Wheelgun Wednesday: Magazine-Fed Revolvers and Cylinder Elevators

Rusty S.
by Rusty S.
Needham & Atkinson 1881Image Credit: Holts Auctions

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:

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.

From the Norwegian Patent For the Landstad

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.

Needham & Atkinson 1881. Image Credit: Holts Auctions

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.

Needham & Atkinson 1881. Image Credit: Holts Auctions
Needham & Atkinson 1881. Image Credit: Holts Auctions

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:

The Dardick revolver

Mechanix Illustrated has an article online, first published in 1957, about “revolutionary” The Dardick revolver and its triangular rounds (Trounds). I wonder how reliable those guns were. I imagine that the design would have combined and amplified the feeding problems associated with autoloaders and the heavy trigger pull of double action revolvers. [ Many thanks … Continue reading

Dardick Model 1500 Magazine Fed Revolver

Here is an odd duck gun. The Dardick Model 1500. We had posted an interesting magazine fed Frankenruger revolver the other day. This is nothing like that one. It uses a proprietary polymer cased bullet that is triangular and called Trounds. They are fed into an internal magazine. It is an open chamber design. Very … Continue reading

Zero Elevation

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.

Rusty S.
Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. Editor at Outdoorhub.com

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  • Jimmarch Jimmarch on May 19, 2022



    I can get 14rds continuous fire from a replica Colt SAA with a six shot 9mm cylinder. Shells are gas ejected, while a tubular magazine crams new rounds into the cylinder from the rear one position left of the hammer. Once an empty cylinder bore passes in front of the mag, mag feeding begins.

    I have a two shot mag (topping off 5 in the cylinder) and a pair of foot long 9rd reload mags.

    This feed cycle is straight out of the revolving autocannon playbook.

    Problem is, the cocking stroke is way crunchy because a coil spring from a piece of 32-20 levergun mag spring is constantly pushing a round in.

    Next version is going to have a second gas system to operate a rammer to cram rounds in, stripped from some kind of semi-auto mag pointed up-and-left to clear the sights. Probably need at least 9mm+p to get enough gas to make it all work. Probably use an adjustable AR-15 gas block. With a short 10rd mag is should still be ok in a holster, but 30+ out of a cowboy gun...hell yeah.

    If I take it to a SASS match I'll need a defibrillator along - for the tech inspector...