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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I need help identifying the top break revolver. Takes .38 colt short ammo. It was a gift from my late husband.
Top of barrel:
Harrington & Richardson Arms 03
Worcester Mass USA Pat'd oct 4' 87
Only Number found: 02716 behind the cylinder. The grip seems to be plastic. Double-action lever. Don't know anything else about it and know nothing about % of bluing.
Laura
 

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Please post the other needed/required pictures as mentioned in the above "sticky" post.
 

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Chicmama, you have a Harrington & Richardson Auto Ejecting model. The caliber is .38 S&W and is a black powder revolver. It is a Type 4 and was made between 1889 and 1895. The serial number you list is the correct one for that model.

I hope this was helpful,
Jeff in Texas
 

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Now that someone else has also told you, the caliber is .38 S&W, not Short Colt.
The gun should not be shot, regardless.
Bill - as always, you are spot-on. I know nothing about the .38 S&W caliber break-tops from the 1890s. Break top action revolvers are weaker than what we call the 'Solid Frame' revolvers - but because that (1890s) was the time of the transition from black powder cartridges to smokeless cartridges. The .38 S&W came out in 1877 as a black powder cartridge. How does one determine if their pistol is suitable for smokeless or not (except of course those made in the 1870s and 1880s).

Is there a "cut-off" date? Does it depend on the manufacturer? I am curious. I figure you'd likely know.
 

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.38 colt short is the ammo that came with it. Shoots fine.
Those .38 Colt Short's will fit and fire, but they are the wrong ammunition for your pistol. The Colt ammunition cases are shorter (.762") than the .38 S&W cases (.780"), the case head diameter is smaller (.378") than the S&W (.386"), and the over-all lengths are different (1.07" Colt and 1.20" S&W). The main thing is the bullet diameters are different. The Colt used a .357" diameter bullet while the S&W used a .358" to .359" diameter bullet), and the cartridges cases of the Colt are smaller in diameter than the .38 S&W (and must swell up a whole bunch more to seal the pressure inside of the gun's cylinders - chambers). That is asking way too much from a piece of brass to do.

When you say "It shoots fine" scares me. You are using incorrect ammunition in a 120+ year old mechanical device. Using incorrect ammunition in ANY firearm is a recipe for disaster. Someone may have bought that ammunition a very long time ago, but that doesn't make it safe to fire in your pistol. Just think about the THOUSANDS of pounds of instant pressure at the moment of the round firing in that old pistol. Then consider that your hand is holding it.

It's YOUR hand - not mine. Take the advice or don't.
 

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Bill - as always, you are spot-on. I know nothing about the .38 S&W caliber break-tops from the 1890s. Break top action revolvers are weaker than what we call the 'Solid Frame' revolvers - but because that (1890s) was the time of the transition from black powder cartridges to smokeless cartridges. The .38 S&W came out in 1877 as a black powder cartridge. How does one determine if their pistol is suitable for smokeless or not (except of course those made in the 1870s and 1880s).

Is there a "cut-off" date? Does it depend on the manufacturer? I am curious. I figure you'd likely know.
The change over varied by manufacturer and sometimes even by product line.
I'm not an H&R expert by any means but from what I've seen for info is their earlier smokeless top breaks had the cartridge markings on the left side of the barrel. Some starting around 1900 on some and others a little later.
Iver Johnson on the other hand made the switch on their handguns in one swoop in 1909.

And to the O.P.
Like others have mentioned already, your revolver was designed for .38S&W black powder ammunition. Just because ammo came with a gun doesn't mean it's the CORRECT ammo for the gun.
 

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I know nothing about the .38 S&W but the main thing is the bullet diameters are different.
 
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Will not tell you this is carved in stone, but some things that indicate to ME that a top break revolver is intended for black powder-
1. The number of posts that the latch slips over. 1 post- black powder. 2 posts- MAYBE smokeless.
2. Cylinder is free wheeling when not cocked. The cylinder stop notches have long gradual cuts
3. Take grips off, look at hammer spring. Leaf spring black powder. Coil spring smokeless.
4. No patent dates after 1900- real iffy.
 

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IMHO, Take it to a reputable gun smith.
PLEASE DO NOT SHOOT THIS GUN!!
Like it was stated before, it's your hand and I will add, your face that's going to be destroyed when it comes apart.
 
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