The Firearms technology Museum

Tranter cartridge models

The data sheet is used to identify the variations found on different model Tranter cartridge weapons. The original sheet was compiled by the late Doug Nie while researching a book on the life and weapons of William Tranter. Unfortunately the work was never published.
To view the data sheet click here.

Model 1863 solid frame revolver
Sometimes called the army model although it was never adopted by the armed forces. It was one of the earliest cartridge revolvers made by Tranter and was fitted with a compound action extractor that operated on the rim of the spent cartridge as the early shells tended to break around the base and jamb in the chamber. Covered by British patents 2067 of 1862 and 1862 of 1863. They were mainly double action but single action versions were available. Most were six shot .442 rim fire. A later version in .450 centrefire had a shrouded hammer and a floating firing pin in the frame. This feature was covered by British patent 282 of 1868. An asymmetrical inspection plate was let into the side of the frame and was attached by a screw that screwed into the head of the hammer pivot screw. This plate could be removed to inspect the mechanism as it was operated. A spur on rear of trigger operated the hammer sear and the trigger guard had a slot to accommodate it. They had one piece chequered grips. The most common barrel lengths were 6.5" for the .442 and 6" for the .450.
The serial numbers for the single action were in the low four thousand range. The serial numbers for the double action were from the mid four thousand to the high five thousand range. The serial numbers for the centre fire floating firing pin version were in the thirty thousand range. 
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Model 1868 solid frame revolver
This appeared to be the most popular model and had numerous variations. Covered by British patent 282 of 1868. It was available in .320, .380, .450 and .500 centre fire as well as .380 and .442 rim fire. They were five shot in the smaller calibers and five or six shot in the larger calibers. It was only available in double action and some double trigger examples have been seen. An early version had a shrouded hammer nose and a floating firing pin in the frame. The early extractor stored under the barrel while the later version stored inside the cylinder arbor. An asymmetrical inspection plate was let into the side of the frame and was attached by a screw that screwed into the head of the hammer pivot screw. This plate could be removed to inspect the mechanism as it was operated. Double trigger versions have been seen with a raised circular inspection plate. A spur on rear of trigger operated the hammer sear and the trigger guard had a slot to accommodate it. They were fitted with one piece chequered grips. The most common barrel lengths were 3" for the .320 and 4.5" for the .380, .450 and .500.
The change from early to late style extractor system appears to have been around serial number thirty-eight thousand. The floating firing pin version appears to have been made in two small batches of unknown numbers, the first around serial number five thousand seven hundred and the second around serial number thirteen thousand.
To see model 1868 images click here

Model 1878 solid frame army revolver
Built to help fill Adams contract to the British army of 1878 caused by a shortage of Adams revolvers due to overselling to the Portuguese and Mexican forces. The pattern for a Pistol, revolver, breech loading, Tranter, interchangeable, Mark I, in 450 Boxer was sealed on July 19th 1878 and announced in paragraph 3567 of the List of Changes in June 1879. An order for the first 2000 was suspended later in the year but Instructions to Armourers of H.M. Fleet carried instructions for stripping as late as 1882. Many ended up in colonial service with a number being marked NZ indicating New Zealand issue. Only available in six shot double action .450 centre fire with 5 groove rifling in the 6" barrel. These revolvers weighed 2lb 7.5ozs and had a large removable inspection plate let into the frame to inspect the lock work. The spur on the rear of the trigger operated the hammer sear and the trigger guard had a slot to accommodate it. They were fitted with one piece grips and had a simple rod ejector which rested in a tube alongside the barrel. Some had a lanyard ring in the buttcap.
The Model 1878 had its own separate serial number range. The serial numbers appear to have ranged from one to approx. four thousand two hundred. The revolvers in the four thousand range appear to have been made after William retired.
To see model 1878 images click here

Model 1879 self extracting break action revolver
This was available in six shot in both .380 and .450 centre fire. They had a rebounding hammer fitted with groove to lock frame during ignition. There were two variations of cylinder arbor release catch, vertical and horizontal. They had a button to disable the self extracting mechanism when weapon was opened. Covered by British patent 2855 of 1879. The most common barrel length for the .450 was 6" although some were as short as 4".
The Model 1879 had its own separate serial number range. The serial numbers are in the range low four thousands to low five thousands. Those revolvers encountered with very low serial numbers appear to have been made by Thomas and Walter Tranter after William retired.
To see model 1879 images click here

577 solid frame revolver
There were two distinct variations of this revolver, the five chambered Tranter which was numbered in the general serial number range and the six chambered revolver incorporating Braendlin's improvements which had its own serial number range.
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Saloon pistols
The single shot saloon pistols were break action with a drop down barrel, the release catch was at the front of the frame. They were covered by British patent 2113 of 1866. Early versions had a manual sliding cartridge extractor while later versions automatically extracted the cartridge when the pistol was opened. Early grips were two piece while later ones were one piece. An asymmetrical inspection plate was let into the side of the frame and was attached by a screw that screwed into the head of the hammer pivot screw. This plate could be removed to inspect the mechanism as it was operated. Most were single action sheath trigger with no trigger guard.
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Break action rook rifle
The break action rook rifles were similar to the saloon pistols and were available with manual and automatic extractors. They were all single shot and available in both rimfire and centrefire in calibers from .230 to .430. Most had no forewood and a straight hand stock. Some were fitted with sling eyes. They had multi-leaf rear sights. Most had a normal trigger and trigger guard.
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Extracting tip up revolver
The barrel and top strap were hinged at the top of the standing breech with a catch at the front of the lower frame. The cylinder had a star shaped extractor which was operated by a toothed lever acting on a rack of teeth cut into the underside of the barrel. It was covered by British Patent No.3622 of 1868.

Hinged block rook rifle
Tranter's hinged block rook rifles were of the Martini style and most had a safety on the side of the frame. They were available in large and small frame and most have Braendlin markings. The small frame was available with straight or pistol hand stock. They were all single shot and available in centrefire calibers from .230 to .450. Most had no forewood and a straight hand stock. Some were fitted with sling eyes. They had multi-leaf rear sights.
They appear to have been in the fourteen thousand to twenty five thousand serial number range.
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House defense revolver
House defense revolvers were rimfire, available in .230, .297, .320 and .380. They were five shot except the .230 which were seven shot. Covered by British patents 2067 of 1862 and 2113 of 1866. They had either no extractor or a rod extractor that screwed into the buttcap which was part of the frame. The .320 and .380  had a normal trigger guard and did not have a spur on the rear of the trigger. The .230 and .297 had a spur on the rear of the trigger and the trigger guard had a slot cut in it to accommodate it. An asymmetrical inspection plate was let into the side of the frame and was attached by a screw that screwed into the head of the hammer pivot screw. This plate could be removed to inspect the mechanism as it was operated. A spring steel friction plate was fitted to the frame to stop the cylinder spinning free. They were fitted with one piece grips. The most common barrel lengths were 2.5" for the .230 and .297, 3.5" for the .320  and 5" for the .380.
Most of the .380 revolvers were in the seven thousand serial number range while most of the .320 revolvers were in the nine and ten thousand serial number range. The .230 revolvers came later in the thirty thousand range  while the .297 revolvers started in the fifty thousand range and went through to the sixty thousand range.
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No.1 sheath trigger revolver
No.1 revolvers were seven shot .230 rimfire with a 2.5" barrel. They were single action with a sheath trigger. An asymmetrical inspection plate was let into the side of the frame and was attached by a screw that screwed into the head of the hammer pivot screw. This plate could be removed to inspect the mechanism as it was operated. The early mechanism was "as patented" while the later ones were simplified. Most had a brass or gunmetal frame and a screw in iron barrel. There were two types of cylinder arbor latch used, a button style and a vertical seesaw style. Some cylinders had notches cut at the rear of each chamber so that spent cartridges could be pried out with a penknife.
They appear to have been made in three batches, the first of approx. a thousand were in the one thousand to two thousand serial number range. Most appear to have a button style cylinder arbor release and may have been "as patented". The second batch of approx. one thousand were in the low six thousand to about seven thousand serial number range. The third batch of between fifteen hundred and two thousand were in the ten thousand to mid eleven thousand serial number range.
To see No.1 revolver images click here

No.2 sheath trigger revolver
The No.2 revolvers were seven shot .320 rimfire with a 3.5" barrel. They were single action and had a sheath trigger and no trigger guard. They were covered by British patents 2067 of 1862 and 1863 of 1862. There were a number of variations and frame materials available. Some had a spring loaded hammer lock in the frame to facilitate loading by holding the hammer off the cylinder so that it could be rotated. An asymmetrical inspection plate was let into the side of the frame and was attached by a screw that screwed into the head of the hammer pivot screw. This plate could be removed to inspect the mechanism as it was operated. Some cylinders had notches cut at the rear of each chamber so that spent cartridges could be pried out with a penknife.
They were made in a number of batches, the first from about serial number two thousand to about serial number four thousand,  possibly the first five hundred had hammer locks. The second batch from about serial number eight thousand to about serial number nine thousand, the third batch from about serial number ten thousand to about serial number eleven thousand. Some have turned up in the thirty thousand serial number range and one in the fifty thousand serial number range.
To see No.2 revolver images click here

Pivoted rod extractor solid frame revolver
These revolvers were mostly five shot and centrefire. They were available in calibers from .320 to .500, the most popular being the .320. The barrel lengths for the .320 was 3" while the larger calibers were 4" to 4.5". There were two different styles of extractor, both covered by British patent 3622 of 1868.
The first had a pivotting socket screwed to the front of the frame with the extractor rod inside the socket and lying along the frame beneath the cylinder when not in use, the rod had a slight bend so that it was held against the frame by spring tension. To operate the extractor it was withdrawn along the barrel and then the socket was pivotted up to put the rod in position to slide into the chamber.
The second type had a small swivelling socket held on the side of the frame by a screw, the extractor rod was again placed along the frame beneath the cylinder and held in place by the head of the rod fitting into a small depression in the frame. To operate the extractor the socket was turned a hundred and eighty degrees so that the rod lined up with the chamber.
An asymmetrical inspection plate was let into the side of the frame and was attached by a screw that screwed into the head of the hammer pivot screw. This plate could be removed to inspect the mechanism as it was operated. A spur on rear of trigger operated the hammer sear and the trigger guard had a slot to accommodate it. They were fitted with one piece grips.
The serial numbers for these revolvers started in the thirty thousand range and went through to the mid fifty thousand range.
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RIC style solid frame revolver
Tranter appears to have made very few of these revolvers. They had no extractor and a short barrel. The only example I have seen is in .430 centrefire and had a floating firing pin in the frame and a shrouded hammer face. An asymmetrical inspection plate was let into the side of the frame and was attached by a screw that screwed into the head of the hammer pivot screw. This plate could be removed to inspect the mechanism as it was operated. A spur on rear of trigger operated the hammer sear and the trigger guard had a slot to accommodate it. They were fitted with one piece grips and the example I have seen has a lanyard ring in the buttcap.
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Kynoch revolvers
When William retired in 1885 he leased the Aston factory to his friend George Kynoch. Kynoch ran the factory under the name of The Kynoch Gun Works Aston as a private venture with Henry Schlund as his works manager. Under increasing pressure from the directors involved in his other businesses in 1888 he turned the factory over to Schlund and it became The Aston Arms Co. Ltd. It appears to have ceased business in 1891, (Tranter passed away in 1890 and Kynoch in 1891). Schlund obtained patents under his own name for a revolver based on the original Tranter double trigger percussion revolvers. The first was British Patent No.9084 dated July 28th 1885 and the second was British Patent No.11900 dated September 18th 1886.
There were two distinct variations, the first under the 1885 patent had an external cocking trigger and many Tranter features including the extractor, extractor release and rebounding hammer. A milled nut on the side of the frame could be loosened so that the butt could be removed to give access to the main spring and rebound, the remainder of the mechanism could then be removed by pulling the trigger guard down and backward. It was available in three models, Model No.1 had a six inch barrel and made in .476", .455", .450" and .430", Model No.2 had a five inch barrel and made in .400", .380", .360" and .320", Model No.3 had a three inch barrel and made in .300" and .297/300". The second variation under the 1886 patent had the cocking trigger inside the trigger guard and a number of changes and improvements.
All models were six chamber break action with similtaneous extraction and a concealed rebounding hammer. Loading was accomplished by pressing down a release catch on the rear of the frame that looked like a hammer. When the frame was opened a star shaped extractor ejected all the cartridges, this extractor could be defeated by pressing a small catch on the bottom of the frame in front of the trigger guard. The cylinder could be removed on the early version by releasing a horizontal catch on the front of the cylinder arbor, on the later version it was required to unscrew a knurled cap on the arbor to remove the cylinder.
With the early version the user had to hold the lower or cocking trigger at full cock by keeping pressure on the trigger. The later version overcame this problem by incorperating a small latch on the trigger guard which held the cocking trigger at full cock until the latch was released by pressing the firing trigger. The weapon could be taken off full cock by pulling back a knurled knob attached to the lower trigger and thereby releasing the catch.
The cylinder was held in position and stopped from rotating when the weapon was not in use by a small lug which protruded through the frame opening and into small cutouts on the cylinder. 
To see Kynoch revolver images click here
 To see a description of the Kynoch revolver click here