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Percussion Firearms

    The Flint Lock action firearm was a fine piece of machinery, but it had one strike against it: When fired, a white flash would exit the breech section.  This flash would scare off the intended prey, moments before the ejection of the bullet.  In 1805, Reverend John Forsyth of Aberdeenshire solved this problem by designing a whole new breed of firearms, using the percussion cap ignition system. This firing mechanism was a great step in advancement from its predecessors because it did not use an exposed flash pan to begin the ignition process. Instead, it had a simple tube which lead straight into the breech portion of the gun barrel.
    The percussion cap, which is placed on top of the tube, contains fulminate of mercury, a chemical compound which explodes when it is struck. When the cap is struck by the hammer, the flames from the exploding fulminate of mercury go down the tube, into the gun barrel, and ignite the powder inside the barrel to propel the bullet, without any flash or puff of smoke.  Now, for the first time a gunmen can pull the trigger and send a bullet to a target without any time delay.    The other advantages to the system are: greater reliability, since the cap was almost certain to explode when struck, and greater protection to water or dampness.
    The percussion cap system was the key to making very reliable rotating-block or revolver guns  which would fire reliably, without misfiring.  By the 1810's, only a few years after Reverend John Forsyth introduced his new firearm to the public, many manufacturers had began producing these multiple-shot sidearms in mass quantities. The percussion cap firing system allowed a soldier to carry a weapon of precision and reliability which was used to devastating effect in the U.S. Civil War.

Dutch  Percussion Werner
A Dutch  Percussion Werner Holster Pistol of 1830
An Early Dutch Flint lock Over and Under Holster Pistol. Originally Flint lock but converted around the 1830s to the Percussion cap system. The barrels turn over with the aid of a
 trigger in front of the trigger guard. Overall length is 10.25 inches. Circa 1760s.

American Brass Framed Percussion Boot Pistol of 1835
This gun is 8.5 inches in overall length.

English Percussion Holster Pistol of 1835
Made by the famous gun maker "E&W BOND 75 CORNHILL of  LONDON." This gun has an octagonal browned barrel of 6 inches with the makers name engraved on top flat. It is 11.5 inches in overall length.

4 shot German Pepperbox Pistol of 1845
Ribbed barrels of 5 inches and calibred in .35.

French Made Percussion Brass Frame and Brass barreled
 Blunderbuss Pistol of 1845.
Fitted with a 3.5 inch flick bayonet under its barrel, stamped "London" on one side and "Extraproof" on the other side. Octagonal to round at the muzzle. The diameter of the muzzle is 1.25 inches. Its overall length with bayonet folded is 9.75 inches.

Colt Model 1849 Percussion Revolver Converted to .38 Rim Fire.
This gun has a 4 inch barrel with the Colt  address on its top flat.

Colt Model 1849 Percussion FACTORY ENGRAVED Revolver.

 English Box Lock Pocket Percussion Pistol. Made in 1850 by Nock of London.
 This one has a 3 inch  bayonet.

Percussion Double barreled Holster or Belt Pistol of 1850
Made by the famous Scottish  Gun maker " A.MARTIN of GLASGOW." It has 6 inch barrels with under slung swivel ramrod  assembly. It is 11.25 inches in overall length.

French Rifled .500 cal. Percussion Double Barrelled Pistol of 1860.
Overall length is 9.5 inches.

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Updated June 18th, 1998
Daniel Berry