Monday, July 21, 2008

Italian Revolvers

The Bodero Revolver
The 10.4 sometimes called the 10.35 was developed for the model 1874 service revolver. It came in two main models. The enlisted soldier’s model didn’t have a trigger guard and the trigger folded up while the officer’s model had a normal trigger guard. I am not sure as to any advantage of having two different trigger guard systems. There was also a brass frame model made but they are not common. Like many other guns of the period it was designed by a commission and made in several different plants so there are some minor differences between them. It is similar in size and power to the 44 Russian but isn’t interchangeable. In fact I have seen them rechambered for the 44 Russian which while usable destroys the collectors’ value of the piece. It was also used in the 1889 Glesenti revolver and saw some use up to 1945 as a secondary pistol. There were both black powder and smokeless loads developed for it. It was used until the 1920’s when the 9mm Glesenti replaced it as the first line service handgun. Occasionally you can find a revolver at a gun show or on an auction and the price is usually reasonable.

Ammo is somewhat of a problem as nothing is standard with this gun. Fiocchi has made ammo for it but availability is spotty or non existent. Like many of the obsolete guns that abound making your own is the only option. The listed ballistics is for a black powder load of a 177 grain is listed at 735 while a smokeless is launched at 800 feet per second. One can see that it’s not a powerhouse nor should the handloader attempt to make it one. I did not attempt to squeeze every last foot second out of this revolver as I prefer my weapons to be in one piece. If I desire more power I have plenty of other more modern handguns.
5 X Herco 170 grain hj hp 552 slow
6 X Unique 170 grain hj hp 833 good load
4.5 X Herco 180 grain hp 452 slow
5.5 X Herco 180 grain hp 722 ok
5 X Herco 190 grain cast 802 accurate
3.5 X Herco 200 grain cast 577 consistent
4.5 X Unique 200 grain cast 729 accurate
4 X Herco 210 grain Wad cutter 719 accurate

Brass can be made by shortening a 44 special or Russian case or obtaining the brass from Buffalo Arms. They make good quality brass for many hard to get cases for obsolete guns. Case length is listed at .89 while the loaded length is 1.25. It doesn’t take a very astute person to see that there isn’t a lot of room for the powder charge. Bullets are .422 in diameter and are very difficult to find. You need a custom mold or do as I do and swage down .427 diameter bullets and they work fine. I tried some Sierra hollow points swaged down but to be perfectly honest there is no advantage to using them. They are more expensive and won’t expand at the velocities obtainable with this revolver. I made some full metal jacketed bullets and while they shot ok there is no advantage to them that I am aware of. The 170 grain half jacket hollow point driven to 750 feet per second would expand due to its design and may be the best bullet for self defense if you chose to use the gun for that purpose. The lead bullets originally made for the 44-40 works just fine for any conceivable use and they were my all around favorites.. You won’t be driving any lead bullet fast enough to lead the bore. I would not recommend shooting 427 diameter bullets for a couple of reasons. First of all they probably won’t chamber and if they do excess pressure may result in shooting those oversize bullets. My bore slugged out at 422 which is the called for diameter. You can buy a set of reloading dies if you can find them though they will cost an arm and a leg. I found that using a 41 magnum seating die sized the cases perfectly and a cut down 44 special dies to bell the case and seat the bullet. Once I figured all that out loading isn’t any more difficult then any other revolver. The top loads I would consider max and would not exceed them and the light loads are shown for comparison purposes. My gun was made in the 1920’s near the end of the manufacturing period. That puts it in the smokeless powder period however I have no desire to make it a junior 44 magnum nor would any prudent individual.

The gun loads like most typical guns of that period. It appears to be a sturdy affair with a small grip both characteristics of that period. The barrel is about 4” long. The rear sight is very rudimentary being a notch in the frame while the front is a typical blade. There is a gate that lifts back and you just drop in the rounds. While it’s a double action piece I shot it single action as the trigger is very heavy in the double action mode. I suppose that people during that time had a bionic trigger finger. Anyway the single action was pretty decent being serviceable but heavy. It seems that military revolvers of that period were treated as stepchildren. Most of them aren’t very powerful and accuracy is an afterthought. With one or two exceptions most of them were underpowered and produced some complaints from the troops for that reason.

Enlisted soldiers' version which lacks the trigger guard

Recoil wasn’t bad with any of the loads. Accuracy was surprisingly good though it shot high. We obtained groups of 2’ at 15 yards with the best loads which is very respectable with such a gun. The empties have to be poked out one at a time which would encourage you to solve your problem with the first 6 shots. As for what it would be useful for small game comes to mind but would lack the power for any large game. While not the best item it would be fairly good for self defense at close range. It beats throwing rocks or taking a knife to a gun fight. After all no one wants to get shot with anything if they can avoid it. Its main use would be going out and target shooting and getting stares from fellow shooters who have their modern guns.
Bob Shell

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