View Full Version : LeFaucheaux Pinfire Revolver

March 12, 2010, 01:20 PM
As in my other posts let me preface this by saying that I inherited a small collection of firearms and I'm clueless about what these are except for those few which have tags attached to them. The tags are in my grandfather's handwriting; he was born in 1892 and died in the 1940s, so unless someone has a Ouija board handy I can't ask him for more information. My father probably did know something about the guns, but since no one in the family knew he had them no one ever asked him. So, now I'm trying to find out what I can -- I have no intention of selling any of the guns, this is for my family's information (and for insurance purposes) only.

This is marked as a LeFaucheaux Pinfire Revolver, with my grandfather's notes stating it was used in the Civil War. The serial number is 3112. According to another elderly family member, it belonged to one of my grandfather's great-uncles. I'd absolutely love any information I could get on this gun or this type of gun, including some rough estimate of what the value is for insurance purposes.


Mike Irwin
March 12, 2010, 02:16 PM
The problem is, the markings on the tag could mean that it's a revolver actually manufactured by Lefacheaux or, that it simply uses the Lefaucheaux pinfire cartridge system.

The number of Lefacheaux system revolvers made in France and Belgium was many, many times greater than the number made by the Lefacheaux factory. And, many pinfire revolvers were used by both sides (primarily the south, though) during the Civil War.

The only way to tell for sure is by the maker's markings on the gun itself.

March 12, 2010, 02:41 PM
Thanks, Mike -- the only markings that I noted on the gun appear to say <B? E? F?> Lefaucheaux / <something> Brevete but at the time I was looking these over I wasn't sure what to look for or what was important. Does that help?

Harley Nolden
March 12, 2010, 02:51 PM
Lefaucheux, Eugene Paris Paris / France 1861

Patent Date Remarks
31,809 Mars 26, 1861

Exception because of his U.S. patent.

Lefaucheux 1854, that was part of the 11,833 purchased by the Union Army and issued to the D company, 21st Michigan Infantry Rgt

Mr Harley

March 12, 2010, 02:56 PM
Is that this particular gun that would have been a Union Army gun? That's freaking FASCINATING. ETA: No wonder this uncle was remembered as a black sheep uncle, if he fought for the Union while the rest of the family were staunch Confederates!

James K
March 12, 2010, 04:47 PM
Brevete is French for "Patent". That gun was made by LeFaucheaux, of Paris, and is not a copy.

Schuyler, the Union agent, bought 10,000 12mm pinfire revolvers from LeFaucheaux in October, 1861, along with 200,000 cartridges. Since that is only 20 cartridges per gun, it is not hard to understand why ammo was hard to get and the guns were not popular. I seem to recall that the government tried to have Remington make some pin-fire ammo, but I am not sure how much.

12mm pin fire cartridges are not available except at collector prices, but if I owned that gun, I would spring for a couple just to have them.


March 12, 2010, 05:40 PM

Was this type of overall fancy engraving typical of these guns, then? It seems awfully fancy-pants to me for a military gun. I'm wondering if the 4-digit serial number I have of 3112 was possibly mis-written and am going to have that doublechecked this weekend. And I LOVE your suggestion of picking up a couple of cartridges, even if they cost a bomb. I hope to be able to display a few of the nicer guns and that would be a nifty addition to the display of this one.



March 13, 2010, 05:55 AM
Stonewall Jackson had one but he actually carried an Adams.

Mike Irwin
March 13, 2010, 11:08 AM
You know, I REALLY hate the fact that the company I work for blocks images. I had no clue there was a picture associated with this until just now.


"12mm pin fire cartridges are not available except at collector prices, but if I owned that gun, I would spring for a couple just to have them."

Someone here posted a link to a company in, IIRC, Europe that is offering cases and reloading components, including a reloading die kit, for the pin fires.

Not cheap, but pretty nifty.

James K
March 15, 2010, 07:08 PM
Since this is the first one of those I have seen that was claimed to have CW use, I can't say whether the ones bought in Europe were engraved or not. However, they were purchased on the market and not made under contract, so I would assume that they had the engraving and finish common to civilian market guns.

Engraving was cheap here and even cheaper in Europe and many common European guns of the era were hand engraved. In U.S. gun company catalogs of the 1880's to 1900, hand engraving was often offered as an option for as little as $.25, the rough equivalent of $10 today.


March 15, 2010, 08:07 PM
I suggest you measure the bore, at the muzzle. There were 11mm and 12mm versions of this revolver.

As far as cartridge kits go, check out

Mike Irwin
March 15, 2010, 09:10 PM
Look at that! They even have a reloading kit for my Mle 1873 French Ordnance Revolver.

I'm not paying $199 for it, though.

March 16, 2010, 09:31 AM
There is an interesting page on these revolvers at http://www.littlegun.be/arme%20americaine/revolver%20confedere/a%20revolver%20confedere%20lefaucheux%201854%20gb.htm

From this, it would seem unlikely that your example is one of the ones bought by the Union, most apparently delivered by Eugène Lefaucheux himself. The octagon barrel seems earlier - the rounded as opposed to spur trigger guard and engraving both seem to point to a civilian origin. These perhaps suggest it was used on the Confederate side - which acquired their weapons from more diverse sources.

March 16, 2010, 03:15 PM
Thank you VERY much for that citation, that's a fascinating page to read and answers some of my questions about why certain aspects of this gun differ from the Union Army standard that I've seen pictured. My father's family was from southern Alabama and so while it's possible that one of them fought for the Union it just seemed a bit unlikely -- this makes more sense. I've been put in touch with a family member who has done a genealogy and has various notes and old pictures and papers, and I'm looking forward to seeing if we can find anything more about the history of this and the other guns and swords when I meet up with him.