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Morning, all. Been sitting here thinking about risk and reward a lot; the pundits are all saying that we need to figure out how to incorporate big plays better into offences across the league. I guess there’s something to that, but I’m still not sure if I’m entirely sold on it. With a lot of big plays, the propensity for things to blow up on you correlates perfectly to the chance that things go well for you. I guess a lot of people are ok with that, but I dunno if I’m there yet. There’s something to be said about getting the wind, as you know. Speaking of risk-averse, this week’s Wacky Weapon is definitely not one you’d want to use if you want to bet on the sure thing. Read on, folks!
THE COCHRAN REVOLVER
Country of origin: USA
Purpose built: To provide an alternative mass-produced handgun to circumvent the Colt revolver patent
Years used: 19th century
What is it? The Cochran revolver was one of a few styles of “turret gun” that were produced in limited numbers during the 19th century. This particular model, a revolver by weapons maker John Cochran, of New York City, was the model that got him a patent for his design in 1859. In addition to this handgun, Cochran also built several larger-scale versions of turret guns as well, including, apparently, a cannon that shot twelve-pound balls, at the specific request of the Sultan of Turkey. Despite the apparent success of the cannons, according to stories about Cochran, today we know him best for the revolvers built using his design. While the traditional Colt revolver, which dominated the handgun market into the early 20th century, had a horizontally-mounted pivot that the chamber would rotate around, the Cochran had a vertically-mounted pivot instead. Additionally, the Cochran, like the first versions of the Colt revolver, were black-powder guns, which meant they had loose powder that ignited the bullet via a percussion nipple creating a spark when the trigger was pulled. This, of course, is the forerunner to weapons using powder cartridges, which became much more reliable and popular due to their safety and simplicity of use.
Why didn’t it work? All black-powder guns needed a ton of maintenance to remain reliable and (reasonably) safe – even the popular Colt revolver. Regular cleaning was an absolutely essential part of the maintenance process – the chamber needed to be washed completely clean after using the gun each time. Without cleaning, the chambers would often have left-over black powder inside, which not only gummed up and rusted after a while, but was also a serious fire hazard… Without proper maintenance, the Cochran revolver was extremely susceptible to “chain-fire”, where all chambers would accidentally ignite and fire at once due to loose gunpowder that may have been accidentally left in the chamber. Additionally, with bullets pointing in every direction, including often-times back at the shooter themselves… you can see why they never got particularly popular. Only about 150 were ever made in total in the United States in the 19th century.
What could make it better?
John Cochran did acknowledge the issue of chain-firing in some later designs of his revolvers; while the popular Colt revolver was typically a six-shot chamber, later models of the Cochran were designed with seven rounds stored in the chamber. This was done in order to have off-set holes; by ensuring that the chamber didn’t have symmetrical hole placements, there was no hole that faced back directly at the shooter, which minimized of the risk of a chain-fired bullet moving immediately backwards at the user. However, this still didn’t eliminate the risk of chain-fire outright, and as such, the weapons were still highly unreliable and dangerous, especially compared to the quality of the more-famous Colt. Needless to say, making a weapon that used loose black gunpowder to fire seems insane in the modern day and age, and thus there’s really no way of improving the initial design. It’s fucked right from the get-go.
If you feel like you have twelve minutes of your day to spare, you can check out this video below of an example that came up for auction a few years ago; the host goes into greater detail of the design and mechanics of the gun starting at the six-minute mark.
All I gotta say about the Cochran revolver is that it seems to be a high-risk, high-reward kinda weapon! This gun is an awful lot like the Josh Gordon of revolvers; hopefully having one doesn’t mean things end up blowing up in your face! Still, sometimes, as a head coach, those are the risks you need to take. Whenever I become a head coach again, I think I’ll wave one of these around to try and get the guys motivated. Or scared. Whatever does the trick!