Unconventional Ammo: Trounds and Triangles
Updated: Oct 11, 2020
It is said that history repeats itself and that those who ignore it are doomed to repeat it.
In August 1958, David Dardick received a patent for a magazine-fed revolver. His design featured a cylinder with openings on each exterior edge, creating U-shaped chambers instead of traditional O-shaped chambers. This allowed rounds to be automatically fed into the chamber from a magazine loaded with a stripper clip, instead of being loaded manually like in a traditional revolver. Additionally, extraction was also done automatically.
Dardick soon realized that his U-shaped ammunition would require it to be fed in a very specific fashion in order for his revolver to function properly. By the end of 1958, he was issued a second patent that shows his ammunition now being three-sided like a triangle. The uniform size of the round on each side enabled it to feed into the cylinder more easily, thereby increasing the gun’s reliability.
The new triangular ammunition needed a name, so Dardick called them "trounds," a combination of the words "triangle" and "round." The bullet, powder, and primer were all loaded into the triangular-shaped plastic case that created the outer wall of the revolver’s cylinder.
Dardick’s first gun, the Model 1100, was only chambered for the proprietary .38 Dardick
Tround. However, a cylinder adapter could be purchased, which allowed the shooter to fire traditional handgun ammunition. Next up was the Model 1500, which had interchangeable barrels and could fire .38, .30, and .22 caliber trounds. This model was also available with a carbine conversion kit to turn the revolver into a rifle.
Shortly after introduction to the public, Mechanix Illustrated magazine featured an article on the new gun. Its author called it "as versatile as a six-armed monkey." While the analogy may seem to be an unusual way to praise Dardick’s creation, it proved to be accurate in a way the author never intended: just like there’s no such thing as a six-armed monkey, there’s also no such thing as a commercially-successful, magazine-fed revolver that fires rounds from a plastic triangle.
The public never embraced his concept and Dardick’s trounds remain little more than a footnote in the advancement of ammunition.
If Dardick had done some digging into previous patent documents, he could have saved himself a lot of time, trouble, and money. That proposed digging would have uncovered a patent from German immigrant Otto Schneeloch. Otto had also created a triangular round, but he had done so in December 1872, more than 75 years before Dardick.
Instead of using a cylinder with an open wall that would require a special feeding mechanism, Schneeloch's design utilized a bored-through cylinder with eight triangular chambers. This allowed his design to maintain a much more conventional look than what Dardick created.
Schneeloch wasn't out to reinvent the wheel; he just wanted to modify it. To that end, he utilized a Smith & Wesson tip-up revolver in .22 Short as the basis for his creation when he decided to transform his idea from paper to metal. The revolver shown in the patent drawing is decidedly not an S&W, so it is highly likely that the use of an existing gun was only for prototype purposes.
One benefit of Otto's prototype was that it enabled the revolver to to chamber the same number of rounds (seven) as before alteration, but they were of a larger caliber. The original revolver's .22 Short projectiles weighed approximately 30 grains. Schneeloch's projectiles were .307 caliber and weighed approximately 57 grains.
We will never know what could have been because Otto died suddenly in an accident in 1877, only five years after receiving his patent. He was only 42.
The only known example of Schneeloch's design is the presumable prototype, and it is depicted in Lewis Winant's book, Firearms Curiosa. At that time, the gun was owned by a man named Leo J. Werner. Unfortunately, Winant's book provides little info on the gun, and none on its owner. Even more unfortunate is that this reference dates to 1955. The current whereabouts of the gun - or if it even still exists some 63 years later - is unknown.
Since Winant personally handled the gun, he was able to narrow down the very specific type of Model No. 1 that was used in Schneeloch's development. It was an S&W Model No. 1 First Issue Third Type revolver, which all fall within a serial number range of 1131 - 3000. With that in mind, if you ever come across a revolver as described above, buy it immediately! What would normally be a $1,000 gun in poor condition could actually be a one-of-a-kind example of firearms development.
Ammunition for the gun is occasionally seen, but it is incredibly expensive. One round sold at auction in June 2018 for $1,725! At that price, it would cost $12,075 to fully load the revolver's cylinder. Putting a price on the revolver itself is almost impossible, but the price of the ammo could be used as a starting point.
Shall we open the bidding at $30,000?.......
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