We can learn a lot from firearms history, but some of it is just plain cool. In this video, Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons takes a look at a Saint Ettiene revolver, Le Redoutable, which translates to “The Redoubtable.” What’s so cool about it? Well, it’s a double-barreled revolver with a twenty-shot capacity. Read on to learn more.
What is Le Redoutable?
It’s a revolver, and an old one at that. Ian got to examine it at Ader, an auction house in Paris. According to Ader’s listing, it is “the model of very high power.” The listing states the gun is chambered in 25 caliber but does not give details beyond that regarding its chambering. Unfortunately, Ian wasn’t able to get more detail than that, although he did add he can see it is not a 6.35 Browning.
The Redoutable was sold by Manufacture D’Armes Et Cycles De Saint-Ettiene (“The Saint Etienne Bicycle and Firearms Company”). A fascinating detail Ian mentions is that it was common for bicycles and firearms to be manufactured and marketed in this way at that time. Apparently, the old FN Herstal logo even featured a rifle crossed over a set of bike pedals.
If you’re looking for an American parallel with this French manufacturer, Ian states they were a bit like the Sears Roebuck of France. Commonly known as Manufrance, the company put out a catalog, not unlike the old Sears catalog, that included everything from bikes to dog leashes to firearms. Le Redoutable appeared in their catalog around 1910 or 1911. A the time it was common for small revolvers to be sold for shooting blanks, or for defending against bandits. Enter Le Redoutable, with its two barrels and twenty chambers.
The barrels of the revolver are placed one atop the other. It’s a double-action/single-action gun with two firing pins, but it only fires one at a time. Rather than a cylinder that can be swung out like is seen on most modern revolvers, Le Redoutable has a fixed cylinder that can be loaded and unloaded by use of a spring-loaded lever arm that allows the shooter to “open” the gun. When it’s open, the cylinder and barrels fold away from the grip and rearward portion of the frame, pivoting around a screw at the top of the frame immediately behind the cylinder.
To find out exactly how Le Redoutable fires, check out the video below. Ian gets into fantastic detail and does a great job explaining in-depth how the cylinder works and the gun fires.
If you’re interested in getting a look at this revolver model for yourself, viewer Kyle Throckmorton says, “There is a museum in Berryville, Arkansas that has one of these. It is the second largest Colt collection outside the Colt manufacturing themselves. They have lots of neat firearms. The guy who collected them was a millionaire at the turn of the century, and traveled the world collecting firearms along with some other stuff.”
What use would it have had? Viewer barkebaat has an idea: “If I were the Captain of a sailing ship carrying a mutinous crew I would’ve liked to have a pair of these strapped on me at all times.”
Would you want a twenty-shot, 25 caliber revolver?