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The Beaumont-Adams Revolver was a British service revolver which became the first double action revolver in the world following the acceptance of its patent in 1856. The innovation of this design left Colt in a weaker position, although the Beaumont-Adams would not last for very long in service, being replaced by the Enfield Mk I Revolver in 1880.
The Beaumont-Adams was the first double action revolver in the world (or atleast the first true double action system developed). The Beaumont design is virtually the same as the modern designs, although the Beaumont-Adams has no real safety elements incorporated into the mechanism. This simple solution to create a double action revolver virtually ran Colt out of business in London as it became clear that double action was the way forward in revolver design.
The Beaumont-Adams was a modification to the original Adams Revolver which originally used a percussion lock mechanism. This was adjusted to include a very basic self-loading mechanism before the Lt Beaumont applied his changes to the design. The frame remained the same as the original and a spurred hammer was added to allow the Beaumont-Adams to be fired in either Single or Double action.
The Beaumont-Adams was chambered in three different calibre sizes with the most popular size, the .479 calibre ball, being preferred by the British Army for its greater stopping power. Other calibre sizes included a .338in (8.58mm) and .442in (11.2mm) balls.
The Beaumont-Adams, following the obtainment of its patent in June 1856, became the favoured sidearm of British Officers, whom had to purchase their own sidearms at that time. Production officially began in 1862, lasting 18 years by which stage the Enfield Mk I Revolver and Lancaster Pistol had become more popular firearms. The Beaumont-Adams also beat the French Lefaucheux M1858 Revolver to the mantle of the first double action revolver.
The Beaumont-Adams also became a popular revolver in Holland and Russia, pushing Adams into selling contracts to companies in Birmingham and Liege. A total of approximately 250,000 Beaumont-Adams were manufactured over the 18 years of British Service, a feat which pushed Colt out of London. In the United States the Massachusetts Arms Company obtained a contract and produced 19,000 Beaumont-Adams Revolvers which would be used by both sides of the American Civil War.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Firearms - Ian V. Hogg