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Old August 19, 2012, 03:12 PM   #1
velocette
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Help identify muzzleloader pistol

My brother has a double barrelled percussion cap pistol of approximately .70 caliber. It appears to be built like a shotgun but with rifling like a (modern) cannon barrel or perhaps like a Marlin microgroove - that is many grooves.
It is clearly a damascus twist barrel & very well made. On the top, between the barrels in gold it has "CANON A RUBANS"
No other markings are to be found, not on the locks, barrels, trigger guard butt etc. No makers name either.
any ideas as to age etc? This pistol came from my grandfathers gun collection many years ago.
More photos are available

Roger





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Old August 19, 2012, 05:01 PM   #2
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Canon A Ruban is the process used to wrap the steel when the barrels were made.
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Old August 19, 2012, 06:33 PM   #3
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Have you had the barrels out of the wood yet? The "Canons a Ruban" ("barrels of ribbons") marking is probably French, but the French would have definitely proofed the barrels on the bottoms of the chambers. If you tap the cross-wedge in the forward part of the wood out of alignment, then cock the hammers, you should be able to lift the muzzles up and disengage a hook at the chamber end, and separate the barrels from the frame.
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Old August 20, 2012, 12:53 AM   #4
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As Velocette indicates, "Canon a rubans" (French) is what we would call a Danascus barrel. I am sure no one would consider firing that gun, but if so, please don't! The gun is definitely French, probably from about 1840-1850.

It is an interesting gun and I admit having trouble figuring out its "raison d'etre". At .70 caliber, it is much larger than any pocket pistol normally used for personal defense. Pistols are not usually used for hunting, but perhaps it was intended as a "backup" gun for a big game hunter or for stalking wild boar. One thing for sure; it was apparently made for use at close range and would have been devastating at that distance.

It is a pretty gun and the clean and uncluttered engraving gives it a very classy appearance.

Jim
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Old August 20, 2012, 12:11 PM   #5
mapsjanhere
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Looks like a French or Belgian made Howdah pistol. Definitely need to check for proof marks.
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Old August 20, 2012, 04:04 PM   #6
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I hestiated to use the term "howdah" as the French had few, if any, colonies where they rode elephants to hunt tigers, but I agree that the idea was probably much the same.

Jim
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Old August 21, 2012, 07:15 AM   #7
Mike Irwin
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Tigers and elephants existed together very nicely in France's Asian colonies.

Whether the French used elephants to hunt tigers or not, I have no clue.
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Old August 21, 2012, 07:47 AM   #8
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Well, another option would be a pistol made to use the minie balls the French used after 1848, the caliber fits. Manufactured in the North African colonies for an officer maybe, what would explain the lack of proof marks.
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Old August 21, 2012, 07:51 AM   #9
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Folks, thanks for the suggestions.
the pistol is now in northern NY with my brother.
In two months he will return to south Florida for his
winter 6 months & bring the pistol with him.
At that time I will VERY carefully remove the wedge
and look at the underside of the barrels.
And just incidentally gently clean the metal and wood
parts of the rust and dirt. NO removal of patina just the
obvious surface rust. Then coat it with a bit of Eezox
to preclude future rust.
I'll re-post then.

Roger
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Old August 21, 2012, 08:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Tigers and elephants existed together very nicely in France's Asian colonies.
Unfortunately, the French were fresh out of Asian colonies around the time this gun was most likely made, they lost their Indian possessions in the late 18th century and didn't gain Indochina until 1887.
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Old August 21, 2012, 09:21 AM   #11
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Hmm. About .70 caliber would include .69 caliber.
An overcoat pistol of musket bore is how I would describe it.
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Old August 21, 2012, 10:56 AM   #12
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The French were involved, and established in, Asia LONG before they consolidated the three Vietnamese provinces into Indochina in 1887..

While the term colony might not be correct to refer to their activities, it does, for all intents and purposes, cover the reality of French activities there from the 1830s onwards.
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Old August 21, 2012, 01:02 PM   #13
velocette
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Gentlemen;
Here's a photo of the muzzles of the pistol. The barrels are very thin like a
shotgun would be, but you can clearly see the rifling inside the muzzles.
Note, the pistol was dropped by my brother a while ago & dented the muzzle of one side. I will investigate correcting that when the pistol arrives back here in sunny warm Florida.

Roger
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Old March 15, 2013, 09:32 AM   #14
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Well finally I got a new camera.
Here are some photos of the underside of the barrels and the markings there.


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Old March 15, 2013, 10:38 AM   #15
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You have a 14 gauge shotgun pistol - what you think of as rifling is the end of the damast steel twists.
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Old March 15, 2013, 07:55 PM   #16
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Do those barrels seem awful thin to anyone else?
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Old March 16, 2013, 03:41 PM   #17
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Not too thin for a front-stuffer BP shot bbl, IMHO.

FWIW, I like it ! It looks to be well made.




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Old March 16, 2013, 07:40 PM   #18
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Shotgun dent remover will fix that barrel easily.
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Old March 17, 2013, 10:59 PM   #19
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was wonderin...on how hard you dropped your brother, after you found out he'd dropped the pistol?...lol
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Old March 18, 2013, 01:34 PM   #20
velocette
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The barrels are definitely rifled. Yes they appear to be very thin.

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Old March 18, 2013, 04:37 PM   #21
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Black powder pressure decays pretty fast and the barrels can be well tapered. One reason rusty Damascus shotgun barrels tend to blow out into your support hand; the breech is amply thick but the taper is faster than for smokeless and with a weaker material.

This is a good quality "overcoat" pistol, rifled for ball, and I don't know where the guys are getting the shotgun stuff.
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