The Mershon and Hollingsworth Self Cocking Revolver – Silvercore Firearms Training BC
Originally, all revolvers were single action, especially the Colt revolver. This meant that the user had to cock the hammer before firing. Then came the double action, invented by the Adams Company of England. With a double action the force of pulling the trigger cocks the hammer and rotates the cylinder in one motion. The downside is that a double action has a stronger trigger pull than a single action.
During the American Civil War, a company called Mershon and Hollingsworth sought to solve this problem by inventing what is essentially an automatic revolver. The MH design featured a regular Colt Model 1860 revolver, only MH added a large clockwork spring which connected the hammer and trigger mechanism. The user would wind up the spring beforehand and would cock the hammer on the first shot. After the first shot, the spring would release and then rewind, the motion of which would cock the hammer and rotate the cylinder. After each shot the mechanism would repeat, thus ensuring the user need not cock the hammer again or deal with a heavy double action trigger pull. Like the clockwork on a watch, eventually the spring would run out of energy, it isn’t a perpetual motion machine after all. Like a pocket watch, it would have to be rewound for the mechanism to continue working properly.
Unfortunately for MH, the clockwork mechanism of their design was complex, fragile, hard to manufacture, and expensive. A regular single action revolver, or even double action was several times cheaper than MH’s bizarre clockwork revolver.
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