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Shooting the 1883 Reichsrevolver



The 1883 Reichsrevolver is not the weapon most people would expect to see in German service - it was a decidely obsolete weapon from the moment of its adoption. The initial 1879 model was actually even worse, with an awkward grip and longer barrel, but the 1883 update retained all the same mechanical features of the first version. Specifically, it is a single-action-only revolver with a remarkably heavy hammer spring, a really pointless manual safety (you can only engage it when the hammer is down), a non-rebounding hammer, and no ejector. To remove the empty cases, you actually have to use a separate ejector rod stored in your holster - or a stick off the ground.

The cartridge is the 10.6mm German Ordnance round, used in basically nothing else, which is for all practical purposes equivalent to the .455 Webley. It fire a 250-260 grain lead bullet at about 650 feet per second (black powder only!). That doesn't translate into an impressive number of foot-pounds, but it was definitely a round that packed some wallop.

I went out to the range expecting the Reichsrevolver to a pretty atrocious gun, like it is on paper. Much to my happy surprise, though, I found it a lot of fun to shoot. The sight weren't regulated well to my ammunition (it shot substantially high), but the deep boom of the back powder, the cloud of smoke, and the nice kick (enough to convey some ballistic effectiveness, but not so much as to be uncomfortable) made for a great shooting experience. It may be an 1860s design 20 years past its time, but seeing as we are now 120+ years past when these were being actually manufactured (and we're not actually depending on these to fight colonial campaigns anymore) the Reichsrevolvers are a fun piece of antiquity.