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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I shudder to ask, but does anyone have any curiosity about them? The multitude of cheap top-breaks made by H&R, H&A, Iver Johnson, etc., before WW II. I sure didn't until someone GAVE me 8 of them, most 5-shot .32s & .38s, but most not working, with missing or broken parts (esp. the hard rubber grips). But as I began looking them over, I was surprised to find that not only did all of them have serial numbers, but that the cylinders, & some other parts had matching numbers; so I began to think they weren't quite the junk I took them for.

Nicest one is a H&R Premier Model, a 5-shot .32, which I identified with the Gun Trader's Guide; I was rather surprised it even had a name! It's really rather cute, & I've always liked top-breaks, but it's missing its mainspring. Nothing available through Numrich, or any other parts dealers I checked. Any other source of parts anyone knows about?
 

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My interpretation of "Saturday night Specials" came from when I lived in NY in and around the late 1970's. early 1980's and they were supposed to denote any "snub-nose sized", CHEAP quality gun that could possibly explode in your hand when you fired it. Mostly favored by low life punks in the ghettos and subways, etc. Well, not to lose an opportunity to take advantage, NYC politicians soon turned the phrase "Saturday Night Specials" into any gun with a 2" barrel or less. Coincidentally, I was applying for my concealed weapons permit at the time. My choice for my first firearm was a S&W Chief Special M36. I was dealing with a local police officer from the town I was in who had an FFL and he told me he had to order two other S&W guns in order to get a 2" Chief Special for me. Wish I knew now what I didn't know then, I probably would own two other awesome S&W revolvers which were P & R at the time excluding my Chief Special. It's been going on for a long time. Keep your powder dry!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Coincidentally, I was applying for my concealed weapons permit at the time. My choice for my first firearm was a S&W Chief Special M36.
Wow--if you were able to get a concealed permit in NYC, guess that means you qualified for a Secret Service clearance! I got mine upstate about 40 yrs ago, & there was nothing to it then, but now, even upstate, it's an expensive & time consuming struggle, thanks to downstate Dems.

Oddly enough, I never, or rarely, actually "carry," because I simply have no concern about my personal safety in this area. (If I did, it would be my Chief's Special Airweight, which is no fun to shoot with +P!) I've usually got some kind of handgun in my vehicle, but that's for shooting at my range, not "personal protection."
 

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Based on the manufacturers' you've noted, I don't think I'd place them in the 'cheap, Saturday Night Special' category, they made some good guns! Bluecar is closer to the mark related to the negative moniker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You can make a serviceable spring out of piano wire, when I had my gunsmithing business it did on occasion to replace an obsolete one. Check out You tube.
Will do--and thanks! (Am beginning to think--is there any kind of mechanical operation, procedure, "how to," etc., someone hasn't put into a video on YT? Yet for some reason (like my old age mindset), I never think of checking there first.)
 

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Wow--if you were able to get a concealed permit in NYC, guess that means you qualified for a Secret Service clearance! I got mine upstate about 40 yrs ago, & there was nothing to it then, but now, even upstate, it's an expensive & time consuming struggle, thanks to downstate Dems.

Oddly enough, I never, or rarely, actually "carry," because I simply have no concern about my personal safety in this area. (If I did, it would be my Chief's Special Airweight, which is no fun to shoot with +P!) I've usually got some kind of handgun in my vehicle, but that's for shooting at my range, not "personal protection."
Please don't let me disillusion anybody here. My concealed weapons permit at the time (1979) was for New York State. I DID NOT have a NYC permit. I was not Secret Service, I was a funeral director. However, since my business called for me to go into NYC arbitrarily, I had to decide if I would carry my concealed firearm with me or not. I based my decision on the need that if something dangerous should have arose while I was conducting my business in NYC, did I want to have the ability to defend myself or break the draconian NYC laws. Others have seen me post the expression, "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6" and there lied the decision on a daily basis, to carry concealed in NYC. Again, as others have seen me post before, I think you know what I decided to do when the situation presented itself. That was a long time ago, and I chose to carry most of the time for mine and my new family at the time's protection. I have lived in FL since 1987 and still carry daily. The only difference is I have a box of holsters I can't wear anymore.
To the original OP, I spent my youth camping in the Catskills and the Adirondacks. Just recently, while attending my niece's wedding in September, I visited the site of the original Woodstock Festival in Bethel and although I was a little too young (14) while living a mere 90 mile away at the time, I couldn't attend. I grew up in New Rochelle but spent a lot of time camping in the "upstate" mountains, the OP will get the reference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Please don't let me disillusion anybody here. My concealed weapons permit at the time (1979) was for New York State. I DID NOT have a NYC permit. I was not Secret Service, I was a funeral director. However, since my business called for me to go into NYC arbitrarily, I had to decide if I would carry my concealed firearm with me or not. I based my decision on the need that if something dangerous should have arose while I was conducting my business in NYC, did I want to have the ability to defend myself or break the draconian NYC laws. Others have seen me post the expression, "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6" and there lied the decision on a daily basis, to carry concealed in NYC...
I'd sure as hell do the same if some strange circumstance forced me to travel into NYC! However, for me, that's about as likely as being "abducted by aliens"!

But as I said in reference to my carry permit, I don't think there's any safer (i.e., "whiter"!) place to live than upstate north of the cesspool of the state capital, Albany. I'd find it pretty depressing to live in any area where I believed I "needed" to carry.
 

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"Saturday Night Special" was an early label used by gun control advocates to infringe on the rights of people to own affordable means of self defense.
Many well made firearms were banned from importation by the GCA of 1968 due to barrel length/weight/caliber/sights and even grips!
Even today I can name a maker that imports some of their handguns with unfinished barrels that are shortened in the U.S. and and another that replaces cheesy plastic "adjustable" sights once they're here.
Other surplus handguns have had to have "Target Thumb Rest" grips installed and some even a safety.

Negative labels like "Cop killer bullets" and "Assault rifle" are used by those to push even more onerous restrictions of our 2A rights.

"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
Daniel Webster
US diplomat, lawyer, orator, & politician (1782 - 1852)

ETA: I own several H&R top breaks in .32 and .38 S&W.
 

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I have several H&R and IJ and Hopkins & Allen Top Breaks. The little Hopkins & Allen "Safety Police" is really tiny. These days the general wisdom seems to be that 9mm Para is the smallest reasonable carry caliber but remember that back in 1967 those little 22, 25 & 32 cal guns were not banned because they were unreliable or ineffective.

Hopkins & Allen "Safety Police" 32S&W with a Beretta Pico:
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have several H&R and IJ and Hopkins & Allen Top Breaks. The little Hopkins & Allen "Safety Police" is really tiny. These days the general wisdom seems to be that 9mm Para is the smallest reasonable carry caliber but remember that back in 1967 those little 22, 25 & 32 cal guns were not banned because they were unreliable or ineffective.
Main value of a handgun carried for self-defense is not to kill someone, but to make a thief, mugger, molester, or other bad guy, leave you the hell alone! Even a .22 Short will accomplish that purpose, because nobody (esp. your typical coward thug) wants to get shot! A crazed terrorist with a suicide vest is obviously an exception, but how often do you run into one of those?

Anyway, one of the working revolvers in my top-break "collection" is also a H&A "Safety Police", identical to yours except for being hammerless, which I don't like nearly as well as yours. Many may think calling such a pipsqueak gun a "Police" model was advertising hype carried to a ridiculous extreme, but .32s were official issue in many big city PDs, including NYPD, around the turn of the century. And until maybe the '30s when larger revolvers like the S&W M&P began to be issued, ordinary city patrolmen carried their handguns in their back pockets, under their tunics, not in holsters, as is shown clearly in hundreds of crime movies made during that period.
 

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Thanks for this info, a source I'd never heard of. Looks like a good parts source, but his only H&R mainsprings are the later coil-spring types, not the flat-spring I need.
If it's a flat spring you need, an actual honest to goodness true gunsmith should be able to cut a spring from some spring steel stock. He/she will cut it, heat it, shape it, heat it, quench it, reheat it, anneal it, blue it, make some final adjustments, a final bluing, and he/she can make you a serviceable spring that works great. I love the H&R 9 shot top break 22s. Sandvik makes some very nice spring steel too. I do not consider Harrington & Richardson, Iver Johnson, or Hopkins & Allen as "Saturday Night Specials". These were what I think of as "working people's guns". An H&R topper, a Sportsman, and a whatever the little snub nose was called (The Sidekick?) would put food on the table, provide some recreational target shooting, and the snubby would usually make someone go look for a much easier victim to rob. I suppose if you can find a big monster chunk of bass piano wire you can heat it and hammer it flat, and make it into a spring. After that you can put the vee into it, it that's what it takes. Saturday Night Specials? Names like: Rohm, RG, Sundance, Phoenix Arms, AMT, OMC, Bryco, Jennings, Raven, Davis (all of the "Ring of Fire" companies from the Los Angeles area), some of the cheap junk from around Florida, & the south like Quackenbush, Davis, and we have include the cheap Spanish made stuff like Astra, and borderline would maybe be Star out of Spain with their 1911 based 9mm B series pistols. Companies like these ruined the reputations of some pretty cool little .25 ACPs. H&R guns were just more affordable guns. They kind of predated the post war disposable gun era. I have a Ethan Allen derringer style .22 rimfire that actually worked until the trigger return spring collapsed. It was made for black powder 22 rim fire, which is very weak loaded .22 Short. Hey, at least I can get ammo! 22 Short CB. IMG_1338.JPG
 

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The domestic manufactured small guns like Iver Johnson, H&A or H&R were not really banned at all. Small caliber easily concealable guns had some massive taxes put on them making them much too expensive to sell, and the IMPORTED small pistols & revolvers were simply BANNED outright with that asinine points system the BATF instilled upon all imported handguns. Baby Brownings, Galesi .25s, Astras (Colt Jr.), the tiny Rohm RG revolvers all went away with the Gun Control Act of 1968. It seems rather obvious when one thinks about it, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Winchester and Remington probably wrote that stupid law. What were the most affordable guns in 1967? Yeah, you went and bought an Astra Cub or a Galesi .25 ACP or an H&R Sidekick. Walther could have added some weight, target sights and serrated trigger and their PPK would have made it's 75 point requirement. I have seen an irate pool hustler go from swinging a cue stick around, to thinking he was going to die, from a blast in the face with a .22 Short Beretta. He was fine, except for a lot of powder burns an extra hole in his nose and welt from that 22 slug. It seems to me that the big gun makers wrote that law in 1968 to get rid of affordable guns that were eating into their market share. I can almost buy a Glock for what a Beretta Model 21 costs, but I do love mouse guns.
 

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I'd love to own an old top break revolver, prefer if it actually works though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It seems to me that the big gun makers wrote that law in 1968 to get rid of affordable guns that were eating into their market share.
Similar to what happened under Slick Willie when the requirements to obtain or renew FFLs were made hugely more difficult for those, like me, without actual storefronts. But professional FFL dealers loved it, because the number of "hobbyist" FFL holders like me dropped by over 50%, I've heard. Always regretted not fighting it out with ATF, but when I opened that thick envelope of new forms that had to be filled out, I realized I was licked.
 

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Saturday Night Special? Makes me think of the song by Lynyrd Skynyrd! The term for guns is so nebulous as to be meaningless. Cheap, small, small caliber. So many nice and fine firearms can fit into one or two of the niches but not fully into the definition.
 
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