The Galand family gave the world two prominent firearms designers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Charles-François and his son, René. The elder Galand was responsible for one the most “modern” and fast to reload repeating pistol designs of the mid-nineteenth century, the Model 1868 Galand auto-extracting revolver.
The lever and the plate
Unlike the top-break Smith and Wesson, the automatic extraction of the 1868 Galand was affected by the operation of a lever integrated into the trigger guard of the revolver. When a catch on the trigger guard was slid down, one could pivot the trigger guard forward sliding the front half of the frame and the barrel forward away from the firing mechanism. The cylinder would separate forward from the cartridge rim plate, allowing the metallic cartridges to be kicked free from the cylinder. These cartridges had very thick rims, which would preclude the cartridges from bulging or destroying the cartridge rim plate when fired.
The Galand Revolver could also be operated in either single or double action. This, combined with the auto ejection and use of metallic cartridges made the Galand system one of the fastest if not the fastest revolvers to load, shoot, and unload of its time.
Military service and model variations
Galand-type revolvers saw military service with both Russia and Romania, and brisk sales in France prior to the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Models were made in full-size and pocket variations, with one pocket model also having a folding trigger and short actuating lever indexed to the front of the frame only. They are typically encountered in 9mm or 12mm, though other chamberings exist as well. The Russian Navy adopted the Model 1870 Galand as a “Boarding Revolver”, made under license by Nagant, and it was probably the most advanced Russian handgun model until the 1895 Nagant.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Though at first glance the Galand might be unfamiliar to most people, this remarkable revolver has been seen in action by many. In “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, it was the first revolver “Tuco” picked up when walking into the “closed” general store. When Tuco inspects the Galand, he finds it to be squeaky and ill-maintained. However, far from being the bad or the ugly, the Galand was definitely a very “good” revolver for the 1860s and beyond.