Orbea Y Cia

This is a long-barrelled Spanish close copy of the Smith&Wesson Hand Ejector Model of 1905, third model, produced by Orbea, but also by Trocaola, Aranzabal y Compania at Eibar, Spain, probably somewhere between 1905 and WW1.

The standard gun was available in the calibers .32-20 WCF, .32 Long S&W and .38 Long S&W. Other calibers like f.i. .38 Long Colt were available on request. The Spaniards also manufactured it calibre of 8 mm Lebel between 1917 and 1918 to deliver an order express with the French Army, which was worth the name to him from “92 Spanish”.

Various Spanish makers made close copies of American swing-out cylinder revolvers. T.A.C., Cordoba, Crucelegui and others also made close copies of the S&W Topbreak New Model, Colt New Model Army&Navy and Colt Police Positive.

During WW1 both France and the UK ran short of handguns since the home manufacturers could not fill the demands. The British ordered Colt New Service revolvers in the .455 caliber, but Colt could only deliver 107.000 of them by 1917.

France needed a revolver that could chamber the 8 mm Lebel cartridge used in their St-Etienne 1892 Regular Service model.

Since the Spanish copies were of good quality and could easily be produced in the calibers used by both nations, France and England ordered huge quantities of them. The French chose Colt and S&W copies, both chambered for the 8 mm Lebel cartridge, while the British mostly preferred copies of the S&W Topbreak, which was easy to convert from the original .45 caliber onto the British .455.

Those Spanish guns saw heavy service during WW1 and proved of very good quality. Since they were chambered for the same cartridge as their regular St-Etienne 1892 model, the French gave them later the nickname "Spanish 92's".

No matter what anyone would say, those Spanish copies proved to be of a quality comparable to the originals. Many WW1 soldiers thank their life to them. However, for some unknown reason, Spanish guns in general are not very popular in Europe, and are quite unknown in the USA.

During the 19th century and to this day, Spanish arms production has been concentrated around the city of Eibar (north of Spain) and in the area of the French-Spanish border (Hendaye). The Spanish were, just as the Liège makers, very skilled in copying existing popular models.

Marcel

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