View Full Version : Identifying a flint conversion

July 17, 2009, 10:12 AM
I have this nice flint conversion pistol I am trying to identify and value. It is in very good condition and has exceptional balance. It is .69 cal and I believe it to be a Belgium style conversion. The fit and finish is excellent. The ramrod is questionable. It looks like an Enfield. It has no threads. It could be a cut down from an old rifle or a reproduction. 90% of the marks are on the underside of the barrel or the inside of the lock. Inside the lock plate are the letters LD. Any help out there would be appreciated. More pictures are available on Gunboard Forums or by request.


Mike Irwin
July 17, 2009, 12:36 PM
You sure it's a flint conversion?

July 17, 2009, 12:48 PM
It doesn't look like a flint conversion to me. Most flintlocks have a flashhole on the side of the barrel, since the priming charge is located in the pan on the side, and the spark travels through the flashhole to the main charge. Converted flintlocks typically have a drum installed in place of the flashhole and a converted flintlock's hammer looks like it has been reworked or replaced.

The pistol pictured has a nipple on the top of the barrel, and the shape of the hammer and lock do not look like flintlock parts, leading me to believe it is not a conversion. It looks like a 1840-1860 dueling pistol. It could be a reproduction, it is marked "Model 7-6" near the nipple. Do you know its history?

Mike Irwin
July 17, 2009, 01:12 PM
doesn't look like a dueling pistol to me at all.

Looks like one of the multitude of Belgian or French made percussion pistols for the general firearms market.

Not great quality, but suitable for use a couple of times.

July 17, 2009, 01:54 PM
I will include a picture of the lock. It has the correct holes filled in and the cut out for the flash pan filled. I thought of a dueling pistol which maybe correct but it has a front sight. If it is a reproduction of some sort they did a nice job defarbing. Thanks for the responses.


Mike Irwin
July 17, 2009, 05:09 PM

That some damned fine work that was done on the lock.

July 17, 2009, 05:19 PM
Yes, This is a fine piece. As I mentioned the balance is incredible. The lock work is perfect. I would really like to know more.

James K
July 17, 2009, 10:15 PM
First, it is certainly not a dueling pistol. There is nothing about it to indicate that.

It is a French Model 1816 Officer's Pistol, converted ("transformee") to percussion. The touch hole was welded up and a new hole drilled in the top of the barrel for the nipple, a common method of conversion*. The caliber is 17.1mm, or what we call (somewhat inaccurately) .69 caliber.

The ramrod is peculiar and unknown to me. It appears to incorporate a ball screw, but the photo is not that good. The original ramrod would have been whalebone with a brass, flared cone style tip.

At some point, the original Charleville markings were removed from the lockplate and the barrel markings paritally removed. Whether that was done in conversion (unlikely if done in a government arsenal), or at some other time it is impossible to tell.

*American collectors call that type of conversion "Belgian style" when used on American arms.


July 18, 2009, 02:52 AM
Thanks Jim,

I have checked out some sight for Charleville Flintlocks and 1816 French Officers pistol and have been unable to come up with anything that resembles this gun. I agree that it is a Belgium style conversion. Do you have any pictures or web sites that have the particular gun you have identified.



Here are a couple I found. And neither look like my gun.



July 18, 2009, 08:55 AM
Looks French to me, particularly this barrel stamping:


James K
July 18, 2009, 01:05 PM
Ooops, I missed that 17.6, which is the bore diameter in millimeters and which is as close to .69 as makes no difference.

I identified it using the picture in French Military Weapons, by James Hicks. The only discrepancies are the conversion, naturally, and the ramrod. The checkering is identical, even though I thought it odd for a military pistol.

I will try to get a picture and post it.


July 18, 2009, 01:32 PM

This is my first real lead. Thanks a million. I can't wait to see some pics. Any web sites to refer too?


James K
July 18, 2009, 07:49 PM
Not from a web site, from an old-fashioned book (remember those?).

Anyway, here is a picture. Look at the butt, the fore-end brass, the lockplate shape (aside from the top), the checkering, etc. Hicks used line drawings, which are actually better than photos for identification. This is the only picture of that gun in Hicks' book; he shows the conversions of some other pistols, but not that one. French nomenclature is confusing; they did not simply adopt a standard pistol or musket and issue it to everybody. They had police guns, guards guns, colonial guns, etc. And there is another flint pistol called the Model 1816; it differs in stock and in the lockplate. I found a couple of those in my own web search.

To top off the problems of making sense out of French weapons of that era, France, from 1793 to 1805 dropped the "A.D." year and used the "Republican calendar" in which the year ran from Sept. to Sept. so, as an example, Sept. 23, 1804-Sept 22, 1805 was Year XIII.

Anyway, enough. Here is the picture. I hope you can use it.


July 18, 2009, 08:53 PM

You appear to have hit the nail on the head. I do remember books, and I will acquire the Hicks book. I found a gun broker on line in Va. He has a later model of what appears to be the same gun, one that was designed to be percussion but the lock plate is identical as well as some other feature. Thanks so much. Your information has put me on the right trail. Jim does the Hicks book have any information on the barrel marks?


James K
July 18, 2009, 09:50 PM
Nope. It actually doesn't go into a lot of detail as some modern books do, but for 1938 it was pretty good. It was reprinted in 1973, which is the edition I have. French weapons are, at least in this country, an area of almost total ignorance. I don't know if it is due to the feelings of some Americans toward the French (although there would not be a United States if the French had not helped), or that we had no large number of captured French weapons, or that the French never sold off obsolete arms in huge quantities, but the fact is that scholarship in that area is sadly lacking.


July 18, 2009, 10:28 PM
The takeaway for me is that this was a wonderfully done conversion, far better than most of the other flintlock to percussion conversions I've seen.

Mike Irwin
July 19, 2009, 08:08 AM
"or that the French never sold off obsolete arms in huge quantities"

Ding ding ding!

There's your answer.

The French, even more so than the Russians, loved keeping their obsolete kit.