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Semi-Manual Pistol

An improvement over both revolvers and semi-automatics
  [vote for,

Semi-automatic pistols have largely displaced revolvers as the sidearm of choice, due mainly to their higher ammunition capacity and their ability to reload quickly. However, this comes at price, in that they're much more complicated—and therefore, more dangerous—than the older wheelguns. Semi-autos generally work on a recoil design, where the reaction force of the bullet leaving the chamber activates the mechanism for loading the next cartridge into the chamber and cocking the hammer for the next shot. Among the drawbacks to this are that the mechanism must work correctly after each shot lest a manual unjamming procedure become necessary, and, more critically, that the firearm can be left in a state where it appears unloaded because the magazine is removed, but you cannot be certain of that without a physical inspection of the gun.

Consider a handgun designed in the shape of a semi- auto that is magazine fed, but has a trigger mechanism more like that of a revolver. Pulling back the trigger (or manually cocking the hammer) will cause the empty case to be extracted from the chamber via an ejection port and a new round to be loaded from the magazine, and the firing pin to be retracted into place (similar to a bolt-action rifle). When the hammer is released, the weapon simply fires, leaving the empty case in the chamber.

There would be several advantages to such a design. It would never require racking the slide —just drop in a magazine and pull the trigger. Under normal circumstances, there would never be a live round in the chamber until right before the weapon fires, so the possibility of an accidental discharge when the gun is dropped is effectively eliminated (an advantage over both revolvers and semi-autos). Jams resulting from a dud round could be cleared by simply pulling the trigger again. Perhaps most critically, the gun could be visually inspected to determine safety. If it doesn't have a magazine in it, it cannot be fired under normal circumstances. Even if there were a live round in the chamber somehow (perhaps due to cocking and then de-cocking the gun), there would be no way to pull the trigger without activating the ejection mechanism, meaning that there would be no way that round could be fired.

The functionality of a semi-auto with the safety and reliability of a revolver, and a couple of improvements over both of them to boot.

ytk, May 29 2012

Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver http://en.wikipedia...wiki/Webley-Fosbery
Intriguing [8th of 7, May 29 2012]


       Salvatore Phillip "Sonny" Bono.   

       "Bang Bang"
skinflaps, May 29 2012

       It would have a very long, heavy trigger pull.   

       See also <link>
8th of 7, May 29 2012

       I like it in theory but the trigger pull would be much too heavy.
DIYMatt, May 29 2012

       // Semi-automatic pistols have largely displaced revolvers as the sidearm of choice //   

       Only in military and law enforcement. Revolvers are very populars with the concealed-carry crowd.   

       I can't see this working without a very complicated reduction system to convert a 1/4", 3 lb trigger pull into the 1"+, 5-7 lb slide action, as [8th] stated. That would probably double the complexity of a semi-auto pistol, leaving it far more prone to failure.   

       Furthermore, while I am as familiar as anyone with the semi-auto vs. revolver argument and have discussed the merits and drawbacks of both designs at great length, I think that you are significantly overblowing the perceived flaws of the semi-auto.
Alterother, May 29 2012

       //Revolvers are very populars with the concealed- carry crowd.//   

       True, revolvers are still popular for concealed carry. This is due to their simplicity, reliability, and most importantly, their safety relative to semi-autos. This is also the reason why security guards (i.e. Rent-A-Cops) often carry them, since the odds that most of them will ever actually need to use their weapon are substantially less than the odds of them shooting themselves in the foot unloading it.   

       //I can't see this working without a very complicated reduction system to convert a 1/4", 3 lb trigger pull into the 1"+, 5-7 lb slide action//   

       There's no slide in this design, so no need to activate it. One reason the slide is so heavy is to provide some resistance to the blowback action. If it were significantly lighter, it would run a risk of being blown clean off the gun.   

       But in this design all you'd need is an extraction and loading mechanism. My guess is such a mechanism could be designed that doesn't require an overly long or heavy trigger pull to actuate. Perhaps the chamber itself could pivot up, ejecting the spent brass via a port on the top of the gun (preferably sideways so as not to hit the shooter in the face), then when it falls back into place a new round is forced into the chamber by the magazine spring. I bet you could design a mechanism comparable in trigger pull to your average revolver. Remember that in this design, you get the benefit of the energy stored in the magazine spring, which you don't get in a revolver.   

       //I think that you are significantly overblowing the perceived flaws of the semi-auto.//   

       Matter of opinion, I suppose. But the reasons that revolvers are, as you said, popular for concealed carry have a lot to do with those drawbacks. I think you're underestimating the significance of not being able to make the weapon clearly safe by the simple action of removing the magazine (unless you carry without a round chambered, which is a bad idea for other reasons). Also, like a revolver, this design could be fired from a concealed position, such as inside a handbag, with a significantly reduced risk of jamming compared to a semi-auto.
ytk, May 29 2012

       //Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver//   

       Yeah, I came across that while doing the research on this idea. Seems like pretty much the exact opposite —the worst of both worlds, really. There's probably a good reason why not many were made.
ytk, May 29 2012

       //One reason the slide is so heavy is to provide some resistance to the blowback action. If it were significantly lighter, it would run a risk of being blown clean off the gun.// There's a positive stop at the back of the slide. If the slide were light, it wouldn't leave the gun, but it might break your wrists. Or, at the minimum, become very uncomfortable to shoot and difficult to return to battery for following shots.   

       The extra weight in the slide also gathers up momentum to overcome the resistance of stripping the next round from the magazine, and particularly seating the round in the chamber - which happens down at the end of the spring return where the spring has the least remaining force.   

       The whole slide motion, both directions, has a lot of things happening. Your //guess is such a mechanism could be designed that doesn't require an overly long or heavy trigger pull// will probably experience a great deal of pain on the drawing board.
lurch, May 29 2012

       The mechanism doesn't have to be exactly like that used in a semi- auto. In fact, I just thought of another mechanism that could be used. The rear part of the chamber rotates around the axis of the cartridge, and it has a channel the size of of the case running through it. In the loaded position, the channel sits horizontally (as viewed when the gun is held for firing), and the channel openings are sealed shut. When the trigger is pulled the cylinder rotates 180 degrees. When the channel is horizontal, the brass is forced out the top of the pistol by the action of the magazine spring pushing the next round into place. The loaded round is prevented from being ejected by the bullet, which is stopped by the top of the front of the chamber (the front part of the chamber being fixed). The rear chamber would have guides that fit into the grooves on the case so that the cartridge doesn't seat at an odd angle. The magazine follower would be designed so that it ejects the last case with a trigger pull, but retracts back into the magazine when the cylinder rotates back to horizontal. An interlock would be necessary in this design that would prevent the hammer from being cocked unless the magazine is loaded, and also prevent the magazine from being removed with the hammer cocked. This is similar to a revolver, where you can't open the cylinder with the hammer cocked, and can't cock the hammer with the cylinder open. A release mechanism might then be necessary to allow the cylinder to free- wheel, so you can drop a loaded cartridge out the bottom if necessary for some reason.   

       "Aha," you might be now saying, "how, exactly, do you seal the chamber openings before firing?" Easy. You have a pair of plates that fall into place. As the cylinder rotates it picks up the plates, which travel along grooves such that they're pushed entirely away from the cylinder as they move upward (the grooves would look kind of like the arms on a § symbol placed on its side). The plates would be spring loaded so they'd fall back into place once the chamber is horizontal. Since the spring travel would be perpendicular to the force of the case expansion, the plates would sit tightly against the case.   

       Rotating a relatively small and light chamber 180 degrees would probably take about the same trigger pull as rotating a large, heavy revolver cylinder 60 or 72 degrees.
ytk, May 29 2012


       "probably experience a great deal of pain on the drawing board."
normzone, May 29 2012

       // The loaded round is prevented from being ejected by the bullet//   

       Except this defeats one of the major safety components of your design, because an unfired cartridge in the chamber will not eject when the trigger is pulled.
MechE, May 29 2012

       No, but it will simply fire if the magazine is inserted, which is acceptable because if the magazine is loaded the gun should always be considered loaded. And if the magazine isn't inserted, that's what the interlock is for. The weapon will not fire without a magazine inserted. Either the hammer will simply not cock without the magazine, or the firing pin mechanism would be held in position by the magazine, and when the magazine is removed a spring would push it out of the way.
ytk, May 29 2012

       But that separates it from the rest of the idea, since the exact same interlock could be implemented on an automatic.
MechE, May 29 2012

       A very similar design already is implemented on a revolver. Implementing it on a semi-auto would be problematic, though, because by design you should be able to remove the magazine when the weapon is ready to fire. Under this design, you should only be able to remove the magazine when the weapon is not ready to fire, but it should only be ready to fire right before it actually fires.   

       But you're basically right, in that it would be a more elegant design without the interlock. I strongly suspect such a design is possible, and a mechanical engineer or a gunsmith could come up with a clever solution that I haven't considered.
ytk, May 29 2012

       //Semi-autos generally work on a blowback design,//   

       Wrong. The dominant action type in modern auto pistols is the short-recoil, tilting-barrel design, as seen in 1911's, etc. Blowback is used for .22's and crude submachine guns (machine pistols).   

       Reading your description I think you're trying to solve a nonexistent problem. The safety advantage of a revolver is that the hammer sits on a (presumably) fired shell, and when uncocked, the trigger pull is heavy and rotates the cylinder before cocking and then firing.   

       Have you looked into SA/DA action auto's? Most common example would be a beretta '92, although most autos with an external hammer are SA/DA, now some manufacturers are coming out with SA/DA striker-fired pistols (ie no external hammer). Advantage here is that for duty-carry, they can be uncocked, and most have a trigger-safety that means the transfer-bar is not present unless the trigger is pulled. Of course many of these models come in Double-action only, if you feel the need for a heavy trigger pull every time.   

       ...Anyhoo, you've also not explained how your ejection device would work. As someone who has intimate knowledge of how the action of a semiauto pistol works, I don't know how you could store the energy needed to run the ejection-feed cycle without putting in a slide stop that would lock the action open upon firing (would be very similar to the slide stop on most auto's, but would automatically lock the action open every shot, instead of on the last shot of the mag). You'd then have to incorporate the eject-feed cycle into the trigger pull, which would destroy any accuracy you might be able to get, because the gun would jump in your hands mid trigger pull. This would be like an open bolt machine gun configured to semi-auto.   

       I ask again, why would this be an advantage?
Custardguts, May 29 2012

       Just to clarify, what I'm saying is there's no way you could provide the motive force to run an eject, feed, cock operation, just with a single trigger pull. Maybe you could have some kind of racking device, and pull the trigger maybe 4 or so times to cumulate the energy, or maybe you'd fit a windlass or some other device, or just pull the slide every shot - but no way a trigger pull is going to reliably cycle the action in one go.
Custardguts, May 29 2012

       What [Custardguts] said.   

       // One reason the slide is so heavy is to provide some resistance to the blowback. If it were significantly lighter, it would run a risk of being blown clean off the gun. //   

       No. The" resistance" comes from the recoil spring (as has been pointed out). Most "sserious" semi-autos are recoil-operated, not blowback; vide the ramp/cam unlock of the FN Browning Hi-power (John Moses Browning, We Are Not Worthy … ), the toggle link of the M1911, the dropping incline-block of the Walther P-38.   


       We're only trying to stop you getting hurt…   

       PS the Webley-Fosbery feels a bit weird but has less kick than the standard Webley Mk.IV, and those unjacketed .455 lead rounds pack an incredible short-range punch.
8th of 7, May 29 2012

       If the concern here is the potential for negligent discharge due to bumping the trigger or dropping the gun, look into a SA/DA auto with transfer bar safety.   

       In those designs 1) the trigger pull when uncocked is comparable to a double-action revolver, ie heavy and long. 2) it is physically impossible for the striker or hammer to contact the firing pin without the trigger being pulled (which inserts a transfer bar and conducts the force through), and the mass of the firing pin would need 1000's of gees to initiate the primer under it's own inertia. The testing procedures for these safety devices is extensive, and often tested post-market by reviewers. It's not unusual to have them dropped from several stories onto concrete without firing, or even struck at the muzzle by a sledgehammer, etc as part of the test protocols.
Custardguts, May 29 2012

       I stand corrected. I should indeed have said that semi-autos operate on the recoil design rather than the blowback design. I did in fact know this at one point, but my memory seems to have been playing tricks on me and I goofed it up. I shall correct it in the idea, and leave this anno here as an admission of guilt. However, the specific mechanism isn't really germane to the proposed idea.   

       [Custardguts], I've proposed a couple of possible ejection mechanisms in subsequent annos. Whether or not they'd actually work is another question, although I think the rotating chamber idea has at least a chance of working.   

       //We're only trying to stop you getting hurt…//   

       How... philanthropic of you, [8th]. Should I feel flattered, or are you just in a particularly giddy mood?   

       [21Q]: *shrug* When the security guards I've seen are carrying they seem to generally be carrying revolvers, but maybe I only notice the revolvers because they stand out. Either way, I doubt most security guards ever have cause to draw their weapons, much less fire them, during the course of their duties. Chances are their orders are along the lines of "observe and report, and for God's sake don't hurt anyone who might sue!" The gun, I suspect, is largely for show.
ytk, May 29 2012

       //Your generalizations are almost (but not quite) insulting.//   

       Sorry. I'll try harder from now on.
ytk, May 29 2012

       You'd do better to sign up for [UB]'s next Masterclass…
8th of 7, May 29 2012

       I did, but I was somehow deleted from the roster.
ytk, May 29 2012

       The private security firm where I was once employed (one of the world's largest) issues semi-automatic sidearms to its armed officers. In a situation where there is a reasonable expectation of attack by well-armed opposition, there are numerous reasons why a semi-auto is superior to a revolver. For a private citizen who is of the 'just in case' mindset, a revolver is a good choice, but they're not infallible. I know a woman who routinely carries a double-action .357; many years ago, her purse strap became snagged on the hammer and drew it back to full cock, and ever since then she's kept a snap-cap in the first chamber as an additional safety measure.   

       I cannot argue the matter objectively; although I own a very nice revolver and have fired many others that I liked, I am hopelessly besotted with the 1911 and will never entertain the notion that there is any handgun superior to it.
Alterother, May 30 2012

       My mate just got one (which is quite the logistical feat here in Australia, let me tell you) - and I know what you mean. That thing is a piece of technological artwork. Old Mr Browning (the father of modern firearms) knew what he was on about. People always prattle on about glocks but I just can't abide by their clunky controls, low quality sights and and soggy triggers - (all of which can be modded, but you should really try to get things right from the get-go).   

       That said, I do like me some Sig '226 for flawless operation and ergonomics.
Custardguts, May 30 2012

       Glocks are shit. Overrated, ugly, dangerous shit. I am perpetually mystified by their popularity.   

       There are many great handguns, both in form and function (although, to me, the two must go hand-in-hand). There are some timeless classics, like the Sig p-frames and the Walther P38, and some really innovative newcomers, like the Five seveN, but there's just this wonderful, undefinable quality to the 1911 that I haven't found anywhere else. People have tried to talk me out of it, and I can see their points of view. There are more accurate handguns, more ergonomic ones, lighter ones, certainly many that are more comfortable to fire... but they aren't my .45.
Alterother, May 30 2012

       Glocks' chief advantages lie in their simplicity and reliability. There are no complicated levers or mechanisms cluttering up the design. Operation is simple: You point the Glock at it, pull the trigger, and it dies. The aftermarket support for them is huge, and many parts are easily interchangeable with guns of the same caliber, and sometimes even between calibers. No complicated tools or training are required to disassemble a Glock, and they work flawlessly even when subjected to tremendous abuse by the user.   

       They're the Macintosh of handguns.
ytk, May 30 2012

       //Glocks are shit. Overrated, ugly, dangerous shit. I am perpetually mystified by their popularity.//
//They're the Macintosh of handguns.//
Nuff said.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 30 2012

       The reason so many aftermarket parts are available for Glocks is because they pretty much require a total rebuild straight out of the box to turn them into a decent gun.   

       Glocks have no external de-cocking mechanism and a safety interlock that is notorious for failure (but still seems to be functioning after it's broken), making them very dangerous to carry chambered. That's if you can get a round chambered in the first place--many gunsmiths make a tidy profit filing down that Matterhorn of a feed ramp. They have mushy triggers that give very little to no feedback; fine for speed shooting, but crap for aimed shots. That hardly matters, however, because the huge sights damn near obscure whatever you're trying to hit anyway, and they're so imbalanced that they jump around like a coked-up grasshopper, making re-acquisition a bother; you shouldn't have to manhandle a gun to keep it on target. People install underslung tactical lights on them just for the added weight. And on top of all that, they're the fugliest pistol available on the market today.   

       As for disassembly, no tools _whatsoever_ are required to strip and clean a 1911. I usually clean mine with a couple of toothpicks and a scrap of linen.   

       I could go on, but I'm sure that's more than enough to fuel an argument. If it's not, I can always start airing my opinion of Berettas.
Alterother, May 30 2012

       //No tools...dissasemble a 1911// though a bullet could come in handy to pop the safety lever out so you don't have to wiggle it back and forth for half an hour.
FlyingToaster, May 30 2012

       I assume you mean the slide release (some people call it the slide lock, action lock, or lockback lever), and yes, it helps to have something to get it started, but as you pointed out, any number of found objects will do the job nicely. You can sit down _anywhere_ and field strip the 1911 by removing _one_ part, clean all of the vital componentS using a bit of cloth and a splinter of wood, or a coin, or whatever you find lying around, and have it back together in about a minute. The only thing you need to have with you is a little bit of oil. I don't see how it gets any simpler than that.
Alterother, May 30 2012

       // any any number of found objects wil do the job nicely. //   

       Easy enough to shift the clip with the bottom rear corner of the mag, although you risk scratching be bluing on the frame. A flattened spent case is better.
8th of 7, May 30 2012

       My firearms toolbox contains a lot of wooden implements-- chopsticks, bamboo utensils, bits of hardwood dowel--that I use as punches and scrapers specifically to avoid marring the finish on guns. As long as you're careful not to leave any splinters behind, it's a great way to pamper your babies. I also have a plastic automotive fuse extractor that is good for grabbing little sharp-edged bits, instead of breaking my fingernails.
Alterother, May 30 2012

       and interlock that prevents the removal of the magazine unless the final shell has been discharged from the chamber would achieve the same result. implementation would be quite simple given the fact that many semi-automatic designs already allow the cocking mechanism to move to a second position after the magazine is empty. Combine this with a system that disables the trigger when the slide is worked manually and you have resolved the problem.   

       Note: Possession of a firearm is the top indicating risk factor for firearm injury for you or your loved ones. The moment a gun enters your home, the chances that you yourself will get shot nearly double, the chances that your preteen child will suffer a gun injury go up far more.
WcW, May 30 2012

       While I acknowledge the risk factor involved in firearm ownership, I find those figures to be a little outrageous when stated in such a broad, general manner.   

       Also, it seems like kind of an unnecessarily inflammatory statement to make in a room full of people who love guns. Are you trying to tell me I should throw all my guns away because the only possible outcome is that one of my family members will get killed, or do you actually labor under the misapprehension that we haven't heard things like that a hundred times already? It's a bit like going to a dog show and warning people that they're at risk of being bitten or mauled.
Alterother, May 30 2012

       Well, they're falling on the ears of people who disagree with the implication of causality inherent in the statements.   

       Correlation =/= Causation. Take a statistics course.
Custardguts, May 30 2012

       //I could go on//
And Lord! you do.
TolpuddleSartre, May 31 2012

       //room full of people//   

       While I have some reservations about the application of my country's rather draconian gun laws (Canada), mostly because of feedback loop problems (people don't know what a gun is or how to use it, so having one becomes that more dangerous, so then tighter laws are required, rinse and repeat), I just rewatched a YT vid about an idiot who discharged a battle rifle (frankenFAL, semi-auto) in an apartment building while playing with his really badass-looking toy.
FlyingToaster, May 31 2012

       Bad apples. The same kind of idiots raise nasty-ass dogs and give Pit Bulls a bad name, or crash their tricked-out cars and turn everyone with a customized vehicle into a pariah. He's part of a tiny minority whose thoughtless actions get blown far out of proportion. He's the reason for the kind of dubious statistics [WcW] felt the inexplicable need to start spouting.
Alterother, May 31 2012


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