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The “Mitrailleuse H.D.H.” Revolver

At the end of the twentieth century, the advent of the semi-automatic pistol had a considerable impact on the handgun market. Promising for some, this event heralded dark days for others.

In Europe and Belgium in particular, the arrival of semi-automatic pistols had opposite effects on the manufacturer’s prosperity. New firms were emerging, others were consequently increasing their industrial potential, thanks to the public’s enthusiasm for these new products. But conversely, the big houses specialized in revolvers’ manufacture were beginning to suffer from the public’s disaffection for their handguns.

Pistol vs. Revolver

Pistols and revolvers each have their own specificities and what is true today was the case at the end of the last century, where the supporters of the revolver threw in the face of their opponents the lack of reliability of self-loading weapons and their potential danger when in inexperienced hands. In the same way, the semi-automatic pistol supporters resisted their competitors arguing the low capacity of the cylinder and the lack of stopping power of the revolver cartridges that appeared at the end of the nineteenth century.

Far from this war between industrialists, the public quickly turned to modernity, as did several major European countries which chose the semi-automatic pistol as soon as it was considered reliable enough to be adopted.

A few years before WWI, the semi-automatic pistol won the battle over the revolver almost everywhere in Europe. This trend, which began on the civil market at the beginning of the twentieth century, was rapidly growing and was condemning revolver manufacturers to adapt or disappear. Some disappeared, others diversified to the manufacture of semi-automatics, only a few tried with more or less success to reverse the trend.

Fighting against a new concept is not easy, especially when it is difficult to reach a wide audience. In order to make revolvers more attractive to small arms buyers, the Old Continent manufacturers tried different tricks. First of all, a whole range of pocket revolvers with angular shapes appeared in Spain and Belgium, which retain their cylinders but receive a cosmetic borrowed from pistols. Some of these weapons also carried in the grip a few cartridges to quickly load the cylinder. But these poor artifices had no effect on the market. It was not enough, the customer had to be surprised and his interest aroused with new models.

In the context of that time, this was a real challenge and all manufacturers, from Liège to Eibar, were renouncing it. All of them? Well, not really, because in Liège, the brand H.D.H. rose up to the challenge.

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    Jean-Pierre Bastié

    Born in 1957, Jean-Pierre Bastié got his first weapon at the age of 12. It was a Diana air rifle with which he fired his first rounds. Since then his interest in guns has not dwindled. He was a hunter, a shooter, a competitor with ancient weapons and then a collector before he founded the Académie des Armes Anciennes (Antique Weapons Academy in France) in 1987.
    For more than thirty years, he has been collaborating with the editors of various French and foreign magazines specializing in weapons. A tireless researcher, he has been scouring the archives (like those of Châtellerault, visible on his profile picture) for ages in search of unpublished sources.

    Jean-Pierre Bastié is also President of the "Union Française des amateurs d'Armes" (UFA).



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