Exotic Pistols

# Civilian turned Avenging Angel

# Cut-Away Model

# “Golden” Centaure

# Trigger Stop

# Centaure Revolving Carbines?

 

Since the beginning of this Centaure research in 2007 a number of unusual, very different, highly modified, one of a kind, or otherwise “strange” Centaures with one common characteristic were discovered: the maker or gunsmith who executed the alteration is unknown, cannot be traced back to either Fabriques d’Armes Unies de Liège (FAUL) in Belgium, one of their importers and/or key dealers in the USA or Europe.

These “modifications” may be reproductions of a historical pattern, represent special purpose guns, or just the cute transformation of our favorite Belgian percussion revolvers into a pieces of eye candy.

Such very special Centaures surfaced on both sides of the big pond, some were offered at auction houses, gun shows, garage or private sales.

In this page we like to share with you a few of these unusual Centaures.

One such pistol is below Centaure turned Avenging Angel. She started life 1961 as a regular 2nd variation Civilian Model #599 at FAUL’s before being shipped over the Atlantic to Centennial Arms Corp., Lincolnwood, IL (CAC) to please some collector, re-enactor, shooter or otherwise enthusiast in the USA.

In December 2011 she was offered for sale at US internet auction house Gunbroker’s (GB) with features completely different from the pistol that left Belgium 50 years earlier. This work of an unknown US gunsmith or tinkerer must have been carried out between 1961 and 2011. He or she might have been inspired by the Avenging Angel or Natchez Special type pocket revolvers of the 19th century.

Civilian Model #599 2nd variation turned big bore belly pistol

Civilian Model #599: barrel cut to 2,5”, re-contoured barrel lug, new front sight (left), unplugged slot of barrel lug (right)

Civilian Model #599: Army size silver plated grip frame replaced by Navy size all brass grip frame, stag grip panels fitted

Civilian Model #599: no serial number stamped on new TG (left), original barrel marking “1960 NEW MODEL ARMY” maintained (right)

 

Cut-Away-Models of regular production guns are often provided by gun makers to the military for basic pistol training, or as demonstration pieces for exhibitions or their dealers to present function and interaction of internal parts. Since we can exclude the military here as the purpose for this Centaure Cut-Away it leaves the exhibition and/or dealer option which is open for speculation.

She was sold a few years back at German auction house Hermann Historica without disclosure of the serial number nor is there an indication if this Centaure was a proof tested pistol before being transformed into a cut-away.

Also we have no information who executed this job on a 1st variation RNMA. It could have been a technician at FAUL’s but an outside gunsmith in Germany just as well.

 

Who applied the gold leaf to this RNMA from 1965? A pard from Florida offered below #4331 early January 2013 at GB’s in the USA. Here is what the seller wrote: “This one I have is 99%. Gorgeous blue and case colors. Cylinder unturned and of course never fired, looks like the wedge has never been removed. This must have been a higher grade purchase with the gold leaf …”

At GB’s she drew a lot of attention. Now she is a safe queen in a country on the Eastern banks of the big pond.

RNMA #4331 3rd variation 2nd sub-variation: came with anodized aluminium centennial coin

Close-up of centennial coin

RNMA #4331 3rd variation 2nd sub-variation: gold leaf applied to the cylinder scene, proof marks on cylinder and barrel marking

Did you ever see similarly gold embellished Centaures? The seller advised that the previous owner had told him he actually had three such pistols. Where are the other two?

We cannot present proof that the gold leaf was applied at or on behalf of Centennial Arms Corp. (CAC) during the mid 1960s, nor do we know if CAC added this gold anodized aluminum centennial coin that came with #4331. Was this to further enhance the attractiveness of the pistol in 1965 towards the end of the Civil War Centennial, or to market her as a CW commemorative?

 

Below RNMA from 1970 has been reported from the USA with a Trigger Stop! The installation was probably a customs job.

Berts 001eBerts 002e

RNMA #10522 1st variation 2nd subvariation: note trigger stop

 

Is below Centaure Revolving Carbine a FAUL prototype, or the work of a gunsmith or talented tinkerer? I “found” #7057 early 2009 during one of my internet searches. She was offered by a French auction house with some descriptive text but without pictures. Since I read no French I automatically but wrongly assumed that this was another typical RNMA 1st variation, 3rd sub-variation. In October 2010 I “rediscovered” her at another French auction house. This time with below grainy picture. She presented herself as this cute little revolving carbine with the shoulder stock permanently attached to the frame.

# 7057: FAUL prototype of a pistol carbine or RNMA 1st variation 3rd sub-variation custom built into a revolving carbine?

The trigger-guard is hooked and might be made of steel. When shooting revolving carbines or rifles the recommended modus operandi is to keep both hands behind the cylinder which should be no problem here with that hook!

To answer the initial question but without having had the chance for a physical inspection of #7057 it is my considered opinion that this French revolving Centaure carbine is no prototype from the Belgian factory but some aftermarket work like the 2013 Winter project gun below of our German FROCS #76 Gunfire that I like to share with you.

RNMA 12106 1st variation 2nd sub-variation: 2013 Winter project gun of FROCS #76 Gunfire

Gunfire was out there for some fun project when he found below blank firing HS121 on some internet auction. She had this shoulder stock installed instead of the regular grip. The design of the shoulder stock and the hooked trigger-guard indicates it was probably originally fixed to one of Uberti’s revolving pistol carbines.

Blank firing HS121 with shoulder stock

We know Gunfire’s talents working with wood and metal from previous repair jobs. He chemically removed the varnish of the shoulder stock, sanded it nicely and applied an oil finish. Then the shoulder stock of the HS121 was connected to his above RNMA #12106 after the factory back-strap, grip and trigger-guard were removed.

And voila: Gunfire ended up with this handy little pistol carbine!

RNMA 12106 1st variation 2nd sub-variation: Centaure turned revolving pistol carbine

The metal to metal fit of this Belgian-German combo gun looks acceptable. It did not require fitting of the parts …

but the fit of the Italian shoulder stock’s factory wood to its metal leaves something to be desired.

 

WDN/June 19, 2013

© 2007-13 Wolf D. Niederastroth

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