There’s a whole class of revolvers out there that are, in their smaller caliber forms, derided for their poor build quality and questionable ergonomics, yet in their largest forms, revered as some of the most combat-proven multi-shot destructive devices available. Add to that the dubious honor of being a named firearm on many of the “Assault Weapons” bans of the 1990’s and you have an interesting facet of firearms history. Today on Wheelgun Wednesday, we will be looking at the revolving shotguns, pistols, rifles, and grenade launchers that have pre-wound spring-driven cylinders.
Out of Africa
The early 1980’s saw some pretty rad developments, one of them being Hilton Walker’s Striker shotgun design. An immigrant from Rhodesia, Walker developed the Armsel Striker in South Africa. The first iteration was a shotgun chambered in 12ga, and had a clock spring winding mechanism for the drum magazine. A later “product improved” version was called the Protecta and had an auto-eject mechanism for empty hulls.
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Various versions of this design were produced by the American company SWD/Cobray as well as Sentinel Arms and marketed as the Street Sweeper (12ga from SWD/Cobray), Striker (12ga from Sentinel), and the LHC (Ladies’ Home Companion in .410/.45-70). Shotgun and, in the case of the LHC, rifle and pistol versions were made of these seriously big-bore revolvers. But that’s not yet the biggest revolver platform to use the pre-wound spring-driven cylinder.
A self-fulfilling prophecy?
In a weird case of convergent firearms technology evolution, another South African designer, Andres Piek, also developed a very big-bore six-shot clock spring cylinder revolver in 1980, specifically in 40x46mm! Long before the edgy-monikered Street Sweeper got slapped with the label of a “destructive device”, the Milkor MGL was sending 40mm grenades downrange in combat. Accepted for use by the SADF in 1983, this big blooper has increased squad firepower for almost 40 years.
The Milkor MGL design is used by the militaries of over 20 countries, not least of which is the United States, circa its 2005 adoption of Milkor USA’s (a completely separate company) MGL by the USMC. If 40x46mm isn’t enough firepower, there’s also a 40x51mm version called the SuperSix. Less lethal versions in 37mm also exist. There are quite a few “locally-produced” variants of this design around the world as well.
The MGL is arguably a much better design than the Striker shotgun. While they both use pre-wound spring-driven cylinders, the MGL is much quicker to load, and also has a much nicer trigger. Speaking of quick to load, the MGL also has the honor of having probably the largest revolver speedloader in existence, the VLTOR M32.
That’s it for this week of Wheelgun Wednesday. If you get a chance to fire either of these iconic pre-wound spring-driven cylinder revolvers at the range, don’t pass it up!