acp in clips could use the rimmed cartridges instead of the clips. So those could be used either way.

    Taurus used to make a .45acp revolver intended to be used with their moon clips. I fired one; good revolver, but in making the clips easier to load/unload they also made them not as secure in holding the cartridges.

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