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 November 2016

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The Cartridges of the 19th Century European Big-Bore Revolvers

PART 6: 10.4m/m Swiss Ordnance Revolvers:


In 1872, the Swiss Army adopted an Ordnance revolver that was similar in design to the French MAS 1873 Chamelot-Delvigne revolver. It's design allowed both single action and double action operation, and it used a 10.4mm rim fire cartridge. A limited number (less than 1000) were issued before being replaced by the Model 1878 revolver which used a 10.4mm center fire cartridge (photo shown above). The existing Model 1872 revolvers were modified to use this center fire cartridge and were designated the Model 1872/78 revolver.

The mechanism of the Model 1878 revolver utilizes a rebounding hammer for improved safety over the earlier rim fire revolver. Like the Model 1872 revolver, it allows for both a single action and double action operation, lacks a loading gate, and employs an ejector rod to remove the spent cartridge cases. The Model 1872 and 1878 revolvers were replaced by the Model 1882 Schmidt-Rubin Ordnance revolver, which was chambered for the Swiss 7.5mm cartridge.



The following 10.4mm Swiss cartridges are from my collection; I have included one loaded with a paper-patched lead bullet, one with a full metal-patched bullet, a shot load and two blank variations. All lack headstamps.







  .421"     .422"     n/a        n/a       n/a       Bullet

  .423"     .427"    .417"    .429"    .382"     Neck

    n/a        n/a       n/a        n/a      .425"     Shoulder

  .435"     .437"    .439"    .440"    .439"     Head

  .524"     .520"    .527"    .526"    .526"     Rim

  .780"     .780"   1.073"    .757"   .802"     Case length

 1.262"   1.242"  1.073"    .757"    .802"     Overall length







Swiss Model 1878 revolver: The Swiss Rifles Message Board,

General information on the Swiss 1872 and 1878 ordnance revolvers:

Wikipedia -

SwissRifles.Com -




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