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Update 13.10.2002

G.O.W. Kickback:

Questions and Answers

Answering readers' questions is discontinued because of death of the editor of this column, the famous gunwriter P. T. Kekkonen.

Orbea Hermanos

I have a Orbea Hermanos, Eibar, (5 shot gun, with mother of pearl handle) that looks like a S&W model 3 cal 380( or so do I believe). I would like to know in wich year it was made, what it was first used for ( military or civil utilization) and if it has any considerable market value. I also have a friend who has a Belgian gun - Gerard, Brazilian model, made from Da Lepace cal .380.

I took some of those informations from an Italian Enciclopedia of guns in the internet, called: Atlante Storico Delle Armi. Some illustrations of this enciclopedia are very similar to my gun, but with small differences (illustrations 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5). My friend's gun is accuratelly illustrated in picture 2.22. If You have any knowlege about any of these or any other related to these matters, please contact me.

Thank you Mauro, Brasil.

answer.GIF (573 bytes) "Just the pimps of brothels and dance-hall girls prefer handguns with mother-of-pearl grips" said U.S. General GEORGE PATTON in a radio interview during Second World War. Your Hermanos Orbea (Brothers Orbea) revolver is therefore intented for civilian sales. It seems to be really a copy of Smith & Wesson Model 3 with five shot cylinder and rounded grip. Orbea Brother's copy of Ladysmith revolver had six shot cylinder and non-rounded grip. Military models were also usually copies of Smith & Wesson six-shooter revolvers. See the drawings.

qaorbea.gif (7300 bytes)

Fig. 8-16: Orbea copy of S & W Model 1902
Fig. 8-17: Orbea copy of S & W Model 1905
Fig. 8-18: Orbea copy of S & W Model 1903 (or Model 3)
Fig. 8-19: Orbea copy of Model Ladysmith (not mass-produced).

Source of drawings: ASE-ATLAS by A.B.ZHUK (Russia/Finland).

Hermanos Orbea produced copies of Smith & Wesson revolvers for Spanish army since 1894. The firm did not survive Spanish Civil War 1936 - 39. It was presumably the very first Spanish mass-producer of revolvers. Orbea tried to design their own wheelgun models, including a semiautomatic revolver as early as in 1863! (At least one of these revolvers with gas cylinder/ piston action is in the collection of MUSEU DE ARMAS in Eibar, Spain). Gas-operated mechanism was one of many "too much too early" inventions during the era of sooty blackpowder and before era of truly reliable cartridges with brass cases.

(Answer not completed because of author P. T. Kekkonen's death)

Letters from visitors:


I noticed one of your correspondents was looking at using powder from .303 British blanks in his L-39 rounds (Frank, USA) as an initiator charge. He wasn't sure precisely what the powder was. British and Australian army .303 blanks usually used ballistite, a very fast and hot burning powder. It was also used in the grenade-launching .303 blanks which were usually half blackened to identify them as such.

If the blanks he has are specifically made for firing from an LMG with a constricted barrel they may use a different, slower powder. I have not seen such ammunition, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Also I believe ballistite was at one time used as a shotgun propellant before better powders came along.

Ballistite was also used in early 6.5 Carcano ammunition and it is one of Alfred Nobel's many inventions.

Sherro. (Australia)

AGUILA - .22 SSS-Sniper SubSonic

Dear Mr Kekkonen: I accidentaly ran into your comments regarding the above cartridge, in response to a question posed to you by an individual. As you mentioned that you beIieved that the cartridge of reference was created by Remington, I would like to set the record straight. I am the person who created it as a concept, directed its development and manufacturing and marketed it in the U.S. through Industrias Tecnos' subsidiary (Centurion Ordnance, Inc.).

Remington did not have any participation or made any contribution, neither in its conception, development or manufacturing. I have also created all the new -some unique- AGUILA new cartridges, such as the .22 Colibri, .22 Super Colibri, .22 Super Maximum, 12ga Minishells and the IQ centerfire line of ammunition. We will soon be launching new cartridges, such as the .223 Rimfire (no misprint here).

Regards, Eduardo J. Belgrano

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