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The Korth Sky Hawk Snubbie by Paul Scarlata

  • Friday, 06 October 2017 08:15
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The Korth Sky Hawk Snubbie by Paul Scarlata: Re-inventing the wheel-gun

Unenlightened persons will tell you that revolvers are obsolete, display poor ergonomics, are overly complicated, lack reliability and (the one that really gets me angry!) don’t hold enough rounds. Well, suffice to say that I heartily disagree with all of those points; however I will just mention that all handgun speed shooting records have been set with double-action revolvers!

With great reluctance, I will not delve deeply into the history and development of the double-action revolver. But let us remember that the basic technology behind the modern double-action revolver and semi-auto pistol both date from the late 19th century. In fact, except for the use of high-tech materials and finishes, a firearms engineer from the early 20th century would find little remarkable about most current production double-action revolvers.

Ever since the late 19th century, when the term “German handgun” was mentioned I’m sure most shooters envisioned a self-loading or semi-­automatic pistol. Perhaps it’s because the Teutonic mind is fascinated by technology and complexity that revolvers received little attention from German gunmakers, but by the first decade of the 20th century every one of them of any note – and some of no note whatsoever – were turning out semi-auto pistols as fast as their lathes could turn.

This trend continued until the ­mid-1950s, when a gentleman by the name of Willi Korth began a firm called Korth-Waffen to manufacture blank and gas firing revolvers which were ­available to the public without the draconian requirements of German gun laws.

In 1962 he introduced his first cartridge firing revolver, a ­simple design chambered in .32 S&W Long. Three years later saw the first .38 calibre Korth known as the Polizei. It was followed shortly by the Sport and Combat series revolvers in .22 LR, ­.22 WMR and .357 Magnum.

After dealing with a pistol that a customer had brought him that he felt was an inferior design, he started working on an ultra-reliable revolver built to withstand thousands of rounds without breakage or failures. These revolvers were built to order, one at a time, with the greatest attention to every detail.

Each revolver was bench made by five gunsmiths who turned out approximately 120 guns a year. In contrast to mass production revolvers, Korth revolver parts were neither cast nor milled, but machined from billet steel and aluminium. Each revolver required 70 man-hours that comprised 600 ­distinct operations. Despite being very expensive, Korth’s revolvers gained a loyal following among shooters, collectors and competitors who were willing to pay for the very best.

Read the full article in the November 2017 issue of Magnum.

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