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Friday, 4 November 2016

Harrington & Richardson Premier Revolver - & Gutta Percha:

A hundred year old Harrington & Richardson 'Premier' - bought at a recent auction.

- It's so tidy** for its age - and such a neatly working ambidextrous design: My antique H&R five chamber .32 S&W cartridge 'auto eject' model was cheap-as-chips - and has cleaned-up nicely.


The markings of the MASS. address along the top of the barrel with 'USA.PAT.OCT.8.1895.' seems to suggest manufacture date around 1909 + 5 years - and the 'PREMIER 32 S&W.CTGE.' marked on the left side of barrel is said to indicate that this wee cutie was made for smokeless cartridges.


- I'm not trusting any of that information as there is more than a little uncertainty about H&R details.

- Anyone in "the free world" planning to shoot one of these needs to be VERY cautious about the revolvers condition - & the power levels of the ammunition - maybe using only black powder loads.

The Harrington & Richardson Arms Company was incorporated in 1888 but was working from as early as 1871 - and is reported to have supplied several other distributors with different marked firearms being later linked with New England Firearms.


Gilbert H Harrington invented the cartridge ejecting Top-Break revolver in 1871.

This particular revolver has a nicely blued trigger-guard & trigger - and the hammer & top-latch appear to be case hardened? - while the rest of the frame, cylinder and barrel are nickel plated.

The H&R Brand - (along with Marlin and Remington) is now part of The Freedom Group. - That square "Target" image appears on this wee revolvers black*** grips.

Again - I read that the serial numbers are no great help to determine the actual dates of manufacture as they tended to be applied erratically. My barrel is three inches long and the bore is in a good state.

H&R Premier .32" Revolver Poses With Pocket Model Colt M1903 .32"
 & old BIC Lighter.

That small 'pocket model' 1903 Colt makes the H&R five shot look petite .. Well the revolver at 12 ounces is HALF the weight of the 23 ounce Colt semi-auto. - Both 32"s but..

History shyly recalls that these small break-actions were kept close by sociable ladies as "GET OFF ME" guns.

Here's a link to hot2warm showing us his 'PREMIER' top-break:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mme7AYiqVIw

** It's just as well that these H&R Top-Breaks are 'pretty' - as they wouldn't suite shooters with large hands (and think very carefully before firing modern ammunition).

 - I can't fit my strong-hand into the space behind the trigger guard and around the grips - said to be made from Gutta Percha ***. (Or, just maybe - these grips might be hard vulcanized* rubber? - Gutta Percha tends to turn brown as it ages.).

 - Mind you, my middle finger knuckle was broken years ago and is now a lumpy swollen & crooked p.i.t.b. with "Uncle Arthur Ritis". - Not that we Kiwis are allowed to shoot any handgun with barrels shorter than four inches - they are for 'C' endorsed & licensed Collectors only here in NZ.

Read All About It. (from Amazon)
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*** Gutta Percha was a natural thermoplastic polymer - a 'polyterpene' made from rigid latex harvested from a tree by chopping it up and collecting the sap. - and was used from the early 1840s to make revolver grips etc. - most famously for the Colt Single Action M1873 'Peace-Makers'.
Palaquium Gutta Tree. Malaysia & Pacific Rim.

Colt M1873  'Peacemaker' With Original Gutta Percha Grips

Spalding 'Gutty' Golf Ball.(from Mid 1850s)

Although Gutta Percha (perhaps the very first industrial thermoplastic) is not elastic - it is sort of related to Chicle (chewing gum) and to natural rubber. - "G.P." was also used to make golf balls "Gutties", - for insulating early underwater telegraph cables - and for filling root canals in rotten teeth.

* Natural rubber is 'vulcanized' and hardened by mixing & heating with 30 to 35% sulfur.(Sulphur). - Some hard vulcanized rubbers were branded as "Vulcanite" and "Ebonite". - Early car batteries had hard rubber casings.

Marty K.