Inside The Suicide Special Revolver By Bruce T. Varner

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Released 24 September, 2022.  Click below for the book on Amazon, priced at $31.91.
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The First Book In Many Years Dedicated Only To Study Of Those Handguns Defined As A Suicide Special Revolver

For the first time ever, a book that looks through this class of revolver from the inside out.  Broken down.


From the back cover:
"For the first time in over 60 years a published study confined to “Suicide Specials”. Not conducted from the perspective of folklore or after thought. Instead a look inside disassembled example revolvers to compare the quality of each. Done so that one might better conclude which are good and which are bad. Provided to help reach an opinion on which of the inexpensive pocket revolvers might have been able to fulfill the purpose for which they were built when manufactured. Included are some historical details about the many companies, participants, inventors, and their patents for these firearms. This is not a beauty contest, nor designed to compare with other fabled revolvers of the old west. It is also not done to contrast with today’s advanced handguns and ammunition. Instead, only those 19th century revolvers designed to be carried inside the pocket or purse are debated. The “just in case” gun."

The book breaks down definitions of just what is a Suicide Special?  Why are they different than Saturday Night Specials?  Why does everyone today believe that these pistols are not only no good now, but believe they not good when they were manufactured?

 Also discussed is the history behind several of the money men, patent holders, and others who manufactured this class of handgun. 

Should you as a gun enthusiast and collector have any of this class of 19th century firearm in your collections?

8 1/2" x 11" in size.  Over 170 color photographs, with many taken when the revolvers are disassembled!  See the interaction of internal working parts, and how they mechanically compare with other firearms.

Additionally, explained is the cartridge ammunition used in these weapons and why contemporary articles testing these weapons and ammo is often lacking in understanding nuances required to achieve results similar to what might have been obtained during the time of black powder.

This book does not cover every revolver of the class, that would be impossible, but after reading you will have a better understanding the every about just what these revolvers from the last half of the 1800's are all about.


The alias "Suicide Special" was not even created and used to identify inexpensive pocket revolvers of the late 19th century until 1948.  Almost 50 years after their manufacture ended.


About The Author

Bruce T. Varner was raised in Raytown, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City.  His father was a reserve police sergeant and therefore Bruce was always exposed to firearms.  Served actively as an E-5 sergeant in the United States Marine Corps from 1970-1973 and additionally in the Marine Corps reserves.  11 total years of military service.

He went on to served for 25 years on the Raytown Police Department.  Including as detective, SWAT team, a department firearms instructor, armor, undercover narcotics, and supervisor.  Was a member of the KC area Metro Squad and supervisor with the Jackson County Drug Task Force.

Was one of the early students to complete pistol training under Col. Jeff Cooper at Gunsite Ranch.  A life long firearms collector.  Gunsmith trained at the Smith & Wesson Academy and by Sig Sauer.

Now retired and still trying to contribute to the firearms knowledge base.

No Smith & Wesson revolvers should be properly identified as "Suicide Specials" .  Not because of a better quality, but because all S&W single actions of that timeframe were break top or swing-out revolvers, not solid framed.  A "Suicide Special" must have a solid frame among other identifying characteristics.


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Last Updated 04/17/23