This page is still under construction, and some pistols still be found on the Antiques and Obsolete page.
Antique and Obsolete Pistols
Continental Percussion (from Flintlock) Pistol
A pistol which has been converted from flintlock to percussion. Of continental manufacture, and probably French it is typical of the style of the late 1700s and would have likely been converted to the more reliable percussion pistol during the middle half of the 19th century. The overall style is of the military type, with a prominent brass pommel and long brass "ears" running up the side of the butt, however it is a scaled down version of a military pistol. It would have been carried as a self defence coat pistol. The pistol is a little over 11" long with a 6 1/2" barrel. The brass furniture is decorated with patterned engraving and the back of the butt has decorative sliver wire inlayed. It has a ramrod in place, but this is a later replacement. The octagonal to round barrel is for a .500" ball, so the pistol would have made a formidable weapon for close range defence. The barrel has a flared muzzle and a tidy bore. The mainspring is strong and the action cocks and holds correctly.
Westley Richards Double Howdah Pistol
A large double barrelled percussion Howdah pistol by Westley Richards. This large and heavy pistol has 7 1/2" barrels and will take a .65" patched ball. It has an overall length of 14" and weighs 3lb 1oz. The term Howdah Pistol was given to pistols of this type after they became a favoured close range weapon while hunting in India. The Howdah being the covered saddle or box on top of an elephant. An injured tiger may well try and assault its elephant mounted attackers. A short barrelled weapon firing a large ball with a heavy charge was what was needed to repel such a powerful boarder. Some commentators suggest the massive double barrelled pistols were deliberately weighted to shoot down hill, but it is likely suspect the thick barrels made to take the heavy charge would achieve this anyway. A double dose of large calibre ball would lend itself to self defence against almost anything and pistols of this type were used by hunters and adventurers throughout the empire during the middle of the nineteenth century. Westley Richards is one of the best known and highly regarded names in the gun trade. The son of William Richards, Westley was born in 1814 who joined the family business of gun making, which had evolved from being silversmiths and cutlers. Westley had large taken the business over by 1840. The unexpected death of his wife shortly after their marriage affected Westley severely and he then dedicated himself solely to his work. He became and innovative and pioneering engineer and took out numerous important patents. The company still trades in Birmingham today. Large calibre double pistols do not often come up for sale. this one is a excellent mechanical order. the barrels are an attractive brown, but do have some external marks and pitting which is shown in the photos. The bores are good, bit not perfect. The lock plates are engraved with the name"Westley Richards" and foliate patterns. the captive swivel ram rod is present . There is a vacant white metal escutcheon on the butt, to the rear of the tang.
Pair of Flintlock Horse Pistols of Eastern manufacture
A pair of flintlock Horse pistols of eastern manufacture - probably Turkish. These pistols are in poor condition and have, without any doubt seen plenty of life. I have tried to show the principal faults in the photos and will describe them here, but they should be treated as relics and further faults may become apparent upon dismantling or closer inspection. The pistols have an overall length of 15 1/2" and the round three stage barrels are of .577 bore and are 9 1/2" long. Both pistols cock and hold on both half and full cock and the triggers work properly. The frizzen spring are present and work sharply. One of the pistols has a flint in the jaws and this does give a spark. Pistol 1 has a significant crack in the wood under the lock, either side of the trigger guard. the crack has been repaired and there is no movement. Pistol 2 has signs of a crack and extensive filler on the butt. Again the crack has been repaired and the is no movement. Both pistols have provision for a ram rod, but they are absent. The brass furniture is engraved with crescent moons and stars. They would make an attractive wall display and despite their condition are still a pair of flintlock pistols at a very low price. Turkey has an interesting history of arms manufacture. The Ottoman gunsmiths were failing to supply the military goods needed and several attempts at reform were made in the eighteenth century, often by frenchmen. One such frenchman by the name of Bonaparte offered to reorganise the artillery, but the victory by Nelson at the Battle of the Nile much reduced french influence in Turkey. Political treaties then caused the Ottoman firearms to loose their richly decorated individualism and copied western styles. Many rifles and pistols were made with french locks, or locally made copies of french locks. The horse pistols, or Kubur pistols as they were known in Turkey became popular and were carried in a holster in front of a saddle which was known as a Kuburluk. Many locks also came from the productive armouries in Leige and were assembled, or copied locally and decorated with islamic style engraving.
.700 Light Dragoon Flintlock Pistol Collis
A large flintlock pistol with an impressive calibre which will take a .700" patched ball. The action is smooth and it hold correctly. The mainspring is good and strong and it gives a very good spark against the frizzen. The pistol is likely a private purchase and is in the fashion and style of the Napoleonic Light Dragoon Cavalry Pistol. The 9" barrel is octagonal to round and has been cleaned at some point in the past, leaving it without any original finish. The brass furniture is in good condition and the butt has a pronounced cap which would severely damage any skull it connected with. There are small losses on the wood work around the barrel pins and some brown filler has been used, but not to the detriment pf the pistol. The lock is marked Colllis and has the Royal Crown over GR. An inexpensive flintlock a a price much lower than an ordnance issue pistol of the same period.
Flintlock 40 bore Turn off Muff Pistol by John Jones.
John Jones and Co are recorded as gun wholesalers at 116 Minories, London from 1826 to 1829. They were trading in Birmingham from 1811, and this ties in with the Birmingham proof marks on the pistol. One side of the lock is marked JNo Jones and Co, and the other London. The pistol has a aged patina and light pitting to the surface but is in proper working order. The turn off barrel is free and the drop down trigger is tight and crisp. The cock has a sliding safety which locks the frizzen in place - useful on what is a self defence weapon which would be carried loaded if it were to be of any use in an emergency. The box, although an old one, is not original - pistols of this type would not be likely to be sold cased. It does make an attractive way to display the pistol. The trade label of Issac Hollis is a reproduction, but looks the part anyway.
Pin Fire Double Barrel Pin Fire Pistol
A double barrel pistol in 11mm pinfire. Pistols of this type were a popular choice as self defence weapons. The large 11mm round would be formidable at the close ranges this pistol was intended to be used at. The folding trigger drop down when the hammers are cocked. These folding triggers made the pistol much easier to carry and along with the sliding safety catch - which kept the hammers clear of the pins - allowed the easy carriage of the pistol in some safety. One of the four legs of the safety catch has broken off, but this is not obvious and does not detract from the operation of the catch. This type of firearm was produced by the famous Leige gunmakers of Belgium and were exported over much of the world. Engraving and fancy finishing were kept to a minimum and they were very much a working weapon. Pin Fire bridged the gap from the muzzle loading percussion system and the breech loading centre fire rounds we use today. The pin fire era was quite short - from the early 1850s to the early 1860s for shotguns, but through to the 1880s for pistols. A nice example of a large calibre self defence weapon in an obsolete calibre.
Starr Double Action Percussion Revolver
A Starr 1858 double action percussion revolver. The pistol is marked " Starr Arms & Co New York" and " Starr's Patent Jan 1856". The pistol and the cylinder have matching serial numbers. The pistol is in full working order and actions correctly and smoothly. The nipples on the fitted cylinder are in good order. Starr introduced this double action revolver in 1858, with a well engineered an unique cocking action. This design was used a large numbers by the Union Army in the American Civil War and was considered by many to be superior to other available at the time, such as the Colt. It was perhaps ahead of its time. The hammer cocked as the trigger was pulled, and then if the trigger pressure was released the hammer remained cocked and a second stage on the trigger pull would release the hammer and fire the pistol. It was a good system, giving the speed of fire of the self cocking action, and the greater accuracy of the single action. In 1863 Starr changed, at the request of the Union Army, from the double action to a single action mechanism. Some sources suggest this was because the fine double action system was too complicated for the Union cavalry troopers in the heat of a mounted charge, but a lower production cost probably featured in the request as well. This is one of the last double action models. The change to single action came at around a sequential serial number of 23 000. This one has a serial number of 22 130, suggesting production in mid 1863, and almost certain war time use by the Union Army. The Starr was one of the most used pistols of the American Civil War, and has seen recent exposure in the hands of Kevin Costner in Wyatt Earp and in those of Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven.
Percussion Turn off Pistol
A percussion turn off pistol with a cannon barrel. There is no makers name, but it does have Birmingham proof marks. In good working order with a crisp trigger release and an attractively engraved hammer. The nipple is straight and in good condition. The barrel unscrews freely. What looks to be an old attempt to improve the pistol by chequering the grips is the only fault with tis pistol. There is a vacant esctucheon on the back of the grip.
Percussion Turn Off Muff PIstol
A classic mid 1800s percussion muff pistol. The bore is .500" which would make a very effective close range calibre. Designed as a self defence weapon intended to give the user an advantage over a knife or cudgel wielding assailant at close range. The turn off barrel is free and the action all works properly. The barrel is marked with Birmingham proof marks, but there is no name on the lock.
English Flintlock Muff Pistol
A flintlock muff pistol marked London. Popular self defence weapons during the latter part of the 18th and early 19th Century, these large calibre weapons were easily carried. The sliding safety locks the hammer at half cock and also locks the frizzen in a closed position. The pistol was then safe to carry - in theory at least - and the powder charge in the pan was also secure. This pistil is in good working order and the barrel unscrews. The method of loading these pistols, by unscrewing the barrel and placing a slightly oversize ball on top of the powder in the chamber, and then screwing the barrel on over the ball, meant the ball was a tight fit in the bore. This improved the power of the shot, but also meant the ball stayed in place - important in a self defence weapon which may be carried for a long time before being called upon.
Double Barrelled Coat Pistol with Spring Bayonet
A doubled percussion barrelled coat pistol with a folding spring bayonet. This percussion pistol is 40 bore, so would take a .45" patched ball. The barrels are 4" long and the over all length of the pistol with the bayonet folded is just over 9". There is no makers name on the pistol, but the barrels have London proof marks.The spring out bayonet was patented by Birmingham gun maker John Waters in the latter part of the 18th century. This percussion pistol comes from the middle part of the 19th century. It's size would lend it the name of being a Coat Pistol - smaller than holster pistols and bigger than a pocket or muff pistol. A weapon for self defence or protection the double barrels would offer a good degree of protection with the bayonet acting as a further weapon or deterrent to anyone still around after the opening round. The action is smooth and correctly functioning. The action is well engraved, although some detail has been lost through wear. The 5 1/4" bayonet flicks out smartly and locks into position. The release is by a spring loaded tab. The wooded butt has the original chequering clearly present. The ramrod would appear to be a later replacement, but is of the correct type and size.
Adams Pattern 51 Percussion Revolver 38 bore
An Adams Pattern 1851 percussion revolver. This large pistol is in the impressive calibre of 38 bore, or .50". Exhibited at the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace in 1851 these revolvers were competing against Samuel Colt who was also at the Exhibition. Colt was a pioneer of mass production method while Adams, and his business partners Deane and Son, were still producing their pistols by hand. Colt used an open frame and a single action mechanism which needed to be cocked by hand. Adams used a much stronger closed frame and a self cocking action where the user just squeezed the trigger to cock and fire the pistol. Accuracy is greater with a single action, but self cocking gives a faster rate of fire and when combined with such a large bore, tremendous destructive stopping power. These large frame and large calibre pistols were referred to as "Dragoon" pistols as well as the term "man stopper" which has been applied to various pistols of large calibre. The ability of a 1/2" ball to stop a man is well understood. There are tales from the Indian Mutiny and from the Crimean War of British officers emptying .36" Colts into fanatical or determined enemies and inflicting several ultimately lethal wounds, but failing to stop the assault in time to save their own lives. The larger calibre of the Adams was reckoned to stop such close quarter attackers dead in their tracks. This example is in very good mechanical condition and indexes perfectly and very smoothly. The rifled bore of the 8" barrel is in good shape and the pistol makes a very good shooter. At some point in its history the pistol was probably wrapped in a cloth and the cylinder and frame has suffered surface corrosion as a result. The photos probably make the corrosion look worse than it is, but please be aware it is present. The wooden grips are fine, and there is a fair amount of the original finish on the barrel and frame. The top of the barrel is engraved with " Dene Adams and Deane " and is then very faint with "maker the HRH Prince Albert" and becoming more visible "30 King EWilliam Street London Bridge". A big and impressive revolver in excellent mechanical order which would very much lend itself for those wanting to shoot one of these victorian hand cannons.
Starr 1863 Single Action .44 Revolver
A Starr 1863 single action percussion revolver. The pistol is marked " Starr Arms & Co New York" and " Starr's Patent Jan 1856". The pistol and the cylinder have matching serial numbers and there is a spare cylinder (4 of the 6 nipples are missing on the spare cylinder which also shows some sign of heat treatment - presumably from extracting the nipples). The pistol is also cased in a modern wooden lined case. The pistol is in full working order and actions correctly and smoothly. The nipples on the fitted cylinder are in good order. The whole of the pistol has surface corrosion evenly over the metal, but the engraved lettering and numbers are easy to read. Starr produced a double action revolver in 1851, with a well engineered an unique cocking action. This design was used a large numbers by the Union Army in the American Civil War and was considered by many to be superior to other available at the time, such as the Colt. In 1863 Starr changed, at the request of the Union Army, from the double action to a single action mechanism. Some sources suggest this was because the fine double action system was too complicated for the Union cavalry troopers in the heat of a mounted charge, but a lower production cost probably featured in the request as well. Despite the years, and the use as a service arm the rotation of the cylinder and the lock up of the hinge are tight and remarkably free from play. There is a consensus that these Starr revolvers were at least as good as the Colts and Remingtons, if not rather better, but lost out after the American Civil War due to the massive and very effective marketing campaign undertaken by Colt. A well designed and well made revolver in good order.