The advent of unitary cartridges has become a significant event in the history of weapons. The invention of the cartridge did not go unnoticed in the evolution of Le Mat revolvers.
First, revolvers appeared, the drums of which were equipped with hairpin cartridges, and the central barrels were still primer-fired.
Later, a design was developed that allows you to lock the central barrel and use hairpin cartridges for its equipment. The most recent was the design of the Le Ma revolver chambered for centerfire primer.
Manufacturers of revolvers Le Ma (Le Mat) for hairpin cartridges were various companies. This weapon, serial number 131, is one of about a thousand Le Mat pieces produced in Belgium by Brevete. The ramrod-extractor of spent cartridges is fixed on the right side of the barrel. At the end of the handle, a ring for the revolving strap is hinged.
The upper barrel is octagonal with the marking on the left edge "COL LA LEMAT BRTE 131". For the upper barrel, pinfire cartridge 0.36 caliber is used. The central barrel is.44 caliber, has primer ignition.
The drum has through chambers with grooves to accommodate cartridge pins. The surface of the drum is provided with valleys for ease. To equip the drum with hairpin cartridges, a door is made on the right side of the frame. By switching the position of the hammer, the shooter chose to fire from the upper barrel when the hammer struck the protruding pins of the cartridges or from the central barrel when the hammer hit the primer.
Another LeMat Brevette Pinfire / Percussion Revolver, serial number 3023, is loaded with 11 mm hairpin cartridges, a smooth-bore 20 caliber central barrel. The extractor ramrod is also located on the right side of the frame.
Metal surfaces are silvery, no bluing. The handle shank has a lug with a transverse hole.
Marking on the top of the barrel is the text "COLONEL A. LEMAT BREVETE"
Le Ma's hairpin revolvers of French origin are sometimes distinguished not only by their markings, but also by their appearance. This weapon, produced by Canat & Co, has a slightly curved front frame, the drum surface is cylindrical. The ramrod is missing, but judging by the location of the ramrod ring, it was probably located under the lower barrel.
The markings on the barrel are the text “J.F. Gouery Canat & Co Syte LeMat Bt SGDG Paris ".
Compact revolvers were sometimes in more demand as a self-defense weapon than their longer and more massive counterparts. For this reason, it is not surprising that the Baby LeMat pinfire revolver was introduced.
The authors of some catalogs of antique weapons claim that no more than a hundred Baby LeMat revolvers were made. This revolver, serial number 3188, is equipped with a barrel for 9 mm hairpin cartridges. The upper barrel is 102 mm long. The lower barrel has a 12 mm caliber. Ignition at the lower trunk is capsule.
The front frame post is attached to the frame base with a screw. On the front part of the drum there are holes for the drum fixing mechanism. Marking on the right side of the barrel "COLL A. LEMAT BRte". Marks on the details of the weapon testify to the Belgian origin of the revolver.
Comparing the French-made Baby LeMat revolver with the previous Belgian revolver, you can see some differences.So on the right side of the barrel of the French revolver a ramrod tube is installed, in which the ramrod - extractor is located. The door for access to the drum chambers differs both in shape and in the location of the spring supporting it. The surface of the drum, in contrast to the Belgian "children's" revolver, is cylindrical without holes.
The screw for fastening the front of the frame to its base in the French version of Le Ma has a figured shape, it can be unscrewed simply by hand, without using a screwdriver. The lower part of the shank of the handle is flat with no protrusion or ring for the revolving strap.
Incomplete disassembly of the weapon demonstrates that the general principled design of Le Mat revolvers of French and Belgian origin does not differ. The total length of the weapon shown in the photo is 232 mm, the length of the upper barrel is 102 mm.
On the rear cut of the drum, a ratchet is made for the mechanism of rotation and groove in the upper parts of the chambers to accommodate the pins of the cartridges. The front of the drum has no holes for a locking mechanism. The drum is designed to accommodate 8 mm hairpin cartridges.
The frame door opens to the right and down and has a pin for more secure fixation in the frame. The lower barrel of the primer ignition. When you move the trigger lever to the top position, the hammer part of the trigger becomes opposite the hose. In this position, when the trigger is released, it strikes the primer, due to which the firing occurs from the lower barrel.
The markings on the top of the Baby LeMat revolver are in italics and are the text “J.F. Gouery Canat & Cie Sy-te LeMat Bte Sgdg Paris ".
As with other hairpin revolvers, Le Mat's safety when handling hairpin cartridges is facilitated by the protrusion of the breech of the frame along the contour of the drum. This projection protects the cartridge pins from accidental impacts.
Capsule ignition of ammunition by the end of the 19th century became obsolete, even in relation to the smooth central barrel of the Le Ma revolver.
Soon, a revolver was developed and released, the central barrel of which was equipped, as well as the drum, with hairpin cartridges.
The basic design and layout of Le Mat has not changed, however, it was very unusual to use yellow metal (probably brass) to make not only the frame, but also the central barrel of the revolver.
The use of a hairpin cartridge in the central barrel required to change not only the design of the breech of the revolver, but also the hammer. The striking part of the trigger, switched to the position for firing from the lower barrel, was supposed to strike not in the horizontal direction, but from top to bottom. This was achieved by lengthening the hammer arm and changing its configuration.
To equip the revolver, the door providing access to the drum chambers opened up. The breech was equipped with an additional door opening up and to the right. When opening the door, the shooter could remove the spent cartridge case and install a new hairpin cartridge in the chamber of the lower barrel. This door also locked the lower barrel during firing.
The LeMat Pinfire and Percussion Revolving Carbine were developed on the basis of the Le Mat revolvers.
Revolving hairpin-primer carbines Le Ma (Le Mat), as a rule, have an upper rifled 11 mm barrel and a lower rifled barrel as well 0.58 caliber.
Carbines are structurally very similar to Le Mat revolvers, except for the long barrels, the presence of a stock and the unusual shape of the trigger guard. The drums of carbines often have valleys and protrusions for the drum fixing mechanism.
The door for access to the drum chambers is located on the right side of the breech part of the frame. The handle is installed at the top of the door. Opening is to the right and down. The ramrod is fixed to the right of the barrel.
On the left side of the barrel, shown in the photo of the revolving carbine, the serial number "206" and the marking "COLLA LEMAT BRTE" are applied.
The Le Ma revolver chambered for the centerfire (Le Mat Centerfire Breechloading Revolver) appeared after the end of the American Civil War.In December 1869, LeMa received a patent number 97780 for the design of a double-barreled revolver. Both barrels of the weapon were designed for firing centerfire cartridges with a metal sleeve. This variety is sometimes called the third model of Le Ma revolvers (Le Mat 3rd model, centerfire).
The appearance of the revolver has undergone significant changes. Changes affected the shape of the frame, handle, trigger guard, trigger. Even the ring for the revolving strap has moved from the grip shank to the lower part of the frame in front of the trigger guard.
Despite the external differences, the basic layout and design of the revolver has not changed. The Le Ma of the third model still consists of the rear and front parts of the frame, drum and two barrels.
For the possibility of firing centerfire cartridges from the upper barrel, a rectangular hole is made in the breech of the frame, opposite the upper chamber of the drum. The upper part of the trigger is pointed and acts as a firing pin. The central barrel is closed by a special pivoting door, into which the drummer is mounted. When the trigger lever is switched to the upper position, its lower shoulder strikes the protruding part of the central barrel striker, the striker breaks the primer - a shot from the central barrel occurs.
The drum has a serial number and Belgian stamps on the front end surface. Serial number 25 is printed on the hinged door of the frame.
In addition, serial numbers are printed on many other parts of the weapon, even at the base of the ring for the revolver strap.
The “Colonel Le Mat Patent” markings on the top of the barrel are in capital and capital letters in a beautiful Gothic script.
Traditionally, based on the design of the Le Mat revolvers of the third model, carbines were developed for centerfire cartridges.
The sights of the revolving carbine are a two-distance adjustable rear sight and a front sight mounted on the front rings connecting the upper and lower barrels.
The trigger guard of the Le Mat carbine has a protrusion in the lower part to which a ring is attached to the right.
The central barrel of Le Mat revolving carbines is locked with a special door with a built-in striker. The door pivots up-to-left and opens access to the chamber of the lower barrel. The door on the right side of the breech part of the frame opens to the left and upward, providing access to the drum chambers.
The upper part of the cartridge chamber of the revolving carbine is marked "COLONEL LEMAT PATENT".
Undoubtedly, Le Ma revolvers and revolver carbines for both hairpin cartridges and centerfire cartridges are in great demand among collectors. Prices for this weapon start from 4 thousand dollars and often exceed 15-20 thousand dollars.