The Armitage Model 1851, more commonly known as the Hastings Handcannon, is a British single-action revolver designed by James Armitage, but produced by Chetwynd-Talbot Industrial.
James C. Armitage of Hastings designed a series of high-powered revolvers in the late 1840s. As he was in financial trouble at the time, he sold a number of his hand-made revolvers on the streets, and his designs gained popularity with criminals. Armitage revolvers were nicknamed "Hastings Handcannons", in reference to their place of origin and their fierce stopping power. Charles Chetwynd-Talbot came into possession of one of Armitage's revolvers and considered it one of the finest weapons he had ever fired. Chetwynd-Talbot met up with Armitage personally and made negotiations to produce his revolvers en masse. Armitage agreed and in 1851, the revolvers were hastily put into production at Chetwynd-Talbot's London-based factory. Despite the relocation of their production, the Chetwynd-Talbot kept the "Hastings Handcannon" nickname.
A variant with a shortened barrel and the lack of a trigger guard was also produced, known as the "Hastings Bulldog".
The Handcannon is one of the most powerful weapons available, but it has high recoil and since it is single-action, it has a very slow rate of fire. The weapon's reload is also tortuously protracted, having to eject and insert each cartridge individually. The reload can be interrupted, meaning that all five rounds do not necessarily have to be loaded before the weapon is ready to fire. The main advantage that the Handcannon has over other weapons is that, due to its raw power, it can cut through several targets with a single, well-placed shot. With all of these points taken into consideration, the Handcannon is best used conservatively; only a few shots are needed to eliminate a group of enemies. It is also advised that reloading is only attempted in a safe environment, unless the weapon is upgraded to reduce reload times, in which case the reload takes only a few seconds.
The "Hastings Handcannon" seems to be based on the Gasser 1870 Army Service revolver, which originated from Austria rather than Britain.