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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:11 am 
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A while back, I wrote a detailed, informal article on the evolution and history of the Webley service revolver. I'm just going to transfer it to this forum so you guys might be able to gain a glimpse into why I love the pistols so much:

Gentlemen,

The Webley service revolvers from 1887 onwards are possibly the finest example of revolvers, especially, service revolvers. I will argue that there are none better (well, perhaps the Fosbery, but they're a tad absurd and complex), and even modern semi-automatic pistols cannot match its abilities.

For this post, I will use the Webley & Scott Mk.VI revolver in .455 Mk.II as a reference, as it is the most common, and the summit of service revolvers (the .38 S&W Mk.IVs and Enfield No.2 Mk.Is aren't comparable).

First and foremost, consider this: a service revolver was not just a sidearm strapped to someone's hip as a weapon of 'last resort.' British officers, up until fairly modern times, were not issued rifles, sub machine guns, or what have you.

In a practice beginning with the Beaumont-Adams revolvers of the 1850s, British officers equipped themselves with privately purchased revolvers. Many of the revolvers made in the second half of the 19th century by the great, various British firms are completely solid designs and the number that survive to this day is a testament to their quality.

By 1887, Webley & Scott had already established itself as a great revolver manufacturer. The Boxer Revolver (i.e. Webley No.1) was a revolutionary revolver that fired the first cartridge primed by a Boxer primer, and at a whopping .577, it was very formidable. But it wasn't until 1887 that they began to move from civilian oriented self defense style pistols (e.g. the British Bulldog and R.I.C. Revolver style handguns) to firearms more suited for the British officer corps serving in the now expansive Victorian era Empire. The Webley Mk.I service revolver began replacing the somewhat poorly designed Enfield No.I and No.II revolvers. Here is an example of a Mk.I revolver:

http://www.deactivated-guns.co.uk/image ... ey_mk1.jpg

All Webley revolvers following the Mk.I were essentially built in the same fashion. Top break, automatic ejection (and yes, it only ejects the spent cases), square, bulky frame. Not much changed from the Mk.I to the Mk.IV, apart from barrel lengths, grip and hammer shapes, and the types of steel.

The Mk.V was introduced in 1913 just in time for the First World War, the barrels were more or less standardized at 5" (some were made shorter, longer), but most importantly, the Mk.V could fire cordite charges. The .455 Mk.I black powder cartridge was cut down a good amount to form the .455 Mk.II.

I'll take a break from design history to go into detail about the cartridge itself.

The .455 Mk.I was designed for the Webley Mk.I, more or less. It was an evolution of the .476 Eley/Enfield, which was actually the exact same calibre as .455 Mk.I (and Mk.II). .476 Eley can be fired out guns that can fire .455 Mk.I(I) but not the other way around. The Mk.I featured a .455 calibre (just under, I believe, something like .454") round nosed, hollow based, solid lead, unjacketed bullet, with three lubrication grooves. Here's a good photo comparing .455 with .45 ACP and such:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0603/ ... s/455s.jpg

Note that the .455 Colt is actually the same as .455 Mk.I (black powder), and the WWII era .455 is jacketed, I believe it's designated the Mk.IV (.455 Mk.I sort of broke the Hague Convention once it was put in place). From the very start, the .455 was wildly popular with the officer corps, and one can observe that the round was in use until it was finally decommissioned, many years after its declared obsolescence in 1923, in the late 1950s. A good 80 years of service with minimal changes.

A sort of odd source of praise for the .455 was from the exceptionally controversial Thompson-LeGarde Trials responsible for the adoption of the .45ACP round and the M1911 (later the 1911A1) in the US. Essentially, a bunch of men, including the future inventor of the Thompson SMG, now Colonel John Thompson, took a menagerie of pistols of all calibres to a ranch and started shooting steer in different ways in an attempt to gauge how well each round could produce the much needed 'stopping power.' Before I continue, all the tests were almost completely unscientific (think Deadliest Warrior on SPIKE), and the results are largely contested and seen as an attempt to just prove that the .45 calibre was the best. Apart from finding that the many calibres produced odd deaths in the steer, the primary recommendation that the board put forth was for a cartridge similar to the .455 Mk.III, which was the 'man stopper' configuration (a wad cutter). Take that with a grain of salt and as you will.

Interestingly enough, both the black powder and cordite cartridges were nearly identical. Both propelled a 265 grain bullet (same, exact specifications) at nearly the same velocity, approximately 650 fps (different ammo loadings vary, of course, e.g. Fiocchi is very hot at close to 850 fps). This is interesting. They could have easily retained the extra length of the black powder cartridge and used the same same volume of cordite to increase the velocity. However, even throughout the 20th century, this change was never made. Most wartime production ammunition is clocked at 650-700fps. The reason for this is my next point.

Increasing the velocity of the massive .455 265 grain projectile would indubitably increase recoil quite expressly (a .45 ACP pistol actually produces more recoil firing a 235 grain projectile at 850fps). The recoil on the Webley Mk.VI is quite mild for the size of projectile.

Now, I'm sure everyone has seen old war footage or pictures of officers (of any country) firing pistols. The standard stance for firing a pistol, even semi-automatic, was feet shoulder width apart, right foot facing forward (there were no left handed people ) with the left foot facing perpendicular to the target. Left hand is held at the waist, right arm is pointing straight outward with revolver in hand. The revolver is gripped somewhat loosely, by no mean a death grip.

This is by far the best stance, even compared to modern Weaver and isosceles stances, to fire a revolver of this calibre, giving the user a great advantage in accuracy and rate of fire.

When discharged, the muzzle would flip a good 4" upwards. Since one's grip on the pistol is rather loose, it rocks backwards in the hand. One then positions the thumb onto the hammer, and using a downward motion to both return the pistol to a downward angle (the pistol is not held at a level, but at a downward angle) and easily re-cock the hammer using the leverage created by the weight of the gun. Here is an illustration from F.E. Morton's article on proper revolver technique from the February edition of Defense - the Services in 1941:

http://img822.imageshack.us/img822/8752 ... ocking.gif

Effectively, it allows the operator to maintain the rate of fire associated with a double action revolver or even a semi-automatic pistol, while maintaining a very reasonable trigger pull (8lbs in single action versus the 14lbs in double action), and producing a very manageable recoil (inherently, revolvers produce less recoil than semi-autos as there isn't a large piece of steel slamming back and forth, same goes for bolt action rifles and semi-automatics of the same calibre). Although I don't agree completely with Ex-CPO Morton on this issue, it's still worth considering, a revolver doesn't need magazines to fire six rounds. He mentions the probability of jams (or jambs as he writes) in semi-autos, but I suspect this is due to the quality of earlier semi-autos. While it's getting rarer and rarer for modern semi-autos to jam, there is always the possibility that something in the system will break down. A revolver is virtually impossible to jam (usually a result of user error or poor ammunition), and as long as you have ammunition, you can keep loading it. With a semi-automatic, you're limited to how many magazines you can carry on your person (this might have been a problem for soldiers, not so much for most civilians now a days).

Also, a revolver is inherently slower to reload. This was poorly overcome with the implementation of the 'Prideaux Device.' A speed-loader by any means, but a damnably good one at that. Unlike most speed-loaders which require a twist or turn of some sort, the PD was a single motion (rounds lined up to holes, and the top was pushed down). Had they not been so exceedingly expensive to produce (very complex piece of metal, very rare now, too), they would have overcome this fault, and reload time would very well be faster than some semi-automatics.

Continuing on with the development of the Webley revolver, the late 19th century saw many great designs, the Webley WG and the Webley-Wilkinson. The invention of the world's first, and for a good span of time, only semi-automatic revolver - the Webley Fosbery. The revolver was cocked like a semi-automatic - the top part of the frame reciprocated on a rail just above the grip. After each shot recoil would drive the top section backwards, force the cylinder into the next shot by driving a stud through channels carved in the cylinder, and returning the hammer to the cocked position. It was remarkably accurate and quick. They had problems in the trenches on the Western Front during the First World War, as mud would enter the aforementioned channels and make it a clunk of useless steel as opposed to the most magnificent revolver ever produced.

In 1916, after shortages of Mk.V revolvers was encountered, the Webley Mk.VI was introduced. Basically, it is the summit of service revolver evolution. The grips were changed to a more manageable squared off look (as opposed to the round, bird's head ones in the earlier marks), a removable blade site was added, the rear site was a combination of a V and a U (one for 50 yards, one for 20 yards, respectively), and the barrel was lengthened to 6". Even though it was only manufactured from 1916 to 1921, and later at Enfield by the Royal Small Arms Factory from 1921-1926, they were in service from the First World War into the Korean Conflict. Again, there are vast amounts of these pistols to be had in the modern market, most in very reasonable condition.

Here's a picture I took of mine with my Fairbairn-Sykes dagger:

http://img812.imageshack.us/img812/6508 ... topnew.jpg

Now if I could just find a way to conceal such a behemoth pistol, it would make a fantastic CC weapon. Or I could get out of Texas and move to a state with open carry... nah.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:50 am 
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The double notched rear-sight (for shorter and longer zero) is very interesting. Couldn't find many pictures of it online, but this one sorta gives you an idea:

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:57 pm 
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Here's a picture some bloke on a forum I used to go to posted:

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a66/De ... ed455s.jpg

Unjacketed .455 projectiles that have mushroomed against a metal plate.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:26 pm 
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Forgot to mention how f-in awesome I found the Webley Fosbery to be. Looked it up online and on youtube to figure out how it worked and see it in action. Brilliant design.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 12:55 pm 
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The Webley Fosbery got a bad rep because of some jamming issues in the mud of the trenches of the First World War. It's an absolutely fantastic handgun, capable of highly accurate fire at an astonishing rate. Some Swiss firm late in the 20th century tried to see how fast they could shoot it, something like 6 aimed shots in under 2 seconds.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:16 pm 
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DerMann wrote:
The Webley Fosbery got a bad rep because of some jamming issues in the mud of the trenches of the First World War. It's an absolutely fantastic handgun, capable of highly accurate fire at an astonishing rate. Some Swiss firm late in the 20th century tried to see how fast they could shoot it, something like 6 aimed shots in under 2 seconds.

Normally I'd defer to you on such subjects, D, but in this case I think you're wrong. The reason the Fosbery got a bad rep had nothing to do with reliability in WWI. It had to do with a more fundamental flaw in its overall design. I'm no mechanical engineer, so I'll let the diagram show it best:

http://bit.ly/d0DxlJ

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:22 pm 
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AllianceAsi wrote:
DerMann wrote:
The Webley Fosbery got a bad rep because of some jamming issues in the mud of the trenches of the First World War. It's an absolutely fantastic handgun, capable of highly accurate fire at an astonishing rate. Some Swiss firm late in the 20th century tried to see how fast they could shoot it, something like 6 aimed shots in under 2 seconds.

Normally I'd defer to you on such subjects, D, but in this case I think you're wrong. The reason the Fosbery got a bad rep had nothing to do with reliability in WWI. It had to do with a more fundamental flaw in its overall design. I'm no mechanical engineer, so I'll let the diagram show it best:

http://bit.ly/d0DxlJ



Thats just creepy, i watched that movie on IFC the other week...

A strange movie to say the least.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 7:25 pm 
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AllianceAsi wrote:
Normally I'd defer to you on such subjects, D, but in this case I think you're wrong. The reason the Fosbery got a bad rep had nothing to do with reliability in WWI. It had to do with a more fundamental flaw in its overall design. I'm no mechanical engineer, so I'll let the diagram show it best:

http://bit.ly/d0DxlJ


Heh, if anything that makes it more awesome ;)

In all seriousness, Zardoz is the strangest movie ever made.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 9:07 pm 
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HAHAHA!

Now I'll forever have to ignore the sinister inclination to use my Administrative powers and replace DerMann's signature picture with that.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:51 pm 
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I'll have to restrain myself from making it my avatar ;)

Funny thing about the Fosberys in Zardoz. You'll notice in the movie that they'll only fire it once in a single frame. This is because, while being an 'automatic revolver', the Fosbery lacks a double action, and blanks do not produce enough recoil to drive the mechanism and prepare it for firing again.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:58 pm 
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Reminds me of how Robert Rodriguez shot El Mariachi. Due to his non-existent budget, the cheapo prop guns he had would jam after every shot, so he had to fake their automatic fire in the editing room.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:04 pm 
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Does anyone know what a Mateba Auto revolver is or seen one?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mateba_Autorevolver

The human dude in ghost in the shell carries one in .357 but they come in .44 mag and even .454 casull.

While not break open (like it should be!) i think its kinda the design taken to its modern perfection. (although the cylinder release is somewhat fragile)
What are yalls thoughts?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:30 pm 
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Spiffinz wrote:
Does anyone know what a Mateba Auto revolver is or seen one?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mateba_Autorevolver

The human dude in ghost in the shell carries one in .357 but they come in .44 mag and even .454 casull.

While not break open (like it should be!) i think its kinda the design taken to its modern perfection. (although the cylinder release is somewhat fragile)
What are yalls thoughts?

I don't even think I've ever seen one in person, but this is how I think about it:

The Webley Fosbery was designed partially by VC recipient and by the best revolver manufacture in Britain. It was a decent design, it just served a purpose that wasn't all too necessary, especially with the advent of reliable automatic pistols. It is mentioned in the Maltese Falcon, too :D

On the other hand, the Mateba autorevolver is made by some Italian company and has been used even less than the Fosbery. It's manageable to fire a .455 calibre pistol in rapid succession because of its low velocity, but with magnum cartridges like the .357, .44, and .454, the action of the pistol isn't what's keeping accurate rate of fire low, it's the recoil.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:12 pm 
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I still give Emilio Ghisoni credit for designing very interesting revolvers. I'm always a fan of inventors who repeatedly think outside the box.

He's the same guy who designed the Chiappa Rhino, which has a bore that lines up with the bottom cylinder of the revolver. Having the barrel more inline with your wrist and forearm would definitely reduce rotational torque and the resulting muzzle climb (less of a mechanical advantage to the lever action). I haven't actually shot one, so I'd love to experience how that actually affects perceived recoil.

Rhino: http://gunsforsale.com/ghg/2011/02/16/c ... no-review/

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:19 am 
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I actually have a Mateba in .44 mag (by I i mean my father, hes the one who bought the gaget) and its a bit like the Lamborghini of the collection. Im pretty sure its the Model 6 Unica Hunter with the extra bit of compensator sticking out but im not certain i havent gotten it out in a while.

They are truly amazing. Extra accurate, very very low recoiling for a .44 magnum (id say its more pleasant than shooting a full powered .357) and Very fast firing.

The only issues we have had with it were using .44 special (it will fire but wont cycle properly) and some of the hot .44 handloads (caused it to seize up a little bit). The best ammo to shoot out of it is just commercial .44 Remington magnum although id like to develop a custom load for it to find the guns "butter zone" of operating pressure so i can further take advantage of the low recoil and accuracy.(stupid .44 Special is too weak for the job) The cylinder has to be rotated a tiny bit once closed sometimes, the release lever springy bit might be old. Other than that everything on it is pristine.

I dont know how the webleys first shot handles, but the trigger on the damn mateba is a dream. That first double action break is like butter. Once in single action mode the trigger turns into almost a hair trigger (ive accidentally double-tapped it at the range before, the second shot hitting some wood i think o_o) so it takes a proper grip and little knowhow but its no biggie. Although it could DEFINATELY unload all 6 shots very very rapidly if you really wanted it to.

Because the barrel is alligned with the bottom cylinder it aims and points like a beauty. Other than the Luger is the most comfortable gun I think ive ever aimed.

AllianceEric wrote:
I still give Emilio Ghisoni credit for designing very interesting revolvers. I'm always a fan of inventors who repeatedly think outside the box.

He's the same guy who designed the Chiappa Rhino, which has a bore that lines up with the bottom cylinder of the revolver. Having the barrel more inline with your wrist and forearm would definitely reduce rotational torque and the resulting muzzle climb (less of a mechanical advantage to the lever action). I haven't actually shot one, so I'd love to experience how that actually affects perceived recoil.

Rhino: http://gunsforsale.com/ghg/2011/02/16/c ... no-review/



Yes! Youre definitely spot on about that. If they were to take a .454 with that design applied, id bet money shooting full powered ammo would be as pleasant as average .44 mag loads :D (an oxymoron i know, but as is the two are nothing alike xD)

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:10 am 
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I've never handled a Webley Fosbery, but I'm familiar with the mechanism and I'm more than familiar with a very comparable pistol, the Mk.VI.

The first shot from a Webley Fosbery is in single action only. I don't believe that the Fosbery has a traditional DA mechanism. Rather, after the cylinder is charged, the frame is closed, and the top of the pistol is retracted, much as you would with a slide on a semi-automatic pistol. The first shot is 'single action', as are the remaining shots.

The weight on the trigger on the Mk.VI, in SA, is about 6-8lbs - very crisp and probably as close as I'd comfortably get to a 'feather trigger'.

The bottom aligned barrel intrigues me, I'd very much like to try it.

As I mentioned in my first post, there's a very particular method of standing, holding, and firing the pistol to get the utmost accuracy and rate of fire out of Webley service revolvers. This method has been deemed obsolete, as it was worthless for the newer semi-automatic pistols being adopted by most countries. As such, most people who handle these revolvers delegate them as crude and only decently accurate.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:51 am 
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Spiffinz wrote:
I actually have a Mateba in .44 mag (by I i mean my father, hes the one who bought the gaget) and its a bit like the Lamborghini of the collection. Im pretty sure its the Model 6 Unica Hunter with the extra bit of compensator sticking out but im not certain i havent gotten it out in a while.

They are truly amazing. Extra accurate, very very low recoiling for a .44 magnum (id say its more pleasant than shooting a full powered .357) and Very fast firing.

...

Because the barrel is alligned with the bottom cylinder it aims and points like a beauty. Other than the Luger is the most comfortable gun I think ive ever aimed.

I had forgotten that the Mateba was also a bottom cylinder shooting revolver. Would you mind describing the difference in felt recoil with more detail, especially if you've also shot the same ammo from a different pistol/revolver of a similar weight?

The reduced muzzle climb sounds like it would make it more comfortable to shoot, but does having more of the kick thus directed straight back into your arm (rather than back and up) make part of the shooting experience worse? Or is it basically a win-win?

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:42 am 
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AllianceEric wrote:
Spiffinz wrote:
I actually have a Mateba in .44 mag (by I i mean my father, hes the one who bought the gaget) and its a bit like the Lamborghini of the collection. Im pretty sure its the Model 6 Unica Hunter with the extra bit of compensator sticking out but im not certain i havent gotten it out in a while.

They are truly amazing. Extra accurate, very very low recoiling for a .44 magnum (id say its more pleasant than shooting a full powered .357) and Very fast firing.

...

Because the barrel is alligned with the bottom cylinder it aims and points like a beauty. Other than the Luger is the most comfortable gun I think ive ever aimed.

I had forgotten that the Mateba was also a bottom cylinder shooting revolver. Would you mind describing the difference in felt recoil with more detail, especially if you've also shot the same ammo from a different pistol/revolver of a similar weight?

The reduced muzzle climb sounds like it would make it more comfortable to shoot, but does having more of the kick thus directed straight back into your arm (rather than back and up) make part of the shooting experience worse? Or is it basically a win-win?


The revolvers cocking-system Definately soaks up alot of the recoil and the muzzle climb reducer gaget seems to work quite well. The gun is kinda hefty so that absorbs kick too. In terms of felt recoil its just plain softer and less jarring than shooting the same ammo out of a S&W Model 29. The feeling of being punched in the hand is less than a .357. Our Model 629 has more "felt" recoil but its muzzle compensator is much more effecient so it has less muzzle rize but more recoil than the Mateba. It would go so far as to say the Mateba is almost as controllable as using .38 Special in a full size .357

Having the barrel alligned with the bottom cylinder is defnately win win because it keeps the gun from "twisting" out of your hand. I once fired a friends .454 with full power hand loads and not only did the thing kick so bad it HURT but it seemed to want to rotate out of your hand while recoiling. If something similar were to happen with the Mateba because its all in-line with your arm its much,much more controllable. When leaning into the gun with a fighting stance its even better because you can get your mass and arm strength directly behind the bore of the gun allowing for better control.

The only downside I can think of the Mateba is its pretty damn big and people at the shooting range ALWAYS come ask what it is :roll: :P

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:15 pm 
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Thanks man. Now I really, really want to try one out. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:16 pm 
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Posts: 1027
Location: Houston, TX
Yeah dude its an experience, being able to double tap a .44 mag is like nothing ive ever done :D
the two shots are nearly simultaneous.

If it were to be included in Alliance (as an unlock?? o:) and I was the designer I would just give the gun the comparative power of a .44 special, a slightly longer reloading time and perhaps a slightly slower muzzle velocity. Recoil should be modeled such that with rapid fire the sight picture is lost but accuracy can be maintained.

One great addition the gun would greatly benefit from is a front sight thats not the same shade of black as the rear sight. A white dot or orange strip would be a nice custom edition ;D

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The NZG Specialist, Stick Wielder, Shotgun Extraordinaire


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