The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > The Harley Nolden Memorial Institute for Firearms Research

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old September 29, 2010, 09:57 AM   #1
Rampant_Colt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 17, 2006
Location: Parts Unknown
Posts: 1,478
Lincoln assassination Derringer caliber?

I've been reading conflicting reports about the caliber of the Derringer used by Booth. Some report it as a .44 and some claim it's a .41 cal.. All of the cap-lock Derringers i've seen have been .41 caliber; including the one i built from a CVA kit.

So which caliber is it? Can anyone verify it?
__________________
member of an elite paramilitary organization: Eagle Scouts
Rampant_Colt is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 10:17 AM   #2
RWBlue01
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 16, 2008
Posts: 176
As I understand it.....

.44 caliber
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Deringer
RWBlue01 is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 10:23 AM   #3
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
The ball recovered from Lincoln's head was for a .44 caliber derringer.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 12:21 PM   #4
therealdeal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 15, 2010
Posts: 627
.44 caliber derringer

from what I have heard, this actual(exact) firearm that killed Lincoln was a very primitive weapon but obviously enough to cause a mortal wound. Experts have said that the up-close distance was the deciding factor in his death.
__________________
NRA Distinguished Life Member

"Abraham Lincoln freed all men, but Sam Colt made them all equal." (post Civil War slogan)
therealdeal is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 02:35 PM   #5
RJay
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 2, 2005
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,665
The Deringer that killed President Lincoln was state of the art at the time and was not a cheap handgun. It was a authentic Henry Deringer ( one R ). It was not considered a primitive weapon at the time but rather a high class and very effective defensive or close range handgun.
RJay is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 03:00 PM   #6
RWBlue01
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 16, 2008
Posts: 176
Quote:
The Deringer that killed President Lincoln was state of the art at the time and was not a cheap handgun. It was a authentic Henry Deringer ( one R ). It was not considered a primitive weapon at the time but rather a high class and very effective defensive or close range handgun
state of the art?
primitive?
I am not sure I can agree with either of those terms. It was 1865.

He could have taken any of the civil war revolvers Patterson, Dragoon, 1851, 1858, 1860, 1861. This would have been modern and IMHO a better option.

He could have gone with a 22short pistol ( I think S&W was making a revolver.) This would have been close to state of the art.

I want to say that someone was making a derringer in 44rimfire, but I can not remember who. This would have been state of the art.

Then again, he was successful.
RWBlue01 is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 03:05 PM   #7
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
Just found this from a report on the web:

"Though determined to be consistent in size and weight to the caliber .41 lead balls that were used in caliber .44 pocket pistols of the type owned by Booth, however, the bullet had suffered corrosion with the passage of time and was in too advanced a stage of oxidation to allow accurate comparison to specimen K1."

Duh.

The GUN was .44 caliber, but as with muzzle loaders of the time, the ball was smaller in diameter to accommodate the patch that was used, so it's very likely that the ball was roughly .41 caliber.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 03:47 PM   #8
Scorch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 13, 2006
Location: Washington state
Posts: 11,476
Quote:
The GUN was .44 caliber, but as with muzzle loaders of the time, the ball was smaller in diameter to accommodate the patch that was used, so it's very likely that the ball was roughly .41 caliber.
And we still enjoy the leftovers from that system to this day:
* 32 caliber firearms with a .312" bullet
* 38 caliber firearms with a .357" bullet
* 44 caliber firearms with a .429" bullet

As Mike stated, if the Deringer was appromaxitely 44-caliber, the bullet was probably around .41" to .43", depending on actual groove diameter, bore diameter, and patch thickness.
__________________
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
Summit Arms Services
Taylor Machine
Scorch is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 04:16 PM   #9
RJay
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 2, 2005
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,665
He could not have carried a larger pistol such as a Army Colt, He was an actor in public view and had to have something to fit into his pocket. For the time and date, the Henry Deringer was still still state of the art. It was not a primitive weapon in 1865 any more than any percussion weapon was. Come on now, if you were going to assassinate someone, even in 1865, would you use a .22 short pistol or a single shot ( to the head ) 44 caliber gun. It would soon be outdated, but at the time it was a viable pocket pistol. Read up on the actual facts of the matter and also on the trial afterwards. He choose the .44 Deringer only after long and deliberate thought. He wanted something that was small and concealable, but powerful enough to do the job. He had planed this for quite a while. He didn't go down to the local pawn shop and buy a Saturday night special. He choose a current, popular and powerfull handgun to do the job.
RJay is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 04:53 PM   #10
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,647
Patches were not normally used in pistols, and I doubt Booth used one.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old September 29, 2010, 06:57 PM   #11
therealdeal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 15, 2010
Posts: 627
rjay, I'll take your word for it. I obviously heard that one on the history channel wrong. the word 'primitive' was used as I paraphrased, but the historian must've said the deringer was primitive by today's standards(or something like that). The way you stated it, you seemed to infer the .44 derringer was pretty new. I remember they said it was a .44
__________________
NRA Distinguished Life Member

"Abraham Lincoln freed all men, but Sam Colt made them all equal." (post Civil War slogan)
therealdeal is offline  
Old September 30, 2010, 10:07 PM   #12
Rampant_Colt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 17, 2006
Location: Parts Unknown
Posts: 1,478
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorch
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Irwin
The GUN was .44 caliber, but as with muzzle loaders of the time, the ball was smaller in diameter to accommodate the patch that was used, so it's very likely that the ball was roughly .41 caliber.
And we still enjoy the leftovers from that system to this day:
* 32 caliber firearms with a .312" bullet
* 38 caliber firearms with a .357" bullet
* 44 caliber firearms with a .429" bullet

As Mike stated, if the Deringer was appromaxitely 44-caliber, the bullet was probably around .41" to .43", depending on actual groove diameter, bore diameter, and patch thickness.
Sounds like the correct answer to me
__________________
member of an elite paramilitary organization: Eagle Scouts
Rampant_Colt is offline  
Old October 1, 2010, 09:11 AM   #13
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
"Patches were not normally used in pistols, and I doubt Booth used one."

The derringer Booth used was a rifled muzzleloader and was designed to be used with a patch.

I truly suspect that given what Booth wanted to do that he wouldn't have risked the ball moving off the powder because it was undersized and wouldn't have risked losing the power that would have come with firing an undersized ball out of a rifled barrel.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old October 1, 2010, 10:34 AM   #14
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 11,177
Note that the usual pocket size Deringer does not have a ramrod, in aid of keeping the size down. You would have to have a loading rod along with powder, ball, patch and cap. Or, you could have them load it for you at the store.
Jim Watson is offline  
Old October 1, 2010, 10:44 AM   #15
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
Deringer-made guns (Booth's gun was an actual Henry Deringer-made gun) included a ramrod as part of the set. They were designed to be loaded at home and carried.

You had to get the bullet down the barrel somehow. If the ball was so loose that it would simply drop down the barrel on loading, there would be nothing to prevent it from simply dropping back out of the barrel while it was being carried.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old October 1, 2010, 01:38 PM   #16
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,647
The guns were normally sold with a bullet mould made to match the caliber of the gun, so the balls fit without patches. Patches were not used in pistols of that era, and military pistols like the M1842 did not use them.

FWIW, here is a Deringer whose caliber is known, .32.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...2&d=1206932555

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old October 1, 2010, 02:17 PM   #17
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
Most single-shot handguns of the time were smoothbore.

Henry Deringer's guns were not, they were rifled. That much can plainly be seen from the multitude of pictures available on the web of the Deringer recovered from the stage immediately after Booth shot Lincoln.

The most other commonly available type of rifled, single shot, muzzleloading handguns of the time were dueling pistols, and they were commonly loaded with patched balls.

The Model 1842 was a smoothbore - it's not analogous. It was also generally loaded from arsenal prepared cartridges in which the cartridge container was used as wadding to retain the ball in the barrel.

"The guns were normally sold with a bullet mould made to match the caliber of the gun"

Check the FBI write up available on the web.

The gun that was recovered from Ford's theater was .44 caliber.

The ball that was recovered from Lincoln's skull during the subsequent autopsy was of a diameter and weight consistent with a ball of .41 caliber.


And, saying that the bullet mold was made to "match" the caliber is a tricky thing, because in that time frame "match" was a highly variable quantity.

I've had the pleasure of examining two cased sets of Henry Deringer handguns over the years, both in the collections of the Pa. State Museum and Historical Commission. In both cases, the molds dropped a ball that undersized for the bore of the guns, undersized to the point where I suspect that the bullet simply would, as I described, have dropped out had it been loaded without a patch.


BUT....

It is possible that some sort of overwad was used to keep the ball on the powder.

But... given the distance at which Booth reportedly fired, a foot or less, one would think that any overwad would have been driven into the skull by the bullet and then recovered during autopsy.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old October 1, 2010, 11:04 PM   #18
poloberst
Junior Member
 
Join Date: September 13, 2009
Posts: 5
A modern forensic analysis of the assassination seems to point to the attending physician who examined Lincoln in the rooming house where he was taken after the attack as a major cause of the president's demise. The physician probed into the bullet cavity with metal tool in his examination precipitating extensive hemoraging and death. It is believed that the heat shot would not have caused Lincoln's death. There would have been paralysis and perhaps loss of brain function, but the doctor's efforts were decidedly counter-productive.
poloberst is offline  
Old October 2, 2010, 01:30 AM   #19
therealdeal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 15, 2010
Posts: 627
double post somehow before editing(didnt know how to delete)
__________________
NRA Distinguished Life Member

"Abraham Lincoln freed all men, but Sam Colt made them all equal." (post Civil War slogan)

Last edited by therealdeal; October 2, 2010 at 01:45 AM.
therealdeal is offline  
Old October 2, 2010, 01:42 AM   #20
therealdeal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 15, 2010
Posts: 627
I guess its possible the overwad was pulled out while the attending physician probed into the head wound, but probably doubtful that never came up I guess. I believe this was a mortal wound. I know the physician did some probing&this can cause issues, but booth was just too close for lincoln to survive. He definately had that firearm ready beforehand- its interesting booth was so efficient while his accomplices didn't get the job done. Seward surviving the stabs was miraculous in itself. Accounts of the time state that the Dr and others of importance thought this was a mortal wound from the get-go, but I am going to keep a lookout for the forensic evidence you speak of. As I eluded to in my above post, the historical evidence I learned growing up(and later saw on recent history channel specials) stated that the deringer was primitive by our standards but just too deadly for a direct shot that close. I don't think it would've been a good idea to leave the round in the President's head. To add even more speculation(if you can stand it), Mary and the others knew he was going to pass. They just tried to make him as comfortable as possible and do 'whatever they could do'. They had seen this type of thing before. I mean arm shots were killing people during the war unless an amputation was done. The people of the time thought it was ok to reuse blood-soaked, dirty bandages on people.

President Garfield died by assasination 16yrs later&it is said the extra, exhaustive searching for the round probably helped lead to his demise.

so when mckinley was shot in 1901, what did they do? they extraced the bullet that could be very easily removed and decided to leave the other one since they didn't want to do more harm. That ended up killing him, so they couldn't win. I have the President's book(not trying to be funny); it is Very good and goes into extreme detail of every president(maybe 50times better than a google search which shows a bunch of history). I can't remember the author(maybe adams); I'll try and look tomorrow and post
__________________
NRA Distinguished Life Member

"Abraham Lincoln freed all men, but Sam Colt made them all equal." (post Civil War slogan)
therealdeal is offline  
Old October 4, 2010, 08:55 AM   #21
therealdeal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 15, 2010
Posts: 627
sorry kept forgetting but I am sure some of you have heard of this guy:

The Complete Book Of U.S. Presidents by William A. DeGregorio

the one I have goes from George Washington thru the 2004 election w/Kerry&Bush. If you're ever busy some night and don't want to be bored, I recommend this book for the history buff or President enthusiast. My edition is the sixth from 2005. I bought it at the House of James Monroe(The House at Ashlawn) four yrs ago this month says the inside cover. Well my now wife bought it for me, and he lived right next to Thomas Jefferson and his Monticello+they were friends.
__________________
NRA Distinguished Life Member

"Abraham Lincoln freed all men, but Sam Colt made them all equal." (post Civil War slogan)
therealdeal is offline  
Old October 8, 2010, 12:12 PM   #22
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,647
In doing some research I found this site. It seems we are discussing a minor detail while missing the "big picture" and not only that have the wrong Deringer - it was really pearl handled!

http://www.illuminati-news.com/mary-...ed-lincoln.htm

I know it is OT, but this one makes the wilder JFK theories seem almost sensible.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old October 8, 2010, 01:27 PM   #23
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
That just made my frigging head hurt, Jim.

You should be ashamed of yourself for posting that drivel.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old October 8, 2010, 06:13 PM   #24
James K
Staff
 
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 19,647
I am not ashamed of linking to it, but I did think afterward that I hope no one would take it for something I believe. Just an example of how nutty some people can get when they have some crazy "cause" to promote.

Jim
__________________
Jim K
James K is offline  
Old December 25, 2010, 11:43 PM   #25
youngunz4life
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 15, 2010
Location: United States of America
Posts: 1,877
thought you guyz might be interested in this article. I was reading a little about derringers tonight on TFL and then saw this after signing out+checking the news:



http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/12/24...end-questions/
__________________
"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" -Admiral Farragut @ Battle of Mobile Bay 05AUG1864
youngunz4life is offline  
Reply

Tags
deringer , henry derringer

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:40 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11971 seconds with 7 queries