Saturday, May 14, 2011

Merwin Hulbert Comeback?

I hope they are! These guns are some of the neatest, most intriguing frontier era revolvers I've ever laid eyes on. I'd like one but have to admit to myself I could never afford an original much less one I'd dare shoot all the time! Click on the pic to go to the company web site.

12/28/07 2135


Today we have an update. For those who are really eager for the gun, drop some cash on them now. For myself, I'm waiting until they are actually in production.
Hello to all our M&H Faithful.

I guess after 18 months of getting to this point I was more jubilant than specific in our email release. Also, it seems to have gone out with our poor webmaster's email as the header, so he's been drowning in responses last night and this morning.

First, let me respond to several of the comments, concerns, and questions received in the last 24 hours.

1)The first Serial number sold will be SN 101. First come first served.

2)All deposits will go to our accounts which are held with Bank of America and or our backup accounts at Wells Fargo. Both of these banks are as stable as any in the country at the moment.

3)Use of deposits: The deposits will go towards expenses relating to production,sales, and core costs, and NOT salaries, vacations, corporate jets, million dollar pool parties with playboy bunnies, etc.

4)When? Good question. I believe in being open and honest with our customers so do I have an X date? No, but 12 months is the farthest out we are looking at currently for standardized production. I am looking at a date much sooner then that, but I don't want to over-promise and under-deliver.

5)Who? Who will be making these? Our production plan is the best, most reliable one we could think up. We are working with proven current manufacturers. Some of which I guarantee you have made the products you own currently, either directly or through R&D. So as we don't swamp them with emails, calls, etc. I'm not going to release their names, but they have a history of success and they are helping us to get up and going and when we are these partnerships will continue and most of the manufacturing equipment they are designing will be shipped in-house to a central location. This way we can start quickly and cost effectively, but your guns will be made on the same machines be they early production or one 5 years from now.

6)Movies? Yes, we have SEVERAL movies that have caught wind of this and requested immediate samples.

7)Pictures? Yes, more pictures are coming shortly. The top strap 4th model is very close in appearance to the S&W Top Break and the open top is the one in our logo.

And finally, a direct link to the order site follows. It is secured and also goes directly through to Bank of America, so secured straight through to the account.

We'll be in touch soon!


It has been just a little over a year since my original posting.

12/31/08 1700


Today we received an update from the company via a posting at Paco's Leverguns Forum. We appreciate Mike's willingness to communicate with his potential customers. The news about the Savage 99 is interesting, too!

I'm always happy to see discussions about the company. We had a few internal reasons for the deposit, but I'm happy to say we aren't counting on them as the funding source for our production. For those of you out there that don’t want to drop a 20% deposit, emails stating thoughts and intent to would be appreciated. I definitely understand the skepticism as I've heard about Merwin's coming from all sorts of sources and I've been personally told by the Italians that they are almost impossible to make. We are taking the approach of working with the folks in the industry that really do the design work for the major companies out there. Of particular interest, through our larger operation we are finishing up the project to help Savage bring back the 99 which should be at next years shot.

Happily we've had several folks come out of the blue with fixes, updates, etc. that should help us avoid issues like the Black Powder lock ups that have been reported here and most famously by Mike V, but not cause major issues with the look of the historic models. Speaking of historic models, yes, that does mean we have modern models on the way. One finally teaser here, after 3 years of extensive research we are pretty close to a good formula or two for real black powder, not that stuff out there these days. That too should help with the fouling as well as helping you actually get 40 grains into a 44-40 case without having to scrounge for questionable balloon head cases.

357 Mag in the open top will be thoroughly tested and we are considering out options there, S-7 steel being one of those. We have a few open tops that have had catastrophic failures. The barrels survive, the cylinders survive, but the center pin/rod fails at about the same point, where the cuts are deepest, every time we've seen along with the front lip of the frame bending. The top strap models don’t have any issues of this type. It is interesting to note, we’ve never seen a scalloped cylinder that has shown any signs of stress cracks, even on the blown revolvers we’ve examined.

Well folks, again, I appreciate all the discussion about the company, and I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you as things progress. I’m hoping to get these out as soon as possible as I’ve got Hollywood on me as well, so with the silver screen calling, over a 1000 buyers, 2 dozen dealers, and 3 exporters calling, we’ve got all the incentive to get going and get it done.
and this
Our order system is pretty easy, if you want 15 different barrels with 3 different calibers, order it and we'll make it. Part of the beauty of the design is that we don't have to caliber the revolver until the order comes in the door. So you tell us what you want, we pull the right frame size, the cylinder(s) you need and the barrel(s) you request and out the door they go. Same will go for the new revolvers. Dealers will be provided with cut-a-way example, on loan from the company, so that we can be sure they always have a test gun on hand. Ideally we'd like to drive most of the orders to an on demand basis so that the customer gets what they want and the dealers don't have to tie up capital in inventory. When production is in full swing we should be able to get delivery down to less than 10 days and hopefully down to significantly less than that.


"If you haven't been keeping up with the far more frequent updates in's Forum section, here's the facts:

"1. The Merwin 2nd Model Open-Top (1876-1880) Pocket Army and Frontier Army are completely designed in SolidWorks CAD (same program S&W and Ruger use for their pistols) by the engineering team, have had plastic prototypes run from the CAD to test their fit with the original revolvers we laser-scanned and hand-measured, and are being checked over by our West Point-educated Weapons System Engineer of 40 years gunmaking/ammunitionmaking experience. The parts can start running from that CAD at the team of shops (mostly in Montana) in our supply chain across March-May with the revolvers assembled, finished and tested at our riflemaking plant in Wyoming this summer.

"2. The Third Model top-strap double action Merwin Pocket Army & Frontier Army are mostly designed (we standardized on the best Merwin solutions across the models so there's really not a lot of changes) and CAD will wrap up in March so we expect those to be finished guns in the Fall. Not sure when or if we'll make the 4th Model TopStrap, that'll depend on sales and serious requests.

"3. The website is getting a long awaited overhaul including the order form which has driven us nuts even more than it's bothered you. We assumed too much Merwin Hulbert knowledge of customers and gave too many confusing options. It'll be a lot clearer. We're also adding more Merwin history and other useful content as well as making it far easier to update (it was taking 6-12 months for no good reason.)

"4. While we'll be adding video down the road, there's a good intro to Merwins already on from the NRA Museum's Curators Corner with longtime collector/auctioneer/Museum Director Jim Supica lucidly explaining and demonstrating the Merwins.

"5. It's taken way longer than folks that have never manufactured anything seem to think it should take (or assume manufacturers fill up a warehouse or two with finished products before trying to sell any, assuming there's a real and ready demand.) In real terms it's gone pretty fast as we're bringing back a proven design made in the hundreds of thousands for roughly 20 years. Which leaves us puzzled at the demand for working prototypes as though this was a new untried design. We are prototyping for assuring measurement errors didn't creep in from the originals (a few did, 2/1,000ths of an inch for fit of the grip panels) but are going straight to final parts from the CAD. We've made some subtle strengthening choices to a few parts but it's all original Merwin designs...the 9 designers or more who came up with this series of big .44 revolvers were very smart guys we're not going to second-guess. Metallurgy and precision are of course better given this era's choices. We make the proof ammunition for many of the large gunmakers as well as some of the biggest rounds in the world for rifles (up through .700 Nitro Express which has a 1,000 grain slug) so we're more obsessive than most about strength and reliability.

"6. Calibers (this has changed between feedback and engineering): .38 Special, .44 Special, .44-40 Winchester, .45 ACP, and we're still debating how to chamber for .45 Long Colt but not allow the smallest version of the .454 Casull to be used (while the top strap would likely be strong enough, we don't want to stress the open-top design with magnum loads since we assume you'll shoot these a lot.)

"7. Barrels have been designed so all of our models can have a set of 3 interchangeable barrels (or just 1 or 2, your choice) at 3.5", 5", and 7" lengths. Those were both historically accurate (well 5.5" is actually more historical for Merwins, but more of you wanted shorter than longer barrels so we went to 5"). You really can change the barrels in a few seconds and without a tool, a feature still basically unknown with only a few semi-automatics like the SIG and Glock offering barrel switches or the long out of production Dan Wesson revolvers. Barrels have been one of the most significant challenges to this since a Merwin barrel isn't just a steel pipe with 5 lands and grooves threaded on one end but part of the whole front of the gun and rifling revolver barrels is a mostly lost art. That's a step we're having revolver barrel rifling experts do (you already probably own some of their pistols) even though we have our own Pratt & Whitney cut rifling and button rifling inhouse
for rifles.

"8. When the new order form on the website goes up in the next few weeks, I urge you to place your orders (we'll honor your place for what you sent in already but want to confirm with the new specifications and your own interest.) Like anything ordered over the web (shipped to the FFL dealer you use), you'll pay by credit card for it, satisfaction is guaranteed (as you know Mastercard and Visa help you on that too) and we're offering a 5 year warranty on parts and workmanship. Service and repair will be available at our factory in Wyoming (but Merwin parts vary so much even within the original series of big .44's that new parts fitting your originals will be more varied than any of us expected, even with all of the parts on the new Merwins coming from original parts.

"9. We've lined up a few dealers that really focus on the CAS market in the U.S. and Europe but we expect that 98% of the Merwins will be sold directly from the website and then shipped to your favorite FFL dealer for whatever transfer fee he charges for that service and in compliance with local and federal laws since these are fully functional modern guns that happen to be 1876-1886 designs unlike say cap and ball revolvers.

"We appreciate your continuing interest and helping us figure out what to make. Let us know if you still want one or two, what you want (from what we're making above, we're past wish lists but those were quite helpful early on.) You'll be seeing these in a lot of magazine and television coverage (far more than we expected early on) but not a lot of ads-this is a small, craftsmanship project of one of our divisions rather than the next major handgun maker in the world roll-out. We expect to sell 1000-2000 of these a year and would rather make them right than often and durable rather than cheap. This confuses a lot of folks but not you. If you're ready for the revolver that most police chose back then as well as the one many of the West's top pistoleers adopted after years of shooting everything else in mortal combat, let us know. "

Al Jones
VP Marketing & Sales
Merwin Hulbert & Co.
This message was sent by: Merwin, Hulbery & Co., 6209 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, 315, Saint Charles, Missouri 63304

The referenced video: Merwin Hulberts forgotten six-gun of the Old West. Jim Supica, director of the National Firearms Museum, joins John Popp to showcase the Colt Single-Action Army, or the classic six-gun, and similar Remington and Smith & Wesson models. Supica also brings a lesser-known gun from the 1880s that was manufactured by a company called Merwin Hulbert.


Now another update...
It's been awhile and as the Merwin Hulbert & Co. revolvers go into the later stages of production, with shipping deposited orders starting in November (we solved the barrel-making problems finally, that was a logjam for everything.)

Obviously the economy is quite a bit different from when you placed the order and everyone's circumstances change.

We've also clarified and changed what the initial Merwin line is from the very broad questions on the old order form you responded to. Base pricing though remained in tact as did additional barrels, we've got a lot more finish options worked out, black rubber grips are standard then as now, calibers are .45LC, .45ACP/AutoRim, .44 Special/Russian, .44-40WCF, and .38 Special, barrel lengths are 3.5, 5.5, and 7 inch, and the 4 frame styles are open-top Pocket Army, open-top New Army (sometimes called Frontier, like an 1860 Colt), solid-frame (sometimes called Third Model, it's the slimmer top-strap like a Colt SAA or S&W K-Frame) Pocket Army and New Army. All single action right now, double action versions of the solid-frame will be out in the first half of 2011. We're making 4 revolvers a day so it'll be awhile, and each gets proof-tested, functionality-tested, and accuracy tested before shipping. If you want to upgrade to real elephant ivory grips installed at the factory, that's $395 and no hassle.

We'll be sending you an 8-page catalog on the Merwins that explains what's available and other stuff of interest about them in greater depth than we've gotten onto the website yet.

You can decide what you'd like with what you know now and place an order by mail, fax, e-mail, etc. (and shortly the new website order form will be up) along with payment (unless it's a double action, then just send a deposit.) We've been developing and building these on our money, just like any other made-to-order product, it's not COD. The Merwins are Satisfaction Guaranteed, if not return the gun for a full refund (if it's been used normally, i.e. blowing it up with hot hand-loads or driving over it with a loaded horse trailer, nope, but we can repair it and replace what's damaged. 5 Year Warranty on parts and labor, like I keep saying we're a gunsmith-driven company and focused on making them right before they go out the door to you.

The Merwins are entirely made in the USA, not just assembled, renamed, or reboxed here. These are made literally on the Oregon Trail used by the covered wagons headed to California, Oregon, and Utah. The factory in Glenrock, Wyoming is about a two day ride from Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid's Hole in the Wall hideout..smack dab in the middle of the Real Old West. It's two days ride from Fort Laramie. The cattle drives that inspired "Lonesome Dove" came through here from Texas to Montana. Range wars right through here (SW of the Johnson County War, Tom Horn was a range detective hereabouts.) Fetterman Fight, Wagon Box Fight, Hayfield Fight, Red Cloud's War, that's all hereabouts. You take Old West authenticity differently when it immerses you every day.

We're only considering the orders received with a deposit as dead serious orders (and first in line,) and the orders without a deposit we're considering you telling us what you would buy but not having committed to it, essentially a market survey. We hope you've been checking the Forum section on for updates and look forward to hearing from you at as we do from so many every day (it's a highlight, not a hassle.)

We look forward to hearing from you, especially after you've had a chance to look at the catalog, and appreciate your continued interest and patience.
23 Sep 2010

More info...
Dear Merwin, Hulbert & Co Customers, Collectors and Friends,

Before we get into the progress in production, I want to address the change in the leadership of the Merwin, Hulbert & Co project. As some of you may or may not know, I started this odyssey back in 2006. After receiving almost unanimous discouragement from most folks in the manufacturing industry and the experts in the collector world I decided I had hit upon an idea worth following up on, for if one thing is almost certain in the world its if all the insiders and experts think something is a lousy idea, its probably worth its weight in gold. Along the line, Al Jones joined the project and for the last 3 years has been involved in the company and for the last 2 years did a lot of the heavy lifting and communication building. In fact he help setup this service that I'm using to talk to you now. Merwin's return definitely owes a page or two in the history books to Al. Another almost universal truth to go with the one above is that things change and teams change and as many of you may have heard, Al has left the team. I know this is concerning to many, perhaps borderline scary if you've got a full paid order in place, however, I wanted to contact you all to reassure you that Al's departure doesn't effect manufacturing in anyway. Al is a jack of many trades, however he wasn't involved in running the machines, handling the fitting, or engineering, so production is unaffected. I'm going to step back in to direct control over this division I started so hopefully I can fulfill Al's roll without much interruption. As time goes on I'll introduce other members of the team that have been in the background during this time that you can speak with as well.

Now on production, perhaps the biggest mistake we've made to date, and as the CEO I have to step up here and say the biggest mistake I permitted to happen for lack of more definitive intervention was the setting of delivery dates. This was never permitted under company policy. I've been around this industry my whole life and the one thing that gun companies are unilaterally guilty of and perhaps notorious for are unkept delivery dates. How long was Ruger suppose to come out with a 10/17 in 17 HMR? How about the Winchester 94 takedowns? How many times did that not happen? I even have the 2006 Catalog with lovely pictures of that one. Add to it that we are a small "new" player and up pop onerous images of other companies like Dan Wesson that failed multiple times, Wildey who was eaten alive by his own investors a few times, Fletcher-Bidwell Spencers and the list continues. So, I thought I was clear as to why we wouldn't do the same damn thing, yet here we are. The only fix to this that I can see, and I have to say I've been "test marketing" since yesterday in the 50 or so emails I answered directly before getting this system back online is to tell the complete truth of where we are at, what's take up our time and where we are going.

Many of you have already seen pictures of our frames, side plates, trigger guards, hammers, triggers, etc. Yes, we have all of those done. Cylinders are done as well. Barrels forgings are now in as well. Where we are at, at this very second, is the center Cylinder pin/post. In the Merwin this is a fairly significant part as it attaches via threads directly to the frame and holds not only the cylinder, but the barrel as well. Finally, the rim that extracts the cartridges is part of the back side of this pin and through that same shroud the hand that advances the cylinder passes in a vertical slot in the circular ring that contacts the rim of the cartridges. A lot of machining for what on something like a Colt is just a simple pin you could substitute with a nail if you had to. So this would seem fairly simple still, just machine it and thread it and thread the frame and screw them together. However, the issue here is the timing. Like that vertical cut for the hand, if that is off by a tiny amount the hand will bind and wear and the cylinder won't advance properly. Don't forget the cuts under the cylinder or out along the barrels travel area, those have to be oriented as well. Okay, so a simple solution would seem to be to thread it, tighten and mark it, then unscrew, machine and re-attach. Yes, this works, but what if your center pin breaks. We are using a far stronger alloy than the originals, but still this is one area, especially on open tops that we've seen a lot of damage as after all its a long thin post with cuts out of it. with the barrel unlocked its unsupported. Trip midway through an ejection cycle and hit in the right spot and it could bend or break no matter what we make it out of. If we used the process I just described the only option is to have it sent in and have a new part mated to it as the process above only makes a custom part, so no center pin is interchangeable with any other center pin. Don't like the sound of that? Neither do I. I'd much rather know that the center pin on a revolver made today could be replaced by one made 10 years from now. This requires that the threads in the frame start at the same point with in a few thousands and that the same happens on the center pin, with the added difficulty on the pin of all the other cuts having to be timed to the threads. As we have two parts that means the tolerance or "slop" on each part is additive meaning both have to be held to a very tight range or it won't work. Add to this it must be torqued down or "crushed" in so we have to know how much both the pin and/or frame will give with the required torque so it doesn't go out of alignment when we apply the torque. So we've got timing in the threads which is a machining and setup problem, the other machining on the pin having to line up with the other cuts in the frame, the deflection of the metal under torque, etc. So basically this simple process of threading the pin into the frame becomes a complex item in and of itself. Sure we could go the quicker way I first described, but I haven't been pouring everything I have into this and making you fine folks wait for just what works or what is good enough. I think you are all here because you want the best, and I'm here to make the best. Unfortunately, the best takes time, frequently in ways and delays that can't always be predicted.

So in conclusion, I can't give you a firm delivery date. In fact, the next delivery date I want anyone of you to hear is the one on the shipping invoice with tracking number that you'll receive when its sitting on the shipping counter ready to go out to your dealer, or your shop if you are a dealer. What I do plan on doing is using this service that we pay for monthly anyway and actually use it as often as is practical to communicate to you exactly where we are at, what is going on, and what is or isn't done. I apologize to those of you that were given a delivery date as it shouldn't have happened and I hope I've shown can't happen with any accuracy. Once we have all the bugs worked out of the system and are in continual production, then we'll be able to give rough delivery dates followed by certain dates at time of shipping, until then anything I'd say, even with the full picture on my desk here is nothing more than a guess. I'd rather tell you where we are and leave the guessing up to you. I will tell you from here, even having a completed piece doesn't mean we are a go. We have testers who will ring them out for us and I'll be doing that myself. When I have one with about 5,000 rounds through it without fail, then I will announce we are in full production, until then we are in production line testing. This is a bit different then prototyping as prototyping allows you to use any method you wish. Production line testing is what it sounds like, basically you are testing the manufacturing methods with no cheating allowed.

I'll end now by thanking you all for your patience, your enthusiasm, and of course your business. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to talking to you all again in the near future. I am going on the road to check in with the facilities and suppliers, so if you do write, I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as I can, but I might be delayed a bit over the next week or so. Until then, we'll follow Bat's advice and take our time as quickly as possible in getting these done and ready for you.



Michael H Blank
Merwin, Hulbert & Co., LLC

Recently found on the net, this is the configuration of Merwin & Hulbert I'd like to have...

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