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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Swedish Navy M/1884 Revolver
Revolver M/1884 för Flottan

04 February 2022 updates

As with many items of modern Swedish military material culture items, there is a shortage of definitive reference works, especially in English. This monograph is a compilation of information on the Swedish Navy M/1884 revolver that can only be randomly found on the internet as well as comments made by Swedish authorities, fellow collectors, and the close examination of the revolvers themselves. A special acknowledgement is made to the French website Mle 1873 developed by Quentin Jaubert (Le revolver modèle 1873 pour la Suède: MAS Henry ou MAS Sutterlin et Lippmann, M/1884) which has a special section on the Swedish contract revolvers.

Corrections, additions, and comments are welcome for inclusion in any future updates to this monograph


Image 1. M/1884 Revolver Drawing. (Eldhandvapen II, Josef Alm)

The French Model 1873 (Modified) revolver, which was of a Chamelot-Delvigne design, was one of the most successful of early military revolvers. Ultimately, over 350,000 revolvers would be solely produced for both domestic use and for off-shore contracts by the French government arsenal Manufacture d'armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS). The MAS arsenal, in addition to its government production, did have the authority to engage in foreign commercial contracts, however, not directly. Such sales contracts could only be made through French domestic representatives or agents.

After conducting trials the Swedish Navy adopted in 1884 the French Mle 1873M as the Revolver M/1884 för Flottan. (Unlike the Swedish Army which used a lower case ‘m’ to designate model numbers, the Swedish Navy used an upper case ‘M’. ) On the 7[SUP]th[/SUP] of March, 1884 the Swedish Government, on behalf of the Swedish Navy, ordered a total of 1,000 revolvers through two different French contracting agents. The reason for the split of contracts for a relatively small run of 1,000 revolvers has not yet been determined.

The first lot of 300 revolvers was ordered by Sweden via the French firm of Sutterlin-Lippman & Cie. as agents in 1884. The remaining 700 revolvers of the 1,000 revolver contract were ordered via the firm of Henry as agents. The Swedish revolvers are individually marked for which agents had managed the respective order. The revolvers will have either Sutterlin-Lippman & Cie or Henry engraved in script on the left side of the frame forward of the cylinder. The Sutterlin-Lippman revolver will also have S*L in an oval stamped on the right side of the frame below the loading gate while the Henry order will have a H in an oval located in that same location.


Image 2. An example of the Sutterlin-Lippman & Cie. agent stamp on left side of the frame. (www.revolver1873.fr))


Image 3. An example of the Sutterlin-Lippman & Cie. agent stamp on right side of the frame. (www.revolver1873.fr)


Image 4. The Henry agent stamp as applied to the left front of the frame (Authors Collection)


Image 5. The Henry agent stamp as applied to the right rear of the frame (Authors Collection)
An interesting design feature to the revolver is that the center axis pin which is withdrawn in order to remove the cylinder for cleaning has a screwdriver end piece that is used to remove the grip screws for further cleaning. It is the only tool necessary for field stripping by the service member.



Image 6. Center axis pin removed from the Revolver. Note screwdriver end on upper right. (Authors Collection)

The revolvers appear to have been delivered to Sweden initially “in the white” without the traditional blued finish, as was the standard French practice for the Mle 1873. There is a general disagreement regarding whether some/most of the later revolvers may have been factory blued in France or whether they were later blued in Sweden while in naval service. The later seems more probable. Revolvers, as evidence shows, show up randomly in either finish so it may be that the blued finishes were applied as revolvers were available by workshops in Sweden and the project never reached completion. It is also possible that some of those revolvers which remained in the bright may have been privately purchased by naval officers from the original inventory.


Image 7. An example of the M/1884 with the “in the white” original finish. (Armémuseum Stockholm AM.040308)


Image 8. An example of the M/1884 in a “blued” finish. (www.gotavapen.se)





 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Swedish Navy M/1884 Revolver - Pt 2

The serial numbers applied to the M/1884 revolvers are a bit difficult to understand and are a subject of confusion among collectors. One can, however, safely say that the serial numbers were not in the normal French arsenal numbering range or convention but uniquely applied for the Swedish contracts. Swedish serial/assembly numbers were stamped on the left side of the frame underneath the wood grip panel. The need to remove the grip panel to view this location has complicated the easy collection of serial number information.

For the Sutterlin-Lippman & Cie one source, which has examined 10 revolvers, reports a low number of 58 and a high number of 7,198. This range far exceeds the contract number of only 300 revolvers. The final two digits of the number, however, is used in the constructing of a alpha-numeric number (i.e. V98) which is used on numbering a variety of components ranging from the cylinder to individual screws. Noted in Sutterlin-Lippman production the alpha-numeric range is from A through V. Using numbers 01 through 99 per letter this would far exceed the 300 revolvers manufactured.


Image 9. An example of Sutterlin-Lippman frame numbering. (www.revolver1873.fr)

The revolvers of the Henry contract are generally numbered in a similar fashion as the Sutterlin-Lippman contract with a frame serial number and an associated alpha-numeric number. Noted, however, is that the Henry begins its own unique number range that is believed to start at 1 (A01) thus apparently duplicating Sutterlin-Lippman contract numbers. Revolvers from both contracts have been recorded in the A and B series serial number range indicating that each contract had a unique but overlapping serial number range. It should also be noted that in both contracts that no alpha-numeric numbers has been observed with three digit numbers.



Image 10. An example of Henry frame numbering (Authors Collection)



Image 11. An example of typical component numbering. (Authors Collection)


The M/1884 (Mle 1873) revolver featured a double-action design which was a very advanced feature at the time of its original introduction.
 While a revolver of rugged and reliable design and construction, it was reportedly hampered throughout its operational history by poor double-action accuracy due to a heavy trigger pull and, especially, a woefully underpowered cartridge.

The Swedish M/1884 was chambered for the 11x17mmR cartridge that was the standard revolver cartridge for Sweden at that time. The cartridge evolved from the (nominal) 12mm pin fire cartridge used earlier in the Lefaucheux m/1863 revolver. The 11x17mmR cartridge was first used in the m/1871 Hagström revolver and later in the modified Lefaucheux m/1863-79. The cartridge had 204 grain projectile with 13.2 grains of black powder. It is listed with a velocity of 525 feet per second (160 meters per second). The cartridges were issued in unmarked 6 round paper packages.



Image 12. The m/1871 11x17mmR cartridge (Authors Collection)


Image 13. The standard issue unmarked 6-round packaging for the 11x17mmR (www.amkat.se)

The M/1884 revolvers are liberally marked. Marks include the factory marks from St. Etienne along with proof and inspections marks. The top of the barrel is marked with “Mle 1873 M” which is the original French model designation for which the revolver was originally made. It is popularly thought that ‘M’ indicates it as a Marine (Navy) model, however Quentin Jaubert (Le revolver modèle 1873 pour la Suède: MAS Henry ou MAS Sutterlin et Lippmann, M/1884 states that the ‘M’ , in fact, indicates ‘Modifié’ (Modified).


Image 14. Factory model number on top of barrel (Authors Collection)

In addition to the factory markings, as noted above, the individual sales agents marks for Sutterlin-Lippman & Cie or Henry were also applied. Finally, the rather diminutive Swedish Navy “Cat’s Paw” property mark was stamped on the lower right frame.



Image 15: The “Cats Paw” property mark of the Swedish Navy. Note the full alpha-numeric serial numbered part. (Authors Collection)

In regard to the M/1884 revolver, thus far no record has been found for an officially adopted model of holster for this revolver. There is no indication that the French holsters were supplied with the revolvers or that holsters of the French design were made in Sweden. The ever frugal Swedish Navy appears at this point to have used other available issue holsters such as the m/1871 that were adapted for the M/1884. A few examples of the m/1871 holster have been noted with field modifications in museum collections but other holsters were just simply used without adaptations. Below (Image 16) is one of many examples of m/1871 holsters identified as being used for M/1884 revolvers in the Armémuseum Collection.


Image 16. m/1871 holster used with the M/1884 revolver (Armémuseum Stockholm AM.035884​

It also appears that custom made holster were made available for private officer sales, perhaps through the Militär Ekiperings aktiebolag (MEA). These holsters may appear similar to the holsters for the m/1887 but are very much designed and fitted for the M/1884 revolver. They do not have the cartridge loops found on the m/1887 style and only have a single wide belt loop attached to the back. They are sometimes found with an improved modification of an insert to accommodate the deeper and wider trigger guard of the M/1884 revolver.


Revolver Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory

Image 17. The early holster without cartridge loops for M/1884 revolver use. (Authors Collection)

Brown Cap Leather jacket Denim Tints and shades

Image 18. The unique modification to an early m/1884 holster in order to accommodate the deeper and wider dimensions of the M/1884 trigger guard. (Authors Collection)
In 1891 a general order directed the purchase of 480 of the newly adopted Army m/1887 revolvers on behalf the Swedish Navy. During the period of 1891-1893 the Belgian-built Nagant revolvers were delivered and adopted into naval service as the M/1887. There were apparently some later acquisitions of additional M/1887 revolvers from Army inventory but no numbers or serial ranges are known. As the M/1884 was being phased out of the Navy inventory a number of the revolvers were transferred to the Swedish Red Cross where they continued to serve for a number of years. Many examples of the M/1884 held in the collections of the Armémuseum in Stockholm were acquired from the Swedish Red Cross.

The M/1884 is a rarity to find today compared to most other adopted Swedish small arms. Among the surviving M/1884’s, the Sutterlin-Lippman & Cie contract variant is the more difficult to acquire. Given the M/1884’s rarity many questions about the revolver will remain unanswered until the database of known specimens and additional information can be expanded. There are a few, but undocumented, examples of Mle 1873 revolvers in Sweden that were reportedly purchased by naval officers directly from France and are without Swedish markings. Equally, there are some examples that are correctly serial numbered and factory marked but are without the “Cat’s Paw” perhaps purchased through the Militär Ekiperings aktiebolag (MEA). The early m/1887 holster without cartridge loops and modified for M/1884 revolver use. (Authors Collection)MEA. One such example is the “in-the-white” revolver shown above in Image 7 from the Armémuseum (AM.040308) which is marked for Henry and has the short alpha-numeric serial number (G15) but does not have the navy property mark.

The M/1884 may not perhaps have the grace, charm, and romance of other certain early revolver designs; it was nonetheless a solid and reliable revolver that served many nations, including Sweden, very well for long decades. Today it is well deserving to be in our collections and to have the most accurate history that we can document.


J. Alm. "Firearms Arms" Part II, pages 138-139.

Le revolver modèle 1873 pour la Suède: MAS Henry ou MAS Sutterlin et Lippmann, M/1884
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
NW Swede - Thank you for your comments. As you know, information on Swedish weapons, other than the Mausers, is very fragmented and incomplete. If, for no reason other than my own use, I try to pull a lot of this together into an organized monograph format with images. I have about 7 or 8 of these monographs in various stages of completeness. I will be posting those when they are ready. This one on the M/1884 I had taken as far as I could with the information and material that I had. It was now best shared among other collectors for critical review and, hopefully, additional information. I have also sent it intact to other collectors in Sweden for their review and perspectives. One Swedish source has some additional information on holsters which will be sent along and added into monograph. I do hope to get additional information for a data listing that I have on these revolvers which includes contractor name, serial number, assembly number, and finish. The great advantage of digital publishing is the ability to continue making necessary additions and edit.
 
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