2 shot 'double header' deringer


Please bear with me - I’ll get to the cartridge part of this post in just a moment. In the late 1860s, there was a pistol produced that was referred to as the double header or pertetual revolver. The barrel had a chamber in both ends with the center section of the bore rifled, and swiveled on the frame. After it was fired, a cartridge was loaded in the muzzle end, and the barrel was swiveled around to place the new cartridge in the firing position, hence the use of the term ‘revolver’. Up to this point, it sounds like a pretty good idea. However, the description of the deringer’s operation, as written up in the Scientific American in 1868, goes on to say that the discharge of the next cartridge ‘expels the empty cartridge shell from the muzzle, in advance of the ball’. Apparently, this was how the empty cases were intended to be removed, as the derringer has no extractors. Is this safe?? I suspect the general concensus of the shooting public was that there was an element of danger associated with the concept, resulting in only about 25 of the deringers being produced by Renwick Arms Co of New York.

So, my question is, would the empty case be blown out? Is the column of air in the barrel ahead of the ball going to push the shell out prior to the ball entering the mouth of the empty case, or is there a chance that the ball could just go through the head of the empty case, leaving it stuck securely in place in the chamber (or muzzle)?


Guy, I can’t answer your question completely. There would be so many factors involved there, I would think. How tight the empty case at the muzzle end was in there (probably more a product of the quality of machining or the dimensions of the chamber, than of the ammo), the velocity and perhaps shape of the projectile attempting to push it out, etc.

I can tell you that a South African version of the home-made Filipino “Bang Gun” worked the same way. One loaded a round in it and fired it. then turned the barrel around and loaded another round and fired it, expelling the first round’s empty case as well as the projectile from the second round.

While hosting one of my dear friends who was a Criminalist with the South African Police at one of their National Crime Labs, here for an AFTE (Association of Firearms and Tool Examiners) meeting and some touring, he showed me some X-rays taken of a youngster’s head, clearly showing both a revolver bullet and a .38 revover casing in the young man’s brain. He was killed in an accidental shooting with one of these guns being played around with by young kids. The doctors were amazed and contacted the police, and Paul could immediately identify the type of weapon used in the shooting.

For those that might not know, these crude firearms are basically a pipe with a pipe. The action is a pipe with a nail at the real end acting as a firing pin. The second pipe is smaller diameter, picked to fit whatever ammunition the maker of the device could obtain, or had, and fits inside of the first pipe. A round isloaded in the rear of the smaller pipe and it is then inserted into the larger one. When it is desired to fire this contraption, the smaller pipe is pulled hard towards the rear, much like working a pump shotgun, and the round is fired by the fixed firing pin.

During WWII, in the Philippines, this was a gun to get a gun. They would hold together for a few rounds, and were used to dispatch an enemy soldier so that the soldier could be stripped of his weapon and ammunition. They were used by Guerrillas fighting the Japanese. I don’t know that they ever used them in the manner described for the derringer and the “zip guns” made in South Africa, though. It is amazing that these things don’t blow up, but I guess the pipes are thick enough to contain the pressure for a few shots, and that’s all they are really intended to fire. But then, maybe they do blow up from time to time! I wouldn’t make one or shoot one on a million dollar bet!

I suspect the original derringers worked o.k., but I would think that the whole system would have been looked upon as pretty silly, with much better systems available, by the time the metallic cartridge came into any real use. Probably why they made so few of them few people have ever even heard of them.

What caliber or cartridge type was used in the gun you mentioned in the original question, do you know? It would be interesting to know. I am one of those that had not heard of this particular handgun before.


Here’s a picture of the Perry “Perpetual Revolver” from Flayderman’s; it says they were made in .44 rimfire, so this would be a low-pressure round, and I doubt it would’ve been dangerous to the firer in any event. Since there’s not much space in the barrel, I have to think that it would’ve been the bullet itself that carried the empty out of the (now) muzzle end, instead of gas blow-by or the air ahead of the bullet being compressed.

Also, the Paltik “slam-bangs” worked well enough that you still see them used today in areas where something better isn’t available, and a USN lieutenant named Richardson (who was stranded in the Phillipines during the Japanese occupation) even started making an American commerical version after the war, as the “Richardson Guerrilla Gun”; I’ve fired one of these, and they work amazingly well. It’s also a handy way of proving that “gun control” laws don’t “control” anything, as one of these can be made out of ordinary plumbing supplies for less than $10. You can see a later version of the “Guerrilla Gun” at joesalter.com/detail.php?f_qryitem=2548 , but the earliest versions didn’t even have the “trigger” that this one does; in this one, the “trigger” simply acts as a “safety” to prevent the barrel from being pulled back into the fixed firing-pin unless it is squeezed. The earlier versions simply had a screw threaded into the “receiver” that could be tightened or loosened to do the same thing.


SDC - Thanks for posting the picture. I should have looked it up in Flayderman, a most valuable piece of reference material! The Richardson story is interesting. Lt. Iliff David Richardson (first name sometimes given erroneously as “Cliff”) was quite a character. He was a Motor Torpedo Boat officer who served aboard boats 33 and 34 of MTB Squadron 3 in the Philippines. Those boat numbers, as I recall, were prominent in a movie with John Wayne (I think the name was “They Were Expendable” or something like that) about the MTBs in the Phippines. Richardson was at the helm of the MTB Number 34 used to evacuate MacArthur from the Philippines, at least for part of the voyage. A boat he was on was sunk in Subic Bay, and he spent a full day in the water before making it to land. He then joined the resistance movement and survived the whole war with them. It is said that he was the model for the part played by Tyrone Power in the movie “An American Guerrilla in the Philippines,” based on the book by Ira Wolfert (1945) of the same name.

In 1946 he started Richardson Industries, in New Haven, Connecticut, making a somewhat refined version of the slam-bang shotgun he was credited with designing during the war. Whether or not he actually designed the gun originally I do not know. His product was, according to an original brochure I have, sold exclusively through the Harlu Company, a distributor in New York. The model of gun with the “trigger” was called the Richardson R5 Shotgun. The earliest article I have on these guns is a whimsical piece that appeared in the February 1946 “American Rifleman.” It shows the first model gun with the locking screw, and no “trigger.” There seems to have been several variations of the post-war Richardson gun.

An article that appeared in the July 2002 issue of “The American Rifleman” erroneously places the manufacture of the Richardson R5 as during the war itself, and having been made to distribute to Guerrillas in the Philippines. When I sent them a copy of their own article from 1946, and other information, they acknowledged the error, but I never saw any correction made in the magazine.

One has to wonder now if Lt. Richardson had seen or heard of one of the Perry “Perpetual Revolvers.”

Richardson died in Houston, Texas in October 2001, at the age of 83.

I am interested in the origin of the term “Paltik” used by SDC in describing these guns. Can anyone tell us about that. I have seen it spelled also as “Paltic” and even “Palika.” Can anyone explain the significance of the word, and the correct spelling.

I think I would trust firing the R5 post-WWII version of the gun, made from appropriate firearms materials, more than one of the original, although SDC is absolutely correct - the originals made in jungle “factories” did the job for which they were intended!


John, I believe that “paltik” is simply a Filipino word for “home-made gun”, as it comes up when you do a google search for that term; when I first heard it, I assumed that it was likely the name of one of the tribes that specialized in making these items, but it is apparently the generic name for ANY non-factory firearm in most of SE Asia. Here’s a short article on a Japanese blog (with a few pictures) showing some of the currently-manufactured “paltiks” in circulation: ahboon.net/2007/05/12/gansta-gun … ilippines/


SDC - thank you. Interesting. The differences in spelling could be a result of different Filipino dialects, or someone spelling the words phoenetically.
Interest stuff. I appreciate your answer, and the link.