Didn't come off the conveyor belt -
Handmade and plan, Systems "Vebley" or "Trenter", Blend Price or even Varnan.
(Adam Lindsay Gordon)
Weapons and firms. Last time we looked at the revolver of Henri Piper, with which he performed in a competition in Russia against Leon Nagant. However, in the same Belgium there were other firms that produced revolvers. And if it were not for the specific requirements of the Russian War Ministry, then it could well be that not a revolver or even a piper, but some completely different revolver could become the service weapon of the Russian army. There was plenty to choose from! One of these revolvers, produced in the same Belgian Liege, was the famous "varnan", which we will talk about today …
To begin with, there was a whole dynasty of gunsmiths in Belgium, the beginning of which was laid by Leonard Joseph Varnand, who was born in Cheratta in 1810. He had many children, and all of them were somehow connected with the production or sale of weapons. But the most famous were the two brothers Jean and Julian, who created the Varnan Brothers firm in Hogni (Belgium). For about half of the 19th century, they were weapons manufacturers who worked for third parties and produced various sporting weapons.
Then Jean Varnand began working on revolver projects and was able to improve the double-action locking mechanism, which was widely used by other weapons manufacturers. From 1872 to 1893 the Varnan brothers developed and patented a whole series of several breakthrough revolvers of the Smith and Wesson and Vebley Bulldog types. Moreover, varnan revolvers were made both by the company of the two brothers and by other manufacturers.
Jean Varnand received his first patent in 1875. The essence of the patent was that when the body of the revolver was broken, the extractor came into motion, which threw the spent cartridges out of the drum. Moreover, Varnan managed to come up with a device in which he bypassed the patent of "Smith and Wesson", and it was not at all so simple. After that, it was this mechanism that began to be installed on all varnan revolvers, which made it possible to discharge and load them much faster than revolvers with the “Abadi door”.
In this case, the main difference was the following: in the drum of the Smith and Wesson revolvers, a central rod protruded, which removed the sleeves with an emphasis on their rims. In the “varnan”, the extactor was a ring with holes for sleeves in the back of the drum. And it was pushed out of the drum by means of four plates. That is, the structure was both quite rigid and durable. The rotation of the drum was also carried out by the "gear" on the same ring. The design was a little more complicated than that of Smith & Wesson, but it was quite workable and could even be positioned for advertising purposes, as more convenient to use.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the brothers had already devoted themselves to automatic weapons and received many patents for self-loading pistols, but without much success. Their first attempt to abandon the revolver took place in 1890, when they patented (British patent no. 2543/1890) a Varnan-Creon pistol with a Martini-type slide and a Volcanic-style tube magazine, but this weapon was never produced. …The first automatic model of their pistol appeared thanks to the design that received the British patent No. 9379/1905, but only in fact it became the pistol of Pieper, who bought this patent from the brothers.
The Varnans also managed to make a mark in the field of creating the so-called "Montenegrin revolvers".
And it so happened that in Montenegro, which became an independent state, the local king Nikolai ordered all men to be registered in the people's militia and have revolvers under 11, 25x36 mm cartridges from the Verdl carbine as weapons. The distinctive features of the Montenegrin revolver are a huge cylinder, which housed cartridges of 11, 25x36 mm, more powerful than their contemporaries such as the.45 Colt and.44 Russian.
An interesting feature of these revolvers was the rounded grip, reminiscent of that of the 1896 Mauser pistol, a huge drum and a long barrel. Many firms from different countries have supplied such weapons to Montenegro. Someone was more fortunate, someone less, but Emil Varnan, one of the Varnan brothers, not only managed to design his "Montenegrin revolver", but sold it in Montenegro.
By the way, the varnan revolver was also popular in Russia. In fact, it was the same Smith and Wesson, but in a lighter version. And the officers of the Russian army were allowed to buy them instead of the heavier "smiths".
As already noted, the brothers tried to produce pistols as well. Several samples were created, caliber 6, 35 mm”. This model appeared around 1908. And then, around 1912, the Varnan brothers made a pistol of 7.65 mm caliber, a model based on the M 1903 Browning. However, it had no commercial success, since the war immediately began, and such pistols simply fell out of consumer demand.
If we look at the diagrams from British Patents 9379 and 9379A of 1900, it will be obvious that the Varnan brothers' pistol was in many ways similar to the Browning M1900 pistol. His barrel was in the same way under the return spring, and the bolt had a drummer. But, unlike Browning's design, the Varnan brothers' pistol could have two reclining blocks on the frame: a block with a barrel and a spring and a block with a bolt. Why there were such "tricks" is understandable. The goal was one - to bypass Browning's patent and enter the market with its own automatic pistol. But it is unlikely that such a complication of the design could benefit the weapon …