Hopkins & Allen revolver

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by lil1weasle, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. lil1weasle

    lil1weasle New Member

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    I have a H&A .38 it says Forehand Model 1801 Hopkins & Allen Arms Co. Norwich Ct. USA. The guy I bought it from said it was a .32 but I thought it was a bit big for a .32. Turns out it's a .38. Though I'm not sure what kind. Someone suggested maybe short colt. Anyone have any idea?
  2. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Hi lil1weasle.....welcome to TFF. :)

    Kinda hard to ID your H&A Forehand model, since there were 5 different versions of it made in .22 RF, .32 and .38 centerfire.

    Is it solid frame or top break?

    Does it have a full hammer, bobbed hammer, hammerless, or folding hammer?

    Can you post a picture of it? Full length, both right & left sides. That would sure help.

    Are you sure it's a Model 1801 and not a Model 1901?

    It's possible that your caliber is .38 Smith & Wesson, (AKA .38 Colt New Police) or even .38-40 WCF, since those are two of the calibers in which the Forehand model was offered.....BUT.....it's also possible that it was offered in other .38 centerfire calibers as well.

    I can tell you that your revolver was made between 1901 and 1909. Forehand & Wadsworth Arms Co. started in 1871, became Forehand Arms in 1890, and was bought out by Hopkins & Allen in 1901. H&A dropped the Forehand logo in 1909.
  3. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    i believe the revolver H&A marked "FOREHAND MODEL 1901" is a top break revolver with automatic ejection. it is my belief these were manufactured for only a few years until the supply of parts (left over from Forehand Arms Co.) were used up. Hopkins & Allen purchased Forehand Arms Co. for thier factory not thier products. H&A factory burned to the ground about 1900 or a little earlier but it was close to the time Sullivan Forehand either retired or passed away and the Forehand Arms co. was put up for sale.

    the caliber is 38 S&W not 38 colt short. this revolver should also be considered as "black powder only" as there has been no evidence that either Forehand Arms Co. or Hopkins & Allen ever made any handguns designed for smokeless powder ammo.

    H&A also sold a single barrel shotgun simple marked "Forehand Model" for a while.
    bill
  4. lil1weasle

    lil1weasle New Member

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    I believe what b.goforth said is accurate. I attached a few pictures. It may say 1901 on the top of the barrell, I thought it said 1801, its hard to make out. If it is black powder does that mean smokeless ammo can't be fired out of it? Oh yeah one last thing the grips have F&W and a shield on them. I'm assuming it stands for Forehand and Wadsworth, which contributes to b.goforth's theory.

    Attached Files:

  5. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Well.....yes and no. Modern smokeless .38 S&W shouldn't be used in your gun. However, .38 S&W Cowboy Action Ammunition, should be OK....it's loaded down to blackpowder pressures.

    http://www.shootguns.info/cowboy.htm

    BUT....before you even think of shooting a gun 100 years old, you should take it to a competent gunsmith to have it checked it out safety.
  6. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    the pictures you posted proves to me that at least originally this model was made using F&W and Forehand Arms Co. parts. this revolver does not have the typical H&A action (seperate single action sear behind the trigger).
    bill
  7. lil1weasle

    lil1weasle New Member

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    Thank you and yes i plan on having it checked out Xracer. It seems to be in good shape, but that doesn't always mean somethings safe. And b.goforth that last post just aided to confuse me even more?? Does that mean that it may be a put together gun, not a regular production?
  8. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    No, it was regular production. When H&A bought out F&W they got a large inventory of F&W parts. H&A continued to assemble them and sold them as the Hopkins & Allen Forehand Models......until they ran out of the F&W parts, then they dropped the model.
  9. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    sorry for the confussion. this is a factory assembled revolver. it was assembled after Hopkins & Allen took control of the Forehand Arms Co. factory the barrel markings of Forehand Model 1901 Hopkins & Allen Co. Norwich CT. U.S.A. is the indicator of this. it was assembled entirely from the inventory of parts that came with the factory when H&A took possession. the physical features of this revolver indicate it has no features that are typical of any Hopkins & Allen Co. top break revolvers manufactured in their factory before it burnt to the ground. the fact that it has F&W grips is another indicator as frames of H&A top break revolver are different form top break frames manufactured by Forehand/F&W.

    in my opinion you have a very interesting transtional revolver (forehand/F&W parts and H&A markings). just because i find it interesting does not necessarily add extra value to it.

    since i like to ramble on this has probably confused you also. the simple answer is, this is a H&A factory assembled revolver most likely in 1901 or 1902.

    just remember an interesting side note, when H&A was purchased by marlin/rockwell about 1917 or so, marlin assembled quite a few H&A revolvers from parts on hand but they did not even take the time or make the effort to change the markings (these were mostly solid frame revolvers and sold until about 1920).

    xracers answer was posted while i was typing mine. his is clear correct and to the point.
    thanks
    bill
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2007
  10. lil1weasle

    lil1weasle New Member

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    Ok thanks. Im not confused anymore. the information was really helpful. and i know all about rambling i do it alot myself. Oh one more thing I looked up old ammo and it seems that the powder load is pretty much the same as new ammo, or am I not looking right?
  11. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    i do not reload and i am not a chemist and know nothing about chemistry but i do know it is not the quanity of powder but the type. black and smokeless powders are two different propellants. smokeless creates very high pressures and black creates lower pressures. the high pressure is the problem with firearms designed for black powder, the metal they are made of just won't contain the high pressure.
    bill
  12. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Bill's absolutely right.

    It's not the volume of powder in the cartridge, but the type.....and actually, the speed at which it burns and the pressure it creates.

    Modern smokeless powders create much higher pressures than blackpowder did. If you did your own reloading, you could load reduced charges of modern smokeless powder to reproduce the lower pressures that blackpowder cartridges had.

    Until fairly recently, you'd have been out of luck finding modern ammo you could use in your old H&A......however, with the growing popularity of "Cowboy Action Shooting" (which is limited to firearms made before 1900, or reproductions thereof), a number of smaller cartridge companies are now loading ammo for Cowboy Action Shooting which are loaded down to blackpowder pressures for those old firearms.

    Soooooo.....the bottom line is.....if you want to shoot your old H&A, get it checked out by a good gunsmith, get some "Cowboy Action" .38 S&W, and.....BLAST AWAY!!!! :D :D :D
  13. lil1weasle

    lil1weasle New Member

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    I knew that already, about the pressure. LOL My brain wasn't working when I asked that last question.
  14. Lawman1Bravo

    Lawman1Bravo New Member

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    Does any one know where you can get parts for the 1801 the pistol breaches opens and where to get the Ammo for these pistols at ???
  15. old garrett

    old garrett New Member

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    I have a .32 Iver Johnson hammerless 2nd model revolver which needs a new lifter.the books I have seen do not have much detail on this part. Can the lifter be interchanged
    with the first or the new model hammerless or will any of the safety hammmer models fit.
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