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Handguns in British Service

The Revolvers that lacked a hammer spur, would they by chance have been the ones issued to tank crews ? my father was an armourer with Southern Command, he said it was to prevent the hammer catching on the crews overalls
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That is a widely repeated myth.

The decision to remove the hammer spur was taken by the War Office Small Arms Committee in the late 30s as a means of enforcing the British Army doctrine of using pistols in a double action only mode.

10 or 12 years ago one of the Trustees of the Warminster Collection showed me a copy of the minutes of the meeting where the decision to remove the spur (resulting in the Pistol, Revolver, No2 Mk1*)
 
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4(T)

LE
I read that revolvers issued to tank crews in WWII had no spur on the hammer so that they wouldn't catch on the edge of the vehicle hatch when trying to exit in a hurry. Later, the spurs were removed from the hammers on all the revolvers for reasons that I am not aware of.


Apparently it was nothing to do with tank crews, but merely a wartime production simplification. Trials had found that double action only was a satisfactory mode of operation.

The Tank crew myth may well have come from the trials report that a DA revolver was fine for shooting through loopholes or from the interior of an AFV.

Edit:

Enfield no2 Mk1star.jpg
 

Bad Smell

Clanker
I would be more interested to know who invented the grip safety originally - and if anyone knows it is the assembled Arrse Small Arms Institute.... :)

The earliest reference that I can find to grip safeties at the moment is when John M. Browning in June 1900, wrote to the editor of American sporting magazine that he had experimented with various types of safeties, both grip and thumb actuated.

I will have to check elsewhere and find something on Browning. There is a gnawing suspicion at the back of my mind that says there was a revolver with a grip safety but I expect it would be later on and probably produced as an experimental model competing for a military contract.

Meanwhile as I prefer written sources, I expect one of the Arrse keyboard warriors will sweep in with their googlefu and prove me wrong.
 
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Apparently it was nothing to do with tank crews, but merely a wartime production simplification. Trials had found that double action only was a satisfactory mode of operation.

The Tank crew myth may well have come from the trials report that a DA revolver was fine for shooting through loopholes or from the interior of an AFV.

Edit:

View attachment 522579
Do you know if the spurs were actually removed from existing pistols which already had them as some of the popular books state?

Also, was the lock work of the DA-only pistols actually simpler than the DA/SA versions? That is, were they actually different as opposed to "theoretically could have been made simpler"?
 
Although this would seem logical I point to my post earlier post which had five round in the cylinder and the hammer on a loaded round. If the hammer was moved the cylinder would rotate and fall on an empty chamber.
I'll point to my own earlier post where I said that most if not all revolvers by then had some sort of automatic safety which would prevent the hammer from reaching the primer unless the trigger was pulled.

Very early revolvers relied just on a half-cock, in which case resting the hammer on an empty chamber was a not uncommon safety precaution in case the pistol was dropped and the hammer was bounced off the half-cock. Some fairly early ones had features such as a hammer notch half way between chambers, where you rotated the cylinder to the half-index position lowered the hammer down into the notch to render it safe. Cocking the hammer would complete rotating the cylinder to line up a chamber with the hammer, ready to fire.

It didn't take long however for various trigger operated safeties to be developed such that the hammer can't reach the primer unless the trigger is pulled. A mechanism has to be either pulled out of the way or moved into the way for that to happen, and this is done by the trigger independently of the hammer. I don't know how the Webley or Enfield mechanism worked, but I would be astonished if they didn't have one of these types of safety systems in them.

Modern automatic pistols like the Glock accomplish what is effectively the same thing in another way, but this was simply how revolvers used to work. The Webley-Fosbery revolver had a manually applied safety, but this is likely just a work around for there being no practical way of fitting a conventional revolver safety mechanism into the pistol due to the recoil operated slide mechanism.
 

Bad Smell

Clanker
Do you know if the spurs were actually removed from existing pistols which already had them as some of the popular books state?

Also, was the lock work of the DA-only pistols actually simpler than the DA/SA versions? That is, were they actually different as opposed to "theoretically could have been made simpler"?

From what I can see about the Enfield Revolvers the No. 2 Mark 1 was single or double action whilst the No.2 Mark 1* and Mark 1** were double action only.

The No. 2 Mark 1 was produced from 1927 to 1938 and on 22 June 1938, the first modification of this revolver was introduced (the Mk 1*). The modification consisted of the removal of the spur and of the single-action cocking notch on the hammer. The No.2 Mk 1* can therefore be only used double action. Since this requires lifting of the hammer, firing and rotation of the cylinder by pulling of the trigger, the trigger pull is very hard. As a result this revolver is of very limited accurate range. In 1942 another model was introduced, the pistol No. 2 Mk 1**. This model has no hammer stop.
 
In 2CG, '76-'78 posting 8 Inf Bd, NI. As a search team commander I was only ever issued revolvers, a .45 Webley or a .38 Smith & Wesson. No idea where they came from as I never saw them in the armoury before or after.
 

idlerx

Swinger
The earliest reference that I can find to grip safeties at the moment is when John M. Browning in June 1900, wrote to the editor of American sporting magazine that he had experimented with various types of safeties, both grip and thumb actuated.

I will have to check elsewhere and find something on Browning. There is a gnawing suspicion at the back of my mind that says there was a revolver with a grip safety but I expect it would be later on and probably produced as an experimental model competing for a military contract.

Meanwhile as I prefer written sources, I expect one of the Arrse keyboard warriors will sweep in with their googlefu and prove me wrong.
Indeed, Smith & Wesson had a Safety Hammerless revolver (with grip safety) in production for many years from the 1880s onwards.
 
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I have a blurry memory of one of the SSMs in Germany carrying a revolver on exercise in the midish '90s. I might be making it up as I was pissed for 2 years. He was a bit fat but very good at map reading IIRC.
 

4(T)

LE
Do you know if the spurs were actually removed from existing pistols which already had them as some of the popular books state?

Also, was the lock work of the DA-only pistols actually simpler than the DA/SA versions? That is, were they actually different as opposed to "theoretically could have been made simpler"?


As far as I recall, there was no actual instruction to convert existing Mk1 revolvers. In the way they did things, the Mk1* and Mk1** were probably just (a) approved patterns for manufacturers, and (b) an authorised armourer conversion (with the Mk number restamped accordingly) if a Mk1 required repair.

As the revolver is such a solid design, its unlikely many ever needed a lockwork repair other than the odd spring. Given that an armourer would theoretically have to source the new pattern hammer sans cocking notch, I expect conversion was more trouble than it was worth.

I'm not sure what happened during factory FTRs, which would be the obvious opportunity for mass conversion.

Given the apparent preponderance of Mk1 revolvers post-war, I expect that the DA-only concept and its requirement for DA-only revolvers was abandoned during the war.
 

JJWRacing

Old-Salt
I understand that Herrick has resulted in a bit of a sea-change in BRITFOR regarding who gets issued a pistol these days.

My last Service pistol was the Browning 9mm.....superseded by the Glock 17 in service thse days I hear .

eg
( IMAGES TAKEN FOR THE WEST MIDLANDS PRESS Pictures By: PO (PHOT) Hamish B Crown Copyright © 2011)
We had pistols for years issued to Toms way before Herrick, loads of bods had them in Bosnia and Iraq, in fact the Officers in our Bde weren't issued them, Pistols were issued to bods who actually needed them.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
yes, I'm aware....seem to see more of them in general issue since AFG.

Goats Ballykelly 1985

Mine host ' want to take a weapon ? '

' Erm...no thanks, only going to the pub'
 

old_fat_and_hairy

LE
Book Reviewer
Reviews Editor
From what I can see about the Enfield Revolvers the No. 2 Mark 1 was single or double action whilst the No.2 Mark 1* and Mark 1** were double action only.

The No. 2 Mark 1 was produced from 1927 to 1938 and on 22 June 1938, the first modification of this revolver was introduced (the Mk 1*). The modification consisted of the removal of the spur and of the single-action cocking notch on the hammer. The No.2 Mk 1* can therefore be only used double action. Since this requires lifting of the hammer, firing and rotation of the cylinder by pulling of the trigger, the trigger pull is very hard. As a result this revolver is of very limited accurate range. In 1942 another model was introduced, the pistol No. 2 Mk 1**. This model has no hammer stop.
I seem to recall that the ones I mentioned may have been these . Certainly the trigger pull was about 3 stone, or so it seemed. Bloody heavy and pulled the sights way off target.
 

JJWRacing

Old-Salt
I wonder how much training accompanied that.

If you can't shoot a pistol fast and straight "when you need it", you'd be no worse off carrying a Yorkshire Ripper stylee ball pein hammer of similar weight.
Actually full Pistol weapon handing tests and APWT, including FF ie from a vehicle and anti ambush drills, FISCH the whole nine yards before deployment. I was one of the Bde's training team, running the ranges at Hythe and Lydd
 
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Maybe one thing to be said for revolvers is that you don't have a magazine whose spring has to be relieved. Personally I only fired a revolver on a visit to a police indoor range many years ago.
I fired a Russian issued revolver in Kosovo in 1999. I got friendly with a Russian officer at the APod, which he was charged with guarding. He had a near miss one afternoon, nearly shot a Brit Major. It was definitely an ND and he should have been fucked off. But the Russians claimed the weapon was faulty, the Brits asked to have it inspected and a mate of mine, a REME armourer was charged with inspecting and testing it. I accompanied him to a pipe range and had a go myself. I found it very toyish and clumsy to use, but powerful enough.
 
Actually full Pistol weapon handing tests and APWT, including FF ie from a vehicle and anti ambush drills, FISCH the whole nine yards before deployment. I was one of the Bde's training team, running the ranges at Hythe and Lydd
And what about the 'also rans'?

FFS, in my lifetime we've never bothered to teach even infantry to be skilled with rifles, pistols were beneath contempt by comparison, c.f. Wood and Howes untimely demise.
 
I've often wondered if the pistols used in films are adapted to make them easier for actresses to 'rack the slide'. I remember the Browning being quite stiff. Even after a pretty minor injury to my thumb (the day before being on the range) it was an effort to cock the weapon and not wave it about.

I've only fired a few other hand guns (a S+W .40 the most often) and I don't remember them being as tricky.

Or maybe I'm just puny.
 
And what about the 'also rans'?

FFS, in my lifetime we've never bothered to teach even infantry to be skilled with rifles, pistols were beneath contempt by comparison, c.f. Wood and Howes untimely demise.
Early days APWT we trained on all infantry personal weapons and every promotion course weapons was high on the agenda and I was a mere reservist, even worse a mere survey engineer in a sponsored unit to start with and spent a lot of time with Browning and then Glock. Maybe I was lucky, maybe it was the REs
 
I've often wondered if the pistols used in films are adapted to make them easier for actresses to 'rack the slide'. I remember the Browning being quite stiff. Even after a pretty minor injury to my thumb (the day before being on the range) it was an effort to cock the weapon and not wave it about.

I've only fired a few other hand guns (a S+W .40 the most often) and I don't remember them being as tricky.

Or maybe I'm just puny.
I was told pull back with left and push forward with right but I do recall it was a bugger when wet or during a march and shoot when knackered, sweaty and slightly trembly (Bit like many things are...)
 

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