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Revolving Rifles, Why Didn't They Catch On?

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GenericSoldier #1 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:08

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So a few days ago I saw that during the mid 1800s Colt made revolving rifles, now this got me thinking, why didn't these catch on? Granted they served for a few decades but they didn't become THE model for making rifles. Why did bolt action become the dominant model rifle, I mean the revolver is still a popular handgun for many people and it was proven at the time to be effective. This is my question and I'm asking YOU! The community, for  your opinions on the matter.

venomjoe #2 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:10

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Because bolt-action rifle were accurate

Battlecruiser #3 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:10

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probably low chamber pressure or something regarding accuracy

minerguy1 #4 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:11

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Erm no they had a tendency to have lose powder that wasn't burned explode and take off the shooters hand...

kebab6597 #5 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:11

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Wieght and accuracy maybe plus they would be a bugger to reload in a hurry :)

faram45 #6 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:12

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Aren't revolvers more prone to jamming?

When you need to supply many rifles to a large amount of troops you will want the more reliable weapon.

cynthash #7 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:12

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I think because bolt action is more easily controlled by the user, allowing for more of a 'slow and steady; do it right the first time' mindset in the individual user.

Edited by cynthash, Nov 06 2012 - 01:13.


xiantom #8 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:17

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View Postfaram45, on Nov 06 2012 - 01:12, said:

Aren't revolvers more prone to jamming?

When you need to supply many rifles to a large amount of troops you will want the more reliable weapon.
It is nearly impossible for a revolver to jam. The likely case is that it's more expensive to make than lever action rifles and later bolt action rifles. Or that the cylinders can't take larger, higher pressure rounds.

GeneralMayhem #9 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:22

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As minerguy said, the colt revolver rifle had a nasty habit of firing all chambers simultaneously, which while sub-optimal on a handgun could be lived with, but a rifle generally requires one to have a hand/arm supporting the barrel.  Said hand/arm was in the way of the extra chambers, making this an extremely dangerous gun to the user.

minerguy1 #10 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:39

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Big gun guy so lol

faram45 #11 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:42

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View Postxiantom, on Nov 06 2012 - 01:17, said:

It is nearly impossible for a revolver to jam. The likely case is that it's more expensive to make than lever action rifles and later bolt action rifles. Or that the cylinders can't take larger, higher pressure rounds.
Me not being a gun expert i don't think I should have said anything.  :Smile-hiding:

Beowolff #12 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 01:45

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some good answers...

however the original 'revolver' carbines/rifles were black powder, usually cap and ball construction, which meant powder had to be packed into the cylinders (carefully mind you) a ball (bullet) also packed in, an ignition cap placed on 'each' loaded round's cylinder nipple.  if they were six shot weapons, this meant 'six' individual efforts made to load...a time consuming effort, especially in combat.  sure, once loaded you had six or whatever 'quick' shots available to you, but once the weapon was dry, you had a lengthy amount of time to 're-load' it.  not a big deal perhaps as a hunting weapon, but not entirely desirable in a combat situation.  i would imagine this gave some pause to its continued use outside of special Dragoon units and may have hampered its overall spread into mainstream use.  besides, not long after these weapons were being made and put into use... the more efficent and practical cartridge using 'lever' actions were beginning to come into play and they carried (normally) many 'more' rounds than the six shot revolving carbine/rifle was capable of carrying.

but besides all of that, i'd guess the MAIN reason revolver carbines/rifles where never really further developed...or put into general use...was the most simple reason of all...  i.e. the BLAST of exploding powder that can hurt, wound, even dis-color human flesh that 'escapes' out of the tiny 'break' or air space that exists between the weapon's cylinder and barrel (yes, take a look there at the front of the revolver's cylinder where it rests close to the weapon's barrel and you'll see the tiny gap.)

every revolver has such a gap, and every revolver loses 'some' of its burning powder out of that gap when fired.  and as said, that powder...forcefully ejected, is very very painful to a human. now one handing the average pistol or using it via a two hand Combat Style grip...you will hardly ever notice that 'ejected' powder...but, trying to use the revolver as a rifle where as you have your 'off-hand' on the barrel and your arm/skin in close proximity to THAT gap...as you fire...and you will be in for a RUDE surprise!

the old revolving carbines were of a similar nature...even though some were later made in rim fire cartridge types.  yes, they had a handguard or forearm for you to 'steady' your aim on the barrel with...  and YES, as you fired, you were VERY likely to get burned...and hurt by that powder blowout.

that and the ammunition capacity of a six or seven shot revolver over MANY more rounds carried by repeating lever actions (and later bolt actions) spelled the sure doom, in my opinon, of revolving carbines/rifles.

a good and interesting topic, thanks to the OP for bringing it up.

S!

Beo

Zinegata #13 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 03:40

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Short practical answer: Catridges do the same thing, and are faster to reload. You have to reload each chamber of a revolver individually. A catridge can hold many more bullets and you get 10, 20, 30, or even 100 bullets readied at a time when you reload using one.

This is why military pistols also use catridges. Revolvers only remain in use with law enforcement, where they don't expect (or want) cops emptying their weapon's entire load.

Expanded answer: Also, the revolver mechanism had trouble with handling the bigger gunpowder charges of rifle ammunition.

Edited by Zinegata, Nov 06 2012 - 03:46.


DerPanzerKult #14 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 03:49

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The revolving action makes revolvers prone to dirt and other intrusions which makes the design prone to jams.

VRMoran #15 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 04:11

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Well, bolt actions became the predominant rifle due to a few things. The biggest one is probably the fact that they can sustain higher stresses and strains than a lever action or revolver type rifle can. Even better, the bolt action design fully seals the breech, making the rifle more efficient as a system. So not only are you able to handle larger or more powerful cartridges, they're more efficient.

Second, is that bolt actions are a little more consistent. The smaller number of moving parts compared to a lever action leads to better reliability, and a revolver leaves a lot of places for dirt and grime to get into. Heck, some bolt actions like the Mosin-Nagants were made with the idea that the bolt could actually act as an anti-jamming mechanism. They're a little stiff to shoot, but they'll also break any ice that collects!

Speaking of reliability, bolt actions also seat the bullets better, making them a little more accurate than other types of rifles. AND, unlike most lever guns, you can employ different types of rounds thanks to how the rounds are stacked. It was found out the hard way that if you load a lever action with pointed bullets they have a chance to ignite the primers of the cartridge in front of them, leading to an accidental discharge.


That's why bolt actions were king until semi-automatics started to be developed....and are still used in roles where precision is needed.


As for why revolver type rifles weren't commonly used prior to the invention of the bolt action, they may have had some minor uses up until full cartridges were developed. At that point, lever action rifles were developed. The advantage of a lever action is pretty obvious: capacity. At the least you had around 7 rounds, but some could contain up to 34 rounds in their cylinder (the Evans Repeater). This is further compounded by the fact that you can load them a little faster. Plus they were easier to shoot.....and once again, a bit more accurate because a revolver can't fully seal the breech.

AND, I imagine that revolver system added unnecessary weight, though I'm hypothesizing that one.

Interestingly, you may be saying "Well, that's good, but why not develop revolver rifles for REALLY big rounds that lever actions couldn't use?" Well, I guess it was found to just be easier to make hunting rifles single shot breech loaded weapons (or side by side). In any case, breach loaded guns have the ultimate reliability advantage, can carry rounds as big as your shoulder can handle without breaking, and are still more accurate.

Beowolff #16 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 04:21

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View PostZinegata, on Nov 06 2012 - 03:40, said:

Short practical answer: Catridges do the same thing, and are faster to reload. You have to reload each chamber of a revolver individually. A catridge can hold many more bullets and you get 10, 20, 30, or even 100 bullets readied at a time when you reload using one.

This is why military pistols also use catridges. Revolvers only remain in use with law enforcement, where they don't expect (or want) cops emptying their weapon's entire load.

Expanded answer: Also, the revolver mechanism had trouble with handling the bigger gunpowder charges of rifle ammunition.

i can only assume you mean a magazine (or clip) here...  as the cartridge you speak of is the propellant holding part of an actual individual bullet.

btw...people continue to use revolvers for several reasons...mainly because they are much more dependable than semi automatic pistols.  if you take a look at their mechanics, you'll see they are far far less complicated than even the most simple auto pistol.  they are therefore far far less prone to jam, hang, mis-fire.  also, since they (revolvers) do not use any type of mechanism that operates on recoil or gas, that involves a large part of the actual gun moving...usually revolvers can be tuned to be much more accurate than most semi auto handguns.

S!

Beo

VRMoran #17 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 04:44

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View PostBeowolff, on Nov 06 2012 - 04:21, said:

btw...people continue to use revolvers for several reasons...mainly because they are much more dependable than semi automatic pistols.  if you take a look at their mechanics, you'll see they are far far less complicated than even the most simple auto pistol.  they are therefore far far less prone to jam, hang, mis-fire.  also, since they (revolvers) do not use any type of mechanism that operates on recoil or gas, that involves a large part of the actual gun moving...usually revolvers can be tuned to be much more accurate than most semi auto handguns.

For pistols I completely agree.

I'd like to say something regarding people who are talking about automatics vs. revolvers for self defense purposes [it'll come up sooner or later]. A .357 Revolver is more than enough firepower for a person, it is more reliable than most automatics you'll find, and unless you're an officer I really don't see why you would need something like a Glock 9mm with a very large magazine and the ability to empty 20 rounds in a few seconds  :Smile_sceptic:  I'll use a pistol like that for competition shooting, or for sport....but people who feel something like that is necessary for self-defense or concealed carry need to remove their tin foil hats. I live in a city with a rather high crime rate, and not once have I felt the need to use something like that. IF I ever found myself needing the rapid fire capabilities and large magazine capacity of an automatic I'd probably need to REALLY rethink where my life was going. Heck, a lot of police officers still carry revolvers, for the exact reasons mentioned.

[Gonna get a little preachy here]
Just because you CAN shoot a lot of bullets quickly, doesn't mean you SHOULD. A revolver can help with that trigger discipline so many kids don't know about, and that kind of discipline can save lives. In many instances branding an automatic can make you more dangerous to those around you than whatever you're trying to stop, especially if you're not properly trained in how to use one. At least with a revolver you're kind of limited in what you can do.


Also, this might sound kind of messed up, but a revolver won't leave stray brass lying around. According to my mother (she was in law enforcement), apparently not leaving brass on the ground makes things a little easier if [WHEN] you end up in court. That, and apparently a hot .45 caliber round kind of hurts when it makes it down your shirt.....  :Smile_mellow:

[BACK ON TOPIC]
But for a rifle I don't see where a revolver design would be advantageous. Perhaps as an interesting novelty item?

TL:DR: If you find yourself needing to reload because you're in a "firefight", one of a couple of things are going on: A) You're wasting a lot of shots, in which case you have no business with a firearm in the first place and/or B ) you've found yourself in a legitimately messed up situation....if that's the case, you'll probably have a lot of time to rethink your life and what got you in that situation while you sit in jail. Perhaps there is a situation C) where you got attacked by 8 or 9 people randomly....but I REALLY doubt that's going to happen to any of us.

Edited by VRMoran, Nov 06 2012 - 04:48.


Beowolff #18 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 07:29

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yes, for 'most' civil defense cases...  a good revolver (pistol) is all that is really needed, OR, simply a 12 ga. shotgun if you (for some reason, ie lack of handgun skill or lack of training, etc...) are not adapt at handling a revolver.

a .22 can most certainly kill a man or wound him gravely, but unless very skilled or very lucky it's not a good weapon of choice for defense.  (and yes, real life hit men often use them but then they have the advantage of 'when' to strike, and are also usually very skilled.)  a .38 Special, in either a nice Colt or Smith & Wesson revolver will most assuredly do the job of good defense, if you feel you need the extra power, you can get (as the previous poster said) a model in .357 magnum, which by the way can also use the .38 Special in a pinch, or as target rounds...and certainly a .357 round will do the job.  what you 'might' run into there though is 'over' penetration where if you're not skilled or certain of your shot, or very unlucky...a magnum round can go thru your target, thru the wall of most modern homes/apartments...even through a cardoor outside and possibly kill or wound an innocent.  (yes, it happens and will continue to happen on occasions.)  but, with proper training the magnum may 'still' be the best bet for a big, burly, drunk and or high attacker.  or...as i mentioned, a shotgun, which not only can imtimidate the hell out of somebody when looking down it's big bore barrel, can also blow him out of his socks if he does not back down.  and...the range is more limited on a shotgun (so less chance of shooting an innocent outside your apartment...(though it might wound innocents close to the attacker if your aim is real bad or they are too close) even though up close it is devestating.

weapons to steer clear of completely...  off-brands or unknown brands of any type...usually classed as Saturday Night Specials...cheaply made and both in-accurate and un-safe to both by-stander and user.

but ALL personal or home defense weapons have to 'fit' an indivdual's lifestyle, needs...and skill levels.  otherwise they can be deadly to the user, bystanders, and so on.  they must at least be shot enough (if they are a gun) for the user to be 'comfortable' with, even if he/she never becomes expert with it.

by the way, if you would like to read about the WW2 weapons and other types i used in real combat...  visit this thread:

http://forum.worldof...-i-fought-with/

but that's all besides the point and totally off-topic from what the OP asked.

S!

Beo

collimatrix #19 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 07:33

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The Colt revolving rifle clearly predates any repeating bolt-action rifles, so anyone who said it was killed off by those is wrong, spoke casually from a position of ignorance that could have been rectified by a few minutes of google, and should go stand in the corner and feel bad about themselves.

Beowolff #20 Posted Nov 06 2012 - 10:38

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View Postcollimatrix, on Nov 06 2012 - 07:33, said:

The Colt revolving rifle clearly predates any repeating bolt-action rifles, so anyone who said it was killed off by those is wrong, spoke casually from a position of ignorance that could have been rectified by a few minutes of google, and should go stand in the corner and feel bad about themselves.

where in the world did you get this ^^^ at?  and why?  d'oh!  especially why the insult to other posters as there was NO need of it (since you obviously have very little actual knowledge of what you're trying to talk about.)  i haven't seen anybody here posting that said anything 'like' you just posted about.  nobody's said that bolt action rifles actually 'killed off' revolving rifles.  revolving rifles were actually totally doomed when 'lever action'' repeaters came along of stronger design and with much greater ammo capacity.  lever actions finally gave in mostly to bolt actions (especially in the military) and later, bolt actions have for the most part now been replaced with gas or recoil operated semi or full auto rifles.

there have been 'many' repeating types of rifles down thru the years and the revolver principle was not by 'any' means the first of them.  before the revolver repeaters there were double, triple, even multi-barreled repeaters...and also repeater type muskets/rifles that used multiple blackpowder loads and balls placed within the same barrel but fired one at a time...and other ideas even before that.

all of those early ideas failed for one reason or another...and it was only when the true lever action rifles (in particularly the metal cartridge ones,) followed closely by the early bolt actions...that repeater rifles came into their own and became 'sound' and 'useable' weapons that 'any' man could purchase and use with ease and solid realiability.

rather than merely 'google' a topic...  my suggestion is for you to actually start out with the full HISTORY of firearms, and follow that from the earliest forms to the present day.  once you do that, you'll have a much more clearer understanding of ALL firearms (including repeaters,) how they work, and the way they've been used down through the years.  and will be much more able to speak on the subject with more authority and less confusion/guesswork.

good luck on your study.

S!

Beo