Monday, March 8, 2010

Semi-automatic revolver an oxymoron (Answer may surprise you)

Fellow reporter Jason Lea asked last Friday about a "semi-automatic revolver," a beast I said that didn't exist.

For all my shooting life I had been told (and assumed) that a weapon of that type was an oxymoron of terms.

But - thanks to Google and the National Rifle Association's Firearms Museum curator - I found that my long-held notion was wrong. Totally wrong, in fact.

Back around World War I in England just such a weapon was created, using the Webley revolver with its top beak-open action as the base handgun. It was called the Webley-Fosbery, named after the Brit who created the so-called "automatic revolver." It was made from 1901 to 1915 before the more modern-day semi-auto handguns took over.

The Webley-Fosbery fired the .455 Webley cartridge, similar in size though not power with the .45 ACP cartridge. The Webley-Fosbery also was chambered for the .38 ACP round.

It was recoil operated piece and proved popular with English officers even though it was never officially adopted by the military.

But imagine my surprise when I found out that a more modern and cool-looking automatic revolver was made much more recently. It was called the Mateba Autorevolver (A Google search will come up with all sorts of neat information about the weapon).

This was an Italian handgun and chambered for either the .357 Magnum, the .44 magnum and very powerful and lethal .454 Cashell.

The pistol weighed nearly 3 pounds and was made from 1997 to 2005. Its cost was around $1,000.

But so rare is this piece that not only doesn't the NRA Firearms Museum have a representative, the curator there also hadn't even heard of it, if that is imaginable.

In any event, the Google-initiated sites on the weapon are extremely fascinating and are worth exploring if you are into weaponry, especially the weird and rare kind.

And now I can shelve a long-held misconception. I guess I'll never say never when it comes to firearms and the strange designs that people come up with.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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