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This revolver was manufactured by the Meriden Firearms Company in the early part of the 1900's. It was most likely produced some time between 1905 and 1918. This Meriden firearm is a five shot top-break revolver that is chambered for the .32 S&W cartridge. The revolver is constructed of steel and has a beautiful Nickel-plated finish. It is a double action revolver with a barrel length of three inches. The revolver utilizes a blade type front sight and a V notch rear sight that is part of the takedown lever and not adjustable for either windage or elevation. This revolver employs a leaf mainspring to drive the hammer. The grip panels are made of plastic and have a decorative pearl design.

The .32 S&W cartridge was first introduced in 1878 and was intended for use in the Smith & Wesson model 1-1/2 revolver. It was originally designed as a black powder cartridge. The .32 S&W round travels at a rate of about 700 feet per second and with a 85 to 95 grain projectile, it can deliver between 93 and 115 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. For comparison, a .32 ACP or .32 Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge travels at a rate of around 900 feet per second and with a 71 grain projectile it can produce around 128 foot pounds of muzzle energy. The .32 S&W Long cartridge is the  successor to the .32 S&W cartridge and could deliver 112 foot pounds of muzzle energy with a 98 grain projectile moving at 720 fps.

Due to the many thousands of revolvers that were once manufactured for the .32 S&W round, ammunition is still easily available today from sources such as Remington and Winchester. It is often found loaded with 85 and 88 grain bullets that travel about 680 fps to deliver around 90 foot pounds of muzzle energy. The .32 S&W round was actually once recommended as a minimum cartridge to use for personal self defense. It eventually lost that title to the considerably more powerful .380 ACP round which could be chambered for sidearms of similar size to those that used the .32 S&W.

  

  

A brief history of the Meriden Firearms Company.

The Meriden Firearms Company was in the production of firearms from 1905 to 1918 in  Meriden, Connecticut. In the early 1900's, the Winchester firm decided to stop selling firearms to Sears, Roebuck mail order company because Winchester considered the discounting of prices by Sears to be demoralizing to overall firearms prices as well as causing general discontent in the trade. Many firearm manufacturing companies agreed with Winchester's line of thinking, but it was only Winchester that took any type of action. In November of 1904, Winchester announced that it would no longer make available to the Sears, Roebuck company any future firearm sales and even went so far as to cancel all unfilled orders that were on the books.

The Meriden Firearms Company was started by Sears, Roebuck in large part due to Winchester's refusal to sell them firearms. The Meriden company began in 1903 when Sears, Roebuck purchased the Andrew Fyrberg & Sons firearms manufacturing plant. In 1904 they moved the plant and machinery to Meriden, Connecticut. Beginning in the early part of 1905, the Meriden company started manufacturing firearms and soon thereafter, Sears, Roebuck had these arms listed in their discount mail order catalog.

The company was mostly a mail order business selling firearms to Montgomery Ward and Sears who marketed the items through their catalogs. The manufacturing of small arms continued until 1918 when Sears announced that the Meriden Firearms Company would discontinue the production of all sporting firearms. According to the Sears archives, Meriden guns were no longer listed in the 1918 fall edition of their Chicago catalog.

In its day, the Meriden company manufactured sidelock double barrel shotguns and single barrel shotguns, as well as small revolvers. The company also imported firearms from Belgian and sold them under the Meriden name. These imported firearms can be identified by the Belgian proof marks found on them. Meriden also manufactured shotguns for AJ Aubrey. The Meriden line of  pocket pistols, were double-action top-break revolvers chambered in either .32 S&W or .38 S&W calibers. These revolvers came in several different barrel lengths and were offered with both exposed and enclosed hammers. The shotguns were offered in several grades with all of them having automatic safeties and cocking indicators. The barrels for the shotguns could be ordered in twist, damascus, armory steel or Krupp steel. These shotguns could be ordered with or with out external hammers and depending on how deep the customers pockets were, a varying amount of engraving was available. In one ad for AJ Aubrey shotguns where the Aubrey ad mentions the Meriden firearms company, the price for a shotgun was $13.85 while the engraving would cost the customer $50.00 and upward. The engraver for the AJ Aubrey and Meriden shotguns was William Gough whom was also the engraver for other firearms companies such as AH Fox, Parker, Remington and Colt.  

The picture on the left is of the front and rear of this Meriden revolver, while the photograph on the right is of the top and bottom of the firearm.

The full serial number is found on the butt or heel of the revolver, under the left grip panel on the frame and on the underside of the barrel directly above the cylinder. A partial serial number consisting of the last three digits is found on many of the smaller parts.  

The photograph on the left is a picture showing why this firearm design is commonly called a top break revolver. In a top break revolver, the frame is hinged at the bottom front of the cylinder. When the lock is released, pushing down on the front of the barrel brings the cylinder up thus exposing the rear of the cylinder for reloading. This pivoting action also operates an extractor that pushes any cartridges in the chambers out far enough so that they will fall free, or can be easily removed. 

The picture on the right is of the inscription that is stamped on the top of the barrel. This stamp reads as follows, "MERIDEN FIRE ARMS CO." and then underneath that is "MERIDEN, CONN. U.S.A.". This marking indicates that this revolver was manufactured by the Meriden firearms company and that they are located in Meriden, Connecticut in the United States of America.

  

  

Resource:

Cartridges of the world by Frank C. Barnes

Meriden Firearms website located at: http://www.meridenfirearms.com/

Wikipedia website located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meriden_Firearms_Co.  

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