Furthering the Legacyone part at a time

Have questions? Call: 866-686-7424

Forum > Hand Guns > Hand Guns > I just aquired a forehand arms double action revolver, it has a

I just aquired a forehand arms double action revolver, it has a

Author Message
Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 11:38 AM
Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 01:08 PM

You don't give enough info to make a positive ID...BUT..I can tell you this. Forehand & Wadsworth made revolvers in DA in both rimfire and centerfire chamberings, From 1871 to 1890 they were called "The Forehand & Wadsworth Arms Company and there product was so marked....from 1890 to 1902 they were known as The Forehand Arms Company and any product from that DOM was so marked..Those EXACT markings and ALL OTHERS can date the firearm and lead to a model and chambering designation..To my mind any of these should be considred to be Blackpowder rated revovlers and not fired..regardless of condition with factory smokeless loadings. In 1902 the company was sold to Hopkins & Allen, Co. YOU can research the firearm with the help of a book by the late Joseph T. Vorisek titled A Short History of the Forehand Arms Company..it is available from "ABBY" at www.cornellpubs.com

Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 01:32 PM

it is marked forehand arms co. worchester mass. double action. nickel finish with a 6 shot cyl. and plastic grips marked F&W 2 1/2" octagon barrel....i've decided i would only shoot black powder loads in it but cant figure out if it takes the s&w long or short ctg. thanks for the reply

Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 01:53 PM

Is it a solid frame, is a centerfire or a rimfire? I can add this..in a copy of the advertisment for the F&W Rev it clearly states that a certain DA Forehand and Wadsworth is chambered for: .32 Short RF..32 Long Rimfire and is equipped with rubber stock,nickle plated..6-shot and that the only CF is in .38 caliber. Further on in Vorisek book it sez... The American Bulldog was made in .32 and .38 rimfire and .38 S&W Centerfire while the British Bullgog was offered in .32,.38 and .41 Rimfire .32 and .38 S&W centerfire and .44 Webley centerfire..FWIW..dimensionally, the .32 S&W Short and the Long are exact in every dimension except in case length and OAL of a loaded cartridge and neither should fit the chamber any better than the other except the Long may have to be forced into the chamber...that said..a chamber will have a "throat" that is of a different dimesnsion than the case..it accepts and aligns the smaller diameter of the bullet..if you make a chamber casting using a product called "Cerro-Safe"(www.brownells.com has it and the directions for its use) you can get an exact shape of the chamber and match that to the case..if it is chambered for the short only(some guns will handle both..my modern S&W Model 17 shoots shorts,longs and the H&R Magnum round interchangibly) That said the only reference I see in Vorisek's book on .32 centerfire is for the .32 S&W short. The book also has a list of serial numbers that will assist in making an ID of the Model...American Bulldog...Model 1896 or British Bulldog plus numerous pages of other info....

Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 03:13 PM

It's a solid frame, pin must be pulled to remove the cylinder....there is no throat in the chambers it's bored straight through....sn. is 10737x while the gun is marked forehand arms co. the grips are plastic and marked f&w

Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 05:01 PM

the correct caliber for this forehand arms co. (1890-1899) is 32 S&W or 32 M&H (aka 32 H&R). the 32 S&W Long cartridge was not introduced until about 1896 or 1897 when S&W introduced their first revolver with the side swing out cylinder the Model I hand ejector and to the best of my knowledge was never offer as a black powder loading. the first loading was what was called semi-smokeless? (exact powder used unknown). if you look in old catalogs from early 1900 where black powder loaded cartridges were offered the 32 S&W Long is never listed only the 32 S&W, 32 M&H or 32 H&R. the same catalogs will list in the smokeless loads the 32 S&W and the 32 S&W Long but not the 32 M&H or 32 H&R. these last two lost out in popularity to the new 32 S&W Long. in 1905 H&R started listing their large frame 6 shot 32 caliber revolvers (solid frame and top break) as being chambered for the 32 S&W Long. none of the H&A catalogs i have seen mention the 32 S&W Long as a caliber for their revolvers. it is not safe to assume any of these early 32 are safe with the 32 S&W Long just because the cylinder is long enough to accept them. the cylinder length on H&R 6 shot 32's was lengthen about 1/8 inch in 1905 for the 32 S&W Long. 1905 was the year H&R made the switch to smokeless powder.

bill

Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 05:05 PM

forgot to add

the 32 S&W Long may be a low pressure cartridge but it can still do much harm to these older revolver because of the metal use in their manufacture was not alway the highest quality steel available.

bill

Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 06:47 PM

Bill/Frank, There was, at one time a .32 S&W long factory load using 13.0 grains of Fg blackpowder and a 98 gr lead bullet. The publication, Cartridges of the World, 10th edition makes mention of this on page 275 with the notation that the BP load was the "Original" factory loading for the cartridge. Ballistically it is superior to the smokeless factory load of the 98 gr wadcutter at 705 fps and developing 115 ft lbs of energy..the old BP load with a 98 gr RN bullet developed 780 fps and 132 ft lbs of energy. The operating pressure of the .32 S&W long is 12,000 CUP or 15,000 PSI to develop the SAAMI factory maximum specs. In any event, if a handload of Fg is used with a 90-100 grain bullet the case..short or long should be filled with BP to the point that the seated bullet will compress the powder charge by 1/8th" minimum. Better yet, the procedure outlined by Paul A. Matthews in Loading the Black Powder Rifle Cartridge, can be applied to straight walled revolver rounds as well. The use of proper lubricants..grease cookies etc will make shooting cleaner and safer. In another publication..The Handloaders Manual of Cartridge conversions by John J. Donnelly there is some discussion on the care and handling of BP loads, but the formula he uses to convert to smokeless is for RIFLE cartridges using IMR4198..which, to my knowledge, is not a recommended powder in any handgun cartridge. Personally, if I were to load for this old gun..assuming that it is servicable in all other respects..and I wanted a smokeless loading...I would consult Hodgdon/IMR on the use of their Cowboy powder called "TRAIL BOSS"

Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 14, 2009 08:48 PM

thanks guys for all the info...the gun is in very good condition for it's age...lock up is tight as you would expect one of these guns to be. one more question...using the correct 32 s&w ctg. would it be safe to use pyrodex p as a black powder substitute for loading ammo?

Numrich Archiver
Joined: February 2010
Posts: 161648
Posted: March 15, 2009 04:27 AM

You should probably approach Hodgdon, which makes Pyrodex, with that issue. The farther you get from the original black powder (BP) loads for which the old revolver was manufactured, the farther you go into "uncharted territory" regarding safe internal ballistics for shooting these old revolvers. (I've got a bunch of them, and determining safe smokeless powder loads duplicating BP ballistics is always a conundrum.)

If Hodgdon says it's O.K. and they have published Pyrodex loads for your revolver's cartridge (on their website --- check for this first, or in a manual --- you will have to buy this), then you've got it. If they don't list loads on their website that you need, or you don't want to spend the money on their manual, ask for specific load data when you inquire about the usability of Pyrodex for your item. I'm not into Pyrodex, but I BELIEVE that the standard procedure is, USING THE CORRECT GRANULATION, you use an equal volume of Pyrodex for the same volume of BP. This assumes, of course, that as a reloader you have a powder scale and can weigh out the BP loads of the original ammo and can convert The volumes of those loads to Pyrodex loads.