Twocylinder Revolvers

LET'S HAVE IT CLEAR that the term „two-cylinder revolver" as used here refers to a revolver having two cylinders which are both installed on the same center pin whenever the revolver is fired. The term does not apply to a revolver with a center pin that will hold either of two cylinders, but which will not hold both cylinders at the same time.

In the early days of metallic cartridges several gun makers produced successful revolvers that would detonate either the new cartridge primers or the old percussion caps, and for such revolvers supplied an extra cylinder. Those guns were reasonable and successful. The revolvers designed to use two, or even more, cylinders at the same time, were unbelievable and unsuccessful.

Though four of the illustrations for this chapter are taken from photographs of patent models now on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, it is not to 'be assumed, and it is not true that these oddities were so completely unsuccessful that none but the patent model was made of any. Recently there still existed at least one each of Sneider, Philip, and Linberg & Phillips revolvers that were not patent models. Ray Riling showed me a Philip and a picture of a Linberg & Phillips.

I found record of patents granted for only five of these freaks. I intend to give no detailed description of any. I will take them in turn according to their patent dates, and mention briefly only how each is supposed to be fired.

Smithsonian Firearms
63. Sneider revolver/ Photograph courtesy Montclair Public Library.
Sneider Cylinder Revolver
64. Gardner revolver/ Smithsonian Institution collection.
Revolver Illustration Images
65. Linberg & Phillips/ Smithsonian Institution collection.

On March 18, 1862, United States patent #34,703 was granted C. E. Sneider for a revolver, illustration 63, with two 7-shot cylinders chambering small caliber rim-fire cartridges. The two cylinders were alike and were arranged breech to breech on a center pin having both ends alike. The cartridges in the forward cylinder pointed toward the revolver muzzle; those in the other cylinder pointed toward the shooter. A long hammer struck the rims of the cartridges in the forward cylinder. When those cartridges were all discharged, the cylinder pin was turned around so the unfired cartridges in the other cylinder would come under the hammer. The gun was hinged at the bottom to permit dropping the barrel so the cylinders could be reversed.

On May 16, 1865, United States patent #47,712 was granted to G. H. Gardner for a revolver, illustration 64, with two percussion cap cylinders, the forward one 5-shot, and the rear 6-shot. The front cylinder had a sixth chamber, but that was bored clear through and served only as a rearward extension of the barrel to guide bullets fired from the rear cylinder. The two cylinders could be hooked together, so they would rotate together and so the caps in the front cylinder would be exploded by a slide driven forward over the rear cylinder when hit by the hammer. When the bored through chamber came in line with this slide the front cylinder could be uncoupled and would cease to revolve though the rear cylinder would continue to revolve when the hammer was cocked. A falling hammer would now strike a cap in the rear cylinder and the bullet would pass through the front cylinder and on through the barrel.

On December 6, 1870, United States patent # 109,914 was granted Charles Linberg and William Phillips for a revolver, illustration 65, with two identical 6-shot cylinders, that could be shifted on the center pin, for alternate use. A cylinder placed in the front revolved as the hammer was cocked; when placed in the rear it could not turn. A small longitudinal boring between two chambers contained a firing pin. With a cylinder locked in the rear position, its firing pin received the hammer blow and transmitted it to a cap, or primer, in the cylinder in front. (The chambers were provided with screwed-in nipples that could be removed to permit use of metal cartridges. A chamber in the front cylinder when in line with the barrel was of course always in line with the firing pin, or needle, rather than with a chamber in the rear cylinder.) In the fully loaded Linberg & Phillips gun the bullets in the rear cylinder pointed toward the shooter, as did those in the previously described Sneider, figure 63. When the front cylinder was empty the two cylinders and the center pin were reversed.

On August 26, 1873, United States patent #142,175 was granted W. H. Philip for a metallic cartridge revolver, illustration 66, having two or more cylinders designed to rotate one at a time in succession and so contrived that when one cylinder is empty the cylinder immediately in back will at once be put in motion by the next cocking of the hammer. In the model shown, there are three cylinders. Each has seven chamber borings. In the front cylinder and also in the rear cylinder six borings are recessed to hold cartridges. In the front cylinder one boring is reserved to do service as a portion of the barrel for the middle cylinder; in the rear cylinder one boring is reserved to hold a firing needle. The middle cylinder has five borings recessed for cartridge heads. In this cylinder one boring serves only as a portion of the barrel for the rear cylinder; and one boring holds a firing needle. So, the gun holds seventeen cartridges.

When the front cylinder has been revolved by a pawl following grooves in the cylinder until its reserved open chamber is in line with the barrel, the pawl then moves into a groove in the middle cylinder and turns it until its reserved open chamber,--etc., etc. The cartridges in the rearmost cylinder are struck by direct blows of the hammer; those in the middle cylinder are struck indirectly by blows of the hammer on the firing pin contained in the rear cylinder; those in the front cylinder by blows of the firing pin contained in the middle cylinder when that pin is driven forward by the pin in the rear cylinder, when that pin is hit by the hammer. All clear? I am glad there are no more cylinders.

To reload the cylinders and get them not only in proper sequence but with their chambers readjusted-let's not go into that.

On March 17, 1874, United States patent # 148,742 was granted to W. Orr for a metallic cartridge revolver, illustration 67, having two 6-chambered cylinders and a hammer with two striking noses. One nose, at the forward end of the long hammer, reaches over the rear cylinder to strike the cartridges in the front cylinder. The other nose, located at the rear of the hammer and missing from the patent model here illustrated, is a short pointed screw running through the hammer. This has a knurled screw head which permits the striking end being adjusted so it will either strike or fail to reach a cartridge in the rear cylinder.

One of the six chambers in the front cylinder is reserved for use as a portion of the barrel for the rear cylinder. Therefore, the gun is an 11-shot revolver.

With the adjustable striking nose in the rear of the hammer screwed back so it will not reach the cartridges in the rear cylinder, the five shots from the front cylinder are fired. During the firing of these five shots the front cylinder revolves with the rear cylinder. When the reserved open chamber in the front cylinder comes in line with the barrel the front cylinder ceases to revolve. Now the adjustable firing pin is screwed in and the six shots may be fired from the rear cylinder.

Many possible questions about these remarkable two-cylinder guns are here left unanswered. If any reader needs to know how cylinders were removed, or how a cylinder could be either turned or prevented from turning, he may get the inventor's answer by studying a copy of the appropriate patent paper, a soft copy of which may be had-250 each at this time-from the Commissioner of Patents, Patent Office, Washington, D. C.

66. Philip revolver/ Smithsonian Institution collection.
67. Orr revolver/ Smithsonian Institution collection.

Chapter 5

Knife Throwing Techniques of the Ninja

Knife Throwing Techniques of the Ninja

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