15 May 2019

A Hermaphrodite “Pistolver” From Belgium

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If there were such a word as “pistolver” [пистольвер], then it would completely fit the gun of one Belgian manufacturer presented here. What at first glance resembles a self-loading pistol with an internal trigger actually turns out to be a five-shot revolver.

From the 5/2019 issue of КАЛАШНИКОВ [Kalashnikov], the Russian gun magazine, translated from Der Zwitterwaffe von Louis Pierre Joseph Wertz [The Hermaphrodite Gun of Louis Pierre Wertz] by Dr. Dirk Ziesing in the 4/2018 issue of Deutsches Waffen Journal. Translated by Mikhail Dragunov into Russian, then by Google and me to English.

In the era that came after muzzle-loading weapons, the word “pistol” was used as a general term for all hand weapons — pistols and revolvers. So it is not surprising that a weapon with a rotating block of chambers was first called a “revolving pistol.” Only later did the shorter term “revolver” appear.

The Browning Pistol was the pattern for external form of the Pistolver.

With the advent of multiply-charged and automatic weapons at the end of the 19th century, the differences of terms became more significant. Especially when the designs of John Moses Browning, starting with the FN (Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre — weapons factory in Liege) Model of 1900, swept the market, it became tough for the renowned manufacturers of revolvers. They either included self-loading weapons in their product line, or made improvements in the revolver niche in order to keep their traditional clientele.

Evidence of their decline was the appearance of revolvers at that time, which more or less skillfully deceived the consumer with an external form imitating a pocket semi-automatic pistol. The first step in this direction was the internal trigger, which eliminated the preliminary cocking of the hammer in a revolver. By the elongation of the frame, this approached the contours of a semi-automatic pistol.

On the left side is the chambering, 7.65 Browning caliber, as well as the registered trade name, Le National, and “breveté,” an indication of the existence of a patent for the design.

In the above model, this attempt reached its apogee. Seen from the side, the contour of the model is almost identical to the FN Model 1900 pistol. The cylinder, of course, is not eliminated, but the opportunity for creativity still remained from the cylinder to the muzzle. His first model Browning is equipped with a return spring placed under the barrel, giving the impression that two barrels are placed one below the other. The Belgian designer used this arrangement in order to place successfully line up the cylinder and the case ejector in his “pistolver”.

The Creator

The surname Wertz dates back to the beginning of the XVIIth century and is common in Eupen and Aachen. In September 1871, an unmarried gunsmith named Louis Pierre Joseph Wertz died at the age of only 19 years in Liège. He was the son of a tailor. It can be assumed that he was related to the same Pierre Wertz, who at the end of the XIX century maintained a workshop in Chefneux, which town was located between Saive and Barchon, a few kilometers from Liège. In the XVI century, one of the most famous breweries was in its vicinity. 300 years later, one of its main sources of wealth was the production of weapon parts.

Only by the cylinder can you identify this as a revolver. All the rest resembles a semi-automatic pistol.

A postcard of those times shows a group photo of the workers of the firm of Wertz: 14 men, two women and two children. It is likely that among them is their boss’s family. Most men hold revolvers in their hands – obviously the main product of the company. But in the corporate list of 1904, Wertz was named not only as a gunmaker, but also as a seller of files. Files at that time were among the most important tools of the weapon master.

Between 1902 and 1910, Wertz obtained eight patents from the Belgian Patent Office in Liège. The first, number 161929, refers to an interesting safety on a revolver of the classical form, that is, with an external trigger. [In this case, the spur of the hammer rotates and is provided with an internal protrusion. If the hammer spur is pressed forward, then the protrusion, on the one hand, squeezes the hammer against the frame. On the other hand, it disconnects the sear from the trigger, so that it only rotates the cylinder and facilitates loading and unloading.

Gunsmith Wertz borrowed from the FN 1900 model for his “pistolver” even the safety and the inscription “Feu” (fire).

It was six years before, in May 1908, Wertz received another patent (number 208178), which also describes the design of an original safety for a revolver, with just an internal hammer. The movement of the hammer is completely blocked by the retractable grip extension when it is pushed in. The German trading house Stukenbrok in Einbeck, which sold by mail, in its catalog of 1913 offered such a revolver under order number 7956. The catalog says: “The safety is in the hammer itself; only after the tip of the hammer is extended, thanks to which the hammer becomes somewhat longer and more comfortable, can one fire. After pressing in the extended part of the hammer, the revolver is reliably re-secured.” This revolver “for the small Browning cartridge,” described as “very modern,” cost 21 marks at that time and was almost twice as expensive as the most inexpensive pocket revolver.

Cartridge Case Ejector

The case ejector sleeve is placed in front of the cylinder shaft and can be rotated for disassembly.

On July 13, 1908, Belgian patent No. 209486 was added, which was implemented in the weapon presented here. And two months later, an additional patent followed the number 210504, in which Wertz introduced a version of the “pistolver” with a swinging barrel and described a new locking mechanism for it.

At the same time, the patent office in Liège issued a patent for improvement number 211136 on an extension arm. The only change related to the simplified guide and its limitation in the extended state.

In January 1909, with patent No. 213549, Wertz returned to his “pistolver” when he came up with a new design concept to facilitate loading and unloading. Pusher sleeves on the right side of the weapon, interacting with the wheel of the appropriate form, serves to rotate the drum. Pressing the ejector also rotates the drum further to the next position.

Cartridge Case Extractor

The successful alignment of the case extractor and cylinder shaft was the subject of a patent.

In July 1909, another improvement patent (No. 217562) for a retractable lever appeared, as its design was clearly imperfect. Now the moving part was guided by the central spindle located inside. In addition, two alternative locking options were added. In the first mechanism of extension is fixed by a rotating lever. In the second, a push button completes the locking function.

The team of Pierre Wertz company in Chefneux proudly presents its products. In this group photo, the family of the owner of the company is clearly present on the right.

In early 1910, the latest patent in a series, number 222519, was completed, describing a safety for a revolver with an internal hammer trigger. To use it, you click on a projection from the rear of the frame sleeve and block the movement of the trigger.

In August 1914, German troops destroyed the town of Chefneux, presumably including the house of the gunsmith Pierre Wertz.

In 1913 and 1914, the Wertz company was still registered with the Liége test station, but the invasion of German troops instantly put an end to the Liège arms industry. On August 16, 1914, five civilians were shot in the village of Chefneux and the rest of the population was deported. The next day, all 22 houses were burned. The names of the victims are known, but the name of Wertz is not among them. Still the gun workshop was destroyed. In any case, thereafter, the name of Pierre Wertz no longer appears in the arms sector. Though in the 1940s, Blegny was a seller of cutting tools by the name of Wertz, whose files were used in nearby weapons factories.

As already mentioned, the “pistolver” shown here embodies the features presented in Belgian patent No. 209486. The main goal was to arrange the cylinder axis and cartridge case ejector in such a way as to make it look similar to the FN M1900 gun. So that the end of the ejector rotates under the barrel when not in use, and the muzzle really looks like in the aforementioned pistol. …The next sign – the cover at the bottom of the grip is hidden under the cover of the store; the grip actually provides room for five extra rounds, that is, a reserve for reloading the cylinder. And the safety lever on the left side of the frame is strikingly reminiscent of the Browning pistol safety. Yet it must be rotated in the opposite direction so that the word FEU (fire) would appear.

When the revolver is not in use, the ejector head is hidden under the barrel.

The oval stamp of PW BTE indicates that this is a product of Pierre Wertz’s licensed production. This stamp is also found on
other hammerless revolvers of his production. The proof marks on the right side of the barrel, along with the mark of the inspector of the Li̬ge test station PV (smokeless powder test), also include the stamp R Рthe proof of a weapon with a rifled barrel. This combination had been used since 1894.

On the left side of the frame in front of the drum, above the designation of the patented design (BREVETE) is the trade name LE NATIONAL. Though the idea of ​​using national identity for the brand name of a weapon does not go back to Pierre Wertz. Already, in 1896, the French gunsmith Brun-Latrige used the name Le National for a new system of smooth-bore weapons.

Comparison of the muzzle of the FN 1900 and pistol

When comparing the muzzles, it is striking that the barrel of the FN 1900 is on the bottom, and on the pistolver, on the top. The head of the extractor mimics the appearance of the gun.

Serial numbers of known copies of this model of revolver are four-digit, so we can assume, consequently, that only a small number of these revolvers were produced. But still, Pierre Wertz sold his products not only directly, but also through intermediaries.

So, for example, a “pistolver” of the Pierre Wertz Arms factory of the exact same form is also found with the marking of J. B. Ronge Fils. This company, founded in Liège in 1789 by Jean-Baptiste Ronge, maintained international business relations, for example, with the Danish army. Until 1929, the company Ronge was registered by the Liège test station, then it was acquired by the joint-stock company ARMAF, which was founded in 1866 as a Manufacture Liègeoise d’armes a feu (Liège Firearm Manufactory).

branding pistolvera

On the left you can see the stamp of the Liege testing station for testing a rifled barrel with smokeless powder, on the right – the stamp of the manufacturer.

In the catalog of the Hamburg company Adolf Frank Exportgesellschaft (ALFA) for 1911, under the names Dartute (6.35 mm caliber) and Dartufi (7.65 mm caliber), Wertz’s revolvers in Browning format were offered as a novelty with a back-up magazine in the handle. And finally, the company Manufacture francaise d’armes et cycles (Manufrance) – “French manufactory for the production of weapons and bicycles” in Saint-Etienne also offered such pistols-revolvers.

The pistol grip of the Belgian company Wertz (on the right) contains five Browning cartridges of 7.65 mm caliber. The lid on the bottom end looks like a magazine cover. For comparison – the FN 1900 magazine (in the picture on the left). The semi-protruding rim of the Browning 7.65 mm cartridge allows it to be used in revolvers.

When the brilliant John Moses Browning (1855 – 1926) was engaged in the development of self-loading pistols, he did not ignore the revolver segment. He produced cartridges with a half-protruding rim, which could be fixed in the drum of a revolver. Thus, Browning cartridges with a half-protruding rim in calibers 7.65 mm (.32) and 6.35 mm (.25) have found application in countless models of small-sized revolvers. On the weapon presented here on the left side of the barrel is the corresponding designation of the caliber in the form of C BROWNING 7 65.

2 Feedbacks on "A Hermaphrodite “Pistolver” From Belgium"


So a guy named Dragunov is writing for a magazine called Kalishnikov?

Charles McLean

That is a very interesting firearm. I have a Clements 5mm and fires a centerfire cartridge but I have not been able to find any, any suggestions?


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