Today on a Whacky and Weird Wheelgun Wednesday, we will be taking a look at magazine-fed revolvers, and “shell elevators” as an overall concept. Cylinder elevators are essentially rotating cylinders that transfer ammunition from the magazine to the firing position, usually found in two or three-round configurations.
Revolver Articles @ TFB:
- President Ulysses Grant’s Revolvers Sold at RIAC for $5,170,000
- Wheelgun Wednesday: Civil War Lever Action Revolver
- Custom Revolver Work & Sights From Dave Lauck At D&L Sports
- Wheelgun Wednesday: Colt 1851 Navy Revolver Attributed to Wild Bill Hickok
Before the Dardick: The Norwegian Landstad 1900 Automatic Magazine Fed Revolver
Designed in 1899 by Harvard Landstad, the Landstad was a strange amalgam of a revolver and automatic pistol, chambered in 7.5mm Nagant. The 6-shot magazine was contoured to the grip, and instead of being inserted into the grip, was part of the left grip panel. Once inserted, the magazine could feed ammunition to the bottom chamber of the two-shot cylinder.
Pulling the trigger rotated the loaded chamber into position, and then the pistol would fire. The Landstad had a “slide” portion on the upper rear of the receiver that could eject the fired cartridge, and the shell elevator cylinder would rotate another round into the firing position. while the top chamber was in the firing position, another round would feed from the magazine into the empty bottom chamber.
The Landstad had a lot of exposed fragile moving parts and did not do well in the military trials to which it was submitted.
The Needham and Atkinson 1881: A lever action, tubular magazine revolving rifle!
Delving even deeper into the strange world of cylinder elevators, we take a look at the Needham and Atkinson 1881. At first glance, it looks like an over and under with a loop lever. But it’s not! Cartridges would load from the tubular magazine under the rifle into its cylinder elevator. Being that the cartridges were being loaded into the cylinder “backwards”, this revolving rifle fed a backwards-looking cartridge into the cylinder elevator from the rifle’s tube magazine.
Working the lever would cock the rifle and rotate the loaded cylinder into place. Being flat, the cylinder would also eject fired (or unfired, I suppose) cartridges from the firing position out to the side when the lever was worked.
The Final Tround? The Dardick
Perhaps the last cylinder elevator to come into the firearms world was the better-known Dardick. Firing “Trounds”, and with an open cylinder as well, the Dardick fed rounds from its 10, 11, or 15 round magazines, depending on model and caliber.
Dardick at TFB:
Unsurprisingly, the cylinder elevators were an unsuccessful branch of firearm evolution, and of the revolving cylinder concept in general. The concept does, however, provide an example of a little-known avenue firearms designers explored in the quest for perfecting the repeating firearm.