Twist and Pull

by
posted on February 10, 2012
201221094843-twistpull_m.jpg

Not long ago in this blog, I mentioned the folding hammer on the Merwin, Hulbert revolvers. In doing so, I noted the interesting twist and pull system of selective ejection used on these guns. Several readers wrote to ask about that feature. I'm happy to once again talk about one of my two favorite odd-ball firearms that really differ from the norm. Merwin, Hulbert revolvers were Frontier-era wheelguns and contemporaries of the Colt, S&W and Remington big-bores that we all recognize.

Made in three different frame sizes, Merwin, Hulberts (we'll call them just Merwins for brevity) were manufactured to a very high order of fit and finish. Had these guns not been such precision instruments, they would not have worked at all. That's because the ejection/extraction system was so finely fitted that close tolerances were essential. In a time when Colt made solid frame revolvers and S&W made hinged frames, Merwins were made with what some authorities have called a “jointed” frame. This was necessary to make the system work. The gun consisted of three major assemblies, the first being a more-or-less typical cylinder with ratchet at the rear side. The main frame was a one-piece forging fitted with lockwork parts and a loading gate on the right side. Basically, this was the butt of the gun, as well as most of the frame. There was a cylinder axis fitted to the main frame. The third unit was the barrel, to include the top strap over the cylinder. Part of the barrel was a lug at the rear end, which engaged a recess in the frame. This happened at a point right under the rear sight. There was a similar joint at the lower front corner of the frame.

It worked like this. The shooter loaded the gun through a slide-open loading gate at the rear end. After firing, he extracted the fired rounds in a manner that can be accomplished about a hundred times faster than I can describe it. Our Merwin shooter grasps the barrel of the gun with an overhand grip and thumb along the lower edge of the gun, just forward of the trigger guard. Pushing rearward with the thumb on the cylinder latch, he rotates the barrel 90 degrees clockwise and pulls the barrel/cylinder unit forward on its axis pin. An internal stop lug limits travel to just over the length of a fired case. The six rounds in the cylinder are held back by a ring, so the shooter essentially pulls the cylinder away from the cartridges. The fired cartridges fall away with a shake of the hand. Loaded rounds have their bullet ends in the chambers and remain in place. Thus, extraction is selective; only the fired rounds leave the gun. Reverse the sequence to close the action.

The problem with the Merwin line is that it was prohibitively expensive in the long haul, some 50 to 60 percent more than its competitors. Collectors now appreciate the Merwin, Hulbert & Co. revolvers for what they are—superb examples of American gunmaking.

Latest

Mossberg Maverick 88
Mossberg Maverick 88

Mossberg Maverick 88: Mossberg's Budget-Priced Pump Shotgun

The Maverick 88 is one of Mossberg's best known shotgun models and is currently available in 14 different versions.

The Men And Guns Of D-Day: 82nd Airborne Division

Watch this segment of American Rifleman Television "The Men And Guns Of D-Day" to learn more about the men of the 82nd Airborne Division, their stories and the firearms they used during "The Great Crusade."

MidwayUSA Grants $2.3 Million To Help Youth Shooting Teams

The MidwayUSA Foundation recently announced the payout of more than $2.23 million in cash grants to 612 youth shooting teams.

Review: Bond Arms Roughneck

The Roughneck derringer from Bond Arms is an entry-level option in 9 mm Luger, but don’t let that fool you, as the quality of its materials and craftsmanship rival those of the company’s top-end variants.

Book Review: The US M3/M3A1 Submachine Gun

Michael Heidler, no stranger to writing about firearm history, has produced a most impressive volume on one of this author’s favorite World War II firearms, the M3 “grease gun.”

Sniping In Korea: 1950-1953

When U.S. forces rushed to stop the North Koreans from overrunning South Korea in 1950, there were almost no American snipers. As the battle lines stabilized, that would change, and the war would become ideal for the employment of well-equipped and well-trained snipers.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.