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Old August 22, 2013, 08:59 PM   #1
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Unknown caplock pistol

I have acquired two muzzleloading pistols that had previously been in my family's possession for as long as I can remember. I'm hoping someone here can help identify one of them for me.

They were given to us by a distant relative of mine, who has long since passed away. He was a German immigrant who apparently brought them over with him. Aside from that, I know nothing about how he came to possess them.

The first one is a smoothbore flintlock pistol of .70 caliber. It has a lanyard ring but no provision for a ramrod. Its best days are long behind it, but the lockwork is in perfect mechanical condition. After an hour or two of research, I've identified it as a Belgian pistol that was produced during the late 18th and early 19th centuries for export. A quick Google search for "Belgian flintlock pistol" yields identical pistols of similar description.

I have absolutely no idea what the second one is, aside from it's a percussion caplock pistol of roughly the same caliber. It also has no provision for a ramrod. The bore is almost too gunked up to tell, but it is rifled.

Unlike the flintlock, there are NO markings anywhere on it.
It has an octagonal barrel, and the grip is elegantly checkered. Otherwise, it's in TERRIBLE shape. The lock doesn't work at all and the nipple is all buggered up, as if someone constantly dry fired it for about a century.
It has a large iron barrel band that abruptly ends at the muzzle. It looks to me as if the caplock mechanism is not original to the pistol.

I have two guesses as to what this might be:
A. This is an individual gunsmith's creation, or
B. This was once a flintlock rifle that Bubba's great-great-grandfather chopped down to a pistol and crudely converted to percussion.

Anyone got any better ideas? Thanks in advance.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:00 PM   #2
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A couple more pictures.
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Old August 22, 2013, 10:39 PM   #3
Jim Watson
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Beats me.
I can only comment that the barrel band on the percussion gun looks a lot rougher than the rest of the gun. Perhaps it was sawn off or met some barrel reducing catastrophe.

I like the grip texturing. Just wait until a 1911 smith sees it and cuts it in steel.
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Old August 23, 2013, 07:45 AM   #4
Mike Irwin
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Location: Northern Virginia
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Re the second one, I don't think that barrel band is original to the gun. I'm suspecting that the gun had a longer barrel, and that for whatever reason (damage, desire) it was cut down and that barrel band fashioned.

Another clue that the barrel band is a later add on is the stock under the barrel. It was never refinished, and it's oxidized, raw wood. It likely originally came to a visually pleasing taper under the barrel ending with a brass cap as it does on the first one.

It may well have been done when the gun was converted from flint to percussion as you are absolutely correct that it was a conversion.

My guess is that the barrel and percussion bolster are both replacements. Often in conversions the original flintlock barrel would be modified, but that one seems to have been purpose made as a percussion 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

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Last edited by Mike Irwin; August 23, 2013 at 07:53 AM.
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Old August 23, 2013, 04:54 PM   #5
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Good eye on the raw wood under the barrel band, Mike. I had a feeling it was sawn off, but now it's pretty clear to me.

If the barrel is indeed a replacement, then there's probably too little of the original firearm left to figure out what it once was.

Ah well, I suppose it wasn't meant to be. The design on the grip IS pretty neat, though. I've attached a better picture of it.

At least the flintlock is in great shape, considering it's likely over two hundred years old.
Perhaps one day I'll take it to a qualified gunsmith to see if it's safe to shoot.

Thank you, gentlemen.
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Old August 23, 2013, 07:51 PM   #6
James K
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FWIW, which is not much, I think the percussion gun was also Belgian, though it might have been French. (Since the Belgians copied anything and everything in the way of guns, it is often hard, other than by proof marks, to tell just what they did make.)

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